The highly anticipated sequel to John Martin Fischer's My Way, entitled Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will is now out with OUP. The OUP link is here, though they don't have a picture of the cover yet. The essays in this new collection are part of the continuing development of Fischer's overall systematic views on moral responsibility and related issues, including
(as is suggested by the title) the notion that the value of acting so as to be morally responsible is
the value of a distinctive kind of self-expression. The book is more proof, if any is needed, both of the impressive scope of Fischer's work and of how interconnected the topic of free will and moral responsibility is with other important areas of philosophy.
Plus, to own My Way without also owning Our Stories would be like owning only Raiders of the Lost Ark without owning The Last Crusade. So go get it!
Over at the PhilPapers Forums, David Chalmers asks (in connection with a paper he is working on) for real-life examples of compatibilists and incompatibilists who disagree only verbally. I hereby encourage you to contribute to the discussion.
By the way, if you haven't checked out PhilPapers yet, do so. It's impressive.
Paul Russell has asked me to announce that there will be a mini-free will conference at UBC in early March. (The free will isn't mini; the conference is.) The speakers will include Angela Smith (University of Washington), Robert Kane (Texas), Scott Anderson (UBC) and David Shoemaker (Bowling Green).
Your comments and questions helped me advance a little farther in my work on free will.
This time, I would like to bring to your attention a very short paper (8 double-spaced pages), in which I summarize my current position on this issue. I have come to the conclusion that modern debates on free will focus too much on the “free” part, and not enough on the “will” part. The will is a concept that only makes sense in a (more or less) dualistic picture. Mind and matter are supposed to be functionally independent, at least when the initiation of action is expected to take place. Will is the property that mediates between them. In other words, the body is like a machine, and the mind can push its buttons through the “magic” of the will.
I wish to suggest that the will, so defined, can be described as free without running into conceptual problems. It leads to an understanding of agency and responsibility that resonates with our intuitions and social practices. In the final analysis, the only problem is physicalism.
Martha J. Farah, the Director for the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at The University of Pennsylvania, sent me the following information about their Neuroscience Boot Camp, August 2-12, 2009. Some Gardeners might be interested in checking it out.
I heard great things about the summer school at Central European University in Budapest last year, and this year's session looks to be equally excellent. The topic is "Aspects of Responsibility" and it is directed by Timothy O'Connor and Andras Szigeti. Participating faculty members include Mark Balaguer, Michael McKenna, Derk Pereboom, Paul Russell, and Angie Smith. I'll put more information below the fold.
We invite submissions from both faculty and graduate students. Essays in all areas of ethical theory and political philosophy will be considered, although some priority will be given to essays that take up themes from the works of Samuel Scheffler and Seana Shiffrin. The submission deadline is February 15, 2009.
Ghenadie Mardari, a grad student at Rutgers, is currently working on a dissertation on free will and has asked us to share a bit about the project to see what Gardeners think about it. So, without further ado, I post below the fold Mardari's own description of the project. I encourage you all to provide any comments you think would be helpful.