Free Will and Moral Responsibility

John Martin Fischer

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195325911
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Free Will and Moral Responsibility


This article explores a variety of conceptions of moral responsibility and their connection to the idea of free will. Its main focus is on the challenge of causal determinism. Much has been written recently about free will and moral responsibility. This article focuses on the relationship between free will, on the one hand, and various notions that fall under the rubric of “morality,” broadly construed, on the other: deliberation and practical reasoning, moral responsibility, and ethical notions such as “ought,” “right,” “wrong,” “good,” and “bad.” It begins by laying out a natural understanding of freedom of the will. Next, it develops some challenges to the common-sense view that there is this sort of freedom. It goes on to explore the implications of this challenge for deliberation, moral responsibility, and the central ethical notions.

Keywords: moral responsibility; free will; determinism; morality; ethical notions

Article.  15954 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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