Some believe that humans lack a free will, that free will is a necessary condition for responsibility and that therefore humans cannot be responsible for their doings. Others, so-called ‘compatibilists’, believe that humans can be, and normally are, responsible for what they do and in support of this belief they assume that free will is not necessary for responsibility. This article argues that compatibilists are right in their claim that responsibility is compatible with the absence of free will, but wrong in assuming that compatibility can be founded on our social practice. This assumption would involve the ‘compatibilist fallacy’. The argument is based on the starting point that there are two fundamentally different ways of looking at humans as agents and their acts. The ‘phenomenological’ view starts from the way in which people subjectively experience their acts, including their own role as agents who perform these acts. The ‘realist’ view starts from the facts as they can be established by the sciences, facts which are assumed to be independent of our knowledge of them or the way we experience them. The main message is that these two views are hard to combine, but that a separation is not well possible.
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