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Why Free Will Is Real
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Christian List
Why Free Will Is Real by Christian List at Abbey's Bookshop,

Why Free Will Is Real

Christian List


9780674979581

Harvard University Press


Philosophy;
Ethics & moral philosophy;
Social & political philosophy;
Popular philosophy;
Philosophy of science


Hardback

176 pages

$48.99
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A crystal-clear, scientifically rigorous argument for the existence of free will, challenging what many scientists and scientifically minded philosophers believe.

Philosophers have argued about the nature and the very existence of free will for centuries. Today, many scientists and scientifically minded commentators are skeptical that it exists, especially when it is understood to require the ability to choose between alternative possibilities. If the laws of physics govern everything that happens, they argue, then how can our choices be free? Believers in free will must be misled by habit, sentiment, or religious doctrine. Why Free Will Is Real defies scientific orthodoxy and presents a bold new defense of free will in the same naturalistic terms that are usually deployed against it.

Unlike those who defend free will by giving up the idea that it requires alternative possibilities to choose from, Christian List retains this idea as central, resisting the tendency to defend free will by watering it down. He concedes that free will and its prerequisites-intentional agency, alternative possibilities, and causal control over our actions-cannot be found among the fundamental physical features of the natural world. But, he argues, that's not where we should be looking. Free will is a higher-level phenomenon found at the level of psychology. It is like other phenomena that emerge from physical processes but are autonomous from them and not best understood in fundamental physical terms-like an ecosystem or the economy. When we discover it in its proper context, acknowledging that free will is real is not just scientifically respectable; it is indispensable for explaining our world.

By:   Christian List
Imprint:   Harvard University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 210mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780674979581
ISBN 10:   0674979583
Pages:   176
Publication Date:   May 2019
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Christian List is Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Fellow of the British Academy.


Many philosophers have suggested that we may be causally determined at the neurophysiological level, but not at the psychological. List is the first to work out a detailed proposal of how this might work, and of how it can underpin an account of free will. Developing ideas from theories of causation and of counterfactuals, it provides an incisive and accessible introduction to contemporary thinking about how we might be free in a causally-determined world.--Richard Holton, University of Cambridge An original and challenging new contribution to contemporary debates about free will. After making a compelling case for the irreducibility of different explanatory levels of reality, Christian List argues that free will requires indeterminism at the psychological level of explanation, but not at the physical level, where it is compatible with determinism. His arguments in support of these claims address a host of potential objections and include insightful appeals to new developments in the logic of agency and branching time, among other novel arguments.--Robert H. Kane, The University of Texas at Austin In Why Free Will Is Real, List does as advertised, advancing a novel, intriguing view of free will and making a thoughtful case for the thesis that free will, as he conceives of it, is real. This book is a pleasure to read.--Alfred Mele, Florida State University

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