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Puzzles for the Will

Puzzles for the Will

  • Book Info
    Puzzles for the Will
    Book Description:

    Issues of free will and determinism, with their far-reaching practical implications, hold a central place in the history of philosophy. In this book Jordan Howard Sobel looks at the many and varied approaches to this complex problem.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7892-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Logical Fatalisms
    (pp. 3-50)

    1.1 Some people believe that absolutely every event and state is determined by causes. They think that every human action has a cause, and that this is true also of every thought and desire. Some people who believe these things think that because every event and state is determined by causes, choice and free will are illusions. They think that since every event is causally determined, people must act as they do, and cannot possibly act otherwise. They think that all effort is futile and pointless, and that the only rational attitude is simply to relax and let one’s life...

  5. 2 Predicted Choices
    (pp. 51-76)

    This chapter is a number-free introduction to topics in rational choice theory. It has its origin in lectures given on two days to members of a philosophy in literature class taught by André Gombay. They were reading Sophocles’Oedipus Rex. Revised scripts for those lectures were published in theDalhousie Reviewin 1985.

    It is sometimes said that there cannot be a predicted choice, that the very phrase, ‘predicted choice,’ is a contradiction in terms. An argument for thisextremethesis might go like this:

    Suppose – we will show that this is impossible – that I will make a...

  6. 3 Free Will and Varieties of Determinism
    (pp. 77-166)

    i.i Is determinism compatible with free will? This is the main question of this chapter. The answer to it, I maintain, can be only, Yes and No. Everything depends upon what one means by ‘determinism,’ and by ‘free will.’ These are terms of art, and, within limits set by somewhat unsettled traditions, we make of them what we want. Perhaps there are absolutely best interpretations, though probably different interpretations recommend themselves for different theoretical purposes.

    Can we choose to do, and then do by choice, things other than the things we are caused to do – can we if determinism...

  7. 4 Newcomb Dēnŭō, Omniscience, and ‘Choiceless Freedom’
    (pp. 167-200)

    John Martin Fischer’s bookThe Metaphysics of Free Will: An Essay on Control(Fischer 1994) occasions discussions that elaborate and supplement studies of previous chapters of the present volume. The present chapter adapts and expands to serve these ends a critical notice that I have prepared of that book (Sobel forthcoming).

    i.i Fischer, for his ‘Basic Version of the Argument for Incompatibilism,’ which is designed to finesse difficulties specific to ‘Transfer’ and ‘Conditional’ versions, maintains that “an agent can do X only if his doing X can be an extension of the actual past, holding the laws fixed” (Fischer 1994,...

  8. Looking Back
    (pp. 201-202)

    Logical fatalisms can fascinate, but their threats are bogus. Logical necessities, which is all that fuel these doctrines, are never in themselves or in their implications of proper human concern, of proper human practical, not theoretical, concern. It is part of philosophy’s business to clear away the puzzles of these doctrines, so that they should not while confusion reigns illegitimately perturb wills.

    Beliefs in necessities are never properly worrying. Cases are different, however, for beliefs in other than necessities, specifically, for beliefs in certain probabilities, and in possibilities. Taking probabilities first, beliefs in predictors, for example, can, in the manner...

  9. References
    (pp. 203-208)
  10. Index
    (pp. 209-212)