Free Will: A Philosophical Study

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Westview Press, 2000 - Philosophy - 236 pages
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This text aims to both highlight central issues in recent discussions of free will and to propose a particular indeterminist account of its nature. It begins by motivating the discussion of issues in the metaphysics of freedom by considering what is at stake: why care about free will - what values would its possession secure for us? The book then critically discusses the arguments at the heart of the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists and examines a number of competing accounts of the nature of free will, leading up to the proposal of a particular libertarian theory. Thereafter, the book turns to pivotal issues in free will and moral responsibility literature, including diverging views of the function of moral responsibility ascriptions and counterfactual intervener counterexamples to the principle of alternate possibilities.

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The Problem of Human Freedom
Challenges to Free Will
Detailed Arguments
Incompatibilist Replies
New Directions
Undefeated Authorization of Preference
Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities
The Failure of FrankfurtType Cases to Show
Why PAP Is False

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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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