9781509545759

Just Deserts Debating Free Will

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  • ISBN13:

    9781509545759

  • ISBN10:

    1509545751

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2021-03-15
  • Publisher: Polity
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Summary

The concept of free will is profoundly important to our self-understanding, our interpersonal relationships, and our moral and legal practices. If it turns out that no one is ever free and morally responsible, what would that mean for society, morality, meaning, and the law?

Just Deserts brings together two philosophers – Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso – to debate their respective views on free will, moral responsibility, and legal punishment. In three extended conversations, Dennett and Caruso present their arguments for and against the existence of free will and debate their implications. Dennett argues that the kind of free will required for moral responsibility is compatible with determinism – for him, self-control is key; we are not responsible for becoming responsible, but are responsible for staying responsible, for keeping would-be puppeteers at bay. Caruso takes the opposite view, arguing that who we are and what we do is ultimately the result of factors beyond our control, and because of this we are never morally responsible for our actions in the sense that would make us truly deserving of blame and praise, punishment and reward.

Just Deserts introduces the concepts central to the debate about free will and moral responsibility by way of an entertaining, rigorous, and sometimes heated philosophical dialogue between two leading thinkers.

Author Biography

Daniel C. Dennett is Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Science and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. His books include Content and Consciousness (1969), Brainstorms (1978), Elbow Room (1984), The Intentional Stance (1987), Consciousness Explained (1991), Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995), Kinds of Minds (1996), Freedom Evolves (2003), Breaking the Spell (2006), and From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017). He is a leading defender of compatibilism, the view that determinism can be reconciled with free will, and is perhaps best known in cognitive science for his concept of intentional systems and his multiple drafts model of human consciousness.
Gregg D. Caruso is Professor of Philosophy at SUNY, Corning and Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University. He is also the Co-Director of the Justice Without Retribution Network at the University of Aberdeen School of Law. His books include Free Will and Consciousness (2012), Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice (2020), Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility (ed. 2013), Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience (co-ed. with Owen Flanagan, 2018), and Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society: Challenging Retributive Justice (co-ed. with Elizabeth Shaw and Derk Pereboom, 2019). He is a leading proponent of free will skepticism, which maintains that who we are and what we do is ultimately the result of factors beyond our control, and because of this we are never morally responsible for our actions in the basic desert sense – i.e., the sense that would make us truly deserving of blame and praise, punishment and reward.

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface
Foreword by Derk Pereboom

Introduction
Exchange 1: Debating Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Exchange 2: Going Deeper: The Arguments
Exchange 3: Punishment, Morality, and Desert

Suggested Readings and Recommendations
Index

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