Ultimate Responsibility

Robert Kane

in The Significance of Free Will

Published in print March 1999 | ISBN: 9780195126563
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868506 | DOI:
Ultimate Responsibility

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This chapter turns to the second and (I argue) the more important criterion for free will, namely, ultimate responsibility (UR). A series of theses are defended that explain what this criterion entails and why it is incompatible with determinism. In the process, the chapter critically examines new compatibilist accounts of free will, such as the “hierarchical theories” of Harry Frankfurt and others (involving second‐ and higher‐ order desires and volitions). The chapter also discusses the notion of “covert non‐constraining (CNC) control,” the kind of hidden control of human behavior that one encounters in scientific utopias like that described in B. F. Skinner's Walden Two. The notion of “self‐forming actions” (SFAs) is defined and shown to be pivotal to understanding what it means to say that something is done “of one's own free will.”

Keywords: constraint; control; free will; motivation; responsibility; second‐order desires; self‐forming actions

Chapter.  10725 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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