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A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will

Robert Kane

Publication Date - 24 March 2005

ISBN: 9780195149708

208 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock


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 and new compatibilist theories of free will are considered along with the latest incompatibilist or libertarian theories and the most recent skeptical challenges to free will. Separate chapters are devoted to the relation of free will to moral responsibility and ethics; to modern science; and to religious questions about predestination, divine foreknowledge, and human freedom. Numerous down-to-earth examples and challenging thought experiments enliven the text. The book is an ideal addition to introduction to philosophy, metaphysics, and free will courses.


"This book, by far, stands alone as the best book to introduce this topic to the introductory philosophy student. It is stellar. . . . Kane is a master at capturing the kernel of even the most challenging and intricate issues in the free will debate, showing their structures and displaying an underlying simplicity."--Michael McKenna, Ithaca College

"With admirable clarity and on the basis of the most comprehensive knowledge of the subject, Professor Kane charts a way through a jungle of arguments, counterarguments, and rebuttals of those arguments. . . . His use of vivid images (such as the images of Incompatibilist Mountain and the garden of the forking paths) contributes to making the book a delightful read."--Ulrike Heuer, University of Pennsylvania

"Any educated person willing to make the effort can now read Kane's inclusive, careful and accessible book and know that he or she is familiar with the free-will problem and with the current state of human understanding of it. . . .A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will will replace all other introductions to the subject." --The Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents

    1. The Free Will Problem
    2. Compatibilism
    3. Incompatibilism
    4. Libertarianism, Indeterminism, and Chance
    5. Minds, Selves, and Agent Causes
    6. Actions, Reasons, and Causes
    7. Is Free Will Possible? Hard Determinists and Other Skeptics
    8. Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities
    9. Higher-order Desires, Real Selves, and New Compatibilists
    10. Reactive Attitude Theories
    11. Ultimate Responsibility
    12. Free Will and Modern Science
    13. Predestination, Divine Foreknowledge, and Free Will
    14. Conclusion: Five Freedoms