Why not say the "flicker of freedom" is enough for responsibility?
Steven: Because it is "repugnant to the intellect", as Plantinga once said (though about something else).
If you are so set in your ways about PAP, then of course you'd think that a flicker of freedom is robust enough to ground responsibility. You'd rather have that then compatibilism. But I'd say you're just being wild, at that point. Blinded to reason and unable to form sound judgment.
It is hard to see how people in Frankfurt cases are responsible in virtue of that fact they can either X or begin to form an intention to not-X and then be manipulated into X-ing.
That seems outrageous. Like Fischer says, getting responsibility from flickers of freedom is akin to alchemy.
VR: I don't see any arguments here at all. Is my position self-contradictory? Are there any fundamental principles of logic I have violated? My central point is that Frankfurt counterexamples are abnormal cases. We take a principle that we use in ordinary circumstances (I couldn't have finished my assignment, because I was in the hospital because of a car accident), the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) and we ask how we are going to apply that principle to bizarro cases where there's a Controller who would have prevented me from carrying out my action if I had started to will it. The "flicker" shows that there WAS an alternative possibility, and comparisons to alchemy and insistence that I can't reason soundly are not going to undermine this fact.
It's a little bit like the Thomsonian intuition pump with the violinist. Someone who is firmly enough convinced of the overriding character of the right to life can simply say "No. you don't have the right to get up and walk away. The violinist has a right to life, you're violating that right if you walk off." If you are prepared to go to the mat for the principle of the right to life, you can resist the violinist argument. No amount of ridicule from the other side will dissuade you, or should dissuade you.
Or consider people who say that we have to give up on the law of non-contradiction because of the liar paradox. If we look at all the things we do with the law of non-contradiction, and its role in making discourse even possible, it looks to me as if, even if I don't have a nice neat solution to the liar paradox, I shouldn't just trash the law of non-contradiction.
Look at what we do with PAP on a daily basis. "I'm sorry, I didn't have a choice. I had to.... so I couldn't...." How many times do we say "I couldn't help it?" Why did Flip Wilson build an entire career out of the phrase "The Devil made me do it." Because if the Devil really did make you do it, you're not responsible, or so we ordinarily think.
In fact, earlier versions of compatibilism prior to Frankfurt, such as those of A. J. Ayer, affirmed PAP but argued that the alternative possibility statements had suppressed "if" clauses. "I would have done otherwise if I had wanted to."
What has always seeemed correct to me is that puppets, including conscious or willing puppets, are not responsible, and this is so whether or not there is a someone pulling the strings. This seems more evident to me that any result that might be generated by the Frankfurtian intuition pump. Because it is a set of intuition pumps, and the cases are deliberately contrived, I have trouble seeing how they can undermine so basic a principle.