Document Type

Book Review


11 The Journal of Ethics 485 (2007)


Until fairly recently, a brief review of the free will literature would have strongly suggested that compatibilists were winning the argument. At least, so it would have seemed were a poll the way to determine such things: there were simply more philosophers purporting to believe that freedom, when rightly analyzed, is compatible with determinism than philosophers purporting to deny it. In part, this was due to the desire of many philosophers to offer analyses of ordinary concepts under which the ordinary and the manifest can persist side-by-side with the facts as reported by the natural sciences. There is no particular reason, however, to think that the naturalistic commitments of those wanting to preserve our ordinary judgments about the freedom of ourselves and others require compatibilism, for there is no particular reason to think that determinism is true, that the sciences tell us it is, or that belief in it is a necessary condition of scientific inquiry. Since for all that science tells us determinism very well might be false, preserving our freedom does not require a compatibilist theory of it. Thus, in recent years, incompatibilism has shown a resurgence, and among the resurgent are philosophers wedded to some form of naturalism. Randolph Clarkes Libertarian Accounts of Free Will offers a careful, often insightful examination of the prospects for an adequate naturalist libertarian incompatibilism; the book examines, that is, theories of freedom under which free action is possible should determinism be false and should the world be as the natural sciences tell us it is. It is an excellent book that anyone interested in this topic should read.

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