Metaphilosophy and Free Will

Metaphilosophy and Free Will

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Richard Double looks at the contending schools of thought on the problem of free will and seeks the source of the current impasse. He argues that the free will problem is intractable because free will theorists are separated by metaphilosophical differences in the way they view the philosophical enterprise itself. Double begins by distinguishing the principal contemporary metaphilosophies. He goes on to apply these metaphilosophies to the free will problem and to the problem of the objectivity of value (which, he believes, is closely related to the free will problem). He champions one of these metaphilosophies, which he names "World-view construction as Continuous with Science." Applied to the free will and objectivity of value problems, Double's metaphilosophy yields the conclusion that free will and moral responsibility do not exist. Statements about what actions are "free" or "responsible", says Double, express attitudes and values but do not have objective truth value. In fact, values in general are subjective and statements about them have no objective truth value.
Double goes on to make the wider claim that all of the metaphilosophical positions adopted by philosophers, including his own, are based on subjective considerations, not objective ones.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 188 pages
  • 132.08 x 220.98 x 20.32mm | 294.83g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195107624
  • 9780195107623

Back cover copy

Why is debate over the free will problem so intractable? This question forms the starting point for Richard Double's ground-breaking account of the way metaphilosophical views - our differing conceptions of the philosophical enterprise - condition competing theories of free will. Double holds that any argument for or against a specific free will position - such as compatibilism, incompatibilism, or the author's own subjectivism - will be persuasive only if one adopts supporting meta-level views of what philosophy is. He argues further that since metaphilosophical considerations are not provable (and are not even true or false, if subjectivism is true), there can be no hope of showing one free will theory to be more reasonable than the rest. Rather, the most philosophers can do is make a desire-based case for preferring their package of metaphilosophy and substantive free will theories. These means that argument in the free will problem must be radically reinterpreted. Double begins by elaborating the connection between metaphilosophy and free will. He identifies four distinct meta-level viewpoints that drive different answers to the free will problem: Philosophy as Conversation; Philosophy as Praxis; Philosophy as Underpinnings; and Philosophy as World View Construction. From there, he discusses intermediate-level principles that work in combination with the meta-philosophies, then provides ten applications from recent free will debates that demonstrate how differences in meta-philosophy make the free will problem unsolvable. In the second half of the book Double makes the strongest case he can - consistent with his own metaphilosophical view - for accepting free will subjectivism.
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Review quote

As a clear-eyed analytical philosopher, Double separates the question of what is the case from how or whether we may come to know it. * Times Literary Supplement * 03/04/2001of considerable interest even to philosophers who have little interest in the free will problem * David M. Ciocchi, Philosophia Christi, Vol.2., No.1, 2000 * We can read Double's book as addressed to all philosophers who care about tracking truth. * David M. Ciocchi, Philosophia Christi, Vol.2., No.1, 2000 *
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