Catalogue


Freedom within reason /
Susan Wolf.
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1990.
description
xii, 162 p. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
0195056167 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1990.
isbn
0195056167 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
2953527
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 155-157) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Susan Wolf is Professor of Philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1991-10:
Several important books on free will have been published during the last few years. Many of these books are quite scholarly, and defend views that were, until recently, unfashionable. Wolf (Johns Hopkins) has given us a short, relatively unscholarly book that is very long on substance. Although her view is original, it is in the spirit of "compatibilist" accounts: Wolf tries to show how we can be free and responsible beings, yet be part of the natural order. She begins by articulating "the dilemma of autonomy": we believe that we are responsible agents, yet responsibility seems to require ultimate independence from external forces, and this is incoherent or logically impossible. Wolf argues against the necessity of autonomy, and also against one influential compatibilist account ("the real self view"). She develops and defends "the reason view"--the idea that freedom and responsibility involve the ability to act in accordance with reason, which she understands as the ability to act on the basis of the true and the good. In Wolf's view the problem of free will is not just a metaphysical problem, but also a metaethical one. This book is brilliantly written and full of stimulating argument. Because it states the fundamental issues intuitively and clearly, it is accessible to a wide audience. Because many claims and arguments are original and well presented, it will also appeal to professionals. The book's important weakness is its lack of references and consequent failure to engage directly with recent literature on free will. Still, it is an important book that deserves a very wide audience. Community college and up. -D. Jamieson, University of Colorado at Boulder
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An unusual and challenging view about human freedom and responsibility....Original and challenges more than a few entrenched presuppositions about human freedom and responsibility."--Times Literary Supplement
"An unusual and challenging view about human freedom andresponsibility....Original and challenges more than a few entrenchedpresuppositions about human freedom and responsibility."--Times LiterarySupplement
"A wonderfully original and highly provocative book. It is certain to stimulate much discussion and debate."--John Martin Fischer, University of California, Riverside
"A wonderfully original and highly provocative book. It is certain tostimulate much discussion and debate."--John Martin Fischer, University ofCalifornia, Riverside
"Highly intelligent, original, and provocative. Her criticisms of the Autonomy View and the Real Self View are both vigorous and incisive. Her alternative approach--the Reason View--is developed with considerable subtlety and refinement. It is a distinctive approach to free will and moralresponsibility, which deserves to be taken seriously."--Ethics
"Highly intelligent, original, and provocative. Her criticisms of theAutonomy View and the Real Self View are both vigorous and incisive. Heralternative approach--the Reason View--is developed with considerable subtletyand refinement. It is a distinctive approach to free will and moralresponsibility, which deserves to be taken seriously."--Ethics
"This book is brilliantly written and full of stimulating argument. Because it states the fundamental issues intuitively and clearly, it is accessible to a wide audience. Because many claims and arguments are original and well presented, it will also appeal to professionals....It is animportant book that deserves a very wide audience."--Choice
"This book is brilliantly written and full of stimulating argument.Because it states the fundamental issues intuitively and clearly, it isaccessible to a wide audience. Because many claims and arguments are originaland well presented, it will also appeal to professionals....It is an importantbook that deserves a very wide audience."--Choice
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 1991
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Philosophers typically see the issue of free will and determinism in terms of a debate between two standard positions. Incompatibilism holds that freedom and responsibility require causal and metaphysical independence from the impersonal forces of nature. According to compatibilism, people are free and responsible as long as their actions are governed by their desires. In Freedom Within Reason, Susan Wolf charts a path between these traditional positions: We are not free and responsible, she argues, for actions that are governed by desires that we cannot help having. But the wish to form our own desires from nothing is both futile and arbitrary. Some of the forces beyond our control are friends to freedom rather than enemies of it: they endow us with faculties of reason, perception, and imagination, and provide us with the data by which we come to see and appreciate the world for what it is. The independence we want, Wolf argues, is not independence from the world, but independence from forces that prevent or preclude us from choosing how to live in light of a sufficient appreciation of the world. The freedom we want is a freedom within reason and the world.
Main Description
Philosophers typically see the issue of free will and determinism in terms of a debate between two standard positions. Incompatibilism holds that freedom and responsibility require causal and metaphysical independence from the impersonal forces of nature. According to compatibilism, peopleare free and responsible as long as their actions are governed by their desires. In Freedom Within Reason, Susan Wolf charts a path between these traditional positions: We are not free and responsible, she argues, for actions that are governed by desires that we cannot help having. But the wish toform our own desires from nothing is both futile and arbitrary. Some of the forces beyond our control are friends to freedom rather than enemies of it: they endow us with faculties of reason, perception, and imagination, and provide us with the data by which we come to see and appreciate the worldfor what it is. The independence we want, Wolf argues, is not independence from the world, but independence from forces that prevent or preclude us from choosing how to live in light of a sufficient appreciation of the world. The freedom we want is a freedom within reason and the world.
Main Description
Philosophers typically see the issue of free will and determinism in terms of a debate between two standard positions. Incompatibilism holds that freedom and responsibility require causal and metaphysical independence from the impersonal forces of nature. According to compatibilism, people are free and responsible as long as their actions are governed by their desires. In Freedom Within Reason , Susan Wolf charts a path between these traditional positions: We are not free and responsible, she argues, for actions that are governed by desires that we cannot help having. But the wish to form our own desires from nothing is both futile and arbitrary. Some of the forces beyond our control are friends to freedom rather than enemies of it: they endow us with faculties of reason, perception, and imagination, and provide us with the data by which we come to see and appreciate the world for what it is. The independence we want, Wolf argues, is not independence from the world, but independence from forces that prevent or preclude us from choosing how to live in light of a sufficient appreciation of the world. The freedom we want is a freedom within reason and the world.
Table of Contents
The Dilemma of Autonomy (In Which the Problems of Responsibility and Free Will Are Presented)p. 3
Setting Up the Problem(s): The Dilemma of Autonomyp. 4
Defending the Problem as a Problem: The Metaphysical Stancep. 15
The Real Self View (In Which a Nonautonomous Conception of Free Will and Responsibility is Examined and Criticized)p. 23
Relating the Problems of Free Will and Responsibility to Determinismp. 24
Avoiding Autonomy: Developing the Idea of an Agent's Real Selfp. 26
Problems with the Real Self Viewp. 35
The Autonomy View (In Which an Autonomous Conception of Free Will and Responsibility Is Examined and Criticized)p. 46
The Apparent (but Only Apparent) Autonomy of Valuing Selvesp. 49
Autonomy as the Ability to Make Radical Choicesp. 53
The (Non) Desirability of Autonomyp. 55
A Last Voice in Favor of Autonomy: The Skeptic's Perspectivep. 62
The Reason View (In Which a Nonautonomous Conception of Free Will and Responsibility Is Proposed)p. 67
The Reason View Compared with the Autonomy Viewp. 68
The Reason View Compared with the Real Self Viewp. 73
The Reason View as an Intermediary between the Other Viewsp. 76
The Asymmetry of the Reason Viewp. 79
The Reason View Appliedp. 81
Blameworthiness According to the Reason Viewp. 85
The Unity and Spirit of the Reason Viewp. 89
Ability and Possibility (In Which the Implications of Determinism for Responsibility Are Discussed)p. 94
Determinism and the Reason Viewp. 96
Conditional Analyses of Abilityp. 97
An Alternative Characterization of Abilityp. 100
The Storyp. 103
The Moral of the Storyp. 112
The True and the Good (In Which the Metaethical Assumptions of the Reason View Are Examined)p. 117
The Role of "the True and the Good" in the Reason Viewp. 118
The Metaethical Spectrump. 123
Varieties of Antiobjectivismp. 126
Conceptual Subjectivism's Implications for the Reason Viewp. 132
Normative Pluralism and Its Conjunction with the Reason Viewp. 135
How Much Freedom (and Reason) Do We Need?p. 142
Notesp. 149
Selected Readingsp. 155
Indexp. 159
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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