Article

Determinism, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility in American Literary Naturalism

Ian F. Roberts

in The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195368932
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195368932.013.0007

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Determinism, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility in American Literary Naturalism

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This article addresses the issue of determinism in literary naturalism. Definitions of naturalism as a movement, perceptions of naturalism's optimism or pessimism, estimations of naturalism's success or failure as art, evaluations of naturalism's moral and social significance, and specific interpretations of individual works all rest squarely on beliefs and assumptions about determinism and free will. Unfortunately, this aspect of naturalistic philosophy remains the most superficially understood, despite having been so frequently discussed. Until critics' misunderstandings of determinism are squarely addressed, complaints about naturalism's logical inconsistency will persist.

Keywords: determinism; free will; moral responsibility; American literary naturalism; naturalistic philosophy

Article.  8254 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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