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Action, Knowledge, and Will$
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John Hyman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198735779

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735779.001.0001

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Voluntariness and Choice

Voluntariness and Choice

Chapter:
(p.75) 4 Voluntariness and Choice
Source:
Action, Knowledge, and Will
Author(s):

John Hyman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735779.003.0004

Philosophers have shown little interest in the concept of voluntariness during the last fifty years, mainly because Anscombe’s book Intention persuaded philosophers that it plays a relatively minor role in our thought about human action, compared to the concept of acting intentionally or acting for a reason. But this is a mistake. The nature of voluntariness, and its relationship with guilt, coercion, obligation, intention, knowledge, and choice, merit careful analysis. This chapter makes a start. The main idea defended here is that, unlike intention, voluntariness is an ethical concept. We do something voluntarily if and only if we do not do it out of ignorance or compulsion; and the connection between ignorance and compulsion is that they are both normally exculpations.

Keywords:   voluntariness, choice, intention, guilt, coercion, obligation, ignorance

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