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Free Will

Edited by Neil Levy (Oxford University)
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Summary Most philosophers and laypeople believe that under most conditions human beings, perhaps along with some other animals, possess a power of selecting and implementing actions which is special. This power is very widely held to be a necessary condition of responsibility for actions, for autonomy and for being entitled to take pride in (or to feel shame for) one's achievements. The free will debate in philosophy aims at elucidating the nature of that power as well as at identifying potential threats to it and explaining how it can exist. A major focus of the debate is the compatibility of free will with causal determinism. A minority of philosophers deny that we have free will because free will is incompatible with causal determinism.
Key works The free will debate is ancient in Western philosophy, but was first developed systematically by scholastic thinkers concerning about the relationship free will and God's foreknowledge (eg Ockham 1983). The rise of mechanistic science brought determinism to the forefront and played an important role in the development of compatibilism by philosophers like Hume (Hume 1777). The advent of Frankfurt-style cases (Frankfurt 1969) transformed the late 20th century debate, by allowing compatibilists to dispense with the principle of alternate possibilities (see McKenna & Widerker 2003 for important contributions to this debate). At the same time, important new libertarian views have been developed by thinkers like Robert Kane (Kane 1996) and Timothy O'Connor (O'Connor 2000). Very recently, there has been a revival of free will skepticism (Strawson 1994; Levy 2011).
Introductions O'Connor 2005;McKenna 2008; Clarke & Capes ms
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  1. Ian Barbour (1955). Indeterminacy and Freedom: A Reappraisal. Philosophy of Science 22 (1):8-20.
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  2. Ermanno Bencivenga (1990). Free From What? Erkenntnis 33 (1):9 - 21.
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  3. Fred Berthold (1981). Free Will and Theodicy in Augustine: An Exposition and Critique. Religious Studies 17 (4):525.
    Not only for Augustine, but for virtually all Christian theologians, the doctrine of free will is of critical importance for theodicy. The reason for this is easy to state: these theologians trace either all or much evil to human sin, which in turn is understood as an abuse of the free will with which human beings were endowed by their Creator. Augustine sums it very well: ‘… all that we call evil is either sin or punishment for sin’. The argument (...)
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  4. Susanne Bobzien (1993). Determinism and Free Will in Stoic Philosophy.
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  5. Svante Bohman (1977). Analyses of Consciousness as Well as Observation, Volition and Valuation. Almqvist & Wiksell International (Distr.).
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  6. M. Keith Booker (1994). Vargas Llosa Among the Postmodernists.
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  7. John Bourke (1938). Responsibility, Freedom and Determinism. Philosophy 13 (51):276 - 287.
    There may in general be said to be two ways in which progress may be made in the understanding and towards the solution of a problem. The one is that of the continual development of it in the form originally given to it, by confirming this and rejecting that point in the light of fresh evidence, by clarification of concepts, and by detecting and resolving ambiguities and inconsistencies. Here it is assumed that the standpoint from which the problem has been (...)
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  8. R. D. Bradley (1962). 'Ifs', 'Cans' and Determinism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 40 (2):146 – 158.
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  9. Matthew Braham & Martin van Hees (2012). An Anatomy of Moral Responsibility. Mind 121 (483):601 - 634.
    This paper examines the structure of moral responsibility for outcomes. A central feature of the analysis is a condition that we term the 'avoidance potential', which gives precision to the idea that moral responsibility implies a reasonable demand that an agent should have acted otherwise. We show how our theory can allocate moral responsibility to individuals in complex collective action problems, an issue that sometimes goes by the name of 'the problem of many hands'. We also show how it allocates (...)
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  10. Thomas Campbell Brickhouse (1974). Determinism and Aristotle's Analysis of Responsibility. Dissertation, Vanderbilt University
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  11. James Brown (1973). Essays on Freedom of Action. Philosophical Studies 22:297-299.
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  12. Douglas Browning (1964). The Feeling of Freedom. Review of Metaphysics 18 (1):123 - 146.
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  13. Douglas Browning (1963). Free Acts and Free Men. Southern Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):15-20.
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  14. Charles Theodore Burnett (1908). A Fundamental Test for Determinism. International Journal of Ethics 18 (2):220-225.
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  15. E. S. C. (1962). An Inquiry Into the Freedom of Decision. Review of Metaphysics 16 (1):167-167.
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  16. E. S. C. (1962). Free Action. Review of Metaphysics 16 (1):166-167.
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  17. L. C. (1966). Freedom, Determinism, Indeterminism. Review of Metaphysics 20 (2):379-379.
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  18. L. C. (1966). Human Freedom and the Self. Review of Metaphysics 19 (3):583-583.
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  19. Steven M. Cahn (2009). Freedom or Determinism? In Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press.
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  20. David Carr (1989). Responsibility, Character and the Emotions: New Essays in Moral Psychology. Philosophical Books 30 (4):229-232.
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  21. Toby Castleton (1992). Logical Determinism, Causal Determinism, and Free Will. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    In chapter one I argue that determinism is not fatalistic. This implies that free will is compatible with determinism. ;Chapter two begins with what I believe is a sound argument for logical determinism, after which I argue that Arthur Prior is unsuccessful in his attempt to refute determinism by resting indeterminism on the principle of bivalence. ;In Chapter three we examine a revision of Richard Taylor's argument for fatalism which turns the argument into one supporting logical determinism, but which is (...)
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  22. Jacques-Jean Caubet (1994). La Science Contre le Destin Quand la Science Retrouve les Racines Naturelles de la Liberté. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  23. Timothy Chambers (2003). Free Will Defense: Do the Ends Justify the Means? Philosophia Christi 5 (1):251-258.
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  24. Peter Clark (1995). Popper on Determinism. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 39:149-162.
    There is no doubt at all that the issue of determinism versus indeterminism was a central, dominating theme of Popper's thought. By his own account he saw his criticism of the thesis of determinism as crucial to his defence not only of the reality of human freedom, moral responsibility and creativity but also as equally fundamental to his account of human rationality and to his theory of the content and growth of science as an objective, rational and most importantly demonstrably (...)
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  25. Randolph Kent Clarke (1990). An Agent-Causal View of Free Will. Dissertation, Princeton University
    Freedom of the will is intrinsically valuable in deliberation and action, and it is a necessary condition for moral responsibility. Free will is not a sufficient condition for the latter; other abilities, and the absence of certain responsibility-undermining conditions, are also necessary. The free will requisite for moral responsibility is a self-determination in coming to have a particular intention in action. It does not consist even partly in an ability to do otherwise. ;Deliberation requires believing that one is free to (...)
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  26. Guy Claxton (1999). Whodunnit? Unpicking Theseems' of Free Will. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (8-9):8-9.
    The cornerstone of the dominant folk theory of free will is the presumption that conscious intentions are, at least sometimes, causally related to subsequent ‘voluntary’ actions. Like all folk theories that have become ‘second nature', this model skews perception and cognition to highlight phenomena and interpretations that are consistent with itself, and pathologize or render invisible those that are not. A variety of experimental, neurological and everyday phenomena are reviewed that cumulatively cast doubt on this comforting folk model. An alternative (...)
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  27. Philip Clayton (2009). Constraint and Freedom in the Movement From Quantum Physics to Theology. In F. LeRon Shults, Nancey C. Murphy & Robert J. Russell (eds.), Philosophy, Science and Divine Action. Brill.
  28. Marshall Cohen (ed.) (1974). War and Moral Responsibility: A "Philosophy and Public Affairs" Reader. Princeton University Press.
    This remarkably rich collection of articles focuses on moral questions about war.
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  29. Darrel D. Colson (1982). The Transcendental Argument Against Determinism: A Challenge yet Unmet. Southern Journal of Philosophy 20 (1):15-24.
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  30. Stephen S. Colvin (1904). The Problem of Psychological Determinism. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 1 (22):589-595.
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  31. John J. Compton (2001). The Persistence of the Problem of Freedom. Review of Metaphysics 55 (1):95 - 115.
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  32. John J. Compton (1973). Responsibility and Agency. Southern Journal of Philosophy 11 (1-2):83-89.
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  33. Jay Angelo Corlett (1992). Moral Compatibilism: Rights, Responsibility, Punishment and Compensation. Dissertation, The University of Arizona
    The moral status of collectives is an important problem for any plausible moral, social and political philosophy. Are collectives proper subjects of moral rights and moral responsibility ascriptions? Is it morally justified for the state to punish collectives for criminal offenses, or for the state to force collectives to pay compensation for tort offenses? Moral Individualism denies that collectives are properly ascribed properties such as moral rights, moral liability, and punishability, while Moral Collectivism affirms that some collectives may be legitimately (...)
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  34. Richard H. Corrigan (forthcoming). Could God Know What I Would Freely Do? Philosophical Frontiers: Essays and Emerging Thoughts.
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  35. Christopher Cowley (2014). Moral Responsibility. Routledge.
    How and to what degree are we responsible for our characters, our lives, our misfortunes, our relationships and our children? This question is at the heart of "Moral Responsibility". The book explores accusations and denials of moral responsibility for particular acts, responsibility for character, and the role of luck and fate in ethics. Moral responsibility as the grounds for a retributivist theory of punishment is examined, alongside discussions of forgiveness, parental responsibility, and responsibility before God. The book also discusses collective (...)
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  36. G. W. Cunningham (1908). Determinism and Indeterminism in Motives: A Rejoinder. Philosophical Review 17 (1):66-67.
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  37. F. D. D. (1975). The Cosmology of Freedom. Review of Metaphysics 28 (4):762-762.
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  38. Willard F. Day (1972). The Case for Determinism. Philosophical Studies 21:31-40.
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  39. Victorino De La Fuente (1967). The Normal Pattern of Man's Ethical Behaviour. New York, Pageant Press.
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  40. William James Eugene Dempsey (1929). Freedom or Necessity. [Washington].
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  41. Daniel C. Dennett (1973). Mechanism and Responsibility. In Ted Honderich (ed.), Essays on Freedom of Action. Routledge and Kegan Paul. 157--84.
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  42. Daniel Deudney (1999). Firming the Foundations : Constitutionalizing and Memorializing the Free World Complex. In Josef Janning, Charles Kupchan & Dirk Rumberg (eds.), Civic Engagement in the Atlantic Community. Bertelsmann Foundation Publishers.
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  43. Thomas Digby (1983). Corporations and Morality. Review of Metaphysics 36 (4):921-922.
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  44. Neelke Doorn, Nicole A. Vincent & Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist (2006). International Conference on Moral Responsibility: Neuroscience. Economics and Philosophy 22:409-427.
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  45. Donal J. Dorr (1968). Moral Responsibility. Philosophical Studies 17:296-296.
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  46. Paula Droege (2010). The Role of Unconsciousness in Free Will. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (5-6):5-6.
    Does neuroscience show that free will is an illusion? No, it shows that unconscious mental states are causally effective in action. Because free will includes initiation by both conscious and unconscious states, the self as free agent should be characterized in terms of more than her conscious deliberations to range over unconscious beliefs, memories and feelings. Further, the ways social relations influence action and the ways actions influence the social environment are relevant to a full account of free will. Given (...)
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  47. R. A. Duff (1980). Freewill and Responsibility. Philosophical Books 21 (1):52-54.
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  48. Steven M. Duncan (2012). Yeomans, Christopher. Freedom and Reflection: Hegel and the Logic of Agency. Review of Metaphysics 66 (1):174-175.
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  49. Frank B. Ebersole (1952). Free-Choice and the Demands of Morals. Mind 61 (242):234-257.
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  50. Berkley B. Eddins (1963). Empiricism, Necessity and Freedom. Review of Metaphysics 16 (3):556 - 558.
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