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The Significance of Free Will

Robert Kane

Published in print March 1999 | ISBN: 9780195126563
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868506 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195126564.001.0001
The Significance of Free Will

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The first of two goals of this book is to provide a critical survey of the major debates about free will and determinism of the past quarter century, a period during which there have been many new developments in the study of this ancient philosophical problem. The book seeks to acquaint readers with current debates and new developments on free will, showing their relevance to broad contemporary concerns in ethics, politics, science, religion, and humanities. The second goal of the book is to defend a traditional view of free will and moral responsibility, according to which both are incompatible with determinism. In response to claims that such a traditional view of free will (often nowadays called an “incompatibilist” or “libertarian” view) has no place in the modern scientific picture of the world, the book argues that a nondeterminist conception of free will can be defended without the usual appeals to obscure or mysterious forms of agency and can be reconciled with recent developments in the sciences – physical, biological, neurological, cognitive, and behavioral. The book also discusses the relation of free will to other important topics, such as morality, dignity, rationality, creativity, autonomy, desert, causation, consciousness, alternative possibilities, explanations of action, reasons for action, practical reason, weakness of will, incommensurability of values, and others.

Keywords: agency; autonomy; determinism; free will; freedom; incompatibilism; indeterminism; libertarianism; responsibility; will

Book.  276 pages. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Significance of Free Will

Chapter

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Will in The Significance of Free Will

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Responsibility in The Significance of Free Will

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Alternative Possibilities in The Significance of Free Will

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Ultimate Responsibility in The Significance of Free Will

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Significance in The Significance of Free Will

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Plurality and Indeterminism in The Significance of Free Will

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Moral and Prudential Choice in The Significance of Free Will

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Efforts, Purposes, and Practical Reason in The Significance of Free Will

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Objections and Responses in The Significance of Free Will

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