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The Significance of Free Will$
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Robert Kane

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780195126563

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195126564.001.0001

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Ultimate Responsibility

Ultimate Responsibility

(p.60) 5 Ultimate Responsibility
The Significance of Free Will

Robert Kane (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to the second and (I argue) the more important criterion for free will, namely, ultimate responsibility (UR). A series of theses are defended that explain what this criterion entails and why it is incompatible with determinism. In the process, the chapter critically examines new compatibilist accounts of free will, such as the “hierarchical theories” of Harry Frankfurt and others (involving second‐ and higher‐ order desires and volitions). The chapter also discusses the notion of “covert non‐constraining (CNC) control,” the kind of hidden control of human behavior that one encounters in scientific utopias like that described in B. F. Skinner's Walden Two. The notion of “self‐forming actions” (SFAs) is defined and shown to be pivotal to understanding what it means to say that something is done “of one's own free will.”

Keywords:   constraint, control, free will, motivation, responsibility, second‐order desires, self‐forming actions

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