Derk Pereboom, Free Will, Agency and Meaning in Life [Book Review]

Utilitas 30 (2):241-244 (2018)
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Abstract

Derk Pereboom’s Free Will, Agency and Meaning in Life (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 219) follows quite closely in the steps of his Living Without Free Will (2001). Pereboom argues for “hard incompatibilism” in both – the thesis that regardless of whether determinism is true, the kind of free will required for desert-entailing moral responsibility is unlikely to exist. In Free Will…, however, he pays more attention to issues other than moral responsibility. This, I think, is a great strength of the book. It has furthermore been suggested that Free Will… differs from Living… in being less radical; that Pereboom’s hard incompatibilism has softened up over the years. I believe this view is mistaken. It is true that Free Will… contains several passages where Pereboom writes that he is happy to take on board important elements of moral responsibility theories usually labelled “compatibilist”. However, Living… never states the contrary position. Living, rather, has a different focus – on other sceptical views, and how they differ from Pereboom’s own.

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Sofia Jeppsson
Umeå University

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