Origination, Moral Responsibility, Punishment, and Life-Hopes: Ted Honderich on Determinism and Freedom

In Gregg D. Caruso (ed.), Ted Honderich on Consciousness, Determinism, and Humanity. London, UK: (2018)
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Perhaps no one has written more extensively, more deeply, and more insightfully about determinism and freedom than Ted Honderich. His influence and legacy with regard to the problem of free will—or the determinism problem, as he prefers to frame it—looms large. In these comments I would like to focus on three main aspects of Honderich ’s work: his defense of determinism and its consequences for origination and moral responsibility; his concern that the truth of determinism threatens and restricts, but does not eliminate, our life-hopes; and his attack on the traditional justifications for punishment. In many ways, I see my own defense of free will skepticism as the natural successor to Honderich ’s work. There are, however, some small differences between us. My goal in this paper is to clarify our areas of agreement and disagreement and to acknowledge my enormous debt to Ted. If I can also move him toward my own more optimistic brand of free will skepticism that would be great too
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