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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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(p.79) 6 Significance
The Significance of Free Will

Robert Kane (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Discusses what I call the “Significance Question” for free will: Why do we, or should we, want to possess a free will that is incompatible with determinism? I argue that there are a number of things that we do, and should, want when we want genuine free will and that these things, properly understood, require an incompatibilist or nondeterminist account. They include (1) genuine creativity, (2) autonomy or self‐legislation, (3) true desert for achievements, (4) moral responsibility in an ultimate sense, (5) being suitable objects of reactive attitudes such as admiration, gratitude, resentment and indignation, (6) dignity or self‐worth, (7) a true sense of individuality or uniqueness as persons, (8) (freely given) love and friendship, and others. The chapter introduces what I call a “dialectic of selfhood” in order to show why these traits require an incompatibilist account of free will.

Keywords:   autonomy, desert, determinism, dignity, free will, incompatibilism, individuality, moral responsibility, worth

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