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Free Will Skepticism and Obligation Skepticism: Comments on Derk Pereboom's Free Will Agency, and Meaning in Life

Free Will Skepticism and Obligation Skepticism: Comments on Derk Pereboom's Free Will Agency, and Meaning in Life

Dana Kay Nelkin

Email: dnelkin@ucsd.edu

ABSTRACT

Derk Pereboom’s Living Without Free Will (2001) is an outstanding book that rightly changed the debate over an ancient problem. I am certain that Free Will Skepticism, Agency, and Meaning in Life will join the first book as a must-read for anyone in the world interested in these foundational issues. The main pillars of the account remain, including incompatibilism between free will and determinism, skepticism about free will on a combination of conceptual and empirical grounds, and the thesis that life on the assumption that we do not have free will can be meaningful and perhaps even better in certain important respects than life on the assumption that we have it. At the same time, there are some subtle shifts in particular commitments, new ways of framing certain issues, and detailed responses to a good number of the very many challenges to the view as originally set out in Living Without Free Will and related articles. The responses to challenges serve to elaborate, extend, and deepen the view. The result is a book that, along with the first, will be a centerpiece of the conversation about the metaphysics of free will, about morality, about moral responsibility and our related emotions and practices, about the pressing practical and moral issues concerning punishment, and about meaning in life. Finally, the book itself is a wonderful manifestation of a commitment to certain intellectual values--including seeing philosophy as an inclusive conversation, and to testing and revising one’s views in the search for truth.

 

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Science, Religion and Culture

June

Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82

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