Everybody agrees that brainwashing can remove responsibility for the resulting actions. But how does it do that?
In some cases, brainwashing removes decisions--you just act an automaton without making any decisions. Bracket those cases of brainwashing as not to my purpose. The cases of interest are ones where decisions are still made, but they are made inevitable by the complex of beliefs, desires, habits, values, etc.--the character, for short--implanted by the brainwasher. Of these cases, some will still be not useful for my purposes, namely those where the implanted character is so distorted that decisions coming from the character are not responsible simply by reason of insanity.
The interesting case, for discussion of compatibilism, is where the character is the sort of character that could also result from an ordinary life, and if it resulted from that ordinary life, decisions flowing from that character would be ones that the agent is responsible for.
So now our question is: Why is it that when this character results from the brainwasher's activity, the agent is not responsible for the decisions flowing from it, even though if the character were to have developed naturally, the agent would have been responsible?
I want to propose a simple explanation: In the paradigmatic case when the character (or, more precisely, its relevant features) results from the brainwasher's activity, the agent is not responsible for the character (that this is true is uncontroversial; but my point is not just that this is true, but that it is the answer to the question). Decisions that inevitably flow from a character that one is not responsible for, in external circumstances that we may also suppose one is not responsible for, are decisions that one is not responsible for. When the character results from an ordinary life, one is responsible for the character. But when the character results from brainwashing, typically one is not (the case where one freely volunteered to be brainwashed in this way is a nice test case--in that case, one does have at least some responsibility).
But now we see, just as in yesterday's post, that incompatibilism follows. For what makes us responsible for a character or circumstances are decisions that we are responsible for and that lead in an appropriate way to having that character. If we are only responsible for a decision that inevitably flows from a character in some external circumstances when we are responsible for the character or at least for the external circumstances, then the first responsible decision we make cannot be one that is made inevitable by character and external circumstance.
The way to challenge this argument is to offer alternate explanations of why it is that when character comes from brainwashing one is not responsible for actions that inevitably flow from that character given the external circumstances. My proposal was that the answer is that one's isn't responsible for the character in that case. An alternate proposal is that it is the inevitability that takes away responsibility. This alternative certainly cannot be accepted by the compatibilist.