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Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Neil Levy (Florey Neuroscience Institutes, Australia, and Oxford Centre for Neuroethics)



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Oxford University Press
25 November 2014
Philosophy; Philosophy: metaphysics & ontology; Philosophy: epistemology & theory of knowledge; Ethics & moral philosophy
The concept of luck has played an important role in debates concerning free will and moral responsibility, yet participants in these debates have relied upon an intuitive notion of what luck is. Neil Levy develops an account of luck, which is then applied to the free will debate. He argues that the standard luck objection succeeds against common accounts of libertarian free will, but that it is possible to amend libertarian accounts so that they are no more vulnerable to luck than is compatibilism. But compatibilist accounts of luck are themselves vulnerable to a powerful luck objection: historical compatibilisms cannot satisfactorily explain how agents can take responsibility for their constitutive luck; non-historical compatibilisms run into insurmountable difficulties with the epistemic condition on control over action. Levy argues that because epistemic conditions on control are so demanding that they are rarely satisfied, agents are not blameworthy for performing actions that they take to be best in a given situation. It follows that if there are any actions for which agents are responsible, they are akratic actions; but even these are unacceptably subject to luck. Levy goes on to discuss recent non-historical compatibilisms, and argues that they do not offer a viable alternative to control-based compatibilisms. He suggests that luck undermines our freedom and moral responsibility no matter whether determinism is true or not.
By:   Neil Levy (Florey Neuroscience Institutes Australia and Oxford Centre for Neuroethics)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 215mm,  Width: 141mm,  Spine: 13mm
Weight:   294g
ISBN:   9780198709343
ISBN 10:   019870934X
Pages:   238
Publication Date:   25 November 2014
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  A / AS level ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Preface and Acknowledgements ; 1. Introduction ; 2. An Account of Luck ; 3. Luck and Libertarianism ; 4. The Luck Problem for Compatibilists ; 5. The Epistemic Dimensions of Control ; 6. Akratic Freedom? ; 7. The Retreat to the Inner Citadel ; 8. Quality Of Will Theories And History-Insensitive Compatibilism ; Bibliography ; Index

Neil Levy is Head of Neuroethics at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes and Director of Research at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. He is the author of five previous books and many articles, on a wide range of topics including applied ethics, free will and moral responsibility, philosophical psychology, and philosophy of mind. He divides his time between Melbourne, Australia, and Oxford, England.

Reviews for Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Neil Levys new book is a good read. ... Levys thesis is novel and refreshing, for it is intended to be independent of determinism or indeterminism. Brian Jonathan Garrett, Philosophy in Review

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