Free Will: A Philosophical Study

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Westview Press, 2000 - Philosophy - 236 pages
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In this comprehensive new study of human free agency, Laura Waddell Ekstrom critically surveys contemporary philosophical literature and provides a novel account of the conditions for free action. Ekstrom argues that incompatibilism concerning free will and causal determinism is true and thus the right account of the nature of free action must be indeterminist in nature. She examines a variety of libertarian approaches, ultimately defending an account relying on indeterministic causation among events and appealing to agent causation only in a reducible sense. Written in an engaging style and incorporating recent scholarship, this study is critical reading for scholars and students interested in the topics of motivation, causation, responsibility, and freedom. In broadly covering the important positions of others along with its exposition of the author’s own view, Free Will provides both a significant scholarly contribution and a valuable text for courses in metaphysics and action theory.
  

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Contents

The Problem of Human Freedom
1
Challenges to Free Will
14
Detailed Arguments
28
Conclusion
51
Incompatibilist Replies
64
New Directions
77
Undefeated Authorization of Preference
106
Notes
129
Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities
181
The Failure of FrankfurtType Cases to Show
191
Why PAP Is False
200
Conclusion
213
References
221
Index
231
Copyright

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Page 26 - If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of these things (including our present acts) are not up to us.
Page 21 - By liberty, then, we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; this is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may.
Page 16 - His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?
Page 77 - Moreover, a person may be capricious and irresponsible in forming his second-order volitions and give no serious consideration to what is at stake. Second-order volitions express evaluations only in the sense that they are preferences. There is no essential restriction on the kind of basis, if any, upon which they are formed. 7 "Freedom and Action,
Page 183 - When I am said to have done something of my own free will it is implied that I could have acted otherwise; and it is only when it is believed that I could have acted otherwise that I am held to be morally responsible for what I have done. For a man is not thought to be morally responsible for an action that it was not in his power to avoid. But if human...
Page 159 - I conceive liberty to be rightly defined in this manner : liberty is the absence of all the impediments to action that are not contained in the nature and intrinsical quality of the agent, as for example, the water is said to descend freely, or to have liberty to descend by the channel of the river, because there is no impediment that way, but not across, because the banks are impediments, and though...
Page 22 - has free will" I mean that very often, if not always, when he has to choose between two or more mutually incompatible courses of action— that is, courses of action that it is impossible for him to carry out more than one of— each of these courses of action is such that he can, or is able to, or has it within his power to carry it out.
Page 84 - One can hardly affirm such a theory of agency with complete comfort, however, and wholly without embarrassment, for the conception of men and their powers which is involved in it is strange indeed, if not positively mysterious. In fact, one can hardly be blamed here for simply denying our data outright, rather than embracing this theory to which they do most certainly point. Our data— to the effect that men do sometimes deliberate before acting, and that when they do, they presuppose among other...

References to this book

Free Will and Luck
Alfred R. Mele
Limited preview - 2006
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About the author (2000)

Laura Waddell Ekstrom is associate professor of philosophy at The College of William and Mary.

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