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Just Deserts : Debating Free Will

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The concept of free will is profoundly important to our self-understanding, our interpersonal relationships, and our moral and legal practices. If it turns out that no one is ever free and morally responsible, what would that mean for society, morality, meaning, and the law?

Just Deserts brings together two philosophers – Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso – to debate their respective views on free will, moral responsibility, and legal punishment. In three extended conversations, Dennett and Caruso present their arguments for and against the existence of free will and debate their implications. Dennett argues that the kind of free will required for moral responsibility is compatible with determinism – for him, self-control is key; we are not responsible for becoming responsible, but are responsible for staying responsible, for keeping would-be puppeteers at bay. Caruso takes the opposite view, arguing that who we are and what we do is ultimately the result of factors beyond our control, and because of this we are never morally responsible for our actions in the sense that would make us truly deserving of blame and praise, punishment and reward.

Just Deserts introduces the concepts central to the debate about free will and moral responsibility by way of an entertaining, rigorous, and sometimes heated philosophical dialogue between two leading thinkers.

Authors: Dennett Daniel C., Caruso Gregg
Publisher: POLITY PRESS
Pages: 200
ISBN: 9781509545766
Cover: Paperback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2021

Table of contents:
Preface
Foreword by Derk Pereboom

Introduction
Exchange 1: Debating Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Exchange 2: Going Deeper: The Arguments
Exchange 3: Punishment, Morality, and Desert

Suggested Readings and Recommendations
Index


Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor Codirector of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds; Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness; Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting; Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (all published by the MIT Press), From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Mind, and other books.

Gregg D. Caruso is Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning and Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University.

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