Reason and responsibility pdf free

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reason and responsibility pdf free

Free Will (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded. Free will is closely linked to the concepts of moral responsibility , praise , guilt , sin , and other judgements which apply only to actions that are freely chosen. It is also connected with the concepts of advice , persuasion , deliberation , and prohibition. Traditionally, only actions that are freely willed are seen as deserving credit or blame. There are numerous different concerns about threats to the possibility of free will, varying by how exactly it is conceived, which is a matter of some debate. Some conceive free will to be the capacity to make choices in which the outcome has not been determined by past events.
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Sam Harris on "Free Will"

Moral Responsibility

When a person performs or fails to perform a morally significant action, we sometimes think that a particular kind of response is warranted. Praise and blame are perhaps the most obvious forms this reaction might take. For example, one who encounters a car accident may be regarded as worthy of praise for having saved a child from inside the burning car, or alternatively, one may be regarded as worthy of blame for not having used one's mobile phone to call for help. To regard such agents as worthy of one of these reactions is to regard them as responsible for what they have done or left undone. These are examples of other-directed ascriptions of responsibility. The reaction might also be self-directed, e. Thus, to be morally responsible for something, say an action, is to be worthy of a particular kind of reaction—praise, blame, or something akin to these—for having performed it.

Questions concerning the nature and existence of this kind of control e. We cannot undertake here a review of related discussions in other philosophical traditions. For a start, the reader may consult Marchal and Wenzel and Chakrabarti for overviews of thought on free will, broadly construed, in Chinese and Indian philosophical traditions, respectively. In this way, it should be clear that disputes about free will ineluctably involve disputes about metaphysics and ethics. In ferreting out the kind of control involved in free will, we are forced to consider questions about among others causation, laws of nature, time, substance, ontological reduction vs emergence, the relationship of causal and reasons-based explanations, the nature of motivation and more generally of human persons. In assessing the significance of free will, we are forced to consider questions about among others rightness and wrongness, good and evil, virtue and vice, blame and praise, reward and punishment, and desert. The topic of free will also gives rise to purely empirical questions that are beginning to be explored in the human sciences: do we have it, and to what degree?

2. The Nature of Free Will

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