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Abstract: Part 1 reviews the general question of when elimination of an entity orproperty is warranted, as opposed to revision of our view of it. Theconnections of this issue with the distinction between context-drivenand theory-driven accounts of reference and essence are probed.Context-driven accounts tend to be less hospitable to eliminativism thantheory-driven accounts, but this tendency should not be overstated.However, since both types of account give essences explanatory depth,eliminativist claims associated with supposed impossible essences areproblematic on both types of account.Part 2 applies these considerations to responsibility in particular. Theimpossibility of regressive choice or control is explained. It is arguedthat this impossibility does not support the claim that no one is everresponsible on either context-driven or theory-driven accounts of`responsibility''
Abstract: In a recent article Gary Watson instructively distinguishes two faces or aspects of responsibility. The first is the self-disclosing sense, which is concerned centrally with aretaic or excellence-relevant evaluations of agents. An agent is responsible for an action in this respect when it is an action that is inescapably the agent’s own, if, as a declaration of her adopted ends, it expresses what the agent is about, her identity as an agent. An action for which the agent is responsible in this sense expresses what the agent is ready to stand up for, to defend, to affirm, to answer for. (1996: 233-4) . The second face of responsibility has perhaps had a more explicit role in debates about free will — it concerns control and accountability. Watson argues that when one is skeptical about the second "accountability" face, one need not also be skeptical about responsibility as self-disclosure. I agree, and in my view, this helps us see why maintaining that determinism precludes accountability need not also commit one to the view that determinism precludes responsibility in a way that threatens meaning in life. Part of the reason for this is that when responsibility as accountability is undermined, less of what we deem valuable needs to be relinquished than often believed. But in addition, it turns out that the kind of accountability precluded by determinism is not nearly as important to what is most significant in human life as is responsibility as self-disclosure. Indeed, it may be that an unfortunate fusing of these two notions underlies the concern that if determinism imperils accountability, it also threatens what most fundamentally makes our lives meaningful
Abstract: Sir Peter Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’ was a landmark in the philosophical understanding of the free will problem. Building upon it, I attempt to defend a novel position, which purports to provide, in outline, the next step forward. The position presented is based on the descriptively central and normatively crucial role of illusion in the issue of free will. Illusion, I claim, is the vital but neglected key to the free will problem. The proposed position, which may be called ‘Illusionism’, is shown to follow both from the strengths and from the weaknesses of Strawson’s position
Abstract: The free will problem and the basic alternative ways of dealing with it have been known for some 2000 years, and have engaged the greatest philosophers through the ages. In the last 50 years much philosophical progress has been added on top of that ancient cumulative understanding. Hence it would be natural to wonder why I think that any new proposal can be made on this classic problem, let alone two radical proposals
Abstract: This year marks the 80 th anniversary of Clarence Darrow’s brilliant and passionate defense of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two wealthy teenagers who pled guilty to the kidnapping and murder of 14 year old Bobby Franks. On August 22, 1924 Darrow gave his famous twelve hour closing statement, bringing tears to the eyes of the presiding judge and saving his clients from the death penalty. Here are two excerpts from the summation
Abstract: On one way of putting things, incompatibilism is the view that in some important sense free will (and/or moral responsibility) is incompatible with determinism. Incompatibilism is typically taken to come in two species: libertarianism, which holds that we are free and responsible (and correspondingly, that determinism does not hold), and skeptical incompatibilism.1 The latter includes views such as hard determinism, which hold that we are not free (and/or responsible) and views that argue that free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism, among others. In this paper, I attempt to provide positive arguments against both of the primary strands of incompatibilism. The first aim of this paper is to take some steps toward filling in an argument that is often mentioned but seldom developed in any detail—the argument that libertarianism is a scientifically implausible view. I say “take some steps” because I think the considerations I muster (at most) favor a less ambitious relative of that argument. The less ambitious claim I hope to motivate is that there is little reason to believe that extant libertarian accounts satisfy a standard of naturalistic plausibility, even if they do satisfy a standard of naturalistic