This is an up-to-date and approachable exploration of the age-old question, 'What is free will and do we have it?' In everyday life, we often suppose ourselves to be free to choose between several courses of action. But if we examine further, we find that this view seems to rest on metaphysical and meta-ethical presuppositions almost all of which look problematic. How can we be free if everything is determined by factors beyond our control, stretching back in time to the Big Bang and the laws of nature operating then? The only alternative to determinism is indeterminism, but is not indeterminism just there being a certain amount of randomness in the world? Does not randomness hinder you from being the author of your actions? This book looks at how much of the structure of our everyday judgments can survive the arguments behind such questions and thoughts. In doing so, it explores the alternative arguments that have been advanced concerning free will and related notions, including an up-to-date overview of the contemporary debates. In essence, the book seeks to understand and answer the age-old question, 'What is free will and do we have it?'
Tim Mawson is Fellow and Tutor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford (St Peter's College). He is currently Secretary to the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion and is author of Belief in God: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (OUP, 2005).
Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; What is the problem of free will?; 2. Our Experience of Choice; What, if anything, does our everyday experience seems to suggest about free will? Do such experiences be taken as prima facie evidence of the nature and existence of free will? Explores our metaphysical and epistemological presumptions. Important terminology introduced; 3. Incompatibilism; Imcompatibilism holds that if the universe is deterministic, we cannot have free will. This chapters makes the incompatibilist thesis more precise and looks at some classic arguments for incompatibilism. Critiques of arguments for Incompatibilism. The modern debate.; 4. Compatibilism; (if the universe is deterministic, we can have free will) Some alternative compatibilist accounts of free will described. Some classic arguments for compatibilism. Critique of arguments for Compatibilism. The modern debate.; 5. Determinism; Whether or not our universe is deterministic. What science seems to be telling us. The retreat from determinism to indeterminism. The advance from folk psychology to neuroscience. What religions tell us.; 6. Free Will; Libertarianism and agent causation. Autonomy and self-control. Back to our metaphysical and epistemological presumptions; 7. Conclusion; So what is free will and how much of it do we have?; Glossary; Further Reading; Index.