To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
With Purgatory we readers are at home. It is a place of hope, less a place of punishment due and more a place of conversion. And a comparison between Dante’s conversion in Purgatory in the hands, ultimately, of Beatrice, and Augustine’s conversion as recorded in Confessions allows us to see Purgatorio as moving progressively out of a place of moral reform and the rejection of the vices that formed the structure of Hell, and more a place of an wholesale transformation, a place of illumination.
The limited nature of self-control gives rise to awkward questions. Are people who get into trouble due to poor self-control really to blame, or simply the innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control? This long and pivotal chapter addresses what the limited nature of self-control means for moral responsibility. On the one hand, poor self-control might at times be a valid excuse, but on the other, we would not want a world in which everyone can claim to be nothing but the innocent victims of their endowments from birth and their social background. These considerations lead straight to one of the most vexing problems in philosophy: How is moral responsibility possible in a universe in which everything is caused by what came before? My strategy for tackling this question is to introduce three distinct epistemological standpoints to look at the problem and to consult two bodies of knowledge: the vast literature on free will and the scholarship on folk intuitions regarding criminal sentencing. Together, these three standpoints and two bodies of knowledge furnish the building blocks for guidelines to decide on matters of poor self-control and moral responsibility.
The traditional problem of free will has reached an impasse; we are unlikely to see progress without rethinking the terms in which the problem had been cast. Our approach offers an alternative to the standard terms of the debate, by developing an authorially parameterized approach articulated within a two-dimensional semantics for temporal predicates.
Carolina Sartorio has criticized the reasons-responsiveness theory of freedom for being inconsistent with the actual-sequence view motivated by the Frankfurt-style cases. Specifically, reasons-responsiveness conceived as a modal property does not pertain to the actual sequence of the agent's action and thereby it is irrelevant to the agent's freedom and moral responsibility. Call this the challenge of irrelevance. In this article, I present this challenge in a new way that overcomes certain limitations of Sartorio's argument. I argue that the root of the challenge is that reasons-responsiveness as an unmanifested modal property seems to be nonexplanatory for the agent's action. I show that reasons-responsiveness theorists will confront this challenge even if they do not endorse the actual-sequence view. Finally, I deflate this challenge with David Lewis's model of causal explanation, showing that reasons-responsiveness is explanatory in virtue of providing information about the causal history of the agent's action.
A first shock of the Paradiso is to discover that it has difference, diversity and degrees. Dante questions Piccarda, the lovely sister of his childhood pal, as to whether she doesn’t yearn to have a more exalted station and to be friends with people in higher places. Her response is that the virtue of charity quiets their will so that they do not want anything other than what they have. Since Piccarda was taken against her will by her powerful brother’s henchmen from the convent where she had wanted to sleep and wake with Christ her whole life, and forced into a marriage she did not want, her acquiescence to the will of others seems to endure even in heaven. Yet appeasement in the face of violent threats turns out to be the opposite of resting in the truth of one’s own particular capacity for goodness, in a spectrum of possible goodness that soars way over our heads.
The Philosophy of History’s search for a renewed sense wholeness originated in the paradoxes of Rousseau. He detested modern liberalism for producing the materialistic “bourgeois.” He wanted to restore the ancient concern with civic virtue and happiness to counteract this spiritual debasement. But because Rousseau accepted the modern account of nature as matter in motion, yielding appetitive individualism and identifying reason with utility, he could only promote the nobler dimension of human life as the freedom of will to oppose oneself to nature and reason altogether. This created a contradiction between nature and freedom, and undermined political authority by suggesting that no form of government could return us to our original natural happiness in a lost Golden Age, corrupted as we are by the progress of civilization. The Jacobins took this as a call to collectivist revolution and the return to “the Year One.” Alternatively, Rousseau extolled the Romantic notion of the solitary artist who seeks his happiness outside of civil society. These explosive tensions between natural happiness and political authority were grappled with by Rousseau’s successors, who sought ways of healing the division in man between his natural self and his free self.
Here I attempt to tackle difficult questions about essence and reference head-on by making explicit the way that theories of reference impact the plausibility of existence claims about free will and moral responsibility. Here I restrict my focus to the way that "free will" refers in particular, as this is the only term in the constellation of free will, responsibility, and blame that has thus far received much attention in regard to its operative reference-fixing convention. I begin by canvassing some early work on the way various reference-fixing conventions might inform existence claims about "free will" offered by Mark Heller (1996) and Susan Hurley (2000). I then turn to one of the most systematic attempts to analyze the way that "free will" refers currently on offer, Shaun Nichols’ discretionary view. While Nichols’ account of how "free will" refers is already quite hospitable to eliminativism in allowing that eliminativists’ claims that free will does not exist are sometimes true, I also take up a further argument from Gregg Caruso that Nichols’ view actually suggests that eliminativists’ claims are always true. I argue that Caruso’s argument fails, and that in fact Nichols’ discretionary view offers a path to defend preservationism.
Since half of this book is devoted to advocating a particular ethical attitude, readers might reasonably conclude that the author feels ethical evaluation is a very good thing. In fact, I believe it is often (though not invariably) good when aimed at one’s own actions, but almost always a fairly bad thing when aimed at other people’s actions. To make matters worse, we appear to have a greater inclination toward the latter than toward the former. This brief afterword turns from descriptive and normative ethics to a third form of ethical study, metaethics. In it, I summarize arguments bearing on the very idea of free will, maintaining that it is a plausible notion only from a first-person perspective on a necessarily incompletely described world. That view of free will entails that, in general, ethical blame should be very narrowly restricted to the first-person perspective. Indeed, with regard even to oneself, it is confined to the present and future.
In this chapter, spacetime is identified as the empirical realm, to be understood in a relational sense. The spacetime construct emerges from the quantum substratum by way of actualized transactions, which establish spacetime events and their structural connections. This process is discussed in terms of causal set theory. The quantum substratum constitutes the reference for “absolute motion,” and rest-mass systems in the substratum define inertial frames. The transactional process breaks time symmetry, thus establishing an arrow of time and shedding light on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Implications for free will are also discussed.
Compatibilist libertarianism claims that alternate possibilities for action at the agential level are consistent with determinism at the physical level. Unlike traditional compatibilism about alternate possibilities, involving conditional or dispositional accounts of the ability to act, compatibilist libertarianism offers us unqualified modalities at the agential level, consistent with physical determinism, a potentially big advance. However, I argue that the account runs up against two problems. Firstly, the way in which the agential modalities are generated talks past the worries of the incompatibilist in the traditional free will problem. As such, it fails to dispel the worries that determinism generates for the incompatibilist. Secondly, in spite of the ingenious use of the supervenience thesis and multiple realizability, the position still allows us to generate the old worry that determinism at the physical level would mean no alternate possibilities at the level of agency. In particular, I develop a new example, the ‘atomic slit case’ that demonstrates how physical level information is salient to what is possible at the agential level, motivating incompatibilism.
With a particular focus on increasing discourse regarding intersectionality/ interconnectedness between oppression of humans and mistreatment of animals, this chapter evaluates arguments asserted by scholars, such as Justin Marceau in Beyond Cages, who are critical of increasing prosecutions and sentencing for crimes harming animals. The chapter also addresses the manner in which attitudes toward humans’ moral distinctiveness may influence reactions to these sorts of anti-carceral arguments, and it explores how the animal protection movement’s attraction to stronger criminalization reveals challenges for basing animal legal personhood arguments on intelligent animals’ cognitive capacities.
In a recent paper, Christian List (2014) has argued for the compatibilism of free will and determinism. Drawing on a distinction between physical possibility (used in defining determinism) and agential possibility (used in defining free will), List constructs a formal two-level model in which the two concepts are consistent. This paper's first contribution is to show that though List's model is formally consistent, philosophically it falls short of establishing a satisfactory compatibilist position. Ensuingly, an analysis of the shortcomings of the model leads to the identification of a controversial epistemological assumption implicit in the statements of both compatibilist and incompatibilist positions. Arguing that this assumption is not currently satisfied, the paper's second contribution is to show that neither the compatibilist nor the incompatibilist position is presently well-founded.
The complex interaction of different Christian systems created a series of uncertainties: about how to coordinate different ritual systems (e.g. baptism and the ritual year), about hierarchy (e.g. relation of the chain of command to status hierarchy), about the relation between the clerical elite and the monastic elite, and about the ritual status of heretics.
Influence of the dualist ‘Encratite’ tradition helps account for the pessimistic colouring of Augustine’s view of human nature, but this is far from being the whole story, in which a turning point was his attempt to explain what it could mean to say that God hated Esau. The sacred books which both Augustine and Pelagius accepted without question could bear either of their probably honest interpretations of grace. Even modern scholars can react strongly in opposite directions to this fifth-century controversy, on a spectrum from barely concealed dislike of Augustine’s idea of grace to apparently heartfelt eloquence in presenting it. While twenty-first-century society is comfortable with pluralism, at least on these topics, fifth-century Christianity was not. Contradictory certainties must have generated both uncertainty and unease among those not committed to either side.
This Element provides a thorough overview of the free will debate as it currently stands. After distinguishing the main senses of the term 'free will' invoked in that debate, it proceeds to set out the prominent versions of the main positions, libertarianism, compatibilism, and free will skepticism, and then to discuss the main objections to these views. Particular attention is devoted to the controversy concerning whether the ability to do otherwise is required for moral responsibility and whether it is compatible with determinism, and to manipulation arguments against compatibilism. Two areas in which the free will debate has practical implications are discussed in detail, personal relationships and criminal justice.
Recent research suggests that, regardless of the truth of libertarianism about free will, there appears to be a widespread belief among nonphilosopher laypersons that the choices of free agents are not causally necessitated by prior states of affairs. In this paper, I propose a new class of debunking explanation for this belief which I call ‘reasons-based accounts’ (RBAs). I start the paper by briefly recounting the failures of extant approaches to debunking explanations, and then use this as a jumping off point to articulate several alternatives, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each.
The "will to believe", introduced by James in his 1897 essay with the same title, is presumably one of the most famous - or, according to some, notorious - ideas in pragmatist philosophy of religion. This Jamesian strategy of argumentation can be extended from the philosophy of religion to other "existential" matters, including the question concerning the freedom of the will. By considering the will to believe argument and interpreting it in the context of holistic pragmatism, this chapter continues the discussion of pragmatist philosophical anthropology and individualism (started in the previous chapters) and thus provides novel perspectives on the notion of pragmatist truthfulness and truth-seeking in worldview-related (including ethical and religious) matters. The will to believe is, furthermore, explored (holistically) in terms of vice- and virtue-epistemology, drawing attention to the role it may play in a self-critical development of an individual's doxastic character. The concept of sincerity thus again turns out to be crucial to a proper understanding of not just the pursuit of truth generally but of the will to believe as well.
This article deals with the similarities and differences between Ben Sira and Chrysippus regarding their solutions to the tension between free will and determinism. Both Ben Sira and Chrysippus argue for compatibilism, the theory that free will and determinism are compatible. However, Ben Sira and Chrysippus have different understandings of freedom required by moral responsibility. According to Chrysippus, consent is the internal cause of persons’ actions, and, thus, they should be responsible for these actions. By contrast, Ben Sira claims that although being shaped by God’s plan, persons could have done otherwise and, in this sense, are responsible for their sins. The first section of this article examines the texts of Ben Sira and Chrysippus regarding the problem of free will. The second section discusses the positions of Ben Sira and Chrysippus on compatibilism. The last section explains the possible influence of Chrysippus on Ben Sira and the main difference between their understandings of freedom.
This book offers a novel account of Aquinas's theory of the human act. It argues that Aquinas takes a human act to be a composite of two power-exercises, where one relates to the other as form to matter. The formal component is an act of the will, and the material component is a power-exercise caused by the will, which Aquinas refers to as the 'commanded act.' The book also argues that Aquinas conceptualizes the act of free choice as a hylomorphic composite: it is, materially, an act of the will, but it inherits a form from reason. As the book aims to show, the core idea of Aquinas's hylomorphic action theory is that the exercise of one power can structure the exercise of another power, and this provides a helpful way to think of the presence of cognition in conation and of intention in bodily movement.
This chapter seeks to locate and elucidate the philosophical precedents and mechanisms in late-antique and Byzantine Christian thought that inform the tension between the rigorous affirmation of autonomous moral determination, on the one hand, and the self-effacing quality of ecclesiastical and monastic life, on the other. Though expressed with some variance and terminological inconsistency, the majority of Christian writers affirm some version of 'free will' and universally attribute the capacity for moral development to all humankind, developing and altering paradigms from the mélange of philosophical concepts present in Middle- and Neoplatonism. No less prominent, however, is the assertion—both tacitly and explicitly—that private moral judgment and individual conscience are unreliable. Each human being not only requires a pedagogical process for proper moral development but also depends upon the presence and guidance of a heteronomous 'other', whether human or divine. This chapter will accordingly seek to demonstrate that, while Christians of late antiquity and Byzantium considered free will and moral determination to be an inextricable aspect of moral psychology, they did not have the same understanding of autonomy that emerged so forcefully during the Enlightenment and in its wake.