Freedom within Reason

by

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 019535897X
  • 9780195085655
  • 9780195358971
Philosophers typically see the issue of free will and determinism in terms of a debate between two standard positions. Incompatibilism holds that freedom and responsibility require causal and metaphysical independence from the impersonal forces of nature. According to compatibilism, people are free and responsible as long as their actions are governed by their desires. In Freedom Within Reason, Susan Wolf charts a path between these traditional positions: We are not free and responsible, she argues, for actions that are governed by desires that we cannot help having. But the wish to form our own desires from nothing is both futile and arbitrary. Some of the forces beyond our control are friends to freedom rather than enemies of it: they endow us with faculties of reason, perception, and imagination, and provide us with the data by which we come to see and appreciate the world for what it is. The independence we want, Wolf argues, is not independence from the world, but independence from forces that prevent or preclude us from choosing how to live in light of a sufficient appreciation of the world. The freedom we want is a freedom within reason and the world.
  • Oxford University Press; October 1993
  • ISBN: 9780195358971
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Freedom within Reason
  • Author: Susan Wolf
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 019535897X
  • 9780195085655
  • 9780195358971

In The Press

"Highly intelligent, original, and provocative. Her criticisms of the Autonomy View and the Real Self View are both vigorous and incisive. Her alternative approach--the Reason View--is developed with considerable subtlety and refinement. It is a distinctive approach to free will and moral responsibility, which deserves to be taken seriously."--Ethics
"Refreshing....Bold positions are advanced, elaborated with adequate, not exorbitant detail, and forcefully defended. The writing is crisp and not ponderous....Wolf's perspective on the issues is original. Although the theories that are surveyed are familiar, the way in which they are sorted is illuminating."--Journal of Philosophy
"Thoughtful and persuasive....A valuable dimension of Wolf's book is her clear summary of arguments that in their original form, are virtually inpenetrable to those who are not trained in academic philosophy."--American Political Science Review
"[Wolf's] view is marked by a refreshing simplicity that does not undermine its philosophical soundness or its persuasiveness....One can find little to discredit in Wolf's arguments, and her approach to the problem of the relationship between responsibility and freedom provides a relief from the tedious and convoluted debates that often take place when this issue is the topic."--Review of Metaphysics
"This book is brilliantly written and full of stimulating argument. Because it states the fundamental issues intuitively and clearly, it is accessible to a wide audience. Because many claims and arguments are original and well presented, it will also appeal to professionals....It is an important book that deserves a very wide audience."--Choice