Bound: Essays on Free Will and Responsibility

ISBN : 9780198801313

Shaun Nichols
208 ページ
138 x 216 mm

The problem of free will arises from ordinary, commonsense reflection. Shaun Nichols examines these ordinary attitudes from a naturalistic perspective. He offers a psychological account of the origins of the problem of free will. According to his account the problem arises because of two naturally emerging ways of thinking about ourselves and the world, one of which makes determinism plausible while the other makes determinism implausible. Although contemporary cognitive science does not settle whether choices are determined, Nichols argues that our belief in indeterminist choice is grounded in faulty inference and should be regarded as unjustified. However, even if our belief in indeterminist choice is false, it's a further substantive question whether that means that free will doesn't exist. Nichols argues that, because of the flexibility of reference, there is no single answer to whether free will exists. In some contexts, it will be true to say 'free will exists'; in other contexts, it will be false to say that. With this substantive background in place, Bound promotes a pragmatic approach to prescriptive issues. In some contexts, the prevailing practical considerations suggest that we should deny the existence of free will and moral responsibility; in other contexts the practical considerations suggest that we should affirm free will and moral responsibility. This allows for the possibility that in some contexts, it is morally apt to exact retributive punishment; in other contexts, it can be apt to take up the exonerating attitude of hard incompatibilism.



Part I: Agency
1 The folk psychology of agency
2 The indeterminist intuition
3 Free will and error

Part II: Moral responsibility
4 Incompatibilism: intuitive and isolated
5 Debunking arguments
6 Brute retributivism
7 After incompatibilism


Shaun Nichols is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment (OUP, 2004) and co-author (with Stephen Stich) of Mindreading (OUP, 2003). He is editor of The Architecture of the Imagination (OUP, 2006) and co-editor of Experimental Philosophy (with Joshua Knobe; OUP, 2008; 2014). He has also published over 100 articles at the intersection of philosophy and psychology.