Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will [Book Review]

Analysis 70 (1):196-198 (2010)

John Fischer
University of California, Riverside
In Our Stories, John Martin Fischer offers readers a characteristically thoughtful and engaging presentation of his views on a variety of topics, most notably death, immortality and self-expression. Having come to this collection familiar primarily with Fischer's work on freedom and responsibility, I was impressed with the range of issues treated in this latest volume. While each essay is independently appealing, perhaps the most compelling aspect of Our Stories is its cohesiveness. Fischer discerns a variety of subtle connections among the diverse array of subjects he treats; this imbues his work with a degree of continuity that is remarkable in light of the extensiveness of his subject matter. Here, I focus mainly on self-expression, and discuss other topics covered in Our Stories principally in relation to this central concept.According to Fischer, the value of self-expression is ‘the value of acting freely, or acting in such a way as to be morally responsible … this value is a kind of aesthetic value, or akin to an aesthetic value’. The sense of freedom at issue here does not require alternative possibilities; rather, it involves guidance control, which agents possess when their behaviour is appropriately responsive to reasons and they take ‘ownership’ of the causal mechanism that produces this behaviour. While the value of free action is, …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp143
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