Abstract Kwame Anthony Appiah has devoted much scholarly work to exploring the problems surrounding racial and cultural identities in the USA. He defends the position that such identities need not be centrally significant in the psyche of the subject, and that black demands for blacks to be recognised having a black (race) identity, is symptomatic of black racism. Like other racisms, black racism has a tendency to ?go imperial?, affecting the autonomy of the individual to decide which identity constructs (...) she is willing to endorse as her own. Appiah believes that free association, as the locus of social solidarities and the formation of individual and social identities, should be upheld as a counterweight to the imperialism of racisms in the USA. He believes, furthermore, that the cosmopolitan state best caters for free associations of this kind. In this article I offer a comprehensive view of Appiah's support for cosmopolitanism as the best answer to the problems of identity which race and culture generate in multicultural USA. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Max Deutscher’s recent accounts of thinking, willing and judging, derived from his reading of Hannah Arendt’s 'The Life of the Mind', as set out in his book 'Judgment After Arendt'. Against Deutscher I argue that thinking does not presuppose thoughtfulness, that being willing is compatible with willing reluctantly, and that actor and spectator judgments are distinct types of judgments.
Bernard Williams has argued that, because belief aims at getting the truth right, it is a conceptual truth that we cannot directly will to believe. Manyothers have adopted Williams claim that believers necessarily respect truth-conducive reasons and evidence. By presenting increasingly stronger cases, I argue that, on the contrary, believers can quite consciously disregard the demand for truth-conducive reasons and evidence. The irrationality of those who would directly will to believe is not any greater than that displayed by some actual (...) believers. So, our inability to directly will to believe is a contingent truth (at best). (shrink)
In an all too familiar part of our lives, we are sometimes strongly tempted to do things we think we shouldn’t do. Consider the burning desire to eat one of the donuts your coworker brought to work while you are on a diet. Often times we surrender to temptation. But sometimes we fight the urges and refrain—we exhibit will-power. Much of our ordinary thinking involves reference to “the will” in this sort of way. Yet for quite some time many contemporary (...) philosophers have avoided talk of the will in their accounts of human action. This is largely because the will was thought to be a mysterious and superfluous thing—a ghostly cog in psychological theory that serves no explanatory purpose. However, there is a growing trend in philosophy that is bringing back talk of the will. Willing, Wanting, Waiting is, refreshingly, part of that trend. Holton develops a unique account of the will and related phenomena that is both empirically informed and philosophically rigorous in a way that is accessible to an interdisciplinary audience. (shrink)
This paper argues that Hegel's depiction of knowledge, as presented in the Encyclopaedia philosophy of subjective Spirit, is founded on what he deems to be the practical interests of self-consciousness. More specifically, it highlights the significance of the will in Hegel's understanding of the cognitive process. I begin with a survey of the relation between category-formation and the notion of self-determining freedom in the Logic , and therewith draw attention to the unity of thinking and willing in the Concept. (...) I then indicate how Hegel's philosophy of subjective Spirit should be read as the applied logic of the Concept, according to which the socially constituted self-conscious I seeks to realise its claims to freedom through its theoretical cognitions of objects. As part of what could be called Hegel's integrative theory of the faculties, I finally argue that the will underscores both the determinate character of our theoretical cognitions and the reflexivity of knowledge in general. On this score, I maintain that Hegel, whose relation to Kant and Fichte I also consider, is of the view that it is with reference to willing that we can account for the self-referential nature of reason in toto as the actualised unity of theoretical-practical subjectivity. (shrink)
Kant and Nietzsche are typically thought to have diametrically opposed accounts of willing: put simply, whereas Kant gives signal importance to reflective episodes of choice, Nietzsche seems to deny that reflective choices have any significant role in the etiology of human action. In this essay, I argue that the dispute between Kant and Nietzsche actually takes a far more interesting form. Nietzsche is not merely rejecting the Kantian picture of agency. Rather, Nietzsche is offering a subtle critique of the (...) Kantian theory, denying certain aspects of it while preserving others. On a standard reading, the Kantian theory of willing is committed to three claims: (1) choice causes action, (2) motives do not determine choice, and (3) reflective deliberation suspends the effects of motives. I argue that Nietzsche accepts versions of claims (1) and (2) while denying claim (3). I show that Nietzsche's denial of (3) is premised upon a sophisticated conception of motivation. I contend that Nietzsche's denial of (3) leads him to a new model of reflective agency. This model preserves certain Kantian insights about the nature of self-conscious agency, while embedding these insights in a more complex and arguably more plausible account of motivation. The resultant theory of agency is considerably more sophisticated than has yet been appreciated. (shrink)
In his Philosophical Inquiry concerning Human Liberty (1717), the English deist Anthony Collins proposed a complete determinist account of the human mind and action, partly inspired by his mentor Locke, but also by elements from Bayle, Leibniz and other Continental sources. It is a determinism which does not neglect the question of the specific status of the mind but rather seeks to provide a causal account of mental activity and volition in particular; it is a ‘volitional determinism’. Some decades (...) later, Diderot articulates a very similar determinism, which seeks to recognize the existence of “causes proper to man” (as he says in the Réfutation d’Helvétius). The difference with Collins is that now biological factors are being taken into account. Obviously both the ‘volitional’ and the ‘biological’ forms of determinism are noteworthy inasmuch as they change our picture of the nature of determinism itself, but my interest here is to compare these two determinist arguments, both of which are broadly Spinozist in nature – and as such belong to what Jonathan Israel called in his recent book “the radical Enlightenment,” i.e. a kind of underground Enlightenment constituted by Spinozism – and to see how Collins’ specifically psychological vision and Diderot’s specifically biological vision correspond to their two separate national contexts: determinism in France in the mid-1750s was a much more medico-biological affair than English determinism, which appears to be on a ‘path’ leading to Mill and associationist psychology. (shrink)
In "Contents just are in the head" (Erkenntnis 54, pp. 321-4.) I have presented two arguments against the thesis of semantic externalism. In "Contents just aren't in the head" Anthony Brueckner has argued that my arguments are unsuccessful, since they rest upon some misconceptions regarding the nature of this thesis. (Erkenntnis 58, pp. 1-6.) In the present paper I will attempt to clarify and strengthen the case against semantic externalism, and show that Brueckner misses the point of my arguments.
What is the impact of science on philosophy? In “Experiments in Ethics”, Kwame Anthony Appiah addresses this question for morality and ethics. Appiah suggests that scientific results may undermine moral intuitions by undermining our confidence in the actual sources of our intuitions, or by invalidating our factual assumptions about the causes of human behavior. Appiah worries that scientific results showing situational causes on human behavior force us to abandon the intuition, formalized in virtue ethics, that what matters is “who (...) you are on the inside”. In this review, we agree with Appiah that scientific results at once force and do not force us to abandon this intuition. We also propose that Appiah’s worry is due in part to an over-simplified conception of “internal causes”, shared widely among scientists and philosophers. By re-introducing the true richness of internal causes invoked in moral judgments, we hope to relax the tension between scientific results and moral intuitions. Ultimately, we propose that science can undermine and constrain but cannot affirm our commitment to specific moral intuitions. (shrink)
The correspondence between Samuel Clarke and Anthony Collins of 1706–8, while not well known, is a spectacularly good debate between a dualist and a materialist over the possibility of giving a materialist account of consciousness and personal identity. This article puts the Clarke Collins Correspondence in a broader context in which it can be better appreciated, noting that it is really a debate between John Locke and Anthony Collins on one hand, and Samuel Clarke and Joseph Butler on (...) the other. Anthony Collins argues on behalf of John Locke's claim that it would be as easy for God to superadd the power of thinking to matter as for him to connect a soul to a body. Locke did not believe that matter could naturally produce thought or consciousness, but it was in God's power to make matter think. To defend Locke's claim Collins must defend the claim that there are emergent properties in the world – properties of a whole that are not possessed by the parts. Collins also defends a materialist version of Locke's account of personal identity against a variety of charges. Because the topics of debate in the correspondence are of such great interest to us, it deserves to be rescued from the neglect into which it fell and from which intellectual historians and philosophers have only recently and partially removed it. (shrink)
Kant's formula of universal law appears to fail in some cases, producing false negatives and false positives. Adding further qualifications to one's maxims can fix the first problem, but not all of the latter. In particular, there are maxims which generate no contradiction in will when practiced universally, but which are irrational to will that some agent follow in contexts where it is known that other agents are not following it. This reveals that Kant's conception of "universalization" is too narrow: (...) we need to ask, not if we can will the universalization of a maxim's practice, but whether we can universally will, of each agent in every possible circumstance, that this agent follow the maxim. (shrink)
Situating the subject -- Hermeneutics and spech-act theory -- Hermeneutics, semantics, and conceptual grammar -- Lexicography, exegesis, and reception history -- Parables, narrative-worlds, and reader-response theories -- Philosophy, language, theology, and postermodernity -- Hermeneutics, history, and theology.
Anthony Kenny's book is one of the best of its genre, exemplifying the kind of introduction into (some field of) Aquinas's thought that endeavors to make his ideas accessible to the philosophically interested contemporary reader in terms of such philosophical, scientific and everyday concepts with which the reader can safely be assumed to be familiar. Indeed, Kenny's book provides us with such a good example of this genre that it brings into sharp focus the problems of the genre itself. (...) Therefore, while duly acknowledging the book's virtues of clarity of presentation, and its highly readable, almost conversational style, let me concentrate in this brief review on this problematic aspect of Kenny's book, as someone who is just as much concerned with making Aquinas accessible to a contemporary audience as the author is. (shrink)
Anthony de Jasay attempts to demonstrate that public goods can be supplied privately without loss of efficiency, since there may be enough people willing to finance public?goods production voluntarily, even at the risk of subsidizing free riders, rather than risk that public goods will not be produced at all. Jasay's argument rests on the implausible assumption that the goods in question are completely indivisible. This assumption forces persons interested in having a given public good either to finance it (...) or do without it entirely; they do not have the option of financing smaller quantities or poorer qualities of the good. (shrink)
Judeo-Christian and Anglo-Saxon forms of marriage have injected patrilineal values and companionate expectations into the Akan matrilineal family structure. As Anthony Appiah demonstrates, these infusions have generated severe strains in the matrikin social structures and, in extreme cases, resulted in the break up of families. In this essay, I investigate the ideological politics at play in this patrilinealization of Asante society.
In this article I respond to James Martel’s essay ‘ Amo: Volu ut sis : Love, willing, and Arendt’s reluctant embrace of sovereignty’. Martel offers us a provocative account of how Arendt might have attenuated her most severe rejections of the concept of sovereignty in light of the necessity of some version of sovereignty in modern times. However, I argue that Martel misreads Arendt, drawing inferences from Arendt’s inner/outer distinction that do not follow from Arendt’s own logic. Instead of (...) this distinction, I claim that Arendt’s rejection of sovereignty must be understood in the context of her affirmation of natality, and that a consistent reading of Arendt reveals an unstinting rejection of sovereignty, for both good and ill. (shrink)
Currently, the neurosciences challenge the concept of will to be scientifically untenable, specifying that it is our brain rather than our "self" that decides what we want to do. At the same time, we seem to be confronted with increasing possibilities and necessities of free choice in all areas of social life. Based on up-to-date (empirical) research in the social sciences and philosophy, the authors convened in this book address this seeming contradiction: By differentiating the physical, the psychic, and the (...) social realm, the neuroscientific findings can be acknowledged within a comprehensive framework of selves in neoliberal societies. (shrink)
This new collection enriches our understanding of Nietzsche's philosophy by examining his relationship with Schopenhauer. Eight leading scholars contribute specially written essays in which Nietzsche's changing conceptions of pessimism, tragedy, art, morality, truth, knowledge, religion, atheism, determinism, the will, and the self are revealed as responses to the work of the thinker he called his "great teacher.".
Theories of the will may be usefully divided into three kinds. The reductivist about the will tells us that volitional states such as intention may be reduced to states that are not themselves intrinsically volitional, notably beliefs and desires. The non-naturalist about the will rejects any such reduction, and indeed argues that accommodating claims about the will requires us to reject hypotheses that seem open to confirmation by future physics, notably determinism. The tempting but elusive middle ground between these two (...) views may be called non-reductive naturalism about the will. On such a view, volitional states must be taken as basic and irreducible, but are not such that we cannot find room for them in the world as it may be disclosed to us by science. (shrink)
Robert Kane's event-causal libertarian theory of free will has been subjected to a variety of criticisms. In response to the luck objection, he has provided an ambiguous answer which results in additional criticisms that are avoidable. I explain Kane's theory, the luck objection and Kane's reply to the problem of luck. I note that in some places he suggests that the dual wantings of agents engaged in self-forming actions (SFAs) provides the key to answering the luck objection, whereas in other (...) places he suggests that the dual willings or tryings of agents is the key. Various philosophers criticize Kane's view by focusing on his concept of the dual willings/tryings involved in SFAs. I argue that despite Kane's efforts to answer these criticisms, they still hold; but I also go on to argue that Kane can avoid these criticisms and also answer the luck objection by just focusing on the important role of the dual wantings in SFAs. (shrink)
Although critical of what she calls the `antipolitical' forces of love and sovereignty, Arendt reluctantly embraces these aspects as the basis of politics itself. I explain this paradox by arguing that Arendt seeks to balance Greek and Roman notions of freedom with modern conceptions of the will. The solipsistic will poses a threat to politics (it is the source of sovereignty itself). Yet the will is a fact of modern life and cannot be ignored. I argue that despite her embrace (...) of classical understandings of freedom as contingency, Arendt seeks to limit contingency and even freedom itself. She does this to accommodate the will which must have some sense of agency and continuity in order to be able to function at all. Arendt argues that sovereignty can, if properly constrained, produce a `certain limited reality' and can (along with love) serve as a basis for politics. I claim that Arendt sacrifices her classical ideals, allowing for the possibility of a modern, lesser version of freedom (which in her view is better than no freedom at all). Key Words: love promising sovereignty will. (shrink)
interpreted to support the ethical case for vegetarianism.Â Yet to my knowledge Aronsonâ€™s is the ﬁrst book devoted to lapsed vegetarians, which she dubs â€œlapsosâ€.Â Aronson declares â€œ...I have no intention of answering the question posed in the book's title, although I shall ask what it meansâ€ (3).Â Yet, evidently despite her intention, by the end of the book she writes â€œ...many struggle with the implications of eating or not eating meat.Â In the struggle itself, the spirit is strengthened; to (...) the extent that lapsos struggle, their spirits are not weakâ€ (291).Â So in a way this interesting book is an apology for lapsed vegetarians. Â â€œThe opposite of a polemic is what I intended in this book: enough diatribes have been written alreadyâ€ (285).Â In this intention, the author succeeds.Â At the same time, however, Aronson extols the virtues of veganism throughout the book.Â While this apparent ambivalence may leave some readers confused or frustrated, the author is quite comfortable with it.Â â€œI wrote this book as a peace oﬀering, to soften the debate, to erase lines of demarcation, to trace ambiguity and nuance, and to suggest that being a vegetarian should not be so easy.Â Reality is much too slippery for either consistency or consensusâ€ (288).Â But while some aspects of reality are slippery in this sense, surely other aspects admit of much better traction, as I will discuss below. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The raw material for Aronsonâ€™s study is gleaned from interviews of two dozen lapsed vegetarians.Â She claims that the stories of these lapsos are â€œparables for our ageâ€ (3).Â The book divides into a preface, an introduction, twenty chapters, a postface, the questionnaire she used to select her twenty-four lapsos in an appendix, endnotes, a select bibliography, brief biographies of the lapsos, an index of their names, and a paragraph about the author.Â Though there are interesting points in many of the twenty chapters, I will limit my comments to only a.... (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers who are concerned with the following three philosophical issues can learn much from Scotus: (1) the defense of agent-causal accounts of the will; (2) the search for common ground between ancient and Kantian ethics: and (3) the co-existence of free will and the capacity for sin in heaven.1) Free Will and Agent Causation: According to Scotus, the will moves itself to act, but does not cause itself. Human actions are done for reasons determinedby the agent; they are not (...) reducible to events (which are themselves necessitated by prior events).2) Reconciling Ancient and Kantian Ethics: Like Kant, Scotus thinks that creatures cannot be morally responsible for their actions if happiness is their solemotivation for choosing whatever they choose; Scotus distinguishes between motivations and ends, although less sharply than Kant does. For Scotus, thedesire for happiness includes the desire for self-perfection; thus happiness for Scotus is never reducible to hedonism, nor is happiness our sole motivation.Our freedom lies in the will’s ability to love good things according to the value they have in themselves, not according to the value that they have for us.3) Is Heaven a Problem? A familiar explanation of the problem of evil is that evil is permitted because free will is required for moral goodness; without free willthere would be no moral evil, but neither would there be any moral goodness, so the world is better than it would be if God had chosen not to create freecreatures. But if free will is such a great good, then we must retain the capacity to sin in heaven, or else heavenly existence is inferior to earthly existence.And, if we do retain the capacity to sin in heaven, then heaven is not essentially devoid of evil. Scotus would respond to this problem by stating that love, notfreedom, is the greatest good. Thus, his account of heaven is consistent with what it means to love God above all, for his own sake, and without the motivationof happiness or any other benefit. (shrink)
What does a person really want when he asks for an apology? Why do people so often find it difficult to give an apology? Repentance is relevant to personal identity because the unrepentant soul has his own theory of personal identity. The unrepentant person believes he is his preference, and that he is entitled to the behavior that flows from those preferences. This fact can explain why people are so often reluctant to admit wrongdoing, why people place so much importance (...) upon receiving an apology and other behaviors that would be otherwise inexplicable. The unrepentant person uses something akin to a naive economic theory of human behavior. The naive version of homo economicus, or economic man, can never truly be sorry for anything, and as a result, will be almost impossible to live with. A person who identifies himself too closely with his preferences will bring misery to himself and those around him. (shrink)
Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- John Martin Fischer and Anthony B rueckner, "Why is death bad?", Philosophical studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (September 1986) -- "Death, badness, and the impossibility of experience," Journal of ethics -- John Martin Fischer and Daniel Speak, "Death and the psychological conception of personal identity," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 24 -- "Earlier birth and later death : symmetry through thick and thin," Richard Feldman, Kris McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, (...) eds., The good, the right, life and death (Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing, 2006) -- "Why immortality is not so bad," International journal of philosophical studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (September 1994) -- John Martin Fischer and Ruth Curl, "Philosophical models of immortality in science fiction," in George Slusser et. al., eds., Immortal engines : life extension and immortality in science fiction and fantasy (Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Press, 1996) -- "Epicureanism about death and immortality," Journal of ethics, vol. 10, no. 4 -- "Stories," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 20 -- "Free will, death, and immortality : the role of narrative," Philosophical papers (Special issue : meaning in life) volume 34, number 3, November 2005 -- "Stories and the meaning of life," revised and expanded version of "A reply to Pereboom, Zimmerman, and Smith," part of a book symposium on John Martin Fischer, my way : essays on moral responsibility, philosophical books, vol. 47, no. 3. (shrink)
Sir Anthony Kenny's engaging new multi-volume history of Western philosophy now advances into the modern era. The Rise of Modern Philosophy captures the fascinating story of the emergence, from the early sixteenth to the early nineteenth century, of the great ideas and intellectual systems that shaped modern thought. Kenny introduces us to some of the world's most original and influential thinkers and helps us gain an understanding of their famous works. The great minds we meet include Rene Descartes, traditionally (...) seen as the founder of modern philosophy; the great British philosophers Hobbes, Locke, and Hume; continental thinkers such as Spinoza, Liebniz, and Hegel; and the towering figure of Immanuel Kant, who perhaps more than any other made philosophy what it is today. Kenny first tells the story of modern philosophy chronologically: his lively, accessible narrative brings the philosophers to life and fills in the historical and intellectual background to their work. It is ideal as the first thing to read for someone new to this wonderfully creative period. Kenny then backtracks to look closely at each of the main areas of philosophical exploration in this period: knowledge and understanding; the nature of the physical universe; metaphysics (the most fundamental questions there are about existence); mind and soul; the nature and content of morality; political philosophy; and God. The book also features many intriguing and beautiful illustrations which evoke the human and social side of philosophy. Anyone who is interested in the evolution of modern thought will find this a book a treasure. (shrink)
This book represents a serious and philosophically sophisticated guide to modern American legal theory, demonstrating that legal positivism has been a misunderstood and underappreciated perspective through most of twentieth-century American legal thought. Anthony Sebok traces the roots of positivism through the first half of the twentieth century, and rejects the view that one must adopt some version of natural law theory in order to recognize moral principles in the law. On the contrary, once one corrects for the mistakes of (...) formalism and postwar legal process, one is left with a theory of legal positivism that takes moral principles seriously while avoiding the pitfalls of natural law. The broad scope of this book ensures that it will be read by philosophers of law, historians of law, historians of American intellectual life, and those in political science concerned with public law and administration. (shrink)
Abstract In his discourses on ‘the lily of the field and the bird of the air,’ Kierkegaard presents faith as the best possible response to our precarious and uncertain condition, and as the ideal way to cope with the insecurities and concerns that his readers will recognize as common features of human existence. Reading these discourses together, we are introduced to the portrait of a potential believer who, like the ‘divinely appointed teachers’—the lily and the bird—succeeds in leading a life (...) that is full of care, but free of worry. Such a portrait, we claim, echoes Kierkegaard’s portrait of the knight of faith in Fear and Trembling . In this essay we suggest that faith, as characterized in the ‘lily and bird’ discourses, is a kind of existential trust that would allow us to overcome worry, while remaining wholeheartedly engaged in the finite realm of our cares and concerns. We claim that Kierkegaard’s goal in these discourses is not to belittle our earthly cares, but to invite us to develop a modified attitude toward all that we are susceptible to worry about. Content Type Journal Article Category Article Pages 1-19 DOI 10.1007/s11153-011-9322-5 Authors Sharon Krishek, Department of Philosophy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel Rick Anthony Furtak, Department of Philosophy, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO, USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047. (shrink)
Aristotle has arguably been the most influential of all philosophers. This selection of works by Aristotle, along with essays by Aristotle scholar Anthony Kenny, traces the philosopher's profound influence throughout the ages. It covers in-depth his ethics and philosophy of mind and shows how they provided the framework for fruitful developments in the Middle Ages as well as in the present day. It also includes various contributions to the most recent form of Aristotelian scholarship: computer-assisted stylometry. Anyone who has (...) ever been fascinated by Aristotle's brilliant insight and intellectual legacy will be delighted with this engaging collection. (shrink)
Sir Anthony Kenny here tells the fascinating story of the birth of philosophy and its remarkable flourishing in the ancient Mediterranean world. This is the initial volume of a four-book set in which Kenny will unfold a magisterial new history of Western philosophy, the first major single-author history of philosophy to appear in decades. Ancient Philosophy spans over a thousand years and brings to life the great minds of the past, from Thales, Pythagoras, and Parmenides, to Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus (...) Aurelius, and Augustine. The book's great virtue is that it is written by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject. Instead of an uncritical, straightforward recitation of known facts--Plato and his cave of shadows, Aristotle's ethics, Augustine's City of God--we see the major philosophers through the eyes of a man who has spent a lifetime contemplating their work. Thus we do not simply get an overview of Aristotle, for example, but a penetrating and insightful critique of his thought. Kenny offers an illuminating account of the various schools of thought, from the Pre-Socratics to the Epicureans. He examines the development of logic and reason, ancient ideas about physics ("how things happen"), metaphysics and ethics, and the earliest thinking about the soul and god. Vividly written, but serious and deep enough to offer a genuine understanding of the great philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating history will become the definitive work for anyone interested in the people and ideas that shaped the course of Western thought. (shrink)
Sir Anthony Kenny here continues his fascinating account of the history of philosophy, focusing on the thousand-year-long medieval period. This is the second volume of a four-book set in which Kenny will unfold a magisterial new history of Western philosophy, the first major single-author history of philosophy to appear in decades. In this volume, Kenny takes us on a fascinating tour through more than a millennium of thought from 400 AD onwards, charting the story of philosophy from the founders (...) of Christian and Islamic thought through to the Renaissance. The Middle Ages saw a great flourishing of philosophy, and the intellectual endeavor of the era reaches its climax in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with the systems of the great schoolmen such as Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus. With Kenny as guide, we see these major philosophers through the eyes of a man who has spent a lifetime contemplating their work. Thus we do not simply get an overview of philosophy, but also a penetrating and insightful critique of it. Kenny offers an illuminating account of various thinkers and schools of thought, from Augustine to Maimonides and from Grosseteste to Pomponazzi. And he offers much insight into medieval thinking about logic and language, knowledge, physics, metaphysics, the mind, the soul, and God. Vividly written, but serious and deep enough to offer a genuine understanding of the great philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating history will become the definitive work for anyone interested in the people and ideas that shaped the course of Western thought. (shrink)
From the late-fifteenth century onwards, scholars across Europe began to write books about how to read and evaluate histories. These pioneering works - which often take surprisingly modern-sounding positions - grew from complex early modern debates about law, religion, and classical scholarship. In this book, based on the Trevelyan Lectures of 2005, Anthony Grafton explains why so many of these works were written, why they attained so much insight - and why, in the centuries that followed, most scholars gradually (...) forgot that they had existed. Elegant and accessible, What Was History? is a deliberate evocation of E. H. Carr’s celebrated and icononclastic Trevelyan Lectures on What Is History?, and will appeal to a broad readership of students, scholars and historical enthusiasts. Anthony Grafton is one of the most celebrated historians writing in English today, and What Was History? is a powerful and imaginative exploration of some central themes in the history of European ideas. (shrink)
The study of identity crosses all disciplinary borders to address such issues as the multiple interactions of race, class, and gender in feminist, lesbian, and gay studies, postcolonialism and globalization, and the interrelation of nationalism and ethnicity in ethnic and area studies. Identities will help disrupt the cliche-ridden discourse of identity by exploring the formation of identities and problem of subjectivity. Leading scholars in literary criticism, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy explore such topics as "Gypsies" in the Western imagination, the mobilization (...) of the West in Chinese television, the lesbian identity and the woman's gaze in fashion photography, and the regulation of black women's bodies in early 20th-century urban areas. This collection of twenty articles brings together the special issue of Critical Inquiry entitled "Identities" (Summer 1992), two other previously published essays, and five previously published critical responses and rejoinders, all of which is interrogated in two new essays by Michael Gorra and Judith Butler. Contributors include Elizabeth Abel, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Akeel Bilgrami, Daniel Boyarin, Jonathan Boyarin, Judith Butler, Hazel V. Carby, Xiaomei Chen, Diana Fuss, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Avery Gordon, Michael Gorra, Cheryl Herr, Saree S. Makdisi, Walter Benn Michaels, Christopher Newfield, Gananath Obeyesekere, Molly Anne Rothenberg, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Sara Suleri, Katie Trumpener, and Joseph Valente. (shrink)
Sir Anthony Kenny tells the fascinating story of the birth of philosophy and its remarkable flourishing in the ancient Mediterranean world. This is the first of four volumes in which he unfolds a magisterial new history of Western philosophy. Specially written for a broad popular readership, but serious and deep enough to offer a genuine understanding of the great philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating history will become the definitive work for anyone interested in the people and ideas that shaped (...) the course of Western thought. (shrink)
Sir Anthony Kenny continues his magisterial new history of Western philosophy with a fascinating guide through more than a millennium of thought from 400 AD onwards, charting the story of philosophy from the founders of Christian and Islamic thought through to the Renaissance.The middle ages saw a great flourishing of philosophy, and the intellectual endeavour of the era reaches its climax in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with the systems of the great schoolmen such as Thomas Aquinas and John (...) Duns Scotus. -/- Specially written for a broad popular readership, but serious and deep enough to offer a genuine understanding of the great philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating history will become the definitive work for anyone interested in the people and ideas that shaped the course of Western thought. (shrink)
Sir Anthony Kenny's engaging new history of Western philosophy now advances into the modern era. The Rise of Modern Philosophy is the fascinating story of the emergence, from the early sixteenth to the early nineteenth century, of great ideas and intellectual systems that shaped modern thought. Kenny introduces us to some of the world's most original and influential thinkers, and shows us the way to an understanding of their famous works. The thinkers we meet include René Descartes, traditionally seen (...) as the founder of modern philosophy; the great British philosophers Hobbes, Locke, and Hume; and the towering figure of Immanuel Kant, who perhaps more than any other made philosophy what it is today. In the first three chapters Kenny tells the story chronologically: his lively accessible narrative brings the philosophers to life and fills in the historical and intellectual background to their work. It is ideal as the first thing to read for someone new to the history of modern philosophy. In the seven chapters that follow Kenny looks closely at each of the main areas of philosophical exploration in this period: knowledge and understanding; the nature of the physical universe; metaphysics (the most fundamental questions there are about existence); mind and soul; the nature and content of morality; political philosophy; and God. A selection of intriguing and beautiful illustrations offer a vivid evocation of the human and social side of philosophy. Anyone who is interested in how our understanding of ourselves and our world developed will find this a book a pleasure to read. (shrink)
I discuss experimental work by Nichols, and Nichols and Knobe, with respect to the philosophical problems of free will and moral responsibility. I mention some methodological concerns about the work, but focus principally on the philosophical implications of the work. The experimental results seem to show that in particular, concrete cases we are more willing to attribute responsibility than in cases described abstractly or in general terms. I argue that their results suggest a deep problem for traditional accounts of (...) compatibilism, and that they may cast some light on the literature surrounding Frankfurt cases. I also suggest a way in which mature philosophical convictions about free will may reflect a contingent process of refining and defending either of two competing strands of intuitions, and suggest that this may partly explain the persistence of philosophical debates about free will. (shrink)
This paper responds to three critical essays on my book, The Significance of Free Will(Oxford, 1996) by Randolph Clarke, Istiyaque Haji and Alfred Mele (which essays appear in this issue and an earlier issue of this journal). This response first explains crucial features of the theory of free will of the book, including the notion of ultimate responsibility.The paper then answers objections of Haji and Mele that the occurrence of undetermined choices would be matters of luck or chance, and so (...) could not be responsible actions. It then responds to concerns of Clarke that indeterminism provides no greater degree of control for defenders of incompatibilist free will and to concerns Clarke has about the notions of "effort" and "willing" in the book. Finally, the paper addresses objections of Haji concerning Frankfurt type-examples and the relation of moral responsibility to the power to act otherwise, and it addresses a concern of Mele's about why we should want a free will that is incompatible with determinism. (shrink)
It is my purpose to explore some of the problems concerning the relation between divine creation and creaturely freedom by criticizing various versions of the Free Will Defense (FWD hereafter).1 The FWD attempts to show how it is possible for God and moral evil to co-exist by describing a possible world in which God is morally justified or exonerated for creating persons who freely go wrong. Each version of the FWD has its own story to tell of how it is (...) possible that God be frustrated in his endeavor to create a universe containing moral good sans moral evil. The value of free will is supposed to be so great that God is morally exonerated under such circumstances for creating the Mr. Rogers type persons you know, the very same people who are good sometimes are bad sometimes. If it is objected that God could not be unlucky in this manner, that it necessarily is within his power to create goody-goody persons, either by supernaturally willing in his own inimitable manner that it be so, which is the theological compatibilist objection, or by a judicious selection of the initial state of the universe and operant causal laws which together entail that every free action be morally right, which is the causal compatibilist objection, the response is that it is logically incompatible that a creaturely free action be determined by God or by anything external to the agent, such as causes outside of the agent. (shrink)
It was important to James's philosophy, especially his doctrine of the will to believe, that we could believe at will. Toward this end he argues in The Principles of Psychology that attending to an idea is identical with believing it, which, in turn, is identical with willing that it be realized. Since willing is identical with believing and willing is an intentional action, it follows by Leibniz's Law that believing also is an intentional action. This paper explores (...) the problems with James's thesis that attending=will=belief. An attempt is made to show that it has a salvageable core that is of considerable philosophical interest and importance. (shrink)
This paper outlines one way of thinking about the problem of free will, some general reasons for dissatisfactions with traditional approaches to solving it, and some considerations in favor of pursuing a broadly revisionist solution to it. If you are looking for a student-friendly introduction to revisionist theorizing about free will, this is probably the thing to look at.
Over the past three decades, I have been developing a distinctive view of free will motivated by a desire to reconcile a non-determinist (incompatibilistor libertarian) view of free will with modern science as well as with recent developments in philosophy. A view of free will of the kind I defend (called a “causalindeterminist” or “event-causal” view in the current literature) did not exist in a developed form before the 1980s, but is now discussed in the philosophical literature as one of (...) three chief options an incompatibilist or libertarian view of free will might take. As such, this view has been the subject of much recent discussion. In this paper, I explain and defend my view of free will, and answer recent criticisms of it. Some of these criticisms are made by Robert Allen in his paper “Self-forming Actions,” a contribution to the seminar of which the present paper is a part. I also respond to Katherin Rogers’ contribution to this seminar “Libertarianism in Kane and Anselm.” Her book, Anselm on Freedom (forthcoming from Oxford), argues that Anselm defended a unique libertarian view of free will, avoiding both Pelagianism and Augustine’s later compatibilism, a view that she argues has affinities to my view of free will. I also discuss these affinities to Anselm in my paper and their theological and well as philosophical implications. (shrink)
Many prominent accounts of free will and moral responsibility make use of the idea that agents can be responsive to reasons. Call such theories Reasons accounts. In what follows, I consider the tenability of Reasons accounts in light of situationist social psychology and, to a lesser extent, the automaticity literature. In the ﬁrst half of this chapter, I argue that Reasons accounts are genuinely threatened by contemporary psychology. In the second half of the paper I consider whether such threats can (...) be met, and at what cost. Ultimately, I argue that Reasons accounts can abandon some familiar assumptions, and that doing so permits us to build a more empirically plausible picture of our agency. (shrink)
The present chapter is concerned with revisionism about free will. It begins by offering a new characterization of revisionist accounts and the way such accounts fit (or do not) in the familiar framework of compatibilism and incompatibilism. It then traces some of the recent history of the development of revisionist accounts, and concludes by remarking on some challenges for them.
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.
It is my view that one essential difference between persons and other creatures is to be found in the structure of a person's will. Besides wanting and choosing and being moved to do this or that, men may also want to have (or not to have) certain desires and motives. They are capable of wanting to be different, in their preferences and purposes, from what they are. Many animals appear to have the capacity for what I shall call "first-order desires" (...) or "desires of the first order," which are simply desires to do or not to do one thing or another. No animal other than man, however, appears to have the capacity for reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in the formation of second-order desires. (shrink)
This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including the holographic principle and multiverse theory in quantum physics, and eternalism and mind-body dualism in philosophy – jointly imply an audacious new theory of free will. This new theory, "Libertarian Compatibilism", holds that the physical world is an eternally existing array of two-dimensional information – a vast number of possible pasts, presents, and futures – and the mind a nonphysical entity or set of properties that "read" that physical (...) information off to subjective conscious awareness (in much the same way that a song written on an ordinary compact-disc is only played when read by an outside medium, i.e. a CD-player). According to this theory, every possible physical “timeline” in the multiverse may be fully physically deterministic or physically-causally closed but each person’s consciousness still entirely free to choose, ex nihilo, outside of the physical order, which physically-closed timeline is experienced by conscious observers. Although Libertarian Compatibilism is admittedly fantastic, I show that it not only follows from several live scientific and philosophical hypotheses, I also show that it (A) is a far more explanatorily powerful model of quantum mechanics than more traditional interpretations (e.g. the Copenhagen, Everett, and Bohmian interpretations), (B) makes determinate, testable empirical predictions in quantum theory, and finally, (C) predicts and explains the very existence of a number of philosophical debates and positions in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will. First, I show that whereas traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics are all philosophically problematic and roughly as ontologically “extravagant” as Libertarian Compatibilism – in that they all posit “unseen” processes – Libertarian Compatibilism is nearly identical in structure to the only working simulation that human beings have ever constructed capable of reproducing (and so explaining) every general feature of quantum mechanics we perceive: namely, massive-multiplayer-online-roleplaying videogames (or MMORPGs). Although I am not the first to suggest that our world is akin to a computer simulation, I show that existing MMORPGs (online simulations we have already created) actually reproduce every general feature of quantum mechanics within their simulated-world reference-frames. Second, I show that existing MMORPGs also replicate (and so explain) many philosophical problems we face in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will – all while conforming to the Libertarian Compatibilist model of reality. -/- I conclude, as such, that as fantastic and metaphysically extravagant as Libertarian Compatibilism may initially seem, it may well be true. It explains a number of features of our reality that no other physical or metaphysical theory does. (shrink)
The problem of free will arises because of the conflict between two inconsistent impulses, the experience of freedom and the conviction of determinism. Perhaps we can resolve these by examining neurobiological correlates of the experience of freedom. If free will is not to be an illusion, it must have a corresponding neurobiological reality. An explanation of this issue leads us to an account of rationality and the self, as well as how consciousness can move bodies at all. I explore two (...) hypotheses. On the first, freedom is a complete illusion. On the second, it is not an illusion, and there is a corresponding indeterminism at the neurobiological level. This can only occur if there is in fact a quantum mechanical element in the fundamental neurobiology of consciousness. (shrink)
In this paper I shall define a thesis I shall call 'determinism', and argue that it is incompatible with the thesis that we are able to act otherwise than we do (i.e., is incompatible with 'free will'). Other theses, some of them very different from what I shall call 'determinism', have at least an equal right to this name, and, therefore, I do not claim to show that every thesis that could be called 'determinism' without historical impropriety is incompatible with (...) free will. I shall, however, assume without argument that what I call 'determinism' is legitimately so called. In Part I, I shall explain what I mean by 'determinism'. In Part II, I shall make some remarks about 'can'. In Part III, I shall argue that free will and determinism are incompatible. In Part IV, I shall examine some possible objections to the argument of Part III. I shall not attempt to establish the truth or falsity of determinism, or the existence or nonexistence of free will. (shrink)
Do people have free will, or this universal belief an illusion? If free will is more than an illusion, what kind of free will do people have? How can free will influence behavior? Can free will be studied, verified, and understood scientifically? How and why might a sense of free will have evolved? These are a few of the questions this book attempts to answer. People generally act as though they believe in their own free will: they don't feel like (...) automatons, and they don't treat one another as they might treat robots. While acknowledging many constraints and influences on behavior, people nonetheless act as if they (and their neighbors) are largely in control of many if not most of the decisions they make. Belief in free will also underpins the sense that people are responsible for their actions. Psychological explanations of behavior rarely mention free will as a factor, however. Can psychological science find room for free will? How do leading psychologists conceptualize free will, and what role do they believe free will plays in shaping behavior? In recent years a number of psychologists have tried to solve one or more of the puzzles surrounding free will. This book looks both at recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to free will and at ways leading psychologists from all branches of psychology deal with the philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will and the importance of consciousness in free will. It also includes commentaries by leading philosophers on what psychologists can contribute to long-running philosophical struggles with this most distinctly human belief. These essays should be of interest not only to social scientists, but to intelligent and thoughtful readers everywhere. (shrink)
This paper has two parts. In the first part, I concede an error in an argument I have given for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. I go on to show how to modify my argument so as to avoid this error, and conclude that the thesis that free will and determinism are compatible continues to be—to say the least—implausible. But if free will is incompatible with determinism, we are faced with a mystery, for free will undeniably exists, and (...) it also seems to be incompatible with indeterminism. In the second part of this paper, I will defend the conclusion that the concept of agent causation is of no use to the philosopher who wants to maintain that free will and indeterminism are compatible. I conclude that free will remains a mystery---that is, that free will undeniably exists and that there is a strong and unanswered prima facie case for its impossibility. (shrink)
According to the free-will defence, the exercise of free will by creatures is of such value that God is willing to allow the existence of evil which comes from the misuse of free will. A well-known objection holds that the exercise of free will is compatible with determinism and thus, if God exists, God could have predetermined exactly how the will would be exercised; God could even have predetermined that free will would be exercised sinlessly. Thus, it is held, (...) the free-will defence cannot be used as a partial account of why God should have allowed evil to exist. I investigate this objection using Kripke's apparatus for treating modalities and natural kinds to explore the nature of the incompatibilism required by the free-will defence. I show why the objection fails even if the standard arguments for compatibilism are acceptable. This is because the modality involved in the incompatibilism needed by the free-will defence differs from the modality involved in the compatibilism that is supported by standard compatibilist arguments. Finally, an argument is sketched for a variety of incompatibilism of the kind needed by the free-will defence. (shrink)
"This is an important book, and no one interested in issues which touch on the free will will want to ignore it."--Ethics. In this stimulating and thought-provoking book, the author defends the thesis that free will is incompatible with determinism. He disputes the view that determinism is necessary for moral responsbility. Finding no good reason for accepting determinism, but believing moral responsiblity to be indubitable, he concludes that determinism should be rejected.
Much has been written recently about free will and moral responsibility. In this paper I will focus on the relationship between free will, on the one hand, and various notions that fall under the rubric of “morality,” broadly construed, on the other: deliberation and practical reasoning, moral responsibility, and ethical notions such as “ought,” “right,” “wrong,” “good,” and “bad.” I shall begin by laying out a natural understanding of freedom of the will. Next I develop some challenges to the common-sense (...) view that we have this sort of freedom. I will go on to explore the implications of this challenge for deliberation, moral responsibility, and the central ethical notions. (shrink)
One of the most significant disputes in early modern philosophy was between the moral rationalists and the moral sentimentalists. The moral rationalists — such as Ralph Cudworth, Samuel Clarke and John Balguy — held that morality originated in reason alone. The moral sentimentalists — such as Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson and David Hume — held that morality originated at least partly in sentiment. In addition to arguments, the rationalists and sentimentalists developed rich analogies. (...) The most significant analogy the rationalists developed was between morality and mathematics. The most significant analogy the sentimentalists developed was between morality and beauty. These two analogies illustrate well the main ideas, underlying insights, and accounts of moral phenomenology the two positions have to offer. An examination of the two analogies will thus serve as a useful introduction to the debate between moral rationalism and moral sentimentalism as a whole. (shrink)
As a philosopher of action, I might be expected to believe that the will is a good thing. Actually, I believe that the will is a great thing - awesome, in fact. But I'm not thereby committed to its being something good. When I say that the will is awesome, I mean literally that it is a proper object of awe, a response that restrains us from abusing the will and moves us rather to use it respectfully, in a way (...) that does it justice. To say that the will is a good thing, however, would imply that having a will is better than not having one, or that using it is better than not using it - neither of which I am prepared to assert as a general rule. Speaking metaphorically, I would say that the will is like a magic wand. In fairy tales, the character who looks upon a magic wand as an unalloyed good is destined to be sadder but wiser in the end. Being a magician isn't better than being an ordinary human, just different; and a magician must value his powers by respecting them and therefore using them appropriately, even sparingly, not by using them as much as possible. (shrink)
The standard account of weakness of will identifies it with akrasia, that is, with action against one's best judgment. Elsewhere I have argued that weakness of will is better understood as over-readily giving up on one's resolutions. Many cases of weak willed action will not be akratic: in over-readily abandoning a resolution an agent may well do something that they judge at the time to be best. Indeed, in so far as temptation typically gives rise to judgment shift -- to (...) a tendency to change one's judgment so that one values the tempting option as the best -- weak willed action will typically be akratic. But conversely, strong willed action now looks as though it will be akratic. I argue though that it need not be, once we distinguish between actual judgment, and dispositions to judge. Within this framework, the issue of inverse akrasia looks rather different. I argue that whilst Huckleberry Finn plausibly does show weakness of will in abandoning his resolve to turn Jim in, it is far from clear that he is akratic: a point brought out well in Twain's later additions to the text. Whilst cases of inverse akrasia are clearly theoretically possible, I suggest that, given cognitive dissonance mechanisms, they are unlikely to be very common. (shrink)
Accessible to students with no background in the subject, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will provides an extensive and up-to-date overview of all the latest views on this central problem of philosophy. Opening with a concise introduction to the history of the problem of free will--and its place in the history of philosophy--the book then turns to contemporary debates and theories about free will, determinism, and related subjects like moral responsibility, coercion, compulsion, autonomy, agency, rationality, freedom, and more. Classical compatibilist (...) and new compatibilist theories of free will are considered along with the latest incompatibilist or libertarian theories and the most recent skeptical challenges to free will. Separate chapters are devoted to the relation of free will to moral responsibility and ethics; to modern science; and to religious questions about predestination, divine foreknowledge, and human freedom. Numerous down-to-earth examples and challenging thought experiments enliven the text. The book is an ideal addition to introduction to philosophy, metaphysics, and free will courses. (shrink)
This paper examines recent attempts to revive a classic compatibilist position on free will, according to which having an ability to perform a certain action is having a certain disposition. Since having unmanifested dispositions is compatible with determinism, having unexercised abilities to act, it is held, is likewise compatible. Here it is argued that although there is a kind of capacity to act possession of which is a matter of having a disposition, the new dispositionalism leaves unresolved the main points (...) of dispute concerning free will. (shrink)
Bergson argues for free will by showing that the arguments against it come from a confusion of different conceptions of time. As opposed to physicists' idea of measurable time, in human experience life is perceived as a continuous and unmeasurable flow rather than as a succession of marked-off states of consciousness--something that can be measured not quantitatively, but only qualitatively. His conclusion is that free will is an observable fact.
Psychologically based accounts of personal identity over time start from a view of persons as experiencing subjects. Derek Parfit argues that if such an account is to justify the importance we attach to identity it will need to provide a deep unity of consciousness throughout the life of a person, and no such unity is possible. In response, many philosophers have switched to a view of persons as essentially agents, arguing that the importance of identity depends upon agential unity rather (...) than unity of consciousness. While this shift contributes significantly to the discussion, it does not offer a fully satisfying alternative. Unity of consciousness still seems required if identity is to be as important as we think it is. Views of identity based on agential unity do, however, point to a new understanding of unity of consciousness which meets Parfit's challenge, yielding an integrated view of identity which sees persons as both subjects and agents. Footnotesa I am indebted to many friends and colleagues for their input in the course of writing this essay. I would like especially to thank David DeGrazia, Anthony Laden, Ray Martin, Marc Slors, and the editors of Social Philosophy and Policy. (shrink)
This comprehensive reference provides an exhaustive guide to current scholarship on the perennial problem of Free Will--perhaps the most hotly and voluminously debated of all philosophical problems. While reference is made throughout to the contributions of major thinkers of the past, the emphasis is on recent research. The essays, most of which are previously unpublished, combine the work of established scholars with younger thinkers who are beginning to make significant contributions. Taken as a whole, the Handbook provides an engaging and (...) accessible roadmap to the state of the art thinking on this enduring topic. (shrink)
Focusing on the concepts and interactions of free will, moral responsibility, and determinism, this text represents the most up-to-date account of the four major positions in the free will debate. Four serious and well-known philosophers explore the opposing viewpoints of libertarianism, compatibilism, hard incompatibilism, and revisionism The first half of the book contains each philosopher’s explanation of his particular view; the second half allows them to directly respond to each other’s arguments, in a lively and engaging conversation Offers the reader (...) a one of a kind, interactive discussion Forms part of the acclaimed Great Debates in Philosophy series. (shrink)
In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our conscious control has increasingly gained traction and renewed interest in the age-old problem of free will. In this book I examine both the traditional philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will, as well as recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to consciousness (...) and human agency. I argue that our best scientific theories indeed have the consequence that factors beyond our control produce all of the actions we perform and that because of this we do not possess the kind of free will required for genuine or ultimate responsibility. I further argue that the strong and pervasive belief in free will, which I consider an illusion, can be accounted for through a careful analysis of our phenomenology and a proper theoretical understanding of consciousness. Indeed, the primary goal of this book is to argue that our subjective feeling of freedom, as reflected in the first-person phenomenology of agentive experience, is an illusion created by certain aspects of our consciousness. So after working to establish that free will is an illusion in the early chapters, I then proceed to give a novel account of just how that illusion is created in the later chapters. I present my illusionist account using one leading theory of consciousness—the higher-order thought (or HOT) theory of consciousness. I maintain that by combining the theoretical framework of the HOT theory with empirical findings in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, we can come to see that the illusion of free will is created by the particular way our higher-order thoughts make us conscious of our mental states and how our sense of self is constructed within consciousness. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen contends that free will is a mystery. Here I present an argument in the spirit of van Inwagen's. According to the Assimilation Argument, libertarians cannot plausibly distinguish causally undetermined actions, the ones they take to be exercises of free will, from overtly randomized outcomes of the sort nobody would count as exercises of free will. I contend that the Assimilation Argument improves on related arguments in locating the crucial issues between van Inwagen and libertarians who hope to (...) demystify free will, while avoiding objections these arguments have faced. (shrink)
In this comprehensive new study of human free agency, Laura Waddell Ekstrom critically surveys contemporary philosophical literature and provides a novel account of the conditions for free action. Ekstrom argues that incompatibilism concerning free will and causal determinism is true and thus the right account of the nature of free action must be indeterminist in nature. She examines a variety of libertarian approaches, ultimately defending an account relying on indeterministic causation among events and appealing to agent causation only in a (...) reducible sense. Written in an engaging style and incorporating recent scholarship, this study is critical reading for scholars and students interested in the topics of motivation, causation, responsibility, and freedom. In broadly covering the important positions of others along with its exposition of the author’s own view, Free Will provides both a significant scholarly contribution and a valuable text for courses in metaphysics and action theory. (shrink)
The phenomenon of action in which the mind moves the body has puzzled philosophers over the centuries. In this new edition of a classic work of analytical philosophy, Brian O'Shaughnessy investigates bodily action and attempts to resolve some of the main problems. His expanded and updated discussion examines the scope of the will and the conditions in which it makes contact with the body, and investigates the epistemology of the body. He sheds light upon the strangely intimate relation of awareness (...) in which we stand to our own bodies, doing so partly through appeal to the concept of the body-image. The result is a new and strengthened emphasis on the vitally important function of the bodily will as a transparently intelligible bridge between mind and body, and the proposal of a dual aspect theory of the will. (shrink)
Wegner (Wegner, D. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. MIT Press) argues that conscious will is an illusion, citing a wide range of empirical evidence. I shall begin by surveying some of his arguments. Many are unsuccessful. But one—an argument from the ubiquity of self-interpretation—is more promising. Yet is suffers from an obvious lacuna, offered by so-called ‘dual process’ theories of reasoning and decision making (Evans, J., & Over, D. (1996). Rationality and reasoning. Psychology Press; Stanovich, K. (1999). Who is (...) rational? Studies of individual differences in reasoning. Lawrence Erlbaum; Frankish, K. (2004). Mind and supermind. Cambridge University Press). I shall argue that this lacuna can be filled by a plausible a priori claim about the causal role of anything deserving to be called ‘a will.’ The result is that there is no such thing as conscious willing: conscious will is, indeed, an illusion. (shrink)
This paper proposes a reconciliation between libertarian freedomand causal indeterminism, without relying on agent-causation asa primitive notion. I closely examine Peter van Inwagen''s recentcase for free will mysterianism, which is based in part on thewidespread worry that undetermined acts are too chancy to befree. I distinguish three senses of the term chance I thenargue that van Inwagen''s case for free will mystrianism fails,since there is no single construal of the term change on whichall of the premises of his argument for (...) free will–causalindeterminism incompatibilism are true. By use of a particularevent-causal indeterminist account of free action, I support thecase for free will–indeterminism compatibilism. (shrink)