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Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility Volume 4$
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David Shoemaker

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805601

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805601.001.0001

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Free Will Pessimism

Free Will Pessimism

(p.93) 5 Free Will Pessimism
Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility Volume 4

Paul Russell

Oxford University Press

The core aim of this paper is to articulate the essential features of an alternative compatibilist position, one that is responsive to sources of resistance to the compatibilist program based on considerations of fate and luck. The approach taken relies on distinguishing carefully between issues of skepticism and pessimism as they arise in this context. A compatibilism that is properly responsive to concerns about fate and luck is committed to what is described as free will pessimism, which is to be distinguished from free will skepticism. The conclusion reached is that critical compatibilism and free will pessimism should not be understood as providing a solution to the free will problem but rather as a basis for rejecting the assumptions and aspirations that lie behind it. This approach reveals not a (skeptical) problem waiting to be solved but a (troubling) human predicament that needs to be recognized and acknowledged.

Keywords:   free will, moral responsibility, compatibilism, (moral) skepticism, moral luck, fatalism, the morality system, Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, Daniel Dennett

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