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  1. Saul Smilansky (2000). Free Will and Illusion. Oxford University Press.
    Saul Smilansky presents an original new approach to the problem of free will, which lies at the heart of morality and self-understanding. He maintains that the key to the problem is the role played by illusion. Smilansky boldly claims that we could not live adequately with a complete awareness of the truth about human freedom and that illusion lies at the center of the human condition.
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  2.  68
    Saul Smilansky (2007). Determinism and Prepunishment: The Radical Nature of Compatibilism. Analysis 67 (296):347–349.
    I shall argue that compatibilism cannot resist in a principled way the temptation to prepunish people. Compatibilism thus emerges as a much more radical view than it is typically presented and perceived, and is seen to be at odds with fundamental moral intuitions.
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  3.  17
    Saul Smilansky (2002). Free Will, Fundamental Dualism,and the Centrality of Illusion. In Robert H. Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. Oxford University Press 489-505.
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  4.  24
    Saul Smilansky (2014). A Moral Problem About Prayer. Think 13 (36):105-113.
    At a time of acute danger, people commonly petition God for help for themselves or their loved ones. Such prayer seems natural and, indeed, for believers, reasonable and acceptable. But once we closely examine what is actually happening in such situations, we see that frequently such prayer is not morally innocuous. I present a number of examples which illustrate the difficulty, and argue that even assuming the benevolence of the deity does not suffice to make such prayer legitimate.
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  5. Saul Smilansky (2003). Compatibilism: The Argument From Shallowness. Philosophical Studies 115 (3):257-82.
    The compatibility question lies at the center of the free will problem. Compatibilists think that determinism is compatible with moral responsibility and the concomitant notions, while incompatibilists think that it is not. The topic of this paper is a particular form of charge against compatibilism: that it is shallow. This is not the typical sort of argument against compatibilism: most of the debate has attempted to discredit compatibilism completely. The Argument From Shallowness maintains that the compatibilists (...)
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  6. Saul Smilansky (2011). Hard Determinism and Punishment: A Practical Reductio. [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 30 (3):353-367.
    How can hard determinism deal with the need to punish, when coupled with the obligation to be just? I argue that even though hard determinists might find it morally permissible to incarcerate wrongdoers apart from lawful society, they are committed to the punishment’s taking a very different form from common practice in contemporary Western societies. Hard determinists are in fact committed to what I will call funishment, instead of punishment. But, by its nature funishment is a practical reductio of hard (...)
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  7.  51
    Saul Smilansky (2012). A Problem About the Morality of Some Common Forms of Prayer. Ratio 25 (2):207-215.
    At a time of acute danger, people commonly petition God for help for themselves or their loved ones; such as praying that an avalanche heading in one's direction be diverted, or that an organ donor be found for one's dying child. Such prayer seems natural and, indeed, for believers, reasonable and acceptable. It seems perverse to condemn such typical prayer, as wrong. But once we closely examine what is actually happening in such situations, we shall see that frequently prayer of (...)
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  8. Saul Smilansky (2001). Free Will: From Nature to Illusion. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 101 (1):71-95.
    Sir Peter Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’ was a landmark in the philosophical understanding of the free will problem. Building upon it, I attempt to defend a novel position, which purports to provide, in outline, the next step forward. The position presented is based on the descriptively central and normatively crucial role of illusion in the issue of free will. Illusion, I claim, is the vital but neglected key to the free will problem. The proposed position, which may be called ‘Illusionism’, (...)
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  9.  8
    Saul Smilansky (2014). A Moral Problem About Prayer. Think 13 (36):105-113.
    At a time of acute danger, people commonly petition God for help for themselves or their loved ones. Such prayer seems natural and, indeed, for believers, reasonable and acceptable. But once we closely examine what is actually happening in such situations, we see that frequently such prayer is not morally innocuous. I present a number of examples which illustrate the difficulty, and argue that even assuming the benevolence of the deity does not suffice to make such prayer legitimate.
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  10.  41
    Saul Smilansky (2007). 10 Moral Paradoxes. Blackwell Pub..
    Presenting ten diverse and original moral paradoxes, this cutting edge work of philosophical ethics makes a focused, concrete case for the centrality of paradoxes within morality. Explores what these paradoxes can teach us about morality and the human condition Considers a broad range of subjects, from familiar topics to rarely posed questions, among them "Fortunate Misfortune", "Beneficial Retirement" and "Preferring Not To Have Been Born" Asks whether the existence of moral paradox is a good or a bad thing Presents analytic (...)
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  11. Saul Smilansky (2004). Terrorism, Justification, and Illusion. Ethics 114 (4):790-805.
    Bernard Williams once said that doing moral philosophy could be hazardous because there, presumably unlike in other areas of philosophy, we may run the risk of misleading people on important matters.1 This risk seems to be particularly present when considering the topic of terrorism. I would like to discuss what seems to be a most striking feature of contemporary terrorism, a feature that, as far as I know, has not been noted. This has implications concerning the way that we should (...)
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  12.  77
    Saul Smilansky (2003). Choice-Egalitarianism and the Paradox of the Baseline. Analysis 63 (278):146–151.
    Choice-egalitarianism (CE) is, broadly, a version of egalitarianism that gives free choice a pivotal role in justifying any inequality. The basic idea is this: we can morally evaluate equality and inequality in many respects, which we can call factors. Factors might be income, primary goods, wellbeing, how well someone’s life proceeds, and so on. But whatever the relevant factor may be, the baseline for egalitarianism is equality: we start, normatively, by assuming that everyone should receive the baseline, unless not receiving (...)
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  13.  36
    Saul Smilansky (2006). The Paradox of Moral Complaint. Utilitas 18 (3):284-290.
    When may someone complain, morally? And what, if any, is the relationship between legitimate moral complaint and one's own behaviour? I point out a perplexity about a certain class of moral complaints. Two very different conceptions of moral complaint seem to be operating, and they often have contrary implications. Moreover, both seem intuitively compelling. This is theoretically and practically troubling, but has not been sufficiently noticed. The Paradox of Moral Complaint seems to point to an inherent difficulty (...)
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  14.  72
    Saul Smilansky (1994). The Time to Punish. Analysis 54 (1):50 - 53.
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  15. Susan Blackmore, Thomas W. Clark, Mark Hallett, John-Dylan Haynes, Ted Honderich, Neil Levy, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Shaun Nichols, Michael Pauen, Derk Pereboom, Susan Pockett, Maureen Sie, Saul Smilansky, Galen Strawson, Daniela Goya Tocchetto, Manuel Vargas, Benjamin Vilhauer & Bruce Waller (2013). Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Lexington Books.
    Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility is an edited collection of new essays by an internationally recognized line-up of contributors. It is aimed at readers who wish to explore the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications.
     
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  16.  55
    Saul Smilansky (2005). Free Will and Respect for Persons. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):248-261.
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  17.  21
    Saul Smilansky (2013). Morally, Should We Prefer Never to Have Existed? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):655-666.
    We can morally compare possible alternative states of affairs, judging that various actual historical occurrences were bad, overall?the Holocaust, World War I, and slavery, for example. We should prefer that such events had not occurred, and regret that they had occurred. But the vast majority of people who now exist would not have existed had it not been for those historical events. A ?package deal? is involved here: those events, together with oneself; or, the absence of the historical calamity, and (...)
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  18.  33
    Saul Smilansky (2008). More Prepunishment for Compatibilists: A Reply to Beebee. Analysis 68 (299):260–263.
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  19.  20
    Saul Smilansky (2008). Fischer's Way: The Next Level. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 12 (2):147-155.
    I present an analogy between analytic philosophy and a particular sort of computer game, and analyze some aspects of John Martin Fischer's My Way in the light of this analogy. I set out the different levels of the free will question, and explore how well Fischer does on them. On the compatibility level, he succeeds, in my view, in confronting the "metaphysical challenge" and the "manipulation challenge", but does less well with the "moral arbitrariness challenge". The compatibilist perspective captures only (...)
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  20.  9
    Saul Smilansky (2013). A Difficulty Concerning Compensation. Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (3):329-337.
    We sometimes harm people legitimately, by standing in front of them in the queue at the cinema and buying the last available ticket, for instance, or by acting in self-defense. If we harm them illegitimately, however, we ostensibly have a moral obligation to compensate them for the harm done. And the more we harm them, the greater the compensation that, prima facie, we need to offer. But if the harm increases further, at some point we will need to offer less (...)
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  21.  67
    Saul Smilansky (1994). The Ethical Advantages of Hard Determinism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (2):355-363.
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  22.  84
    Saul Smilansky (2006). Control, Desert and the Difference Between Distributive and Retributive Justice. Philosophical Studies 131 (3):511 - 524.
    Why is it that we think today so very differently about distributive and retributive justice? Why is the notion of desert so neglected in our thinking about distributive justice, while it remains fundamental in almost every account of retributive justice? I wish to take up this relatively neglected issue, and put forth two proposals of my own, based upon the way control functions in the two spheres.
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  23.  4
    Saul Smilansky (2008). More Prepunishment for Compatibilists: A Reply to Beebee. Analysis 68 (299):260-263.
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  24.  49
    Saul Smilansky (2008). Prepunishment for Compatibilists: A Reply to Kearns. Analysis 68 (299):254–257.
    I have argued recently that compatibilism cannot resist in a principled way the temptation to prepunish people, and that it thus emerges as a much more radical view than is typically presented and perceived; and is at odds with fundamental moral intuitions (Smilansky 2007a). Stephen Kearns (2008) has replied, arguing that ‘Smilansky has not shown that compatibilism cannot resist prepunishment. Prepunishment is so bizarre that it can be resisted by just about anybody’. I would like to examine his challenging arguments.
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  25.  59
    Saul Smilansky (1996). Responsibility and Desert: Defending the Connection. Mind 105 (417):157-163.
  26.  89
    Saul Smilansky (2008). Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence – David Benatar. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):569–571.
  27.  41
    Saul Smilansky (1990). Utilitarianism and the 'Punishment' of the Innocent: The General Problem. Analysis 50 (4):256 - 261.
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  28.  22
    Saul Smilansky (2003). Can Deontologists Be Moderate? Utilitas 15 (1):71.
    There is a widespread view according to which deontology can be construed as a flexible, reasonable view, able to incorporate consequentialist considerations when it seems compelling to do so. According to this view, deontologists can be moderate, and their presentation as die-hard fanatics, even if true to some historical figures, is basically a slanderous and misleading philosophical straw man. I argue that deontologists, properly understood, are not moderate. In the way deontology is typically understood, a deontology, as such, conceptually needs (...)
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  29.  5
    Saul Smilansky (1994). Fortunate Misfortune. Ratio 7 (2):153-163.
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  30.  29
    Saul Smilansky (2006). Some Thoughts on Terrorism, Moral Complaint, and the Self-Reflexive and Relational Nature of Morality. Philosophia 34 (1):65-74.
    The contemporary discussion of terrorism has been dominated by deontological and consequentialist arguments. Building upon my previous work on a paradox concerning moral complaint, I try to broaden the perspectives through which we view the issues. The direction that seems to me as most promising is a self-reflexive, conditional, and, to some extent, relational emphasis. What one is permitted to do to others would depend not so much on some absolute code constraning actions or on the estimate of what (...)
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  31.  69
    Saul Smilansky (2012). Free Will and Moral Responsibility: The Trap, the Appreciation of Agency, and the Bubble. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 16 (2):211-239.
    In Part I, I reflect in some detail upon the free will problem and about the way its understanding has radically changed. First I outline the four questions that go into making the free will problem. Second, I consider four paradigmatic shifts that have occurred in our understanding of this problem. Then I go on to reflect upon this complex and multi-level situation. In Part II of this essay, I explore the major alternative positions, and defend my views, in new (...)
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  32.  40
    Saul Smilansky (1997). Egalitarian Justice and the Importance of the Free Will Problem. Philosophia 25 (1-4):153-161.
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  33.  37
    Saul Smilansky (2010). When Does Morality Win? Ratio 23 (1):102-110.
    I describe a case involving two countries at war, Benevolentia and Malevoran. Malevoran is an unjust aggressor, which does not follow the requirements of the prevailing morality of warfare. The leadership and army of Benevolentia closely follow those requirements, and as a direct result Benevolentia loses. I claim that this is a reductio of the prevailing morality of warfare: in the victory of Malevoran over Benevolentia morality has lost. I draw some tentative conclusions concerning the morality of warfare, and urge (...)
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  34.  64
    Saul Smilansky (2005). Choice-Egalitarianism and the Paradox of the Baseline: A Reply to Manor. Analysis 65 (288):333–337.
    I made two claims against CE. First, that under careful analysis, CE compels us to bring about states of affairs so unacceptable that the position becomes absurd. By virtue of its very conceptual structure, CE gives us manifestly wrong instructions. Second, that CE’s hope of reconciling a strong egalitarianism with robust personal choice and something like the prevailing market economy is a chimera. Manor’s paper does not dispute my second claim. Indeed, his own claim, that in fact CE leads to (...)
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  35.  4
    Saul Smilansky (2008). Prepunishment for Compatibilists: A Reply to Kearns. Analysis 68 (299):254-257.
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  36.  51
    Saul Smilansky (1995). Is There a Moral Obligation to Have Children? Journal of Applied Philosophy 12 (1):41-53.
    ABSTRACT I argue, counter‐intuitively, that under certain conditions many people are under some moral requirement to attempt to bring children into being . There is only rarely a strict obligation to have children, but more moderate, inclining moral considerations in favour of having children, have a place in our moral world. I begin by considering a large number of arguments in favour and against the possibility of an obligation to have children. Then I examine when the weight of one set (...)
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  37.  66
    Saul Smilansky (1995). May We Stop Worrying About Blackmail? Analysis 55 (2):116 - 120.
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  38. Saul Smilansky (2007). 10 Moral Paradoxes. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Presenting ten diverse and original moral paradoxes, this cutting edge work of philosophical ethics makes a focused, concrete case for the centrality of paradoxes within morality. Explores what these paradoxes can teach us about morality and the human condition Considers a broad range of subjects, from familiar topics to rarely posed questions, among them "Fortunate Misfortune", "Beneficial Retirement" and "Preferring Not To Have Been Born" Asks whether the existence of moral paradox is a good or a bad thing Presents analytic (...)
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  39.  35
    Saul Smilansky (1993). Does the Free Will Debate Rest on a Mistake? Philosophical Papers 22 (3):173-88.
  40.  32
    Saul Smilansky (1997). Preferring Not to Have Been Born. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (2):241 – 247.
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  41.  30
    Saul Smilansky (2005). On Not Being Sorry About The Morally Bad. Philosophy 80 (2):261-265.
    Bad things often happen, and morally good people ought to be sorry that they happen. People are sometimes morally permitted not to do anything about such bad things, not to have to struggle to prevent them from occurring. But what could be more obvious to a good person than that one ought to be sorry about the occurrence of bad things? Even more so, it would seem, if the bad things occur in one’s vicinity, or one is involved with them. (...)
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  42.  45
    Saul Smilansky (1996). The Connection Between Responsibility and Desert: The Crucial Distinction. Mind 105 (419):485-486.
    In Smilansky (1996) I proposed an outline of a theory of responsibility and desert, which I claimed both (a) enables us to see responsibility as a condition for desert even in the major apparent counter-examples such as those proposed in Feldman (1995); and (b) represents the ordinary way of seeing the connection between responsibility and desert better than previous formulations. Behind this proposal lies a crucial distinction between two ways in which responsibility can be a condition for desert. From Feldman’s (...)
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  43.  37
    Saul Smilansky (2013). Why Moral Paradoxes Matter? “Teflon Immorality” and the Perversity of Life. Philosophical Studies 165 (1):229-243.
    “Teflon immorality’’ (or TI) is immorality that goes on unchecked—the wrongdoing is not stopped and its perpetrators, beyond the reach of punishment or other sanction, often persist in their immoral ways. The idea that the immoral prosper has been recognized as morally (and legally) disturbing presumably for as long as humanity has been reflective, and can be found already in the Bible. The reasons behind a great deal of successful immorality are important practically, but uninteresting philosophically. Sometimes, however, we face (...)
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  44.  20
    Juha Räikkä & Saul Smilansky (2012). The Ethics of Alien Attitudes. The Monist 95 (3):511-532.
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  45.  7
    Saul Smilansky (1993). The Political-Economic Population-Paradox. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 8 (1):9-12.
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  46. Saul Smilansky (2008). Fischer’s Way: The Next Level. Journal of Ethics 12 (2):147-155.
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  47.  5
    Saul Smilansky (2007). The Paradox of Beneficial Retirement: A Reply to Lenman. Ratio 20 (3):348–351.
    In ‘The Paradox of Beneficial Retirement’ (Ratio 18 2005: 332– 337), I proposed a personal and moral paradox about integrity and retirement. This paradox raises the disturbing prospect that many people (perhaps even the majority, in many professions) ought to seriously consider retiring, because they are likely to be replaced by someone who will do their work better than they do it. In ‘Why I Have No Plans to Retire: In Defence of Moderate Professional Complacency’ (Ratio, 20 2007: 241–246), James (...)
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  48.  29
    Saul Smilansky (1997). Should I Be Grateful to You for Not Harming Me? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (3):585-597.
    Getting people not to harm others is a central goal of morality. But while it is commonly perceived that those who benefit others merit gratitude, those who do not harm others are not ordinarily thought to merit anything. I attempt to argue against this, claiming that all the arguments against gratitude to the non-maleficent are unsuccessful. Finally, I explore the difference it would make if we thought that we owe gratitude to those who do not harm us.
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  49.  55
    Saul Smilansky (1990). Van Inwagen on the "Obviousness" of Libertarian Moral Responsibility. Analysis 50 (1):29-33.
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  50. Saul Smilansky, Egalitarianism, Free Will, and Ultimate Injustice.
    Egalitarianism is a major contemporary position on issues of distributive justice and related public policy. Its major strand can be called “choice-egalitarianism”, broadly, the claim that inequality can be morally justified only when it follows from people’s choices.1 I claim that the choice-egalitarians have failed to recognize a deep sense of injustice, which I call Ultimate Injustice. This form of injustice follows from the implications of the free will problem. Part I of this paper explains what Ultimate Injustice is, explicates (...)
     
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