Free Will: A Contemporary Introduction (Paperback) book cover

Free Will

A Contemporary Introduction

By Michael McKenna, Derk Pereboom

© 2016 – Routledge

330 pages

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About the Book

As an advanced introduction to the challenging topic of free will, this book is designed for upper-level undergraduates interested in a comprehensive first-stop into the field’s issues and debates. It is written by two of the leading participants in those debates—a compatibilist on the issue of free will and determinism (Michael McKenna) and an incompatibilist (Derk Pereboom). These two authors achieve an admirable objectivity and clarity while still illuminating the field’s complexity and key advances. Each chapter is structured to work as one week’s primary reading in a course on free will, while more advanced courses can dip into the annotated further readings, suggested at the end of each chapter. A comprehensive bibliography as well as detailed subject and author indexes are included at the back of the book.

Reviews

"A superb introduction to free will by a pair of leading figures on the topic. This excellent teaching tool for advanced undergraduates is at once commendably rigorous and highly accessible."

Alfred Mele, Florida State University, USA

"This terrific book excels on every dimension. It provides a map of the debates about free will, covering broad swaths of terrain without sacrificing attention to detail, and doing so in an engaging way that can be appreciated by interested newcomers to the field and those who have long been working and teaching in it alike."

Dana Nelkin, University of California-San Diego, USA

"For a definitive tour of the foundational issues in the philosophical debates about free will, you cannot do better than this book. It is a master class in what the issues are, how we got here, and the stakes of it all. Written by two of the most prominent and influential figures working in the field today, this book covers takes you through all the major issues of the last sixty years of philosophical work on free will. It is a model of clarity, impartial assessment of the options, and insight into the perplexing nature of free will. Whether you are a student, professional philosopher, scientist, or interested layperson, McKenna and Pereboom’s introduction to the philosophy of free will is the gold standard. It is fantastic."

Manuel Vargas, University of San Francisco, USA

"Free Will: A Contemporary Introduction is an extremely good book. It is a sorely needed introduction to the topic of free will that will be useful not just to those who want to teach free will but to any philosopher who wants to be brought up to date on the contemporary debate. It contains discussions of all of the leading views in the field, with lots of interesting and original insights into the various issues."

Mark Balaguer, California State University-Los Angeles, USA

"McKenna and Pereboom are celebrities among philosophers working on free will and moral responsibility and their book is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art introduction to contemporary philosophical debate. Their prose is clear and accessible, suitable for upper level undergraduates as well as professional philosophers. McKenna and Pereboom break down the arguments for all of the competing positions, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and the ethical implications of accepting them. Read this book if you want to learn about where things stand today in this exciting field. What you do with that knowledge is up to you. (Or is it?)"

Tamler Sommers, University of Houston, USA

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1: Free Will, Moral Responsibility, & Determinism

Chapter 2: The Free Will Problem

Chapter 3: Classical Compatibilism & Classical Incompatibilism

Chapter 4: The Debate over the Consequence Argument

Chapter 5: Alternative Possibilities and Frankfurt Cases Chapter 6: Strawsonian Compatibilism

Chapter 7: Recent Developments: Source Incompatibilism & the Compatibilists’ Burden

Chapter 8: Contemporary Compatibilism: Seven Recent Views

Chapter 9: Contemporary Compatibilism: Mesh, Reasons-responsive & Leeway Theories

Chapter 10: Contemporary Incompatibilism: Libertarianism

Chapter 11: Contemporary Incompatibilism: Free Will Skepticism

Chapter 12: Revisionism and Some Remaining Issues

Bibliography

About the Authors

Michael McKenna is the Keith Lehrer Chair and Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Conversation and Responsibility (2012) and numerous articles on the topics of free will and moral responsibility.

Derk Pereboom is Stanford H. Taylor ’50 Chair and Susan Linn Sage Professor in the Philosophy Department at Cornell University. He is the author of Living without Free Will (2001), Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism (2011), Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life (2014), and articles on free will and moral responsibility, philosophy of mind, and the history of modern philosophy.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy

An innovative, well structured series, the Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy are designed for students who already have completed an introductory-level course in philosophy.  Each book introduces a core general subject in contemporary philosophy and offers students an accessible but substantial transition from introductory to higher-level college work in that subject.  The series is accessible to non-specialists and each book clearly motivates and expounds the problems and positions introduced.  An orientating chapter briefly introduces its topic and reminds readers of any crucial material they need to have retained from a typical introductory course.  Considerable attention is given to explaining central philosophical problems of a subject and the main competing solutions and arguments for those solutions.  The primary aim is to educate students in the main problems, positions and arguments of contemporary philosophy rather than to convince students of a single position.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHI000000
PHILOSOPHY / General
PHI007000
PHILOSOPHY / Free Will & Determinism