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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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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Free Will
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  1. George Ainslie (2004). The Self is Virtual, the Will is Not Illusory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5):659-660.
    Wegner makes an excellent case that our sense of ownership of our actions depends on multiple factors, to such an extent that it could be called virtual or even illusory. However, two other core functions of will are initiation of movement and maintenance of resolution, which depend on our accurate monitoring of them. This book shows that will is not an imponderable black box but, rather, an increasingly accessible set of specific functions.
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  2. George Ainslie (1997). If Belief is a Behavior, What Controls It? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (1):103-104.
    “Self-deception” usually occurs when a false belief would be more rewarding than an objective belief in the short run, but less rewarding in the long run. Given hyperbolic discounting of delayed events, people will be motivated in their long-range interest to create self-enforcing rules for testing reality, and in their long-range interest to evade these rules. Self-deception, then, resembles interpersonal deception in being an evasion of rules, but differs in being a product of intertemporal conflict.
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  3. George Ainslie (1996). How Do People Choose Between Local and Global Bookkeeping? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 19 (4):574.
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  4. George Ainslie & Barbara Gault (1997). Intention Isn't Indivisible. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (2):365-366.
    An intertemporal bargaining model of commitment does not entail the interaction of parts within the person as Rachlin claims, and is needed to explain properties of self-control that his molar generalization model does not predict.
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  5. George Ainslie & Nick Haslam (2002). Altruism is a Primary Impulse, Not a Discipline. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):251-251.
    Intertemporal bargaining theory based on the hyperbolic discounting of expected rewards accounts for how choosing in categories increases self-control, without postulating, as Rachlin does, the additional rewardingness of patterns per se. However, altruism does not seem to be based on self-control, but on the primary rewardingness of vicarious experience. We describe a mechanism that integrates vicarious experience with other goods of limited availability.
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  6. Douglas Browning (1963). Free Acts and Free Men. Southern Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):15-20.
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  7. Godehard Brüntrup (2008). Selbstbestimmung und Gehirn. Eine Rede über die Freiheit an die Gebildeten unter ihren Leugnern. Glauben Und Denken 21:33-55.
    Article on the defense of libertarian freedom.
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  8. Godehard Brüntrup (2007). Das moralisch Böse im Spannungsfeld zwischen menschlicher und göttlicher Freiheit - ein kurzer Blick in die aktuelle Metaphysik. Zur Debatte 7:11-12.
    A critical evaluation of Plantinga's Free Will Defense.
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  9. Godehard Brüntrup (2006). Selbstbestimmung und Gehirn. Eine Rede über die Freiheit an die Gebildeten unter ihren Leugnern. Munich School of Philosophy - Annual Report 2006:4-21.
    Article on the debate about libertarian freedom.
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  10. Godehard Brüntrup (2000). Der metaphysische Begriff der Willensfreiheit und das Transferprinzip des Keine-Wahl-Habens. In Dirk Greiman & Constanze Peres (eds.), Wahrheit - Sein - Struktur. Auseinandersetzungen mit Metaphysik. Georg Olms 102-120.
    Article on the problem of free will and determinism. A defense of the so-called "consequence argument" arguing that free will and determinism are incompatible.
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  11. E. S. C. (1962). Free Action. Review of Metaphysics 16 (1):166-167.
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  12. L. C. (1966). Freedom, Determinism, Indeterminism. Review of Metaphysics 20 (2):379-379.
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  13. L. C. (1966). Human Freedom and the Self. Review of Metaphysics 19 (3):583-583.
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  14. Steven M. Cahn (2009). Freedom or Determinism? In Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press
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  15. 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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  16. Timothy Chambers (2003). Free Will Defense: Do the Ends Justify the Means? Philosophia Christi 5 (1):251-258.
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  17. Tom Clark (1999). Keeping the Dogs of Determinism at Bay. The Philosophers' Magazine 6 (6):49-50.
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  18. 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
  19. John J. Compton (2001). The Persistence of the Problem of Freedom. Review of Metaphysics 55 (1):95 - 115.
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  20. John J. Compton (1973). Responsibility and Agency. Southern Journal of Philosophy 11 (1-2):83-89.
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  21. 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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  22. Richard H. Corrigan (forthcoming). Could God Know What I Would Freely Do? Philosophical Frontiers: Essays and Emerging Thoughts.
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  23. Angela Coventry & Joshua Fost (2013). Remaking Responsibility: Complexity and Scattered Causes in Human Agency. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Philosophy: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow 1.
    Contrary to intuitions that human beings are free to think and act with “buck-stopping” freedom, philosophers since Holbach and Hume have argued that universal causation makes free will nonsensical. Contemporary neuroscience has strengthened their case and begun to reveal subtle and counterintuitive mechanisms in the processes of conscious agency. Although some fear that determinism undermines moral responsibility, the opposite is true: free will, if it existed, would undermine coherent systems of justice. Moreover, deterministic views of human choice clarify the conditions (...)
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  24. 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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  25. G. W. Cunningham (1908). Determinism and Indeterminism in Motives: A Rejoinder. Philosophical Review 17 (1):66-67.
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  26. F. D. D. (1975). The Cosmology of Freedom. Review of Metaphysics 28 (4):762-762.
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  27. Willard F. Day (1972). The Case for Determinism. Philosophical Studies 21:31-40.
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  28. Victorino De La Fuente (1967). The Normal Pattern of Man's Ethical Behaviour. New York, Pageant Press.
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  29. J. Demanet, P. S. Muhle-Karbe, M. T. Lynn, I. Blotenberg & M. Brass (2013). Power to the Will: How Exerting Physical Effort Boosts the Sense of Agency. Cognition 129 (3):574-578.
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  30. William James Eugene Dempsey (1929). Freedom or Necessity. [Washington].
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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. Thomas Digby (1983). Corporations and Morality. Review of Metaphysics 36 (4):921-922.
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  34. Jörg Disse (2009). Teilhabe and Gottes Freiheit : Zum Freiheitsverständnis in Hans Urs von Balthasars Theodramatik. In Edith Düsing, Werner Neuer & Hans-Dieter Klein (eds.), Geist Und Heiliger Geist: Philosophische Und Theologische Modelle von Paulus Und Johannes Bis Barth Und Balthasar. Königshausen & Neumann
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  35. Jörg Disse (1994). Kierkegaards Phänomenologie der Freiheitserfahrung. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 56 (4):782-783.
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  36. Jörg Disse (1991). Kierkegaards Phänomenologie der Freiheitserfahrung. Verlag Karl Alber.
    Das Buch befasst sich mit der Struktur konkreter Freiheitserfahrung am Beispiel der Existenzanalyse Kierkegaards in seinen pseudonymen Hauptwerken. Entgegen dem (Vor-)Urteil der Moderne, Freiheit könne nur als uneingeschränkte Autonomie adäquat verstanden werden, wird mit Kierkegaards Phänomenologie konkreten Existierens Freiheit als eine im Gottesverhältnis gipfelnde Dialektik von Autonomie und Abhängigkeit dargestellt. Grundlage der Interpretation bildet die Auslegung von Kierkegaaards Existenzstadien als einer Theorie verschiedener Freiheitsstadien, von der aus das Verhältnis von Freiheit und Endlichkeit, Freiheit und Gottesverhältnis sowie Freiheit und Objektivität expliziert (...)
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  37. Guy Douglas (1999). More Elbow Room. The Philosophers' Magazine 6 (6):37-39.
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  38. 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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  39. Berkley B. Eddins (1963). Empiricism, Necessity and Freedom. Review of Metaphysics 16 (3):556 - 558.
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  40. Matthew C. Eshleman (2010). What is It Like to Be Free? In Jonathan Webber (ed.), Reading Sartre: On Phenomenology and Existentialism. Routledge
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  41. Robert M. Fan (1995). The Social Psychology of Free Will and Determinism. In E. Barker (ed.), Lse on Freedom. Lse Books 57.
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  42. Robert M. Farr (1995). The Social Psychology of Free Will and Determinism. In E. Barker (ed.), Lse on Freedom. Lse Books 57.
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  43. Joel Feinberg (1974). Doing and Deserving: Essays in the Theory of Responsibility. Journal of Philosophy 71 (3):90-96.
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  44. F. Feldman, Responsibility as a Condition of Desert + a Rejoinder to Smilansky,Saul.
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  45. John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (1999). Freedom and Control. The Philosophers' Magazine 6 (6):51-52.
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  46. John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (1991). Responsibility and Inevitability. Ethics 101 (2):258-278.
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  47. Desmond J. Fitzgerald (1963). Freedom, Determinism and Moral Responsibility. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 37:81-84.
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  48. Paul Fitzgerald (1984). Time, Action and Necessity. Review of Metaphysics 37 (3):621-623.
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  49. M. Forge (1998). Responsibility and the Scientist. In Martin Bridgstock (ed.), Science, Technology, and Society: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press 40.
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  50. Harry Frankfurt (2009). Inadvertence and Moral Responsibility. Ideas Y Valores 58 (141):11-24.
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