Free Will, Responsibility, and Crime : An Introduction book cover
1st Edition

Free Will, Responsibility, and Crime
An Introduction

ISBN 9781351251785
Published August 28, 2019 by Routledge
212 Pages

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Book Description

In his book, philosopher and law professor Ken Levy explains why he agrees with most people, but not with most other philosophers, about free will and responsibility. Most people believe that we have both – that is, that our choices, decisions, and actions are neither determined nor undetermined but rather fully self-determined. By contrast, most philosophers understand just how difficult it is to defend this "metaphysical libertarian" position. So they tend to opt for two other theories: "responsibility skepticism" (which denies the very possibility of free will and responsibility) and "compatibilism" (which reduces free will and responsibility to properties that are compatible with determinism). In opposition to both of these theories, Levy explains how free will and responsibility are indeed metaphysically possible. But he also cautions against the dogma that metaphysical libertarianism is actually true, a widespread belief that continues to cause serious social, political, and legal harms.

Levy’s book presents a crisp, tight, historically informed discussion, with fresh clarity, insight, and originality. It will become one of the definitive resources for students, academics, and general readers in this critical intersection among metaphysics, ethics, and criminal law.

 Key features:

  • Presents a unique, qualified defense of "metaphysical libertarianism," the idea that our choices, decisions, and actions can be fully self-determined.
  • Written clearly, accessibly, and with minimal jargon – rare for a book on the very difficult issues of free will and responsibility.
  • Seamlessly connects philosophical, legal, psychological, and political issues.
  • Will be provocative and insightful for professional philosophers, students, and non-philosophers.

Table of Contents

Ch. 1. Incompatibilism Versus Compatibilism


  1. Incompatibilism
  2. Indeterminism
  3. Compatibilists’ First Objection to Incompatibilism
  4. Metaphysical Libertarianism
  5. Three Possible Locations for Indeterminism
  6. Metaphysical Libertarianism’s Underlying Theory of the Self as Pure Substance
  7. Compatibilists’ Renewed Randomness Objection
  8. Two Problems with Metaphysical Libertarianism
  9. Compatibilism and the Harmony Condition
  10. Frankfurt’s Identification Theory
  11. Incompatibilists: Identification Is Insufficient for Free Will
  12. Traditional Compatibilism and the Ability to Do Otherwise
  13. Rationality Compatibilism
  14. Compatibilists Versus Metaphysical Libertarians
  15. Compatibilists Versus Free Will Skeptics


Ch. 2. New Compatibilism Versus the Ought-Implies-Can Principle


  1. Five Definitions of Free Will
  2. Moral Responsibility
  3. Frankfurt’s Argument Against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities
  4. The Maxim Argument
  5. The Anti-Maxim Position
  6. Objections and Replies
  7. Why Frankfurt’s Conclusion Defeats the Maxim


Ch. 3. Moral Responsibility Does Not Require the Power to Do Otherwise, But It Does Require at Least One Alternative Possibility


  1. Three Objections to Frankfurt’s Argument Against PAP
  2. David Hunt’s Blockage Argument
  3. Hunt’s Neural Wall
  4. Why Hunt’s Blockage Argument Fails: The Dilemma Argument Against Blockage
  5. Implications for Incompatibilism


Ch. 4. The Puzzle of Responsibility


  1. The Responsibility Axiom and Two Kinds of Blameless Wrongdoing
  2. The Blameless Wrongdoer Argument
  3. A Working Conception of Responsibility
  4. The Sympathy Argument
  5. Just Criminal Punishment Does Not Necessarily Require Moral Responsibility


Ch. 5. Contrary to Responsibility Skepticism, Metaphysical Libertarianism Is Metaphysically Possible


  1. Responsibility Skepticism
  2. The Responsibility Skeptic’s Objection to Robert Kane’s Defense of Metaphysical Libertarianism
  3. Supplementing Kane’s Metaphysical Libertarianism with Susan Wolf’s Rationalist Theory of Responsibility
  4. The Randomness Objection
  5. One Last Defense of Metaphysical Libertarianism Over Responsibility Skepticism
  6. Agent Causation


Ch. 6. The Dark Side of Metaphysical Libertarianism


  1. The Self-Made-Man Postulate
  2. Success Is (Almost?) Entirely a Matter of Good Luck
  3. Constitutive Luck and Responsibility Skepticism
  4. Situational Luck
  5. Failure Is (Almost?) Entirely a Matter of Bad Luck


Ch. 7. Criminal Responsibility Does Not Require Moral Responsibility: Psychopaths


  1. Psychopathy Defined
  2. A. A Working Definition of Psychopathy

    B. Psychological Community’s Definition

    C. Possible Problems with the PCL-R

    D. Differences between Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder

  3. Three Consequentialist Reasons for Criminally Punishing Psychopaths
  4. Three Arguments that Psychopaths Are Not Morally Responsible for Their Criminal Behavior
  5. A. First Argument that Psychopaths Are Not Morally Responsible for Their Criminal Behavior: Normative Incompetence

    B. Second Argument that Psychopaths Are Not Morally Responsible for Their Criminal Behavior: Inability To Do Otherwise

    C. Third Argument that Psychopaths Are Not Morally Responsible for Their Criminal Behavior: No Self-Control

  6. The Insanity Defense
  7. A. Assumptions Underlying the Insanity Defense

    B. Different Versions of the Insanity Defense

  8. Four Arguments that Psychopaths Are Insane
  9. A. First Argument that Psychopaths Are Insane

    B. Second Argument that Psychopaths Are Insane

    C. Third Argument that Psychopaths Are Insane

    D. Fourth Argument that Psychopaths Are Insane

  10. Why the Criminal Justice System Regards Psychopaths as Criminally Responsible
  11. Why Psychopaths Are Criminally Responsible Even Though They Are Not Morally Responsible

A. Why Criminal Responsibility Does Not Require Moral Responsibility

B. Why Moral or Emotional Understanding of the Law Is Not Necessary for Criminal Responsibility

C. Psychopaths Have Sufficient Control over Their Behavior



Ch. 8. Criminal Responsibility Does Not Require Moral Responsibility: Situationism


  1. The Excuses
  2. A. Stephen Morse's Dualist Theory of the Excuses

    B. A Monist Theory of the Excuses

  3. Situationism and Moral Responsibility
  4. A. Our Nearly Universal Capacity for Cruelty

    B. The Dispositionism Paradox

    C. Situationism and Norm-Compliance

    D. Stanley Milgram's Shock Experiment

    E. Arguments for Recognizing Situationism as a Moral Excuse

  5. Situationism and Criminal Responsibility
  6. The Insanity Defense: Two Final Objections



Ch. 9. Addiction, Indoctrination, and Responsibility


  1. Addiction
  2. The "Addiction Negates Responsibility" Argument
  3. Addiction Versus Weakness of Will
  4. The Disease theory Is Actually Consistent with Responsibility for Addiction
  5. Indoctrination
  6. Doxastic Control
  7. Greedy, Addict, Mr. Insane, and the Dangers of Responsibility Skepticism


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Ken M. Levy is the Holt B. Harrison Professor of Law at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center of Louisiana State University. He has written chapters for anthologies published by Oxford, Routledge, and Sage, and he has published many articles in both philosophy journals and law reviews.