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Summary It is widely though not quite universally held that there is a nomological or a constitutive link between free will and moral responsibility: at minimum that acting with free will is a necessary condition for moral responsibility (though the free act need not be a proximate cause of the behavior or state for which the agent is responsible). This link certainly explains the interest of the free will debate for many people. Some philosophers stipulate that by free will they mean the control condition on moral responsibility. Dissenters point out that it seems we may freely perform actions that have no moral significance whatsoever. They may also draw attention to aspects of human life we value independent of moral responsibility that might be underwritten by free will: self-respect, pride, love, and so forth.
Key works The assumption that free will is a necessary condition of moral responsibility is so widespread that listing key works here would produce a list that is more or less co-extensive with the key works on free will. John Martin Fischer's important workcan be read as dissenting from the near consensus view; see especially Fischer & Ravizza 1998. Whereas Fischer may be read as claiming we are morally responsible, whether or not we have free will, Waller 2011 argues that we may have free will but are not morally responsible.
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  1. Natalie Abrams (1972). Free-Will and Moral Responsibility in the Works of Charles Arthur Campbell. Dissertation, Columbia University
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  2. Gan Hun Ahn (1999). The Free Will/Determinism Controversy: Its Implications for Moral Reasoning and Education. Dissertation, University of Missouri - Kansas City
    The purpose of this study is to propose a theory of moral education based on a concept of moral freedom that is philosophically sound and educationally meaningful. This was achieved through a critical analysis of several major positions regarding the free will/determinism controversy. ;The free will problem is examined in terms of the trichotomy of nonreconciling determinism/reconciling determinism/libertarianism. and by the dichotomy of incompatibilism vs. compatibilism. This study defends reconciling determinism in the trichotomy and compatibilism in the dichotomy. The difference (...)
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  3. Donald Ainslie (1997). Freedom and Moral Sentiment. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 106 (4):596-598.
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  4. Abbas J. Ali, Robert C. Camp & Manton Gibbs (2005). The Concept of “Free Agency” in Monotheistic Religions: Implications for Global Business. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 60 (1):103 - 112.
    The current debate on “free agency” seems to highlight the romantic aspects of free agent and considers it a genuine response to changing economic conditions (e.g., high-unemployment rate, importance of knowledge in the labor market, the eclipse of organizational loyalty, and self pride). Little attention, if any, has been given to the religious root of the free agency concept and its persistent existence across history. In this paper, the current discourse on free agency and the conditions that have led to (...)
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  5. Robert Allen (2007). Self-Forming Actions. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 81:263-278.
    The following is a now popular argument for free will skepticism:1. If free will exists, then people make themselves.2. People do not make themselves.3. Thus, free will does not exist.It would make no sense to hold someone responsible, either for what he’s like or what he’s done, unless he has made himself. But no one makes himself. A person’s character is imposed upon him by Nature and others. To rebut, I intend to lean on common usage, according to which 2 (...)
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  6. Roman Altshuler (2010). An Unconditioned Will: The Role of Temporality in Freedom and Agency. Dissertation, SUNY Stony Brook
    Eliminativists about free will and moral responsibility argue that no action can be free and responsible because in order to be actions, our movements must be caused by features of our character or will. However, either the will is constituted by states that are themselves produced by events outside our control, or it is constituted by our own choices, which must themselves stem from our will in order to be up to us. Thus, any attempt to account for freedom and (...)
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  7. Susan Leigh Anderson (1995). Being Morally Responsible for an Action Versus Acting Responsibly or Irresponsibly. Journal of Philosophical Research 20:451-462.
    In her article “Asymmetrical Freedom,” and more recently in her book Freedom Within Reason, Susan Wolf claims to have given us a new theory to account for when we can be held morally responsible for our actions. I believe that she has confused “being morally responsible for an action” with “acting responsibly or irresponsibly.” I will argue that Wolf has given us a nice analysis of the latter concepts, but not of the former one as she intended. I do not (...)
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  8. Louise Antony (1979). Why We Excuse. Tulane Studies in Philosophy 28:63-70.
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  9. Nomy Arpaly (forthcoming). Consciousness and Moral Responsibility, by Neil Levy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-3.
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  10. Andrew M. Bailey (2013). Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  11. Lynne Rudder Baker, What is Human Freedom?
    After centuries of reflection, the issue of human freedom remains vital largely because of its connection to moral responsibility. When I ask—What is human freedom?—I mean to be asking what kind of freedom is required for moral responsibility? Questions about moral responsibility are intimately connected to questions about social policy and justice; so, the issue of moral responsibility—of desert, of whether or not anyone is ever really praiseworthy or blameworthy—has practical as well as theoretical significance.
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  12. Lynne Rudder Baker (2006). Moral Responsibility Without Libertarianism. Noûs 40 (2):307-330.
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  13. R. L. Barnette (1979). Brainwashing and Responsible Action. The Personalist 60 (1):61-75.
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  14. Elizabeth Lane Beardsley (1960). Determinism and Moral Perspectives. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 21 (1):1-20.
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  15. Lawrence C. Becker & Charlotte B. Becker (eds.) (2001). Encyclopedia of Ethics. Routledge.
    The editors, working with a team of 325 renowned authorities in the field of ethics, have revised, expanded, and updated this classic encyclopedia. Along with the addition of 150 new entries, all of the original articles have been newly peer-reviewed and revised, bibliographies have been updated throughout, and the overall design of the work has been enhanced for easier access to cross-references and other reference features. New entries include * Aristotelian Ethics * Avicenna * Bad Faith * Beneficence * Categorical (...)
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  16. Hanoch Ben-Yami (2015). On Free Will and on the Nature of Philosophy. Iyyun 64:89-96.
  17. Mark H. Bernstein (1981). Moral Responsibility and Free Will. Southern Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):1-10.
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  18. Bernard Berofsky (2003). Classical Compatibilism: Not Dead Yet. In Michael McKenna & David Widerker (eds.), Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities. Ashgate 107.
  19. Bernard Berofsky (1989). Belief and Responsibility. In Peter Slezak (ed.), Computers, Brains and Minds. Kluwer 95--122.
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  20. Bernard Berofsky (1987). Freedom From Necessity: The Metaphysical Basis of Responsibility. Routledge.
    Introduction No philosophical problem is more deserving of the title 'the free will problem' than that concerning the assessment of the claim that a ...
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  21. 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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  22. J. Bishop (2001). McCANN, HJ-The Works of Agency. Philosophical Books 42 (3):232-232.
  23. Gunnar Björnsson & Derk Pereboom (forthcoming). Traditional and Experimental Approaches to Free Will and Moral Responsibility. In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell
    Examines the relevance of empirical studies of responsibility judgments for traditional philosophical concerns about free will and moral responsibility. We argue that experimental philosophy is relevant to the traditional debates, but that setting up experiments and interpreting data in just the right way is no less difficult than negotiating traditional philosophical arguments. Both routes are valuable, but so far neither promises a way to secure significant agreement among the competing parties. To illustrate, we focus on three sorts of issues. For (...)
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  24. Gunnar Björnsson & Derk Pereboom (2014). Free Will Skepticism and Bypassing. In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 4. MIT Press 27–35.
    Discusses Eddy Nahmias' “Is Free Will an Illusion?”.
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  25. David Blumberg (1971). Determinism and Moral Responsibility. Journal of Value Inquiry 5 (3):207-211.
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  26. David C. Blumenfeld (1988). Freedom and Mind Control. American Philosophical Quarterly 25 (July):215-27.
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  27. Susanne Bobzien (2014). Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 3.5, 1113b7-8 and Free Choice. In R. Salles P. Destree (ed.), What is up to us? Studies on Causality and Responsibility in Ancient Philosophy. Academia Verlag
    ABSTRACT: This is a short companion piece to my ‘Found in Translation – Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics III.5 1113b7-8 and its Reception’ in which I examine in close textual analysis the philosophical question whether these two lines from the Nicomachean Ethics provide any evidence that Aristotle discussed free choice – as is not infrequently assumed. The result is that they do not, and that the claim that they do tends to be based on a mistranslation of the Greek. (There is some (...)
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  28. Susanne Bobzien (2000). Did Epicurus Discover the Free-Will Problem? Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 19:287-337.
    ABSTRACT: I argue that there is no evidence that Epicurus dealt with the kind of free-will problem he is traditionally associated with; i.e. that he discussed free choice or moral responsibility grounded on free choice, or that the "swerve" was involved in decision processes. Rather, for Epicurus, actions are fully determined by the agent's mental disposition at the outset of the action. Moral responsibility presupposes not free choice but that the person is unforced and causally responsible for the action. This (...)
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  29. Susanne Bobzien (1998). Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    Bobzien presents the definitive study of one of the most interesting intellectual legacies of the ancient Greeks: the Stoic theory of causal determinism. She explains what it was, how the Stoics justified it, and how it relates to their views on possibility, action, freedom, moral responsibility, moral character, fatalism, logical determinism and many other topics. She demonstrates the considerable philosophical richness and power that these ideas retain today.
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  30. Susanne Bobzien (1988). Die Kategorien Der Freiheit Bei Kant (Kant's Categories of Freedom). Kant 1:193-220.
    NOTE: The English translation is listed separately. ABSTRACT: A general interpretation and close textual analysis of Kant’s theory of the categories of freedom (or categories of practical reason) in his Critique of Practical Reason. My main concerns in the paper are the following: (1) I show that Kant’s categories of freedom have primarily three functions: as conditions of the possibility for actions (i) to be free, (ii) to be comprehensible as free and (iii) to be morally evaluated. (2) I show (...)
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  31. Hilary Bok (1998). Freedom and Responsibility. Princeton University Press.
    Can we reconcile the idea that we are free and responsible agents with the idea that what we do is determined according to natural laws? For centuries, philosophers have tried in different ways to show that we can. Hilary Bok takes a fresh approach here, as she seeks to show that the two ideas are compatible by drawing on the distinction between practical and theoretical reasoning.Bok argues that when we engage in practical reasoning--the kind that involves asking "what should I (...)
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  32. 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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  33. K. E. Boxer (2013). Rethinking Responsibility. OUP Oxford.
    K. E. Boxer explores moral responsibility, and whether it is compatible with causal determinism. She suggests that to answer this question we must focus on responsibility in the sense of liability, and that an incompatibilist view may only be preserved on an understanding of the moral desert of punishment that many find morally problematic.
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  34. Matthew Braddock (2009). Evolutionary Psychology's Moral Implications. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):531-540.
    In this paper, I critically summarize John Cartwrtight’s Evolution and Human Behavior and evaluate what he says about certain moral implications of Darwinian views of human behavior. He takes a Darwinism-doesn’t-rock-the-boat approach and argues that Darwinism, even if it is allied with evolutionary psychology, does not give us reason to be worried about the alterability of our behavior, nor does it give us reason to think that we may have to change our ordinary practices and views concerning free-will and moral (...)
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  35. Raymond D. Bradley (2015). Can God Condemn One to an Afterlife in Hell? In Keith Augustine & Michael Martin (eds.), The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death. Rowman & Littlefield 441-471.
    This paper argues that God is not logically able to condemn a person to Hell by considering what is entailed by accepting the best argument to the contrary, the so-called free will defense expounded by Christian apologists Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. It argues that the free will defense is logically fallacious, involves a philosophical fiction, and is based on a fraudulent account of Scripture, concluding that the problem of postmortem evil puts would-be believers in a logical and moral (...)
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  36. 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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  37. Thomas Campbell Brickhouse (1974). Determinism and Aristotle's Analysis of Responsibility. Dissertation, Vanderbilt University
  38. Fernando Broncano (2008). Moral Responsibility. The Ways of Scepticism – by Carlos Moya. Dialectica 62 (4):553-557.
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  39. Andrei A. Buckareff (2011). How Does Agent-­‐Causal Power Work? Modern Schoolman 88 (1/2):105-121.
    Research on the nature of dispositionality or causal power has flourished in recent years in metaphysics. This trend has slowly begun to influence debates in the philosophy of agency, especially in the literature on free will. Both sophisticated versions of agent-­‐causalism and the new varieties of dispositionalist compatibilism exploit recently developed accounts of dispositionality in their defense. In this paper, I examine recent work on agent-­‐causal power, focusing primarily on the account of agent-­‐causalism developed and defended by Timothy O’Connor’s in (...)
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  40. Sarah Buss, Personal Autonomy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    To be autonomous is to be a law to oneself; autonomous agents are self-governing agents. Most of us want to be autonomous because we want to be accountable for what we do, and because it seems that if we are not the ones calling the shots, then we cannot be accountable. More importantly, perhaps, the value of autonomy is tied to the value of self-integration. We don't want to be alien to, or at war with, ourselves; and it seems that (...)
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  41. Sarah Buss (1997). Review of John Fischer's Metaphysics of Free Will. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 38 (2):117-121.
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  42. Sarah Byers (2010). Augustine De Libero Arbitrio (S.) Harrison Augustine's Way Into the Will. The Theological and Philosophical Significance of De Libero Arbitrio. Pp. Xii + 191. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Cased, £45. ISBN: 978-0-19-826984-. [REVIEW] The Classical Review 60 (01):145-.
  43. Sarah Byers (2010). Augustine De Libero Arbitrio: Augustine's Way Into the Will. The Theological and Philosophical Significance of De Libero Arbitrio. [REVIEW] The Classical Review 60 (1):145-147.
  44. Jeremy Byrd (2014). The Dialectical Advantage of the Direct Argument. Erkenntnis 79 (2):431-444.
    Traditionally, incompatibilists about moral responsibility and determinism claim that we cannot be morally responsible unless we could have done otherwise and that we cannot do otherwise if we are determined. The Direct Argument for incompatibilism supposedly offers its defenders a dialectical advantage over this traditional approach insofar as it does not appear to rely on either of these controversial claims. Recently, though, David Widerker has argued against this supposition and urged that it is time to say farewell to the Direct (...)
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  45. Jeremy Byrd (2010). Agnosticism About Moral Responsibility. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):411-432.
    Traditionally, incompatibilism has rested on two theses. First, the familiar Principle of Alternative Possibilities says that we cannot be morally responsible for what we do unless we could have done otherwise. Accepting this principle, incompatibilists have then argued that there is no room for such alternative possibilities in a deterministic world. Recently, however, a number of philosophers have argued that incompatibilism about moral responsibility can be defended independently of these traditional theses (Ginet 2005: 604-8; McKenna 2001; Stump 1999: 322-4, 2000 (...)
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  46. John S. Callender (2010). Free Will and Responsibility. A Guide for Practitioners. Oxford University Press.
    This book is aimed primarily at the practitioners of morals such as psychiatrists,lawyers and policy-makers. My professional background is clinical psychiatry It is divided into three parts. The first of these provides an overview of moral theory, morality in non-human species and recent developments in neuroscience that are of relevance to moral and legal responsibility. In the second part I offer a new paradigm of free action based on the overlaps between free will, moral value and art. In the overlap (...)
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  47. C. A. Campbell (1963). Professor Smart on Free-Will, Praise and Blame; a Reply. Mind 72 (287):400-405.
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  48. Justin Caouette (2013). Moral Responsibility and Psychopathy: Why We Do Not Have Special Obligations To The Psychopath. AJOB Neuroscience 4 (2):26-27.
  49. Justin Capes (2012). Action, Responsibility and the Ability to Do Otherwise. Philosophical Studies 158 (1):1-15.
    Here it is argued that in order for something someone “does” to count as a genuine action, the person needn’t have been able to refrain from doing it. If this is right, then two recent defenses of the principle of alternative possibilities, a version of which says that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have refrained from doing it, are unsuccessful.
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  50. Justin A. Capes (2010). The W-Defense. Philosophical Studies 150 (1):61-77.
    There has been a great deal of critical discussion of Harry Frankfurt’s argument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), almost all of which has focused on whether the Frankfurt-style examples, which are designed to be counterexamples to PAP, can be given a coherent formulation. Recently, however, David Widerker has argued that even if Frankfurt-style examples can be given a coherent formulation, there is reason to believe that an agent in those examples could never be morally blameworthy for what she (...)
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