Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting / Edition 1 by Daniel C. Dennett | 9780262540421 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting / Edition 1

Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting / Edition 1

by Daniel C. Dennett
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262540428

ISBN-13: 9780262540421

Pub. Date: 11/21/1984

Publisher: MIT Press

Anyone who has wondered if free will is just an illusion or has asked 'could I have chosen otherwise?' after performing some rash deed will find this book an absorbing discussion of an endlessly fascinating subject. Daniel Dennett, whose previous books include Brainstorms and (with Douglas Hofstadter) The Mind's I, tackles the free will problem in a

Overview

Anyone who has wondered if free will is just an illusion or has asked 'could I have chosen otherwise?' after performing some rash deed will find this book an absorbing discussion of an endlessly fascinating subject. Daniel Dennett, whose previous books include Brainstorms and (with Douglas Hofstadter) The Mind's I, tackles the free will problem in a highly original and witty manner, drawing on the theories and concepts of several fields usually ignored by philosophers; not just physics and evolutionary biology, but engineering, automata theory, and artificial intelligence.

In Elbow Room, Dennett shows how the classical formulations of the problem in philosophy depend on misuses of imagination, and he disentangles the philosophical problems of real interest from the "family of anxieties' they get enmeshed in - imaginary agents, bogeymen, and dire prospects that seem to threaten our freedom. Putting sociobiology in its rightful place, he concludes that we can have free will and science too.

Elbow Room begins by showing how we can be "moved by reasons" without being exempt from physical causation. It goes on to analyze concepts of control and self-control-concepts often skimped by philosophers but which are central to the questions of free will and determinism. A chapter on "self-made selves" discusses the idea of self or agent to see how it can be kept from disappearing under the onslaught of science. Dennett then sees what can be made of the notion of acting under the idea of freedomdoes the elbow room we think we have really exist? What is an opportunity, and how can anything in our futures be "up to us"? He investigates the meaning of "can" and"could have done otherwise," and asks why we want free will in the first place.

We are wise, Dennett notes, to want free will, but that in itself raises a host of questions about responsibility. In a final chapter, he takes up the problem of how anyone can ever be guilty, and what the rationale is for holding people responsible and even, on occasion, punishing them.

Daniel C. Dennett is Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Elbow Room is an expanded version of the John Locke Lectures which he gave at Oxford University in 1983.

A Bradford Book.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262540421
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
11/21/1984
Series:
Bradford Books Series
Edition description:
Older Edition
Pages:
212
Sales rank:
1,262,833
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Preface to the New Edition ix

Preface to the First Edition xiii

1 Please Don't Feed the Bugbears 1

1 The Perennial, Gripping Problem 1

2 The Bogeymen 7

3 Sphexishness and Other Worries 11

4 Overview 18

2 Making Reason Practical 23

1 Where Do Reasons Come From? 23

2 Semantic Engines, Perpetual Motion Machines, and a Defective Intuition Pump 30

3 Reflection, Language, and Consciousness 38

4 Community, Communication, and Transcendence 48

3 Control and Self-Control 55

1 "Due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control" 55

2 Simple Control and Simple Self-Control 57

3 Agentless Control and Our Concept of Causation 62

4 Agents in Competition 67

5 The Uses of Disorder 73

6 "Let Yourself Go" 76

4 Self-Made Selves 81

1 The Problem of the Disappearing Self 81

2 The Art of Self-Definition 88

3 Trying Our Luck 100

4 Overview 108

5 Acting Under the Idea of Freedom 111

1 How Can You Co On Deliberating at a Time Like This? 111

2 Designing the Perfect Deliberator 118

3 Real Opportunities 126

4 "Avoid," "Avoidable," "Inevitable" 134

6 "Could Have Done Otherwise" 143

1 Do We Care Whether We Could Have Done Otherwise? 143

2 What We Care About 152

3 The Can of Worms 157

7 Why Do We Want Free Will? 167

1 Nihilism Neglected 167

2 Diminished Responsibility and the Specter of Creeping Exculpation 171

3 The Dread Secret Denied 181

Afterword: Erasmus: Sometimes a Spin Doctor Is Right 189

Bibliography 207

Index 219

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >