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Summary Most philosophers believe that almost all normal human beings possess free will, but a minority are skeptics. The standard grounds for skepticism has been incompatibilism: hard determinists believe that determinism is true, and incompatible with free will. More recently, a number of philosophers have conjoined a conditional hard determinism with a belief that free will is incompatible with indeterminism, because indeterninism makes action too much a matter of chance. A very few philosophers advocate skepticism on other grounds: luck, naturalism, or the epiphenomenality of conscious thought. It is standard, though not universal, to hold that if agents lack free will they lack moral responsibility. This alleged link between free will and moral responsibility has sometimes made the debate over skepticism impassioned.
Key works Hard determinism has few defenders today, partly because most physicists doubt that determinism is true. Its classic statements date back to the time when Newtonian physics reigned; see D'Holbach unknown for a well-known example. The most influential contemporary skeptics argue that free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism. Pereboom 2001 defends incompatibilism combined with skepticism about the existence of the agent-causal power that, alleged, would alone suffice for free will. Strawson argues that free will would require ultimate control, which is available only to a causa sui. Levy 2011 argues that we lack free will regardless of the causal structure of the universe, because free will is incompatible with the pervasiveness of luck. 
Introductions Pereboom 2007;Pereboom 2011; Caruso 2013
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1 — 50 / 209
  1. added 2020-05-11
    Against Moral Responsibility.Mikhail Valdman - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):889-892.
    A review of Bruce Waller's "Against Moral Responsibility.".
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  2. added 2020-01-17
    Responsibility-Foundation: Still Needed and Still Missing.Stephen Kershnar & Robert M. Kelly - forthcoming - Science, Religion and Culture.
    Responsibility is impossible because there is no responsibility-maker and there needs to be one if people are morally responsible. The two most plausible candidates, psychology and decision, fail. A person is not responsible for an unchosen psychology or a psychology that was chosen when the person is not responsible for the choice. This can be seen in intuitions about instantly-created and manipulated people. This result is further supported by the notion that, in general, the right, the good, and virtue rest (...)
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  3. added 2019-11-14
    The Tension in Critical Compatibilism.Robert H. Wallace - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-12.
    Paul Russell’s The Limits of Free Will is more than the sum of its parts. Among other things, Limits offers readers a comprehensive look at Russell’s attack on the problematically idealized assumptions of the contemporary free will debate. This idealization, he argues, distorts the reality of our human predicament. Herein I pose a dilemma for Russell’s position, critical compatibilism. The dilemma illuminates the tension between Russell’s critical and compatibilist commitments. The problem is not obviously insurmountable, and as a compatibilist who (...)
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  4. added 2019-10-18
    The Oxford Handbook of Free Will: Second Edition.Robert Kane (ed.) - 2011 - Oup Usa.
  5. added 2019-10-10
    Free Will and Luck: Précis.Alfred R. Mele - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (2):153-155.
    I believe that human beings sometimes act freely and are morally responsible for some of what they do. If free will is the power to act freely, then I believe in free will. In Free Will and Luck, I try to make salient the most difficult conceptual problems that my belief encounters, and I develop solutions to those problems. I also expose some pseudo-problems along the way.
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  6. added 2019-08-10
    The Conceptual Impossibility of Free Will Error Theory.Andrew James Latham - 2019 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 15 (2):99-120.
    This paper argues for a view of free will that I will call the conceptual impossibility of the truth of free will error theory - the conceptual impossibility thesis. I will argue that given the concept of free will we in fact deploy, it is impossible for our free will judgements - judgements regarding whether some action is free or not - to be systematically false. Since we do judge many of our actions to be free, it follows from the (...)
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  7. added 2019-07-29
    Free Will, Self‐Creation, and the Paradox of Moral Luck.Kristin M. Mickelson - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):224-256.
    How is the problem of free will related to the problem of moral luck? In this essay, I answer that question and outline a new solution to the paradox of moral luck, the source-paradox solution. This solution both explains why the paradox arises and why moral luck does not exist. To make my case, I highlight a few key connections between the paradox of moral luck and two related problems, namely the problem of free will and determinism and the paradox (...)
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  8. added 2019-06-06
    Concerning the Resilience of Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument.Michael Anthony Istvan - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 155 (3):399-420.
    Against its prominent compatiblist and libertarian opponents, I defend Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument for the impossibility of moral responsibility. Against John Martin Fischer, I argue that the Basic Argument does not rely on the premise that an agent can be responsible for an action only if he is responsible for every factor contributing to that action. Against Alfred Mele and Randolph Clarke, I argue that it is absurd to believe that an agent can be responsible for an action when no (...)
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    Hooray! We're Not Morally Responsible!: Harrison Hooray! We're Not Morally Responsible!Gerald K. Harrison - 2009 - Think 8 (23):87-95.
    Being morally responsible means being blameworthy and deserving of punishment if we do wrong and praiseworthy and deserving reward if we do right. In what follows I shall argue that in all likelihood we're not morally responsible. None of us. Ever.
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  10. added 2019-06-06
    Freedom and Experience: Self-Determination Without Illusions.Magill Kevin - 1997 - London: author open access, originally MacMillan.
    Most of us take it for granted that we are free agents: that we can sometimes act so as to shape our own lives and those of others, that we have choices about how to do so and that we are responsible for what we do. But are we really justified in believing this? For centuries philosophers have argued about whether free will and moral responsibility are compatible with determinism or natural causation, and they seem no closer to agreeing about (...)
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  11. added 2019-06-05
    Is Ultimate Moral Responsibility Metaphysically Impossible? A Bergsonian Critique of Galen Strawson's Argument.Mark Ian Thomas Robson - 2017 - Philosophy 92 (4):519-538.
    What I want to do in this essay is examine a notorious argument put forward by Galen Strawson. He advocates what he describes as an a priori argument against the possibility of ultimate (moral) responsibility. There have been many attempts at answering Strawson, but whether they have been successful is debatable. I attempt to employ Henri Bergson's approach to the free will debate and assess whether what he says has any purchase in terms of criticism of Strawson's position. I conclude (...)
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  12. added 2019-04-08
    What Should We Believe About Free Will?Jeremy Byrd - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    Given the available evidence, I argue that we face considerable uncertainty about free will. In particular, I argue that the available philosophical evidence does not support being highly confident in our theories about the nature of free will, though this does not necessarily mean that we should suspend judgment about either incompatibilism or compatibilism. For those who accept incompatibilism, however, I argue that there is enough uncertainty about libertarian free will that they should suspend judgment about whether we are ever (...)
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  13. added 2019-04-08
    Hard Incompatibilism and the Participant Attitude.D. Justin Coates - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (2):208-229.
    Following P. F. Strawson, a number of philosophers have argued that if hard incompatibilism is true, then its truth would undermine the justification or value of our relationships with other persons. In this paper, I offer a novel defense of this claim. In particular, I argue that if hard incompatibilism is true, we cannot make sense of: the possibility of promissory obligation, the significance of consent, or the pro tanto wrongness of paternalistic intervention. Because these practices and normative commitments are (...)
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  14. added 2019-04-08
    Can We Discount Hard Incompatibilism on the Basis of Blame?Chris Much Bermudez - unknown
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  15. added 2019-04-08
    Does Hard Incompatibilism Really Abolish ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’? Some Thoughts in Response to Larry Alexander.A. Humbach John - unknown
    In a challenge to recent writings of Derk Pereboom and Gregg Caruso,3 Larry Alexander makes the following claim: If one accepts the Pereboom-Caruso “hard incompatibilist” view of choice, which regards blame and retributive punishment as morally unjustified because free will is an illusion, then “normativity completely disappears.” In making this claim, Professor Alexander appears to hold that the moral distinction between right and wrong conduct cannot effectively exist unless those who do wrong “deserve” to receive blame and punishment in response (...)
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  16. added 2019-04-08
    More Work for Hard Incompatibilism.Tamler Sommers - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):511-521.
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  17. added 2019-04-08
    Defending Hard Incompatibilism.Derk Pereboom - 2005 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):228-247.
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  18. added 2019-02-11
    Hard Theological Determinism and the Illusion of Free Will: Sri Ramakrishna Meets Lord Kames, Saul Smilansky, and Derk Pereboom.Ayon Maharaj - 2018 - Journal of World Philosophies 3 (2):24-48.
    This essay reconstructs the sophisticated views on free will and determinism of the nineteenth-century Hindu mystic Sri Ramakrishna and brings them into dialogue with the views of three western philosophers—namely, the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Lord Kames and the contemporary analytic philosophers Saul Smilansky and Derk Pereboom. Sri Ramakrishna affirms hard theological determinism, the incompatibilist view that God determines everything we do and think. At the same time, however, he claims that God, in His infinite wisdom, has endowed ordinary unenlightened people (...)
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  19. added 2019-02-11
    Free Will Skepticism and Obligation Skepticism: Comments on Derk Pereboom’s Free Will Skepticism, Agency, and Meaning in Life.Dana Kay Nelkin - 2014 - Life, Science, Religion, Culture 1 (1).
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  20. added 2019-01-30
    Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life, by Derk Pereboom: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, Pp. Vii + 219, £30.Soraj Hongladarom - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2):411-412.
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  21. added 2018-11-13
    The Basic Argument and Modest Moral Responsibility.D. Justin Coates - 2017 - Analytic Philosophy 58 (2):156-170.
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  22. added 2018-11-13
    Against Moral Responsibility.Thomas E. Wren - 2013 - Journal of Moral Education 42 (2):268-270.
  23. added 2018-10-17
    Just Deserts: Can We Be Held Morally Responsible for Our Actions? Yes, Says Daniel Dennett. No, Says Gregg Caruso.Gregg D. Caruso & Daniel C. Dennett - 2018 - Aeon 1 (Oct. 4):1-20.
    Can we be held morally responsible for our actions? Yes, says Daniel Dennett. No, says Gregg Caruso. Reader, you decide.
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  24. added 2018-09-23
    Free Will Pessimism.Paul Russell - 2017 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, Volume 4. New York, NY, USA: pp. 93-120..
    The immediate aim of this paper is to articulate the essential features of an alternative compatibilist position, one that is responsive to sources of resistance to the compatibilist program based on considerations of fate and luck. The approach taken relies on distinguishing carefully between issues of skepticism and pessimism as they arise in this context. A compatibilism that is properly responsive to concerns about fate and luck is committed to what I describe as free will pessimism, which is to be (...)
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  25. added 2018-09-23
    Free Will, Art and Morality.Paul Russell - 2008 - The Journal of Ethics 12 (3-4):307 - 325.
    The discussion in this paper begins with some observations regarding a number of structural similarities between art and morality as it involves human agency. On the basis of these observations we may ask whether or not incompatibilist worries about free will are relevant to both art and morality. One approach is to claim that libertarian free will is essential to our evaluations of merit and desert in both spheres. An alternative approach, is to claim that free will is required only (...)
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  26. added 2018-09-16
    The Philosophy of Free Will: Essential Readings From the Contemporary Debates.Paul Russell & Oisin Deery - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    This collection provides a selection of the most essential contributions to the contemporary free will debate. Among the issues discussed and debated are skepticism and naturalism, alternate possibilities, the consequence argument, libertarian metaphysics, illusionism and revisionism, optimism and pessimism, neuroscience and free will, and experimental philosophy.
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  27. added 2018-09-16
    Moral Sense and the Foundations of Responsibility.Paul Russell - 2011 - In Robert Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will: Second Edition. New York, NY, USA: pp. 199-220.
    Throughout much of the first half of the twentieth century, the free-will debate was largely concerned with the question of what kind of freedom was required for moral responsibility and whether the kind of freedom required was compatible with the thesis of determinism. This issue was itself addressed primarily with reference to the question of how freedom is related to alternative possibilities and what the relevant analysis of “could have done otherwise” comes to. The discussion of these topics made little (...)
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  28. added 2018-09-16
    Selective Hard Compatibilism.Paul Russell - 2010 - In J. Campbell, M. O'Rourke & H. Silverstein (eds.), Action, Ethics and Responsibility: Topics in Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. 7. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. pp. 149-73.
    .... The strategy I have defended involves drawing a distinction between those who can and cannot legitimately hold an agent responsible in circumstances when the agent is being covertly controlled (e.g. through implantation processes). What is intuitively unacceptable, I maintain, is that an agent should be held responsible or subject to reactive attitudes that come from another agent who is covertly controlling or manipulating him. This places some limits on who is entitled to take up the participant stance in relation (...)
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  29. added 2018-09-15
    “Free Will and Affirmation: Assessing Honderich’s Third Way”.Paul Russell - 2017 - In Gregg D. Caruso (ed.), Ted Honderich on Consciousness, Determinism, and Humanity. London, UK: Palgrave. pp. Pp. 159-79..
    In the third and final part of his A Theory of Determinism (TD) Ted Honderich addresses the fundamental question concerning “the consequences of determinism.” The critical question he aims to answer is what follows if determinism is true? This question is, of course, intimately bound up with the problem of free will and, in particular, with the question of whether or not the truth of determinism is compatible or incompatible with the sort of freedom required for moral responsibility. It is (...)
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  30. added 2018-08-20
    Response to Dennett on Free Will Skepticism.Derk Pereboom - 2017 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 8 (3):259-265.
    : What is at stake in the debate between those, such as Sam Harris and me, who contend that we would lack free will on the supposition that we are causally determined agents, and those that defend the claim that we might then retain free will, such as Daniel Dennett? I agree with Dennett that on the supposition of causal determination there would be robust ways in which we could shape, control, and cause our actions. But I deny that on (...)
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  31. added 2018-08-20
    Determinism, compatibilism and free will scepticism.Rafael Miranda-Rojas - 2017 - Cinta de Moebio 60:295-305.
    Resumen: El presente escrito tiene por objetivo discutir los alcances de la postura denominada escepticismo sobre el libre albedrío y evaluar si el debate compatibilismo - incompatibilismo supone una postura racionalista y/o necesitarista respecto a si un sujeto S actúa libremente. La discusión de los últimos diez años sobre este tópico permite establecer una distinción relevante entre que una acción sea libre, sin que ello descarte antecedentes causales de esa acción. En particular, sin que ello conduzca a un compromiso con (...)
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  32. added 2018-08-20
    Why Free Will Is Logically Not Possible Within Naturalism.Michael Prost - 2017 - Philosophy Study 7 (2).
    One of the most intriguing problems of philosophy and of mankind is the question whether humans have a free will. This question is heavily disputed between natural scientists and especially neuroscientists, who deny free will, and philosophers and other groups, who insist on free will. It is perplexing that both sides base their premise on the same precondition, namely naturalism. We will prove that naturalism automatically leads to physicalism, to materialism, and to reductionism. We will also prove here that it (...)
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  33. added 2018-03-21
    Free Will Skepticism and Personhood as a Desert Base.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):489-511.
    In contemporary free will theory, a significant number of philosophers are once again taking seriously the possibility that human beings do not have free will, and are therefore not morally responsible for their actions. (Free will is understood here as whatever satisfies the control condition of moral responsibility.) Free will theorists commonly assume that giving up the belief that human beings are morally responsible implies giving up all our beliefs about desert. But the consequences of giving up the belief that (...)
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  34. added 2018-02-18
    Free Will: Critical Concepts in Philosophy.John Martin Fischer (ed.) - 2005 - Routledge.
    Over the last three decades there has been a tremendous amount of philosophical work in the Anglo-American tradition on the cluster of topics pertaining to Free Will. Contemporary work has in some instances been in the form of lively debates between proponents of different viewpoints, and literature surrounding the area is therefore characterized by a genuine vitality. This collection selects the very best of this material and presents it in a single, accessible set of volumes.
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  35. added 2018-02-16
    Free Will: A Contemporary Introduction.Michael McKenna & Derk Pereboom - 2014 - Routledge.
    If my ability to react freely is constrained by forces beyond my control, am I still morally responsible for the things I do? The question of whether, how and to what extent we are responsible for our own actions has always been central to debates in philosophy and theology, and has been the subject of much recent research in cognitive science. And for good reason- the views we take on free will affect the choices we make as individuals, the moral (...)
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  36. added 2018-02-16
    Four Views on Free Will.John Martin Fischer, Robert Kane, Derk Pereboom & Manuel Vargas - 2007 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  37. added 2017-11-02
    The Implications of Rejecting Free Will: An Empirical Analysis.Stephen Morris - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (2):299-321.
    While skeptical arguments concerning free will have been a common element of philosophical discourse for thousands of years, one could make the case that such arguments have never been more numerous or forceful than at present. In response to these skeptical attacks, some philosophers and psychologists have expressed concern that the widespread acceptance of such skeptical attitudes could have devastating social consequences. In this paper, I set out to address whether such concerns are well-founded. I argue that there is reason (...)
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  38. added 2017-11-02
    Pereboom on Punishment: Funishment, Innocence, Motivation, and Other Difficulties.Saul Smilansky - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (3):591-603.
    In Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life, Derk Pereboom proposes an optimistic model of life that follows on the rejection of both libertarian and compatibilist beliefs in free will, moral responsibility, and desert. I criticize his views, focusing on punishment. Pereboom responds to my earlier argument that hard determinism must seek to revise the practice of punishment in the direction of funishment, whereby the incarcerated are very generously compensated for the deprivations of incarceration. I claimed that funishment is a (...)
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  39. added 2017-10-05
    In Defense of Moral Responsibility Skepticism.Jody Tomchishen - unknown
    Moral responsibility skeptics have often focused on problems involving determinism in order to defend their position. I argue that this defense of moral responsibility skepticism is misplaced given that what really matters for moral responsibility is an agent's ability to have morally-relevant control. An account, I call agnostic control, remains viable regardless of the truth of determinism, which means that determinism is the wrong place to look for the denial of moral responsibility. I provide an argument in favour of moral (...)
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  40. added 2017-09-14
    What is Kant: A Compatibilist or an Incompatibilist? A New Interpretation of Kant's Solution to the Free Will Problem.Simon Shengjian Xie - 2009 - Kant-Studien 100 (1):53-76.
    There are generally two controversial issues over Kant's solution to the free will problem. One is over whether he is a compatibilist or an incompatibilist and the other is over whether his solution is a success. In this paper, I will argue, regarding the first controversy, that “compatibilist” and “incompatibilist” are not the right terms to describe Kant for his unique views on freedom and determinism; but that of the two, incompatibilist is the more accurate description. Regarding the second controversy, (...)
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  41. added 2017-07-29
    How Should Free Will Skeptics Pursue Legal Change?Marcelo Fischborn - 2018 - Neuroethics 11 (1):47-54.
    Free will skepticism is the view that people never truly deserve to be praised, blamed, or punished for what they do. One challenge free will skeptics face is to explain how criminality could be dealt with given their skepticism. This paper critically examines the prospects of implementing legal changes concerning crime and punishment derived from the free will skeptical views developed by Derk Pereboom and Gregg Caruso. One central aspect of the changes their views require is a concern for reducing (...)
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  42. added 2017-07-25
    Student.Krishna Mantirraju - manuscript
    Freedom is an impossibility; the dream of having the ability to choose anything one wants is hampered by reality. However, what aspect of reality ultimately hampers the birth of true freedom? What I propose is that reality itself makes freedom impossible. Furthermore, I also make the logical assumption, from the evidence I have found, that the only entity that can have freedom is a being that is formless, timeless, featureless, and is an infinite environment of nothing. While my studies today (...)
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  43. added 2017-06-18
    An Asymmetrical Approach to Kant's Theory of Freedom.Benjamin Vilhauer - forthcoming - In Dai Heide and Evan Tiffany (ed.), The Idea of Freedom: New Essays on the Interpretation and Significance of Kant's Theory of Freedom.
    Asymmetry theories about free will and moral responsibility are a recent development in the long history of the free will debate. To my knowledge, Kant commentators have not yet explored the possibility of an asymmetrical reconstruction of Kant's theory of freedom, and that will be my goal here. By "free will", I mean the sort of control we would need to be morally responsible for our actions. Kant's term for it is "transcendental freedom", and he refers to the attribution of (...)
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  44. added 2017-04-13
    Coping Without Free Will: An Examination Into the Effects on a Belief System of the Rejection of Free Will.Ben Thompson - 2007 - Questions 7:4-5.
    Argues that acceptance of one’s place in the natural world involves an acceptance of free will. Free will is also necessary for the continuation of a social society in that we need to accept the doctrine in order to administer justice.
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  45. added 2017-04-10
    The Non-Reality of Free Will.Richard Double - 1993 - Behavior and Philosophy 20:95-97.
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  46. added 2017-04-07
    Free Will: Who Can Know.Kılıç Zafer - manuscript
    I have inquired as to what sort of knowledge humans need to make justifiable claims regarding free will. I defended the thesis that humans do not have the sort of knowledge which would allow them to make such claims. Adopting the view of mind based on cognitive science and Kant’s philosophy of mind, first I laid out the characteristics of that knowledge with the help of a simulation example I devised. Then, upon investigating the epistemic relations between the different sources (...)
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  47. added 2017-03-01
    Libertarianism and Skepticism About Free Will: Some Arguments Against Both.Manuel Vargas - 2004 - Philosophical Topics 32 (1/2):403-426.
  48. added 2017-02-24
    Self-Forming Actions: The Genesis of a Free Will.Robert Allen - 2007 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 81:263-278.
    The following is a now popular argument for free will skepticism:1. If free will exists, then people make themselves.2. People do not make themselves.3. Thus, free will does not exist.It would make no sense to hold someone responsible, either for what he’s like or what he’s done, unless he has made himself. But no one makes himself. A person’s character is imposed upon him by Nature and others. To rebut, I intend to lean on common usage, according to which 2 (...)
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  49. added 2017-02-24
    The Ethical Advantages of Free Will Subjectivism.Richard Double - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (2):411-422.
    Adopting meta-level Free Will Subjectivism is one among several ways to maintain that persons never experience moral freedom in their choices. The other ways of arguing against moral freedom I consider are presented by Saul Smilansky, Ted Honderich, Bruce Waller, Galen Strawson, and Derk Pereboom. In this paper, without arguing for the acceptance of free will subjectivism, I argue that subjectivism has some moral and theoretical advantages over its kindred theories.
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  50. added 2017-02-15
    Human Rights and Moral Responsibility Skepticism.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2014 - Southwest Philosophy Review 30 (1):19-25.
1 — 50 / 209