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Free Will: A Very Short Introduction

Thomas Pink

Publication Date - 05 August 2004

ISBN: 9780192853585

144 pages

A compelling investigation of one of the most long-standing and crucial philosophical questions


Every day we seem to make and act upon all kinds of choices: some trivial, others so consequential that they change the course of one's life, or even the course of history. But are these choices really free, or are we compelled to act the way we do by factors beyond our control? Is the feeling that we could have made different decisions just an illusion? And if our choices are not free, is it legitimate to hold people morally responsible for their actions?
Thomas Pink looks at the fundamental philosophical question of free will, critically examining the claim: If our actions are causally determined by events beyond our control, that means that we can never act freely, and so can never be held responsible for our actions.


  • Emphasises and explores the fact that the freewill problem has had a long history by looking at the ideas of Greek and medieval philosophers.
  • Explains that freewill is not something newly created by modernity or modern scinece - nor is it a problem that modernity necessarily undstands better than the philosophers of the past
  • Asks whether human freedom involves and depends on freewill
  • Looks at whether freedom is unrealisable - that it makes demands on human psychology and action which could never be met
  • Questions whether moral responsibility presuppose freedom, and therefore freewill?
  • Explains and explores themes such as incompatibiliism and compatibilism

About the Author(s)

Thomas Pink is Lecturer in Philosophy at King's College, London. He is also an associate editor of Mind.

Table of Contents

    1. Freedom as freewill
    2. Incompatibilisms
    3. Scepticism about freedom as freewill
    4. Compatibilism and its successors
    5. In defence of freewill
    6. Freedom, moral responsibility, and determinism