John martin fischer's the metaphysics of free will: An Essay on Control

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John Martin Fischer's The Metaphysics of Free Will is devoted to two major projects. First, Fischer defends the thesis that determinism is incompatible with a person's control over alternatives to the actual future. Second, Fischer defends the striking thesis that such control is not necessary for moral responsibility. This review essay examines Fischer's arguments for each thesis. Fischer's defense of the incompatibilist thesis is the most innovative to date, and I argue that his formulation restructures the free will debate. To defend his second thesis Fischer relies upon examples designed to show that an agent is responsible for an unavoidable action. I criticize Fischer's account of these examples, but I also maintain that my criticisms do not compromise his theory of responsibility. I raise several other difficulties for Fischer's theory of responsibility, and I close by offering some suggestions about how he might further defend it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-397
Number of pages19
JournalLegal Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Law


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