Living Without Free Will: The Case for Hard Incompatibilism

Derk Pereboom

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780195178548
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Living Without Free Will: The Case for Hard Incompatibilism


This article defends a position called “hard incompatibilism”, which amounts to a rejection of both compatibilism and libertarianism. Such a position involves “relinquishing our ordinary view of ourselves as blameworthy for immoral actions and praiseworthy for actions that are morally exemplary.” The article addresses the question of whether affirming such a view would have the dire consequences many people fear for a host of everyday concerns that matter to us—for example, for moral reform and education, for crime prevention, interpersonal relations, our reactive attitudes of indignation, guilt, gratitude, love and repentance, the ways we treat others, including children, and generally, for our form of life. Each of these topics is discussed and it is argued that the consequences of hard incompatibilism would not be as destructive as many people believe—it would be compensated by benefits in the form of more humane treatment of others.

Keywords: determinism; compatibilism; libertarianism; free will; blameworthiness; humane treatment

Article.  5474 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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