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Free Will Agnosticism

Noûs 47 (2):235-252 (2013)

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  1. What to Do When You Don’T Know What to Do.Andrew Sepielli - 2009 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:5-28.
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  • Van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument.Michael Huemer - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (4):525-544.
    Peter van Inwagen ’s argument for incompatibilism uses a sentential operator, “N”, which can be read as “No one has any choice about the fact that....” I show that, given van Inwagen ’s understanding of the notion of having a choice, the argument is invalid. However, a different interpretation of “N” can be given, such that the argument is clearly valid, the premises remain highly plausible, and the conclusion implies that free will is incompatible with determinism.
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  • Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
    The doyen of living English philosophers, by these reflections, took hold of and changed the outlook of a good many other philosophers, if not quite enough. He did so, essentially, by assuming that talk of freedom and responsibility is talk not of facts or truths, in a certain sense, but of our attitudes. His more explicit concern was to look again at the question of whether determinism and freedom are consistent with one another -- by shifting attention to certain personal (...)
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  • Responsibility for Necessities.Stephen Kearns - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 155 (2):307-324.
    It is commonly held that no one can be morally responsible for a necessary truth. In this paper, I will provide various examples that cast doubt on this idea. I also show that one popular argument for the incompatibility of moral responsibility and determinism (van Inwagen’s Direct Argument) fails given my examples.
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  • Single Premise Deduction and Risk.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 141 (2):157 - 173.
    It is tempting to think that multi premise closure creates a special class of paradoxes having to do with the accumulation of risks, and that these paradoxes could be escaped by rejecting the principle, while still retaining single premise closure. I argue that single premise deduction is also susceptible to risks. I show that what I take to be the strongest argument for rejecting multi premise closure is also an argument for rejecting single premise closure. Because of the symmetry between (...)
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  • Don’T Know, Don’T Kill: Moral Ignorance, Culpability, and Caution.Alexander A. Guerrero - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (1):59-97.
    This paper takes on several distinct but related tasks. First, I present and discuss what I will call the "Ignorance Thesis," which states that whenever an agent acts from ignorance, whether factual or moral, she is culpable for the act only if she is culpable for the ignorance from which she acts. Second, I offer a counterexample to the Ignorance Thesis, an example that applies most directly to the part I call the "Moral Ignorance Thesis." Third, I argue for a (...)
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  • Free Will Skepticism and Personhood as a Desert Base.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):pp. 489-511.
    In contemporary free will theory, a significant number of philosophers are once again taking seriously the possibility that human beings do not have free will, and are therefore not morally responsible for their actions. Free will theorists commonly assume that giving up the belief that human beings are morally responsible implies giving up all our beliefs about desert. But the consequences of giving up the belief that we are morally responsible are not quite this dramatic. Giving up the belief that (...)
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  • Proof of an External World.G. E. Moore - 1939 - H. Milford.
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  • Kant on Transcendental Freedom.Derk Pereboom - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):537-567.
    Transcendental freedom consists in the power of agents to produce actions without being causally determined by antecedent conditions, nor by their natures, in exercising this power. Kant contends that we cannot establish whether we are actually or even possibly free in this sense. He claims only that our conception of being transcendentally free involves no inconsistency, but that as a result the belief that we have this freedom meets a pertinent standard of minimal credibility. For the rest, its justification depends (...)
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  • A Hard-Line Reply to the Multiple-Case Manipulation Argument.Derk Pereboom - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (1):160-170.
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  • A Hard-Line Reply to Pereboom’s Four-Case Manipulation Argument.Michael Mckenna - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (1):142-159.
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  • Free Will Skepticism and Personhood as a Desert Base.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):489-511.
    In contemporary free will theory, a significant number of philosophers are once again taking seriously the possibility that human beings do not have free will, and are therefore not morally responsible for their actions. (Free will is understood here as whatever satisfies the control condition of moral responsibility.) Free will theorists commonly assume that giving up the belief that human beings are morally responsible implies giving up all our beliefs about desert. But the consequences of giving up the belief that (...)
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  • Freedom Evolves.Daniel C. Dennett - 2003 - Viking Press.
    Daniel C. Dennett is a brilliant polemicist, famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies. Over the last thirty years, he has played a major role in expanding our understanding of consciousness, developmental psychology, and evolutionary theory. And with such groundbreaking, critically acclaimed books as Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea (a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist), he has reached a huge general and professional audience. In this new book, Dennett shows that evolution is the key to resolving the ancient problems (...)
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  • The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - Oxford University Press USA.
    Robert Kane provides a critical overview of debates about free will of the past half century, relating this recent inquiry to the broader history of the free will issue and to vital currents of twentieth century thought. Kane also defends a traditional libertarian or incompatibilist view of free will, employing arguments that are both new to philosophy and that respond to contemporary developments in physics and biology, neuro science, and the cognitive and behavioral sciences.
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  • Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book provides a comprehensive, systematic theory of moral responsibility. The authors explore the conditions under which individuals are morally responsible for actions, omissions, consequences, and emotions. The leading idea in the book is that moral responsibility is based on 'guidance control'. This control has two components: the mechanism that issues in the relevant behavior must be the agent's own mechanism, and it must be appropriately responsive to reasons. The book develops an account of both components. The authors go on (...)
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  • Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
    Knowledge and its Limits presents a systematic new conception of knowledge as a kind of mental stage sensitive to the knower's environment. It makes a major contribution to the debate between externalist and internalist philosophies of mind, and breaks radically with the epistemological tradition of analyzing knowledge in terms of true belief. The theory casts new light on such philosophical problems as scepticism, evidence, probability and assertion, realism and anti-realism, and the limits of what can be known. The arguments are (...)
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  • Revisionism About Free Will: A Statement and Defense.Manuel Vargas - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 144 (1):45-62.
    This article summarizes and extends the moderate revisionist position I put forth in Four Views on Free Will and responds to objections to it from Robert Kane, John Martin Fischer, Derk Pereboom, and Michael McKenna. Among the principle topics of the article are (1) motivations for revisionism, what it is, and how it is different from compatibilism and hard incompatibilism, (2) an objection to libertarianism based on the moral costs of its current epistemic status, (3) an objection to the distinctiveness (...)
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  • Persons, Punishment, and Free Will Skepticism.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):143-163.
    The purpose of this paper is to provide a justification of punishment which can be endorsed by free will skeptics, and which can also be defended against the "using persons as mere means" objection. Free will skeptics must reject retributivism, that is, the view that punishment is just because criminals deserve to suffer based on their actions. Retributivists often claim that theirs is the only justification on which punishment is constrained by desert, and suppose that non-retributive justifications must therefore endorse (...)
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  • Persons and Causes: The Metaphysics of Free Will.Timothy O'Connor - 2000 - Oxford University Press USA.
    This provocative book refurbishes the traditional account of freedom of will as reasons-guided "agent" causation, situating its account within a general metaphysics. O'Connor's discussion of the general concept of causation and of ontological reductionism v. emergence will specially interest metaphysicians and philosophers of mind.
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  • A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will.Robert Kane - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
    Accessible to students with no background in the subject, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will provides an extensive and up-to-date overview of all the latest views on this central problem of philosophy. Opening with a concise introduction to the history of the problem of free will--and its place in the history of philosophy--the book then turns to contemporary debates and theories about free will, determinism, and related subjects like moral responsibility, coercion, compulsion, autonomy, agency, rationality, freedom, and more. Classical compatibilist (...)
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  • An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
    "This is an important book, and no one interested in issues which touch on the free will will want to ignore it."--Ethics. In this stimulating and thought-provoking book, the author defends the thesis that free will is incompatible with determinism. He disputes the view that determinism is necessary for moral responsbility. Finding no good reason for accepting determinism, but believing moral responsiblity to be indubitable, he concludes that determinism should be rejected.
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  • Freedom and Belief.Galen Strawson - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
    On the whole, we continue to believe firmly both that we have free will and that we are morally responsible for what we do. Here, the author argues that there is a fundamental sense in which there is no such thing as free will or true moral responsibility (as ordinarily understood). Devoting the main body of his book to an attempt to explain why we continue to believe as we do, Strawson examines various aspects of the "cognitive phenomenology" of freedom--the (...)
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  • Free Will and Illusion.Saul Smilansky - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
    Saul Smilansky presents an original new approach to the problem of free will, which lies at the heart of morality and self-understanding. He maintains that the key to the problem is the role played by illusion. Smilansky boldly claims that we could not live adequately with a complete awareness of the truth about human freedom and that illusion lies at the center of the human condition.
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  • The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.Robert Kane (ed.) - 2002 - Oxford University Press.
    This comprehensive reference provides an exhaustive guide to current scholarship on the perennial problem of Free Will--perhaps the most hotly and voluminously debated of all philosophical problems. While reference is made throughout to the contributions of major thinkers of the past, the emphasis is on recent research. The essays, most of which are previously unpublished, combine the work of established scholars with younger thinkers who are beginning to make significant contributions. Taken as a whole, the Handbook provides an engaging and (...)
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  • Living Without Free Will.Derk Pereboom - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
    Most people assume that, even though some degenerative or criminal behavior may be caused by influences beyond our control, ordinary human actions are not similarly generated, but rather are freely chosen, and we can be praiseworthy or blameworthy for them. A less popular and more radical claim is that factors beyond our control produce all of the actions we perform. It is this hard determinist stance that Derk Pereboom articulates in Living Without Free Will. Pereboom argues that our best scientific (...)
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  • Moral Uncertainty and its Consequences.Ted Lockhart - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
    We are often uncertain how to behave morally in complex situations. In this controversial study, Ted Lockhart contends that moral philosophy has failed to address how we make such moral decisions. Adapting decision theory to the task of decision-making under moral uncertainly, he proposes that we should not always act how we feel we ought to act, and that sometimes we should act against what we feel to be morally right. Lockhart also discusses abortion extensively and proposes new ways to (...)
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  • Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy:.David Lewis - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.
    This volume is devoted to Lewis's work in ethics and social philosophy. Topics covered include the logic of obligation and permission; decision theory and its relation to the idea that beliefs might play the motivating role of desires; a subjectivist analysis of value; dilemmas in virtue ethics; the problem of evil; problems about self-prediction; social coordination, linguistic and otherwise; alleged duties to rescue distant strangers; toleration as a tacit treaty; nuclear warfare; and punishment. This collection, and the two preceding volumes, (...)
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  • How Free Are You?Ted Honderich - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
    _Can attitudes like those that have seemed welded to indeterminism and free will_ _actually go with determinism? Is it not a contradiction to suppose so? The little_ _Oxford University Press book_ _How Free Are You?_ _in its first edition, much_ _translated, was a summary of the indigestible or anyway not widely digested_.
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  • My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    This is a selection of essays on moral responsibility that represent the major components of John Martin Fischer's overall approach to freedom of the will and moral responsibility. The collection exhibits the overall structure of Fischer's view and shows how the various elements fit together to form a comprehensive framework for analyzing free will and moral responsibility. The topics include deliberation and practical reasoning, freedom of the will, freedom of action, various notions of control, and moral accountability. The essays seek (...)
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  • Four Views on Free Will.John Martin Fischer, Robert Kane, Derk Pereboom & Manuel Vargas - 2007 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    Focusing on the concepts and interactions of free will, moral responsibility, and determinism, this text represents the most up-to-date account of the four major positions in the free will debate. Four serious and well-known philosophers explore the opposing viewpoints of libertarianism, compatibilism, hard incompatibilism, and revisionism The first half of the book contains each philosopher’s explanation of his particular view; the second half allows them to directly respond to each other’s arguments, in a lively and engaging conversation Offers the reader (...)
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  • Libertarian Accounts of Free Will.Randolph Clarke - 2003 - Oxford University Press USA.
    This comprehensive study offers a balanced assessment of libertarian accounts of free will. Bringing to bear recent work on action, causation, and causal explanation, Clarke defends a type of event-causal view from popular objections concerning rationality and diminished control. He subtly explores the extent to which event-causal accounts can secure the things for the sake of which we value free will, judging their success here to be limited. Clarke then sets out a highly original agent-causal account, one that integrates agent (...)
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  • Autonomous Agents: From Self Control to Autonomy.Alfred R. Mele - 1995 - Oxford University Press.
    Autonomous Agents addresses the related topics of self-control and individual autonomy. "Self-control" is defined as the opposite of akrasia-weakness of will. The study of self-control seeks to understand the concept of its own terms, followed by an examination of its bearing on one's actions, beliefs, emotions, and personal values. It goes on to consider how a proper understanding of self-control and its manifestations can shed light on personal autonomy and autonomous behaviour. Perspicuous, objective, and incisive throughout, Alfred Mele makes a (...)
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  • Evil for Freedom’s Sake.David K. Lewis - 1993 - Philosophical Papers 22 (3):149-172.
    Christianity teaches that whenever evil is done, God had ample warning. He could have prevented it, but He didn't. He could have stopped it midway, but He didn't. He could have rescued the victims of the evil, but - at least in many cases - He didn't. In short, God is an accessory before, during, and after the fact to countless evil deeds, great and small. An explanation is not far to seek. The obvious hypothesis is that the Christian God (...)
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  • Elusive Knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
    David Lewis (1941-2001) was Class of 1943 University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. His contributions spanned philosophical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, metaphysics, and epistemology. In On the Plurality of Worlds, he defended his challenging metaphysical position, "modal realism." He was also the author of the books Convention, Counterfactuals, Parts of Classes, and several volumes of collected papers.
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  • Are We Free to Break the Laws?David Lewis - 1981 - Theoria 47 (3):113-21.
    I insist that I was able to raise my hand, and I acknowledge that a law would have been broken had I done so, but I deny that I am therefore able to break a law. To uphold my instance of soft determinism, I need not claim any incredible powers. To uphold the compatibilism that I actually believe, I need not claim that such powers are even possible. My incompatibilist opponent is a creature of fiction, but he has his prototypes (...)
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  • Free Will and the Necessity of the Past.J. K. Campbell - 2007 - Analysis 67 (2):105-111.
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  • Defending Hard Incompatibilism.Derk Pereboom - 2005 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):228-247.
    In _Living Without Free Will_, I develop and argue for a view according to which our being morally responsible would be ruled out if determinism were true, and also if indeterminism were true and the causes of our actions were exclusively events.1 Absent agent causation, indeterministic causal histories are as threatening to moral responsibility as deterministic histories are, and a generalization argument from manipulation cases shows that deterministic histories indeed undermine moral responsibility. Agent causation has not been ruled out as (...)
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  • Free Will.Timothy O'Connor & Christopher Evan Franklin - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    “Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives. Which sort is the free will sort is what all the fuss is about. (And what a fuss it has been: philosophers have debated this question for over two millenia, and just about every major philosopher has had something to say about it.) Most philosophers suppose that the concept of free will is very (...)
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  • Revisionism About Free Will: A Statement & Defense.Manuel Vargas - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 144 (1):45-62.
    This article summarizes the moderate revisionist position I put forth in Four Views on Free Will and responds to objections to it from Robert Kane, John Martin Fischer, Derk Pereboom, and Michael McKenna. Among the principle topics of the article are (1) motivations for revisionism, what it is, and how it is different from compatibilism and hard incompatibilism, (2) an objection to the distinctiveness of semicompatibilism against conventional forms of compatibilism, and (3) whether moderate revisionism is committed to realism about (...)
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  • Rejecting Ethical Deflationism.Jacob Ross - 2006 - Ethics 116 (4):742-768.
    One of the perennial challenges of ethical theory has been to provide an answer to a number of views that appear to undermine the importance of ethical questions. We may refer to such views collectively as “deflationary ethical theories.” These include theories, such as nihilism, according to which no action is better than any other, as well as relativistic theories according to which no ethical theory is better than any other. In this article I present a new response to such (...)
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  • Skepticism About Moral Responsibility.Gideon Rosen - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):295–313.
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  • Aborting the Zygote Argument.Stephen Kearns - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (3):379-389.
    Alfred Mele’s zygote argument for incompatibilism is based on a case involving an agent in a deterministic world whose entire life is planned by someone else. Mele’s contention is that Ernie (the agent) is unfree and that normal determined agents are relevantly similar to him with regards to free will. In this paper, I examine four different ways of understanding this argument and then criticize each interpretation. I then extend my criticism to manipulation arguments in general. I conclude that the (...)
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  • Does Moral Ignorance Exculpate?Elizabeth Harman - 2011 - Ratio 24 (4):443-468.
    Non-moral ignorance can exculpate: if Anne spoons cyanide into Bill's coffee, but thinks she is spooning sugar, then Anne may be blameless for poisoning Bill. Gideon Rosen argues that moral ignorance can also exculpate: if one does not believe that one's action is wrong, and one has not mismanaged one's beliefs, then one is blameless for acting wrongly. On his view, many apparently blameworthy actions are blameless. I discuss several objections to Rosen. I then propose an alternative view on which (...)
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  • Free Will and the Necessity of the Past.Joseph Keim Campbell - 2007 - Analysis 67 (2):105-111.
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  • Free Will and Contextualism.Steven Rieber - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 129 (2):223-252.
    This paper proposes a contextualist solution to the puzzle about free will. It argues that the context-sensitivity of statements about freedom of the will follows from the correct analysis of these statements. Because the analysis is independently plausible, the contextualism is warranted not merely in virtue of its capacity to solve the puzzle.
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  • Compatibilism Can Resist Prepunishment: A Reply to Smilansky.Stephen Kearns - 2008 - Analysis 68 (3):250-253.
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  • Moral Responsibility and Normative Ignorance: Answering a New Skeptical Challenge.by William J. FitzPatrick - 2008 - Ethics 118 (4):589-613.
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  • Taking Free Will Skepticism Seriously.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):833-852.
    An apparently increasing number of philosophers take free will skepticism to pose a serious challenge to some of our practices. This must seem odd to many—why should anyone think that free will skepticism is relevant for our practices, when nobody seems to think that other canonical forms of philosophical skepticism are relevant for our practices? Part of the explanation may be epistemic, but here I focus on a metaethical explanation. Free will skepticism is special because it is compatible with ‘basic (...)
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  • Moral Responsibility and Normative Ignorance: Answering a New Skeptical Challenge.William J. FitzPatrick - 2008 - Ethics 118 (4):589-613.
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  • A Master Argument for Incompatibilism?Tomis Kapitan - 2002 - In Robert H. Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. Oxford University Press. pp. 127--157.
    The past 25 years have witnessed a vigorous discussion of an argument directed against the compatibilist approach to free will and responsibility. This reasoning, variously called the “consequence argument,” the “incompatibility argument,” and the “unavoidability argument,” may be expressed informally as follows: If determinism is true then whatever happens is a consequence of past events and laws over which we have no control and which we are unable to prevent. But whatever is a consequence of what’s beyond our control is (...)
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