After characterizing different conceptions of free will, we turn our focus to a central one,

that of self-determination or self-government (autonomy). We consider what the self that, 

if free, controls my actions and decisions is? Perhaps, as Buddhists say, there is no Self. We

then ponder the ancient question: can my self be truly free if its nature and circumstances

have been determined by heredity and environment, factors over which I had no control?

Thinkers mentioned or discussed more fully are Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume,

Immanuel Kant, Pierre Laplace, William James, Harry Frankfurt, Peter van Inwagen,

Derek Parfit, Daniel Dennett, Mark Siderits, Miri Albahiri, and Jenann Ismael.

Bernard Berofsky, Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at Columbia University; an Editor-in- Chief of the Journal of Philosophy; author of four books, most recently Nature’s Challenge to Free Will, and editor of two others; author of numerous articles in the areas of free will, personal autonomy, moral responsibility, determinism, and the theories of causation; recipient of a teaching award from Columbia College; performs as a stage magician (Sebastian), including at Made in the Berkshires.


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