Do We Have Free Will? : A Debate book cover
1st Edition

Do We Have Free Will?
A Debate

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after September 30, 2021
ISBN 9780367258320
September 30, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In this little but profound volume, Robert Kane and Carolina Sartorio debate a perennial question: Do We Have Free Will?  

Kane introduces and defends libertarianism about free will: free will is incompatible with determinism; we are free; we are not determined. Sartorio introduces and defends compatibilism about free will: free will is compatible with determinism; we can be free even while our actions are determined through and through. Simplifying tricky terminology and complicated concepts for readers new to the debate, the authors also cover the latest developments on a controversial topic that gets us entangled in questions about blameworthiness and responsibility, coercion and control, and much more. 

Each author first presents their own side, and then they interact through two rounds of objections and replies. Pedagogical features include standard form arguments, section summaries, bolded key terms and principles, a glossary, and annotated reading lists. Short, lively and accessible, the debate showcases diverse and cutting-edge work on free will. As per Saul Smilansky’s foreword, Kane and Sartorio, "present the readers with two things at once: an introduction to the traditional free will problem; and a demonstration of what a great yet very much alive and relevant philosophical problem is like."

Key Features:

  • Covers major concepts, views and arguments about free will in an engaging format
  • Accessible style and pedagogical features for students and general readers
  • Cutting-edge contributions by preeminent scholars on free will.

Table of Contents

Series Preface

Foreword Saul Smilansky

Opening Statements

1. The Problem of Free Will: A Libertarian Perspective Robert Kane

Introduction: An Ancient Problem with Modern Significance

1. Modern Debates and Views

2. The Compatibility Question: Alternative Possibilities and Ultimate Responsibility

3. Self-forming Actions

4. Freedom of Action and Freedom of Will: AP and UR

5. Plurality Conditions and Plural Voluntary Control

6. Will-setting and Self-formation

7. The Compatibility Question Revisited: Free Will and Moral Responsibility

8. Fair Opportunity to Avoid Wrongdoing: Hart and Others

9. Reactive Attitudes, Criminal Trials and Transference of Responsibility

10. Transference of Responsibility and Compatibility Questions

11. Two Dimensions of Responsibility

12. Compatibilist Responses (I): Conditional Analyses

13. Compatibilist Responses (II): Frankfurt-style Examples

14. The Intelligibility Question

15. Indeterminism: Empirical and Philosophical Questions

16. Initial Pieces: Self-formation, Efforts, Willpower, Volitional Streams

17. Indeterminism and Responsibility

18. Initial Questions and Objections: Indeterminism and Chance

19. Further Questions and Objections: Phenomenology and Rationality

20. Micro- vs. Macro-control

21. Control and Responsibility

22. Agency, Complexity, Disappearing Agents

23. Regress Objections: Responsibility and Character Development

24. The Explanatory Luck Objection: Authors, Stories, Value Experiments and Liberum Arbitrium

25. Contrastive Explanations: Concluding Remarks on Huck Finn and Other Literary Figures

2. Free Will and Determinism: A Compatibilism Carolina Sartorio


1. What is a theory of free will?

2. A sketch of a theory of free will

3. The free will problem: Compatibilism and Incompatibilism

4. The motivation for Compatibilism

5. Incompatibilist arguments: Part 1

6. Incompatibilist arguments: Part 2


First Round of Replies

3. Reply to Carolina Sartorio’s Opening Statement Robert Kane

Introduction: On Acting Freely, Some Significant Agreements

1. Acting Freely and Free Will: Some Significant Differences

2. Critique of Incompatibilist Views (Part I): The Consequence Argument and Being Powerless over the Past and Laws

3. Critique of Incompatibilist Views (Part II): Being Powerless and Acting Freely

4. Idle Aliens, Frankfurt-style Examples and the Ability to Do Otherwise

5. Will-setting, Responsibility and the Ability to Do Otherwise

6. Critique of Incompatibilist Views (Part III): Design Arguments

7. Free Will, Design Arguments and Religious Questions

Conclusion: Freedom, Determinism, Indeterminism, Causation and Control

4. Reply to Bob Kane’s Opening Statement Carolina Sartorio


1. Incompatibilist arguments and incompatibilist intuitions

2. Does free will have to be a struggle?

3. SFAs, indeterminism, and alternative possibilities

Second Round of Replies

5. Reply to Carolina Sartorio's Reply Robert Kane

1. Determinism, Formative Circumstances and the Young Man at Trial

2. Free Will and Struggle

3. Self-forming Actions, Indeterminism and Alternative Possibilities

4. Intuitions and Aspirations

5. Concluding remarks

6. Reply to Bob Kane’s Reply Carolina Sartorio

1. Indeterminism and free will

2. Leeway compatibilism: The Consequence Argument and "weak" abilities

3. Source compatibilism and Frankfurt-style cases

4. Concluding remarks.

Further Readings




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Robert Kane is University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Law Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. He is the author of Free Will and Values (1985), Through the Moral Maze (1993), The Significance of Free Will (1996), A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (2005), Ethics and the Quest for Wisdom (2010), as well as editor of The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (2002, 2011), and author of more than eighty journal articles.

Carolina Sartorio is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, USA. Her research expertise focuses on issues in causation, agency, free will, and moral responsibility. She is the author of numerous leading research articles in these areas and the book, Causation and Free Will (2016).

Saul Smilansky is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Haifa, Israel.


'This superb introduction to free will is highly accessible without paying the price in over-simplification. The debate format does a wonderful job of highlighting the pros and cons of Kane’s and Sartorio’s competing positions on free will. Ideal for an undergraduate course on free will.' - Alfred R. Mele, Florida State University, USA

'This is an outstanding book by two of the very top philosophers working on free will and moral responsibility. They are each perfect representatives of the best recent developments of two important positions: libertarianism and compatibilism. The book is clear and lively, and it is a perfect text for an undergraduate course on these topics. Highly recommended!' - John Martin Fischer, University of California, Riverside, USA