Freedom, Determinism, and Responsibility: Readings in Metaphysics

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9780130485175: Freedom, Determinism, and Responsibility: Readings in Metaphysics

This collection introduces the central views and issues involved in the philosophical problem of free will. While the selections represent some of the most important works in the field, they are also accessible enough for readers with very little background in philosophy. Includes classical and contemporary readings to give readers a feel both for the history of the problem and how it is confronted by modern philosophers. Includes section-opening introductions that provide more detailed explanations of subsequent readings than most philosophy books.Features a broad historical perspective that is not restricted to the philosophical views of a particular century. Presents diverse views on issues discussed. A readable, comprehensive reference for anyone interested in learning about philosophy.

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From the Back Cover:

This text introduces the central views and issues involved in the philosophical problem of free will—an area of high interest to undergraduate students. While the selections represent some of the most important works in the field. they are also accessible enough for students with very little background in philosophy. Classical and contemporary readings are provided to give students a feel both for the history of the problem and how it is confronted by modern philosophers.

FEATURES:
  • Recent works in the area are included.
    • These help students see the relevance of the material in today's world.
  • Less-obscure, influential writings are included.
    • These introduce students to the works of prominent philosophers that have shaped philosophical debate.
  • There are section-opening introductions which provide more detailed explanations of' subsequent readings than most texts.
    • These give students a sense of the material they will need to master and enables professors to spend more, time critically discussing material than explaining it.
  • The broad historical perspective brings together both classical and contemporary writings and is not restricted to the philosophical views of a particular century.
    • This allows instructors to spend less time filling students in on historical origins of key ideas and provides instructors with contemporary reactions to the material.
  • Diverse views on the issues discussed are presented.
    • This exposes students to different ways of thinking about the material and helps instructors compare alternative approaches and identify preferred methods to understanding key concepts.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

I was once asked to prepare an outline for a course on freedom, determinism, and responsibility. I searched long and hard for a suitable textbook but came up empty-handed. The books I found were either out of print, out of date, or contained no original works by important philosophers. This struck me as strange, for few topics excite undergraduate students as much as the issue of whether or not human beings are free. It is one of those fundamental questions in which there is a great deal at stake. My goal in editing this book is to fill this serious gap in undergraduate philosophy textbooks.

The shape of this collection was determined by three concerns. First, I wanted the book to expose students to some of the core writings on the topic by some of the most influential philosophers to shape our thinking about the concepts of freedom, determinism, and responsibility. Second, I wanted to avoid an historical approach and give students a sense of the breadth of the work in the area by including a number of contemporary contributions. These often draw on the historical background of the core works, but also provide new and different ways of conceiving of the problems, and sometimes suggest novel solutions. Third, it was important that this text be flexible enough to be useful to first-year undergraduates as well as senior students in philosophy. Most of the selected texts are written in quite accessible language and few of the readings in this anthology are highly technical. To help students who are new to philosophy, I have also made a special effort to write clear and accessible guides to the readings that precede each section. These should help students identify the central ideas in each of the readings and provide a solid grounding for lectures and for discussion of the material. Despite these measures, the readings themselves are subtle and complex enough to challenge senior students and provide the basis for broader discussions about the nature of determinism, of human agency, about the relationship between determinism and science, and between psychology and science, to name a few examples.

I would like to thank Frances Brennan and several anonymous referees for very helpful comments on both the general form of this book and the introductions to the readings. Grant money from Wilfrid Laurier University is also greatly appreciated, as is the work of Keitha McNab, who helped me track down and contact the owners of the copyrights to the selections that appear in this book. My thanks to the various publishers and authors who generously agreed to allow me to include their works in this volume.

I also want to express my gratitude to the following reviewers for their intelligent and helpful suggestions: Lou Lombardi, Lake Forest College, Daniel Silber, Florida Southern College, James Swindall, John Carroll University.

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