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The book is intended to be an introduction to the analysis of relation between human virtues and emotions. R. C. Roberts already published another book on emotions in 2003[] so the book under review looks as a middle step especially since there is no conclusion and, more, we are told that a more comprehensive study is in progress and will be published "in the not too distant future" (211).
The first chapter is mainly a discussion with Rosalind Hursthouse's and Michael Slote's approaches to virtue ethics. The criticism Roberts makes is meant to help settle his own description, that is to present the concepts of emotions and virtues in their interconnections. Roberts makes it clear to the reader that his "own framework is Christianity" (24), though, I must say, it is not particularly referred to in Roberts' argument till chapter 8.
In chapter 2 Roberts overviews the kinds of virtues (epistemic, practical, consequential, eudaimonistic, aretaic, intrinsic) in their relation to the roles played by emotions. He underlines that "emotions play a variety of roles in the moral life, for better and for worse" (26) because they enhance and block (or degrade) moral knowledge. He writes: "emotions of almost all types [...] have positive moral status - also [in] some instances of almost all types [...] negative moral status" (32) I find this point remarkable because by making it Roberts surpasses the one-sidedness so often offered in the philosophical debate (emotions are considered as either only good or only bad). Historically, an approach similar to Roberts' was supported by Plato[], Aristotle and Descartes.
In chapter 3 the reader learns that the interconnections of virtues and emotions are to be regarded not from the point of moral theory but from the point of "basic emotional psychology of the virtues" (38). This includes epistemic dimensions of emotions. Roberts draws a parallel between perceptions and emotions, both being construals of sorts with the difference that perceptions involve concepts (a famous case of duck/rabbit), while emotions are construals based on concern: only what one cares about can become the object of a specific emotion for him. Different kinds of concerns bring about different emotions in apparently similar situations: whether you are afraid of a snake or rejoiced at seeing it depends on whether you are or are not a herpetologist. Accordingly emotions are concern-plus-situation (or context) construals.
In chapter 4 Roberts discusses eight objections against considering emotions as perceptions or something similar to them. One of them is that whereas perceptions pertain to present objects, emotions can be related to absent ones. Roberts' answer to this is that construals, both perceptions and emotions, cannot be reduced to having sensory content only: they possess a non-sensory content as well. Here, I think, Roberts could also say that in stating that emotions are perceptions of values the term perceptions is taken in a different sense than sense-perception. After all, the distinction lies in the presentedness of objects: physical presentedness in the case of perceptions differs from mental presentedness in the case of emotions (see e.g. Alexius Meinong). Drawing on Roberts' view it could be said that a value perceived in emotion is given as present even if the object carrying the value is physically absent.
Chapter 5 is about true and false emotions, that is about emotions representing situations correctly or incorrectly. Since emotions are about representing they depend on subject's skills or competence and dispositions. A right emotion is an emotion conforming "to standards that are not themselves emotions [...] the standard of an ideally developed person" (93). I take it to be an attractive postulate, since as long as we don't know (how is) such a person we are unable to get knowledge about these standards. Even if any of us experiences the right emotions how can it be known? Roberts points to Aristotle's solution of the question. He assumes that emotional truth lies is the middle. But, again, how to know the middle? To say that it is a matter of calculation and that the middle "is equidistant from each of the extremes" (96) is either too general or too schematic. To know the middle one should know the two extremes in several respects (object, reason, intensity, duration, way, time of an emotion). Given they are not linear or spatial parameters, they are hard, if at all possible, to grasp. This is what Roberts is well aware of when he says: "[a]nger doesn't come in amounts [...] [i]t also varies along dimensions of non-quantitative appropriateness" (97). If so, how to know the canon of "your anger about what the boss said to you this afternoon"? (97) Roberts' solution is to translate emotional truth into theological emotional truth and to appeal to "the sovereign personal government of the universe" (112).
In chapter 6 Roberts investigates the relation between emotions and actions. More precisely he argues that emotions' moral value is revealed by motivating moral acts. By the way in which emotions motivate actions we consider them more or less rational. Roberts remarks that although we meet emotions "not attended by the desire to do anything in particular" (116), a majority of emotions bring out actions which are to be understood "by way of satisfying the emotion's consequent concern" (118). Yet one might wonder if emotions as such lead to actions or if they do so via desires they trigger. To take the typical example of fear: does a frightened person behave in such and such a way, e.g. runs away, as a direct consequence of her being frightened or is she doing so because fear produces a desire to make her disappear? For Roberts, "[f]or motivation, desire is needed." (120). Because Roberts' understanding of emotions as "concern-based construals [...] conceptually particularized ways of caring about states of affairs [...]" (134) applies to "the majority of cases", we should maybe be cautious with generalizing this description which, I am afraid, leads to a kind of panmoralism. If, in fact, not all emotions are morally relevant (e.g. the joy of listening to music or the desire to learn more about geometry), a connection with value is not an intrinsic feature of them. In this case Roberts' claim is a weak one and should be better spelled out as relating to just one subclass of emotions (moral emotions?).
Chapter 7 is about emotions in personal relationship. For Roberts emotions are what personal relationships are formed by in large part. He makes several useful distinctions, among them a distinction between being relationally good and fitting a situational object and another one concerning moral value and relational value. In claiming that an emotional response in a relationship depends on moral character he may be, however, too hasty as this presupposes that in every relationship persons are autonomous. Obviously this does not happen when psychological dependence is at stake: there can be apparent harmony, even a merging of two persons, yet no moral character of the depending person is in play. This is especially valid for the feeling of guilt (which Roberts discusses) which can be felt either because of a harm actually committed or because it has been inculcated by a dominating person, in which case it is inaccurate. In what concerns friendship Roberts understands it in a complex way: it is composed not only of dispositions but includes also various actions, thoughts, emotions, feelings and awareness.
The last two chapters have surprisingly less to do with emotions. In chapter 8 Roberts limits his analysis to the nature of happiness (which includes objective and subjective happiness). To be sure, he understands it as "more than feeling good" (158). Ideal happiness is made up of metaphysical attunement (character) and circumstancial attunement (satisfaction). Roberts discusses passages from literature and also includes the words spoken by Wittgenstein to Mrs. Bevan two days before his death; and sometimes we find truisms (e.g. "Emotions that are based on shallow concerns are shallow [...]", (167)). This chapter is about the meaning of life, with a focus on Christian view rather than on the relation between virtues and emotions.
Chapter 9 is meant to be a "prolegomena" to Roberts' next book. He mentions how virtues differ from and depend on each other. Both points are reminiscent of Socrates' discussion in Plato's early dialogues. For Roberts - like for Aristotle - the virtue sometimes "gets its name from the emotion" (198). This is the case of courage and friendship. In Roberts' view emotions are connected with virtues in two ways: either by expressing them or by being "managed, dispelled or missed out" by them (202). Roberts suggests, though in a sketchy way, the aretaic functions of emotions. It is visible, e.g. when an action is performed not because of a sense of duty but out of concern for justice and truth.
Roberts' book is finely structured and, therefore, easy and pleasant to read: almost every single chapter has an introduction and a conclusion.[] Yet, I am still uncertain how to understand the somewhat paradoxical expression "unfelt emotions" (49). Roberts left it unexplained. Because of what is said later, I was inclined to think that he means unaware emotions (75: "I felt my bodily reaction before I felt the emotion, and came to feel the emotion only upon interpreting my bodily reaction. [...] construal doesn't require awareness of construal") or unconscious emotions (86: "felt emotions [...] unconscious emotions"), but I must have misunderstood him since, in another chapter, he claims that "you cannot be unaware of what you feel" (116).
The book contains redundancies. For instance Aristotle's EN 1125b is quoted or referred to at least five times (31, 84, 92, 99, 200). This is because Roberts sides with Aristotle by claiming that a virtuous person's emotions are reliable while a wicked one's are not. This is a crucial and hence recurrent theme of the book. Now, the problem with this approach is that it leads to a circular argument: emotions of a virtuous person are reliable whereas a virtuous person is the one whose emotions are reliable. To say that a virtuous person's emotions are true perceptions of values helps little. Is this claim normative or descriptive? Roberts remarks that Aristotle doesn't set the rule. But Roberts doesn't set it either, I am afraid. He suggests to proceed by approximation ("with reference to what "we" think and praise and blame" (100)). We will agree that typically we follow Socrates rather than Alcibiades. But Roberts notices that emotional truth is culture- and tradition-dependent, "never absolute and final" (102). This may give rise to a more general objection to his account. Given that emotions play an epistemic role and their epistemic role has to do with values, the rightness of emotions has to be central. But at this point an aporia appears and the analogy with perceptions is of no avail. Seeing objects and feeling them is not much the same insofar as we can find, or so we do believe, a check for the rightness of perceptions, say he who is expert in music and recognizes intervals or pitches in a trustworthy manner which, in turn, can be checked by a gauge, while we can't do this for particular values represented by emotions of this or that person. Physicists may tell us about, say, the frequency of waves corresponding to colors perceived (though not of course about what it is like to see a body emitting waves of particular frequency), whereas we lack experts and instruments to analyses the real nature of values. Objects of feelings are not of the kind as to produce specific feelings. Or I am wrong and Roberts' example of brutality is a good example of a property existing independently. By analogy to colors, we may expect what feeling it provokes (or should provoke, if we prefer to stay on normative rather than descriptive grounds) and if another or different, let alone opposite, feelings emerge, we may say that the subject is mistaken quite like someone who sees red looking at the body emitting waves of frequency of ca 550 THz (which is green). But if this is Roberts' position I would be interested in knowing how far it does depart from Max Scheler's emotional intuitionism, called also non-formal apriorism.
All in all this an inspiring book. In his analysis Roberts is attentive to the intricacies of emotions (e.g. "Emotions often [sic!] have important consequences [...]" (121), "Actions can and typically do derive from more than one emotion." (125), and other passages referred to above), but on a more general level such nuances, it seems to me, are left out of the picture which weakens Roberts' conclusions.
[] See R. C. Roberts, Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2013.
[] Plato - which is rare - is mentioned in this context (see 35). This is important insofar as Plato is most often taken to be representative or paradigmatic of the negative approach to emotions.
] I was surprised to find misprints in what is a CUP paperback of a previous book (e.g. "qewriva" (17)).
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All Topic Reviews
A Theory of Feelings"My Madness Saved Me"10 Good Questions about Life and Death12 Modern Philosophers50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a GodA Cabinet of Philosophical CuriositiesA Case for IronyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to FoucaultA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to HumeA Companion to KantA Companion to Phenomenology and ExistentialismA Companion to PragmatismA Companion to the Philosophy of ActionA Companion to the Philosophy of BiologyA Companion to the Philosophy of LiteratureA Conceptual History of PsychologyA Critique of Naturalistic Philosophies of MindA Cursing Brain?A Delicate BalanceA Farewell to AlmsA Frightening LoveA Future for PresentismA Guide to the Good LifeA History of PsychiatryA History of the MindA Life Worth LivingA Manual of Experimental PhilosophyA Map of the MindA Metaphysics of PsychopathologyA Mind So RareA Natural History of Human MoralityA Natural History of Human ThinkingA Natural History of VisionA Parliament of MindsA Philosopher Looks at The Sense of HumorA Philosophical DiseaseA Philosophy of BoredomA Philosophy of Cinematic ArtA Philosophy of CultureA Philosophy of EmptinessA Philosophy of FearA Philosophy of PainA Physicalist ManifestoA Place for ConsciousnessA Question of TrustA Research Agenda for DSM-VA Revolution of the MindA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Stroll With William JamesA Tear is an Intellectual ThingA Theory of FreedomA Thousand MachinesA Universe of ConsciousnessA Very Bad WizardA Virtue EpistemologyA World Full of GodsA World Without ValuesAbout FaceAbout the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the SelfAction and ResponsibilityAction in ContextAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionAction, Contemplation, and HappinessAction, Emotion and WillAdam SmithAdaptive DynamicsAddictionAddictionAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction Is a ChoiceAdvances in Identity Theory and ResearchAftermathAfterwarAgainst AdaptationAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HappinessAgainst HealthAgency and ActionAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and EmbodimentAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAl-JununAlain BadiouAlain BadiouAlasdair MacIntyreAlien Landscapes?Altered EgosAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Ethics for TodayAn Intellectual History of CannibalismAn Interpretation of DesireAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy An Introduction to Philosophy of EducationAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of PsychologyAn Introductory Philosophy of MedicineAn Odd Kind of FameAnalytic FreudAnalytic Philosophy in AmericaAncient AngerAncient Models of MindAncient Philosophy of the SelfAngerAnimal LessonsAnimal MindsAnimals Like UsAnnihilationAnother PlanetAnswers for AristotleAnti-ExternalismAnti-Individualism and KnowledgeAntigone’s ClaimAntipsychiatryAre We Hardwired?Are Women Human?Arguing about DisabilityArguing About Human NatureAristotle and the Philosophy of FriendshipAristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's ChildrenAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAristotle, Emotions, and EducationArt & MoralityArt After Conceptual ArtArt in Three DimensionsArt, Self and KnowledgeArtificial ConsciousnessArtificial HappinessAspects of PsychologismAsylum to ActionAtonement and ForgivenessAttention is Cognitive UnisonAutobiography as PhilosophyAutonomyAutonomy and Mental DisorderAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismBabies by DesignBackslidingBadiouBadiou's DeleuzeBadiou, Balibar, Ranciere: Rethinking EmancipationBare Facts And Naked TruthsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBattlestar Galactica and PhilosophyBeautyBecoming a SubjectBecoming HumanBehavingBehavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic EraBeing AmoralBeing HumanBeing Mentally Ill: A Sociological Theory Being No OneBeing Realistic about ReasonsBeing ReducedBeing YourselfBelief's Own EthicsBending Over BackwardsBerlin Childhood around 1900Bernard WilliamsBertrand RussellBetter than BothBetter Than WellBetween Two WorldsBeyond HealthBeyond Hegel and NietzscheBeyond KuhnBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond PostmodernismBeyond ReductionBeyond the DSM StoryBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics in the ClinicBiological Complexity and Integrative PluralismBiology Is TechnologyBiosBipolar ExpeditionsBlackwell Companion to the Philosophy of EducationBlindsight & The Nature of ConsciousnessBlues - Philosophy for EveryoneBlushBob Dylan and PhilosophyBody ConsciousnessBody Image And Body SchemaBody ImagesBody LanguageBody MattersBody WorkBody-Subjects and Disordered MindsBoundBoundaries of the MindBoyleBrain Evolution and CognitionBrain FictionBrain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive ScienceBrain-WiseBrainchildrenBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrainstormingBrave New WorldsBreakdown of WillBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBritain on the CouchBrute RationalityBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBut Is It Art?Camus and SartreCartesian LinguisticsCartographies of the MindCarving Nature at Its JointsCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsCassandra's DaughterCato's TearsCausation and CounterfactualsCauses, Laws, and Free WillChanging Conceptions of the Child from the Renaissance to Post-ModernityChanging the SubjectChaosophyCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionCharles DarwinCherishmentChildhood and the Philosophy of EducationChildrenChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingChoices and ConflictChoosing Not to ChooseChristmas - Philosophy for EveryoneCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingCity and Soul in Plato's RepublicClassifying MadnessClear and Queer ThinkingClinical EthicsClinical Psychiatry in Imperial GermanyCodependent ForevermoreCoffee - Philosophy for EveryoneCognition and the BrainCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognition Through Understanding: Self-Knowledge, Interlocution, Reasoning, ReflectionCognitive BiologyCognitive FictionsCognitive Neuroscience of EmotionCognitive Systems and the Extended MindCognitive Systems and the Extended Mind Cognitive Theories of Mental IllnessCoherence in Thought and ActionCollected Papers, Volume 1Collected Papers, Volume 2College SexComedy IncarnateCommitmentCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentConcealment And ExposureConceptual Analysis and Philosophical NaturalismConceptual Art and PaintingConceptual Issues in Evolutionary BiologyConfessionsConfucianismConnected, or What It Means to Live in the Network SocietyConquest of AbundanceConscience and ConvenienceConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousness ConsciousnessConsciousness and Its Place in NatureConsciousness and LanguageConsciousness and Mental LifeConsciousness and MindConsciousness and the NovelConsciousness and the SelfConsciousness EmergingConsciousness EvolvingConsciousness ExplainedConsciousness in ActionConsciousness RecoveredConsciousness RevisitedConsciousness, Color, and ContentConsole and ClassifyConstructing the WorldConstructive AnalysisContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Philosophy of BiologyContemporary Debates in Philosophy of MindContemporary Debates in Political PhilosophyContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContemporary Perspectives on Natural LawContested Knowledge: Social Theory TodayContesting PsychiatryContext and the AttitudesContinental Philosophy of ScienceControlControlling Our DestiniesConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCopernicus, Darwin and FreudCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating ConsilienceCreating HysteriaCreating Mental IllnessCreating Scientific ConceptsCreating the American JunkieCreation, Rationality and AutonomyCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCritical New Perspectives on Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderCritical PsychiatryCritical PsychologyCritical ResistanceCritical Thinking About PsychologyCritical VisionsCross and KhoraCruel CompassionCTRL [SPACE]Cultural Psychology of the SelfCultural Theory: An IntroductionCulture and Psychiatric DiagnosisCulture and Subjective Well-BeingCulture of DeathCultures of NeurastheniaCurious EmotionsCurrent Controversies in Experimental PhilosophyCustom and Reason in HumeCustomers and Patrons of the Mad-TradeCutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together AgainCylons in AmericaDamaged IdentitiesDamasio's Error and Descartes' TruthDangerous EmotionsDaniel DennettDaniel DennettDark AgesDarwin and DesignDarwin's Dangerous IdeaDarwin's LegacyDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDarwinian PsychiatryDarwinian ReductionismDarwinizing CultureDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeathDeathDeath and CharacterDeath and CompassionDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDebating HumanismDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecomposing the WillDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeconstruction and DemocracyDeeper Than DarwinDeeper than ReasonDefending Science - within ReasonDefining Psychopathology in the 21st CenturyDegrees of BeliefDelusion and Self-DeceptionDelusions and Other Irrational BeliefsDelusions and the Madness of the MassesDementiaDemons, Dreamers, and MadmenDennett and Ricoeur on the Narrative SelfDennett’s PhilosophyDepression Is a ChoiceDepression, Emotion and the SelfDepthDerrida, Deleuze, PsychoanalysisDescartesDescartes and the Passionate MindDescartes' CogitoDescartes's Changing MindDescartes's Concept of MindDescribing Inner Experience?Descriptions and PrescriptionsDesembodied Spirits and Deanimated Bodies Desert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Desire and AffectDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDialectics of the SelfDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital SoulDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisjunctivismDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDispatches from the Freud WarsDisrupted LivesDistractionDisturbed ConsciousnessDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDo Apes Read Minds?Do Fish Feel Pain?Do We Still Need Doctors?Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?Does the Woman Exist?Doing without ConceptsDon't Believe Everything You ThinkDonald DavidsonDonald Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the MentalDoubting Darwin?Dreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV-TR CasebookDworkin and His CriticsDying to KnowDynamics in ActionDysthymia and the Spectrum of Chronic DepressionsEccentricsEducational MetamorphosesEffective IntentionsElbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth WantingEmbodied Minds in ActionEmbodied RhetoricsEmbodied Selves and Divided MindsEmbryos under the MicroscopeEmergencies in Mental Health PracticeEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotionEmotion and ConsciousnessEmotion and PsycheEmotion ExperienceEmotion RegulationEmotion, Evolution, And RationalityEmotional IntelligenceEmotional ReasonEmotional ReasonEmotional TruthEmotions in Humans and ArtifactsEmotions in the Moral LifeEmpathyEmpathy and AgencyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpathy in the Context of PhilosophyEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEnchanted LoomsEngaging BuddhismEngineering the Human GermlineEnjoymentEnvyEpicureanismEpistemic LuckEpistemologyEpistemology and EmotionsEpistemology and the Psychology of Human JudgmentEros and the GoodErotic MoralityEssays in Social NeuroscienceEssays in the Metaphysics of Mind Essays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEssays on Nonconceptual ContentEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssays on Reference, Language, and MindEssays on the Concept of Mind in Early-Modern PhilosophyEssential Sources in the Scientific Study of ConsciousnessEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in Human CloningEthical TheoryEthicsEthicsEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in PracticeEthics in Psychiatric ResearchEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEuropean Review of Philosophy. Vol. 5Everyday IrrationalityEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolutionEvolution and the Human MindEvolution's RainbowEvolutionary Origins of MoralityEvolutionary PsychologyExamined LifeExamined LivesExistential AmericaExistentialismExistentialism and Romantic LoveExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and NaturalismExperiments in EthicsExplaining ConsciousnessExplaining the BrainExplaining the Computational MindExploding the Gene MythExploring HappinessExploring the SelfExpression and the InnerExpressions of JudgmentFaces of IntentionFact and ValueFact and Value in EmotionFacts, Values, and NormsFads and Fallacies in the Social SciencesFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFatherhoodFear of KnowledgeFearless SpeechFeeling Pain and Being in PainFeelings and EmotionsFeelings of BeingFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminism and Philosophy of ScienceFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist Interpretations of Rene DescartesFeminist TheoryField Notes from ElsewhereFinding Consciousness in the BrainFingerprints of GodFlesh in the Age of ReasonFolk Psychological NarrativesFolk Psychology Re-AssessedForces of HabitForgivenessForgiveness and RetributionFoucault 2.0Foucault and PhilosophyFoucault NowFoucault, Psychology and the Analytics of PowerFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFour Views on Free WillFree WillFree WillFree WillFree WillFree Will and LuckFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will as an Open Scientific ProblemFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free WillFreedomFreedom and DeterminismFreedom And NeurobiologyFreedom and ResponsibiltyFreedom and ValueFreedom EvolvesFreedom RegainedFreedom vs. InterventionFreedom, Fame, Lying, and BetrayalFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud's AnswerFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFriedrich NietzscheFrom Chance to ChoiceFrom Clinic to ClassroomFrom Complexity to LifeFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the HumanitiesFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Passions to EmotionsFrom Philosophy to PsychotherapyFrontiers of ConsciousnessFrontiers of JusticeFurnishing the MindGalileo in PittsburghGenderGender and Mental HealthGender in the MirrorGender TroubleGenesGenes, Women, EqualityGenetic Nature/CultureGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetic SecretsGenocide's AftermathGenomes and What to Make of ThemGerman Idealism and the JewGerman PhilosophyGetting HookedGilles DeleuzeGlobal PhilosophyGluttonyGod and Phenomenal ConsciousnessGoffman's LegacyGoing Amiss in Experimental ResearchGoodness & AdviceGrassroots SpiritualityGrave MattersGrave MattersGreedGreek Models of Mind and SelfGut ReactionsHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHabits of MindHallucinationHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of EmotionsHappinessHappinessHappinessHappinessHappiness and EducationHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHard LuckHarmful ThoughtsHaving the World in ViewHealing PsychiatryHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHealth, Illness and DiseaseHealth, Science, and Ordinary LanguageHegelHeidegger and a Metaphysics of FeelingHeidegger, Metaphysics and the Univocity of BeingHermann von Helmholtz's MechanismHermeneutics As PoliticsHeterophobiaHeterosyncraciesHeuristics and BiasesHeuristics and the LawHidden ResourcesHidden SelvesHiding from HumanityHigh Art LiteHistorical OntologyHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHistory, Historicity And ScienceHobbesHomosexualitiesHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisHot ThoughtHow Can I Be Trusted?How Can the Human Mind Occur in the Physical Universe?How Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow Could Conscious Experiences Affect Brains?How Do We Know Who We Are?How Emotions WorkHow Emotions WorkHow History Made the MindHow Images ThinkHow is Nature Possible?How Propaganda WorksHow Science WorksHow Scientific Practices MatterHow Scientists Explain DiseaseHow The Body Shapes The MindHow the Body Shapes the Way We ThinkHow the Mind Explains BehaviorHow the Mind Uses the BrainHow to Make Opportunity EqualHow to Solve the Mind-Body Problemhow to stop timeHow to Think More About SexHow We HopeHow We ReasonHuman CloningHuman Development, Language and the Future of MankindHuman EnhancementHuman Evolution, Reproduction, and MoralityHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman NatureHuman NatureHuman Nature and the Limits of ScienceHuman-Built WorldHumanismHumanism, What's That?HumanityHumans, Animals, MachinesHumeHumeHume on Motivation and VirtueHusserlHystoriesI of the VortexI Was WrongIdeas that MatterIdentifying the MindIdentity and Agency in Cultural WorldsIgnorance and ImaginationIllnessImagination and Its PathologiesImagination and the Meaningful BrainImagining NumbersImmortal RemainsImproving Nature?In Defense of an Evolutionary Concept of HealthIn Defense of SentimentalityIn Love With LifeIn Praise of Athletic BeautyIn Praise of the WhipIn Pursuit of HappinessIn Search of HappinessIn the Name of GodIn the Name of IdentityIn the Space of ReasonsIn Two MindsIncompatibilism's AllureIndividual Differences in Conscious ExperienceInfinity and PerspectiveInformation ArtsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchIngmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInhuman ThoughtsInner PresenceInsanityIntegrating Psychotherapy and PharmacotherapyIntegrity and the Fragile SelfIntelligent VirtueIntentionIntentionality, Deliberation and AutonomyIntentions and IntentionalityIntentions and IntentionalityInterpreting MindsInterpreting NietzscheIntroducing Greek PhilosophyIntrospection and ConsciousnessIntrospection VindicatedIntuition, Imagination, and Philosophical MethodologyIntuitionismInvestigating the Psychological WorldIrrationalityIrrationalityIs Academic Feminism Dead?Is It Me or My Meds?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is Oedipus Online?Is Science Neurotic?Is Science Value Free?Is the Visual World a Grand Illusion?Is There a Duty to Die?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJacques LacanJacques RancièreJacques RanciereJean-Paul SartreJohn McDowellJohn SearleJohn Searle's Ideas About Social RealityJohn Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill and the Writing of CharacterJoint AttentionJokesJonathan EdwardsJudging and UnderstandingJustice for ChildrenJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeKantKant and MiltonKant and the Fate of AutonomyKant and the Limits of AutonomyKant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral ActionKant on Freedom, Law, and HappinessKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Anatomy of EvilKant's Anatomy of the Intelligent MindKant's Theory of VirtueKarl JaspersKarl PopperKey Concepts in PhilosophyKierkegaardKierkegaard as PhenomenologistKierkegaard's Concept of DespairKinds of MindsKinds, Things, and StuffKnowing, Knowledge and BeliefsKnowledge MonopoliesKnowledge, Belief, and CharacterKnowledge, Possibility, and ConsciousnessLacanLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLanguageLanguage in ContextLanguage, Consciousness, CultureLanguage, Culture, and MindLanguage, Vision, and MusicLaw and the BrainLaw, Liberty, and PsychiatryLaws, Mind, and Free WillLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberatory PsychiatryLife and ActionLife at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1857-1997Life Is Not a Game of PerfectLife of the MindLife's FormLife, Death, & MeaningLife, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of UtilityLife, Sex, and IdeasLight in the Dark RoomLike a Splinter in Your MindLiving and Dying WellLiving NarrativeLiving Outside Mental IllnessLiving with DarwinLiving With One’s PastLockeLocke LockeLogic and the Art of Memory Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and LiteratureLooking for SpinozaLost SoulsLOT 2LoveLoveLove's ConfusionsLove's VisionLove, Friendship, and the SelfLove, Sex & TragedyLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLustLyingMachine ConsciousnessMad for FoucaultMad TravelersMade with WordsMadness And Death In PhilosophyMadness and DemocracyMadness at HomeMadness Is CivilizationMaking Natural KnowledgeMaking Sense of EvolutionMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMaking the DSM-5Making the Social WorldMaking TruthMale Female EmailMan, Beast, and ZombieMandated Reporting of Suspected Child AbuseManiaManic Depression and CreativityMapping the Edges and the In-betweenMapping the Future of BiologyMarcus AureliusMaster PassionsMatters of the MindMe++Meaning and Moral OrderMeaning and Value in a Secular AgeMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMeaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and MindMeasuring HappinessMeasuring PsychopathologyMedia MadnessMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedicine and Philosophy in Classical AntiquityMedicine of the PersonMedicine, Mental Health, Religion, Science and Well-BeingMelancholy And the Care of the SoulMelancholy and the Otherness of GodMementoMemory and NarrativeMental ActionsMental CausationMental Causation and OntologyMental HealthMental Health At The CrossroadsMental Health Policy in BritainMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMerleau-PontyMerleau-Ponty and the Possibilities of PhilosophyMetacognition and Theory of MindMetacreationMetaethical SubjectivismMetaethicsMetal and FleshMetaphors of MemoryMetapoliticsMethods in MindMichel FoucaultMill's UtilitarianismMindMindMind and ConsciousnessMind and CosmosMind and MechanismMind GamesMind in a Physical WorldMind in Everyday Life and Cognitive ScienceMind in LifeMind TimeMind's LandscapeMind, Brain and the Elusive SoulMind, Brain, and Free WillMind, Reason and ImaginationMinding MindsMindreadersMinds and PersonsMinds, Brains, and LawMinds, Ethics, and ConditionalsMindshapingMindsightMindworldsMirror, MirrorMixed FeelingsMockingbird YearsModels of the SelfModern Social ImaginariesModern Theories of JusticeModernity and SubjectivityModernity and TechnologyMoody Minds DistemperedMoral DimensionsMoral FailureMoral ImaginationMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral ParticularismMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology and Human AgencyMoral Psychology, Volume 1Moral Psychology, Volume 2Moral Psychology, Volume 3Moral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMotherhoodMotive and RightnessMoving Beyond Prozac, DSM, and the New PsychiatryMultiple Analogies in Science and PhilosophyMultiple Identities & False MemoriesMusic, Madness, and the Unworking of LanguageMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Double UnveiledMy WayNarrativeNarrative and IdentityNarrative MedicineNarrative PsychiatryNarrative Theory and the Cognitive SciencesNatural Ethical FactsNatural Kinds and Conceptual ChangeNatural MindsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalism and the First-Person PerspectiveNaturalism and the Human ConditionNaturalism in the Philosophy of HealthNaturalized BioethicsNaturalizing the MindNatureNature and NarrativeNear Death ExperienceNeither Bad nor MadNeither Victim nor SurvivorNeuro-Philosophy and the Healthy MindNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeurological Foundations of Cognitive Neuroscience Neurophilosophy at WorkNeurophilosophy of Free WillNeuropoliticsNeuropsychoanalysis in PracticeNeuroscience and PhilosophyNew Essays on the Explanation of ActionNew Philosophy for a New MediaNew Versions of VictimsNew Waves in Philosophy of ActionNietzscheNietzsche and Buddhist PhilosophyNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNietzsche's TherapyNietzsche, Culture and EducationNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNihil UnboundNoir AnxietyNormative EthicsNormativityNorms of NatureNotebooks 1951-1959Notes Toward a Performative Theory of AssemblyNothing So AbsurdOblivionOn AnxietyOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn Being AuthenticOn BeliefOn BullshitOn DelusionOn DesireOn EmotionsOn HashishOn Human RightsOn Loving Our EnemiesOn Nature and LanguageOn PersonalityOn ReflectionOn Romantic LoveOn the EmotionsOn the Freud WatchOn the Government of the LivingOn the Human ConditionOn the InternetOn the Meaning of LifeOn the Philosophy of LawOn the Pragmatics of CommunicationOn the Punitive SocietyOn TruthOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne Hundred DaysOnflowOnly a Promise of HappinessOntology of ConsciousnessOpen MindedOpen Your EyesOrgans without BodiesOther MindsOur Last Great IllusionOur Own MindsOur Posthuman FutureOur StoriesOut of Its MindOut of Our HeadsOxford Guide to the MindOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPanic DisorderPanpsychism in the WestPartialityPassionate EnginesPassionate EnginesPathologies of BeliefPathologies of ReasonPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perceiving the WorldPerception & CognitionPerception and Basic BeliefsPerception, Hallucination, and IllusionPerceptual ExperiencePerfecting VirtuePerplexities of ConsciousnessPersistencePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal IdentityPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonal Identity and Fractured SelvesPersonhood and Health CarePersonsPersons and BodiesPersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPersons, Souls and DeathPerspectives on ImitationPerspectives on PragmatismPessimismPhenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgePhenomenal ConsciousnessPhenomenal IntentionalityPhenomenology and ExistentialismPhenomenology and Philosophy of MindPhilosophersPhilosophers on MusicPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical DevicesPhilosophical Foundations of NeurosciencePhilosophical History and the Problem of ConsciousnessPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in Psychiatry IIPhilosophical MethodologyPhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophical Myths of the FallPhilosophical Perspectives on DepictionPhilosophical Perspectives on Technology and PsychiatryPhilosophical PracticePhilosophical Reflections on DisabilityPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophizing the EverydayPhilosophy and HappinessPhilosophy and LivingPhilosophy and PsychiatryPhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy and Science FictionPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the Interpretation of Pop CulturePhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhilosophy and the NeurosciencesPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy As FictionPhilosophy BitesPhilosophy Bites BackPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for LifePhilosophy in a New CenturyPhilosophy in an Age of SciencePhilosophy in Children's LiteraturePhilosophy of ActionPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BodyPhilosophy of Film and Motion PicturesPhilosophy of LovePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of MindPhilosophy of Mind and CognitionPhilosophy of Personal Identity and Multiple PersonalityPhilosophy of PsychologyPhilosophy of Public HealthPhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhilosophy of the Social SciencesPhilosophy on TapPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy the Day after TomorrowPhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy, Neuroscience and ConsciousnessPhilosophy, Politics, DemocracyPhotography and PhilosophyPhysical RealizationPhysicalism and Its DiscontentsPhysicalism and Mental CausationPhysicalism, or Something Near EnoughPhysician-Assisted DyingPillar of SaltPin-up GrrrlsPlatoPlatoPlato, Not Prozac!Platonic Ethics, Old and NewPluralistic CasuistryPolarities of ExperiencesPolitical EmotionsPopper, Objectivity and the Growth of KnowledgePornPorn StudiesPornography, Sex, and FeminismPortrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young ManPostcolonial DisordersPostpsychiatryPosttraumatic Stress DisorderPower and the SelfPower SplitPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical ConflictsPractical Identity and Narrative AgencyPractical PhilosophyPractical RulesPractical Tortoise RaisingPractically ProfoundPracticing Feminist Ethics in PsychologyPragmatic BioethicsPragmatismPragmatism, Old And NewPraise and BlamePredicative MindsPreferences and Well-BeingPrescriptions for the MindPresocraticsPrimary and Secondary QualitiesPrimates and PhilosophersPrivacyPrivileged AccessProblems in MindProblems of RationalityProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac on the CouchPsyche and SomaPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric Cultures ComparedPsychiatric Diagnosis and ClassificationPsychiatric EthicsPsychiatric PowerPsychiatric SlaveryPsychiatry and Philosophy of SciencePsychiatry and ReligionPsychiatry as a Human SciencePsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry in SocietyPsychiatry in the New MilleniumPsychiatry in the Scientific ImagePsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsycho-Physical Dualism TodayPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and PhilosophyPsychology and the Question of AgencyPsychology's Interpretive TurnPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPublic PhilosophyPunishmentPure ImmanencePurple HazePursuing MeaningQuality of Life and Human DifferenceQueer PhilosophyQuestions for FreudQuestions for FreudQuine and Davidson on Language, Thought and RealityRaceRace in Contemporary MedicineRadiant CoolRadical AlterityRadical ExternalismRadical HopeRational and Social AgencyRational CausationRational Choice in an Uncertain WorldRationality + Consciousness = Free WillRationality and FreedomRationality and the Reflective MindRationality in ActionRawls, Dewey, and ConstructivismRe-creating MedicineRe-EmergenceRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReading AutobiographyReading Bernard WilliamsReading SartreReadings in the Philosophy of TechnologyReal MaterialismReal Natures and Familiar ObjectsReal ScienceRealism in ActionReason & EmancipationReason in ActionReason in PhilosophyReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReasoning About Rational AgentsReasoning in Biological DiscoveriesReasons from WithinReasons without RationalismReclaiming CognitionReclaiming the SoulReconceiving SchizophreniaReconstructing Reason and RepresentationReconstructing the Cognitive WorldRecreative MindsRediscovering EmotionRediscovering EmpathyReference and ExistenceReference and the Rational MindReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRegulating SexReinventing the SoulRelativism and Human RightsRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyReliable ReasoningReligion without GodRelying on OthersRemembering HomeResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsRestraining RageRethinking ExpertiseRethinking IntrospectionRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeRethinking the DSMRethinking the Sociology of Mental HealthRethinking the Western Understanding of the SelfReturn to ReasonRevolt, She SaidRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard Rorty's New PragmatismRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRise And Fall of Soul And SelfRitalin NationRobert NozickRousseauRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Derrida on DeconstructionRules, Reason, and Self-KnowledgeSaints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural IrelandSartreSartreSartreSartre in Search of an EthicsSatisficing and MaximizingSaving GodScandalous KnowledgeSchizophreniaSchizophrenia and the Fate of the SelfSchizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion?SchopenhauerSchopenhauer's TelescopeScienceScience and EthicsScience and 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The book's title speaks for itself: for it is a defense of free will, and its subtitle adds a useful qualification: Baggini looks for a possibility and not necessity of free will, this is for conditions under which free will is thinkable and acceptable. The book is clearly structured and clearly written. Arguments are both intelligible for amateurs and interesting for specialists. The book is divided into five parts in which freedom is presented threatened, lost, regained, diminished, and earned. This corresponds to five stages of approach to free will in western philosophy. Baggini's aim is to respond to an increasing number of works, supported more and more by research in neurology, which deny the existence of free will altogether. He challenges it by "thinking more carefully about what it truly means to be free" (3). From the outset he is optimistic since there are "the tools we need to rehabilitate a reformed free will" (5). At the same time Baggini is sceptical about relying on thought experiments, often used to deny free will, because there are sufficient real-world examples at hand to deal with the issue. What they denied is free will of a special kind, not necessarily identical with what it can actually be. Accordingly, arguments of this kind miss the point.
Baggini starts by discussing Laplace's famous answer and by showing that predictability and/or omniscience does not threaten free will. To know something as fixed in the future is not tantamount to fixing it in the future. Yet, determinism relies on the thesis that all that happens must happen because the world is nothing but a machine (while the human brain is, in turn, "just a complicated biological machine", 12). In fact, however, what poses a real problem for the idea of free will is physical materialism. If all human actions are just results of neurons firing, there is no longer anything like free will. If everything in a human being is a result of his brain chemistry, any act of thought, desire or emotion is nothing more than epiphenomenon of neural processes which occur according to physical laws and not according to a decision of a person who houses these processes. Baggini discusses several way of circumventing physical materialism (e.g. the 'I of the gaps') and he observes, rightly and convincingly in my view, that such attempts makes free will rather magical or inconsistent []. Both materialists and their critics are guilty of "mereological fallacy", since they replace the whole of a human person with the sum of her parts whereas, in fact, there is neither a compartment in the human body or brain nor a separate faculty that is responsible for thinking, feeling and willing. Those who look for anything specific to free will find therefore nothing. Yet to take this failure as a patent proof of non-existence of free will is an exaggeration. The only lesson to be learnt is that free will is to be ascribed to or to be searched for in the whole person.
The second part is about neuroscience and genetics. As for neuroscience the early 1980s experiments showed that decisions are made before they are conscious. Baggini is not worried about this fact for he recognizes that there are cases in which unconscious decision precedes a conscious one. But since they represent the majority or the minority of all but not all of them they do not constitute any evidence against the possibility of free decision in other cases, be they frequent, rare or extremely rare. According to Baggini, the fact that we don't know what exactly is the relation between brain and mind shouldn't result in our use of inadequate and misleading description of this relation as it often happens. Brain processes are what sustains human life and consciousness rather than that what by itself alone can explain them. Experiments denying the role of thought on action are of peculiar character and are limited to specific kinds of actions. As such they say nothing about prejudices or beliefs to which suggestion and placebo could be added. Baggini touches then on panpsychist way of interpretation and, next, on the idea of different levels of explanation []. For instance, system, especially a complex one, is not reducible to its elements. And the same is valid for its properties which are not the sum of the properties of its elements. There is also an important distinction made between reasons and causes: while determinism pertains to the latter it is silent about the former (think about Socrates in prison as portrayed in Plato's Phaedo and making a criticism of Anaxagoras). But reasons are neither events nor material things and this is why materialism has difficulties in accounting for them. After that Baggini makes a point about unconsciousness of human actions. It would be surprising and time-consuming if any action, say the way you employ your fingers to take this or that object, were be conscious. However, that many or the majority of human actions are unconscious doesn't mean that all are unconscious (he calls this "the quantitative fallacy", (47)). Suffice it to find a few that are conscious to argue for free will. Hence the assumption of free will doesn't require that all actions be consciously deliberated. The last section of the chapter is about the possibility of doing otherwise than one has done (or choosing other than what is has been chosen). This is how many understand freedom. Baggini doesn't say that one is free to do anything one wishes. Rather what a person does is a product of her character, situation, and disposition. This is, I think, a view that can be called a psychological determinism. The example Baggini gives (a decision concerning a proposal of marriage) confirms it, since the result is determined by preferences and character, of which some are certainly unconscious (Freud would agree with it). The chapter is concluded by a methodological remark stating that the tools deployed predetermine our understanding of human actions: "If you look for the neural causes of action, then the only causes of action you'll find are neural ones, and it is a natural though illogical leap to conclude that therefore these are the only causes of action." (57)
When it comes to genetics Baggini shows by referring to a detailed example of twins (Ann and Judy) that who they are is only partly determined by their identical genes. Although being similar in many respects, they are two very different persons in important ways (see 70). This is so, because, Baggini claims, "who we are appears to be a product of both nature and nurture, in whatever proportion they contribute, and nothing else" (71). The way Baggini dismisses genetics as a threat to free will is persuasive, yet I am not sure if he is right in limiting the human condition to nature and nurture: one might ask, for instance, what does the proportion of nature and nurture depend on. Is it a result of something else, or of either, of both? Baggini doesn't address this question []. When next he claims that "who we are comes first and what we do follows" he is correct (73), yet it may be added that what we do shapes, in turn, who we are. Consequently the relation is valid in two directions. Speaking about things like "statistical illiteracy" (64), "potential reporting bias" (65) or focusing on simplification when, for example, responsibility without qualification is understood silently as ultimate responsibility (see 77) Baggini nicely demonstrates the flaws often pervading common and scientific arguments. If they are avoided and the necessary qualifications are spelled out, it is manifest that what science, both neuroscience and genetics, destroys is "only a straw-man version of free will, a naive conception" (83) of it.
In the third part the artistic and political freedoms are treated. What Baggini says about art and creativity comes mostly from what he learnt by interviewing Grayson Perry. Thus one can see how differently, if at all, artists think about free will. For instance, absence of conscious control in the process of creation not only does not undermine freedom: in fact its very presence could be counterproductive. What hinders artistic freedom is external constraint of which the biggest is time (this may make artists' view existentialist to some extent). But, again, Baggini stresses the context in which the artist lives and which animates what he creates. Creativity is an interesting domain to investigate the limits of human freedom, especially in how the artist goes beyond nature-and-nurture (or culture). But in order to realize it fully one should, I believe, use names of those who really developed culture in such a way as going far beyond what they found in their genes and environment. In the chapter about the dissident Baggini discusses a too rigid, in his view, distinction between political freedom and free will. In fact, his view, supported by examples he provides is that there is no sharp divide. But one may wonder if this is true. At least for some Stoics and existentialists you can be deprived of external freedom but not of internal one. This is, as it seems to me, confirmed by the story of Paul Rusesabagina of being prisoner of himself (see 110). On the other hand, if you say that "[w]hen your passport is taken, something of you is taken too" (113), this is external freedom that is at stake.
The next part is about psychopathy and addiction. These are two worthy touchstones to test philosophical conceptions of a human being (psychopathy is well chosen as a kind of polar opposite to creativity). And so is here. Psychopaths like to present them as victims of an accident of birth and circumstances when on trial but not so much so when or before committing their crimes. The chapter is to a larger extent a discussion of responsibility and blameworthiness as well as of the role of punishment. Baggini interviews forensic psychotherapists and deliberates about the aim of the criminal justice system. He rightly focusses on the distinction between "the metaphysical question of what ultimately originates our choices and behaviours" and "the ethical question of what essentially regulates behaviour" (144). It is a pity, however, that the examples of psychopaths he gives are limited to ordinary criminals: serial killers, rapists etc. and not of great psychopaths like Hitler, Stalin or Mao to start with the most known dictators. Again, like in the chapter devoted to artists the bigger scale and format of art geniuses and psychopaths might perhaps make Baggini's arguments more compelling. Like the psychopath's, the addict's case provides a good test as to what free will is about. Baggini is clear enough in saying that addiction "is an impairment of free will but it is not a complete loss of it" (157). If it were the latter, an addict couldn't perhaps choose one particular substance over another at a given moment. Baggini shows that those who proclaim the absence of will or choice in psychopathy (see 150) and addiction (159) modifies thereby the psychopaths' and addicts' behaviour in such a way as to make it less autonomous and more irresponsible (or more generally: "if people are told they are not responsible for their actions, they may behave more irresponsibly" (150), drawn on experiments carried out by Vohs, Scholler and Baumeister). This way they contradict themselves. The issue of free will in addiction is better seen as a conflict between first- and second-order will. Where Baggini misses the point, however, is when he postulates to identify with these feelings that one accepts as his own (see 170). This is too general. In some cases addiction may be about having as introjected, say, one's parent's self (this is a psychological or emotional dependency of which addiction is just one form). The addict does not have his own independent self on which he might rely and which is yet to be built. Finally, H. Frankfurt whose views are referred to and quoted as of an expert is presented here in an odd way as a kind of addict or so it can seem: "he doesn't want to be too critical of this 'because I am an analytic philosopher: I was trained as such and I believe in it." (175) []. All in all, the four cases presented by Baggini, artist, dissident, psychopath and addict, support his view on free will as a matter of degree: it can be diminished (or increased) but it rarely disappears completely (or becomes absolute).
The fifth part, including the two chapters, The Philosopher and The Waiter, is a conclusion. Baggini presents more broadly why the issue of free will is insolvable within philosophy. One of the reasons is that philosophers are often driven by personal interests and dispositions, emotions and intuitions, prejudices and personal judgements and it is not that true that "philosophy is about arguments, not arguers" (194). Otherwise free will is intractable if yes-or-no solution is expected. Moreover, it can be an opaque or ambiguous concept or a discretionary one. Its meaning can be fuzzy and better grasped in terms of "'more or less' rather than 'either/or'" (187). Finally it can be not a culturally universal idea. If so there are more than one notion of free will. Baggini's is a realistic view of free will which is such as to be a matter of a degree and understood "at the appropriate human scale" (217).
On the whole I find - as will be clear from the above - the first part the most interesting philosophically and the richest in arguments. In other chapters what Baggini gives us is rather journalistic in style - he often relies on the authority of other authors. Baggini's quotes are many times second-hand. Sometimes this brings about the charm of the book but in some cases it matters critically because Baggini makes a claim without proof simply depending on another author. So when he says, "we have seen that the ancient Greek lack the modern idea of free will" (200). This may be true but this hasn't be proved by Baggini by any other way than calling on M. Frede's work. Yet, the book is easy to read and its optimism is welcome in the present-day "thicket of misconceptions, one that has become thornier and more overgrown in recent years" (208).
[] In this context Baggini confuses Stoics with Epicurus crediting the former with the notion of 'swerve' (19).
[] In the course of his arguments Baggini refers to several names. Here the name of Nicolai Hartmann could have been added since he extensively worked on the idea of levels of reality and sciences.
[] An interesting solution to this is suggested by K. Dabrowski in his theory of Positive Disintegration by means of the notion of third factor.
[] Baggini concludes by pointing out to "strategies to make sure control", one of which is "Ulysses trick" (177). This has been wonderfully analyzed by J. Shay, Odysseus in America (2002) in the chapter: What Was the Sirens' Song? Truth As Deadly Addiction.
© 2016 Robert Zaborowski
Robert Zaborowski, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Warmia and Mazury