In this first part of the article, I want to sketch two things. First, I will say something about the idea of free will. The paradoxes involved in this idea often occur to people even before they come to philosophy, and these difficulties will be central to Kant’s account. But second, before turning to Kant, I would like to tackle Aristotle’s broad approach, and show that, before free will was invented by Christian philosophers, there was a quite different way of thinking about moral responsibility – one that has much to teach us. In the second part of the article, to appear in the next issue, I ask why Kant’s account continues to attract many people who would not dream of calling themselves Kantians – indeed, many who have never even heard Kant’s name. Kant’s theory involves a powerful idea of moral worth based on choice. This idea, though problematic because of the idea of freedom it seems to depend on, does account for many of our intuitions about moral responsibility. But it is not the only explanation of these intuitions, nor – I will argue – is it the most plausible.
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