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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. Donald Ainslie (1997). Freedom and Moral Sentiment. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 106 (4):596-598.
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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. Andrew M. Bailey (2013). Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  7. 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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  8. Lynne Rudder Baker (2006). Moral Responsibility Without Libertarianism. Noûs 40 (2):307-330.
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  9. R. L. Barnette (1979). Brainwashing and Responsible Action. The Personalist 60 (1):61-75.
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  10. 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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  11. Hanoch Ben-Yami (2015). On Free Will and on the Nature of Philosophy. Iyyun 64:89-96.
  12. Mark H. Bernstein (1981). Moral Responsibility and Free Will. Southern Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):1-10.
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  13. Bernard Berofsky (2003). Classical Compatibilism: Not Dead Yet. In Michael McKenna & David Widerker (eds.), Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities. Ashgate. 107.
  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. Gunnar Björnsson & Derk Pereboom (forthcoming). Comments on Eddy Nahmias, “Is Free Will an Illusion?”. In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 4. MIT Press.
    Discusses Eddy Nahmias' “Is Free Will an Illusion?”.
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  17. David Blumberg (1971). Determinism and Moral Responsibility. Journal of Value Inquiry 5 (3):207-211.
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  18. David C. Blumenfeld (1988). Freedom and Mind Control. American Philosophical Quarterly 25 (July):215-27.
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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. Fernando Broncano (2008). Moral Responsibility. The Ways of Scepticism – by Carlos Moya. Dialectica 62 (4):553-557.
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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. Sarah Buss (1997). Review of John Fischer's Metaphysics of Free Will. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 38 (2):117-121.
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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. 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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  31. C. A. Campbell (1963). Professor Smart on Free-Will, Praise and Blame; a Reply. Mind 72 (287):400-405.
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  32. 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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  33. 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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  34. Erik Carlson (2004). Review of Randolph Clarke, Libertarian Accounts of Free Will. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2004 (10).
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  35. Erik Carlson (1998). Van Inwagen on Determinism and Moral Responsibility. Journal of Value Inquiry 32 (2):219-226.
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  36. Gregg Caruso (forthcoming). Free Will Skepticism and Its Implications: An Argument for Optimism. In Elizabeth Shaw (ed.), Justice Without Retribution.
  37. Gregg Caruso (forthcoming). If Consciousness is Necessary for Moral Responsibility, Then People Are Less Responsible Than We Think. Journal of Consciousness Studies.
  38. Gregg Caruso (forthcoming). Précis of Neil Levy’s Consciousness and Moral Responsibility. Journal of Consciousness Studies.
  39. Gregg Caruso (2014). (Un)Just Deserts: The Dark Side of Moral Responsibility. Southwest Philosophy Review 30 (1):27-38.
    What would be the consequence of embracing skepticism about free will and/or desert-based moral responsibility? What if we came to disbelieve in moral responsibility? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some maintain? Or perhaps increase anti-social behavior as some re- cent studies have suggested (Vohs and Schooler 2008; Baumeister, Masi- campo, and DeWall 2009)? Or would (...)
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  40. Gregg Caruso (2014). Précis of Derk Pereboom’s Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life. Science, Religion and Culture 1 (3):178-201.
    Derk Pereboom’s Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life (2014) provides the most lively and comprehensive defense of free will skepticism in the literature. It contains a reworked and expanded version of the view he first developed in Living without Free Will (2001). Important objections to the early book are answered, some slight modifications are introduced, and the overall account is significantly embellished—for example, Pereboom proposes a new account of rational deliberation consistent with the belief that one’s actions are causally (...)
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  41. Gregg Caruso (ed.) (2013). Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Lexington Books.
    This book explores the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications. Skepticism about free will and moral responsibility has been on the rise in recent years. In fact, a significant number of philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists now either doubt or outright deny the existence of free will and/or moral responsibility—and the list of prominent skeptics appears to grow by the day. Given the profound importance that the concepts of free will and moral responsibility play in our (...)
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  42. Gregg Caruso (2013). Introduction: Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. In Gregg D. Caruso (ed.), Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Lexington Books.
    This introductory chapter discusses the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications--including the debate between Saul Smilansky's "illusionism," Thomas Nadelhoffer's "disillusionism," Shaun Nichols' "anti-revolution," and the "optimistic skepticism" of Derk Pereboom, Bruce Waller, Tamler Sommers, and others.
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  43. Luca Castagnoli (2011). The Stoics on Determinism and Compatibilism. Ancient Philosophy 31 (1):228-235.
  44. Roderick Chisholm (1966). Freedom and Action. In Keith Lehrer (ed.), Freedom and Determinism. Random House.
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  45. Roderick M. Chisholm (1971). Reflections on Human Agency. Idealistic Studies 1 (1):33-46.
  46. Michelle Ciurria (2013). Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility. [REVIEW] Philosophical Psychology (4):1-5.
    Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility. . ???aop.label???. doi: 10.1080/09515089.2012.749443.
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  47. Randolph Clarke (2013). Abilities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):451-458.
    For a symposium on Dana Nelkin's Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility.
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  48. Randolph Clarke (2011). Omissions, Responsibility, and Symmetry. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (3):594-624.
    It is widely held that one can be responsible for doing something that one was unable to avoid doing. This paper focuses primarily on the question of whether one can be responsible for not doing something that one was unable to do. The paper begins with an examination of the account of responsibility for omissions offered by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, arguing that in many cases it yields mistaken verdicts. An alternative account is sketched that jibes with and (...)
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  49. Randolph Clarke (2007). The Appearance of Freedom. Philosophical Explorations 10 (1):51 – 57.
    This paper develops three points in response to Habermas's ?The Language Game of Responsible Agency and the Problem of Free Will.? First, while Habermas nicely characterizes the appearance of freedom, he misconstrues its connections to deliberate agency, responsibility, and our justificatory practice. Second, Habermas's discussion largely overlooks grave conceptual challenges to our idea of freedom, challenges more fundamental than those posed by naturalism. Finally, a physicalist view of ourselves may be able to save as much of the appearance of freedom (...)
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  50. Randolph Clarke (1994). Ability and Responsibility for Omissions. Philosophical Studies 73 (2-3):195 - 208.
    Most philosophers now accept that an agent may be responsible for an action even though she could not have acted otherwise. However, many who accept such a view about responsibility for actions nevertheless maintain that, when it comes to omissions, an agent is responsible only if she could have done what she omitted to do. If this Principle of Possible Action (PPA), as it is sometimes called, is correct, then there is an important asymmetry between what is required for responsibility (...)
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