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Appiah, Kwame Anthony, , . In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture
1992, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Back matter: Africa’s intellectuals have long been engaged in a conversation with each other, and with Europeans and Americans about what it means to be African. At the heart of these debates on African identity are the seminal works of politicians, creative writers and philosophers from Africa and its diaspora. In this book, Appiah draws on his experiences as a Ghanaian in the New World to explore the writings of these African and African-American thinkers and to contribute his own vision of the possibilities and pitfalls of an African identity in the late twentieth century. Appiah sets out to dismantle the specious oppositions between “us” and “them,” the West and the Rest, that have governed so much of the cultural debate about Africa in the modern world. All of us, he maintains, wherever we live on the planet, must explore together the relations between our local cultures and an increasingly global civilization. Combining philosophical analysis with more personal reflections, Appiah addresses the major issues in the philosophy of culture through an exploration of the contemporary African predicament.

Comment: Chapters 1 & 2 can be particularly useful in teaching on the social construction of race.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Chambers, Clare, , Phil Parvin. Teach Yourself Political Philosophy: A Complete Introduction
2012, Hodder & Stoughton.
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Publisher’s Note: Written by Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers, who are current political philosophy lecturers and leading researchers, Political Philosophy – The Essentials is designed to give you everything you need to succeed, all in one place. It covers the key areas that students are expected to be confident in, outlining the basics in clear jargon-free English, and then providing added-value features like summaries of key thinkers, and even lists of questions you might be asked in your seminar or exam. The book’s structure follows that of most university courses on political philosophy, by looking at the essential concepts within political philosophy (freedom, equality, power, democracy, rights, the state, political obligation), and then looking at the ways in which political philosophers have used these fundamental concepts in order to tackle a range of normative political questions such as whether the state has a responsibility to alleviate inequalities, and what interest liberal and democratic states should take in the cultural or religious beliefs of citizens.

Comment: ‘Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers have produced a state of the art textbook, which provides students with a comprehensive and bang up-to-date introduction to contemporary political philosophy. Topics are introduced in a clear and eminently readable fashion, using accessible real world examples whilst drawing on sophisticated scholarly literature. There is no comparable book which covers such a wide range of topics in such a student-friendly manner.’ (Dr Daniel Butt, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Bristol.)‘A lively, accessible and engaging read. Comprehensive and well organized, it provides an updated account of key concepts in contemporary political philosophy, and highlights their relevance to political life in the 21st century. A valuable book for anyone taking their first steps in the world of political philosophy, or anyone who seeks to understand the normative challenges faced by our society today.’ (Dr Avia Pasternak, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Essex.)‘Written in a clear and accessible style, it is an engaging introduction for those who are new to political philosophy and wish to think through some of its most important questions. In addition to offering outlines of key arguments, each chapter also contains a summary of main concepts, self-test questions, a wonderful selection of quotations and some attention-grabbing ‘nuggets” (Dr Zosia Stemplowska, University Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Oxford)

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Du Châtelet, Emilie, , . On Freedom
2020, Online Translation by Julia Jorati, with the help of Julie Roy; based on “Sur la liberté,” in Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, vol. 14, edited by William H. Barber, 484–502. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1989.
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Abstract: The question of freedom is the most interesting question we could examine, since one can say that all of morality depends on this single question. Something so interesting justifies departing from my subject a little bit in order to enter this discussion, and to put here in front of the reader’s eyes the main objections that people make against freedom, so that he can judge for himself their soundness.

Comment: This is an English translation of Emilie Du Châtelet’s “Sur la liberté.” This 18th century text discusses freedom of the will, determinism, and divine foreknowledge.

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Fernandes, Alison, , . Freedom, Self-Prediction, and the Possibility of Time Travel
2019, Philosophical Studies
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Alison Fernandes

Abstract: Do time travellers retain their normal freedom and abilities when they travel back in time? Lewis, Horwich and Sider argue that they do. Time-travelling Tim can kill his young grandfather, his younger self, or whomever else he pleases—and so, it seems can reasonably deliberate about whether to do these things. He might not succeed. But he is still just as free as a non-time traveller. I-ll disagree. The freedom of time travellers is limited by a rational constraint. Tim can-t reasonably deliberate on killing his grandfather, certain that he-ll fail. If Tim follows his evidence, and appropriately self-predicts, he will be certain he won-t kill his grandfather. So if Tim is both evidentially and deliberatively rational, he can-t deliberate on killing his grandfather. This result has consequences. Firstly, it shows how evidential limits in the actual world contribute to our conception of the future as open. Secondly, it undercuts arguments against the possibility of time travel. Thirdly, it affects how we evaluate counterfactuals in time travel worlds, as well as our own. I-ll use the constraint to motivate an evidential and temporally neutral method of evaluating counterfactuals that holds fixed what a relevant deliberating agent has evidence of, independently of her decision. Using this method, an agent-s local abilities may be affected by what happens globally at other times, including the future.

Comment: Useful for debate about the grandfather paradox, and whether time travel may inhibit our freedom. High-undergradaute to graduate level. Best read following David Lewis’ The Paradoxes of Time Travel’. Could be read alongside work by Kadri Vihvelin (‘What time travelers cannot do.’) and Ted Sider (‘Time travel, coincidences and counterfactuals’) on time travel. Would also be useful for discussions about deliberation and ‘epistemic freedom’.

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Jorati, Julia, , . Du Châtelet on Freedom, Self-Motion, and Moral Necessity
2019, Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2):255-280
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: This paper explores the theory of freedom that Emilie du Châtelet advances in her essay “On Freedom.” Using contemporary terminology, we can characterize this theory as a version of agent-causal compatibilism. More specifically, the theory has the following elements: (a) freedom consists in the power to act in accordance with one’s choices, (b) freedom requires the ability to suspend desires and master passions, (c) freedom requires a power of self-motion in the agent, and (d) freedom is compatible with moral necessity but not with physical necessity. While these elements may at first appear disparate, the paper shows that they fit together quite well. The resulting theory is a surprising combination of doctrines that appear to be based on Samuel Clarke’s libertarian account of free will and doctrines that are reminiscent of the compatibilist accounts of John Locke, Anthony Collins, Gottfried Leibniz, and Thomas Hobbes.

Comment: Gives an overview of Du Châtelet’s views on freedom of the will; can be useful to someone who wants to teach Du Châtelet’s essay “On Freedom”

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Jorati, Julia, , . Gottfried Leibniz [on Free Will]
2017, In Kevin Timpe, Meghan Griffith & Neil Levy (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Free Will. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 293–302
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: Leibniz was obsessed with freedom. He turns to this topic again and again throughout his long career. And what he has to say about freedom is much more resourceful and inventive than typically acknowledged. While building on medieval theories—for instance by describing freedom in terms of the relation between the agent’s will and intellect—he also adds radically new elements and even anticipates some views that are popular today. The combination of theses about free will that Leibniz endorses in his mature writings is unusual and may at first appear inconsistent: (a) he claims that some of our actions are free, (b) he links free agency closely to agent causation and in fact appears to deny that there is event causation; (c) he accepts a form of determinism. In other words, Leibniz endorses what we can describe as an agent-causal compatibilist theory of freedom. The three theses may seem to be in tension not only because proponents of agent causation views are typically incompatibilists, but also because determinism is often defined in a way that presupposes event causation. As we will see soon, however, the tension is merely apparent. Leibniz’s version of agent-causal compatibilism is perfectly coherent and has some unique advantages over rival accounts.

Comment: Gives an overview of Leibniz’s views on freedom of the will; can be used for survey courses on early modern philosophy or for courses on the free will debate.

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Jorati, Julia, , . Gottfried Leibniz: Philosophy of Mind
2014, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a true polymath: he made substantial contributions to a host of different fields such as mathematics, law, physics, theology, and most subfields of philosophy. Within the philosophy of mind, his chief innovations include his rejection of the Cartesian doctrines that all mental states are conscious and that non-human animals lack souls as well as sensation. Leibniz’s belief that non-rational animals have souls and feelings prompted him to reflect much more thoroughly than many of his predecessors on the mental capacities that distinguish human beings from lower animals. Relatedly, the acknowledgment of unconscious mental representations and motivations enabled Leibniz to provide a far more sophisticated account of human psychology. It also led Leibniz to hold that perception—rather than consciousness, as Cartesians assume—is the distinguishing mark of mentality.

Comment: Overview over Leibniz’s philosophy of mind; can be used for a survey course on early modern philosophy or for a more specialized course on the history of the philosophy of mind.

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Nida-Rümelin, Martine, , . Freedom and the Phenomenology of Agency
2018, Erkenntnis 83 (1):61-87.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Abstract: Free action and microphysical determination are incompatible but this is so only in virtue of a genuine conflict between microphysical determination with any active behavior. I introduce active behavior as the veridicality condition of agentive experiences and of perceptual experiences and argue that these veridicality conditions are fulfilled in many everyday cases of human and non-human behavior and that they imply the incompatibility of active behavior with microphysical determination. The main purpose of the paper is to show that the view proposed about active behavior leads to a natural compromise between libertarianism and compatibilism, which avoids the flaws of both positions while preserving their central insights.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Olsaretti, Serena, , . Freedom, Force and Choice: Against the Rights-Based Definition of Voluntariness
1998, Journal of Political Philosophy 6(1): 53-78.
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Introduction: This paper argues that a moralised definition of voluntariness, alongside the more familiar moralised definition of freedom, underlies libertarian justifications of the unbridled market. Through an analysis of Nozick’s account of voluntary choice, I intend to reveal some fatal mistakes, and to put forward some suggestions regarding what a satisfactory account of voluntary choice requires.

Comment: Offers a number of influential criticisms of Nozickian libertarianism and goes on to lay out the basis for Olsaretti’s own influential account of voluntariness. Would make a good required reading or further reading.

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Olsaretti, Serena, , . Liberty, Desert and the Market: A Philosophical Study
2004, Cambridge University Press.
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Abstract: Are inequalities of income created by the free market just? In this book Serena Olsaretti examines two main arguments that justify those inequalities: the first claims that they are just because they are deserved, and the second claims that they are just because they are what free individuals are entitled to. Both these arguments purport to show, in different ways, that giving responsible individuals their due requires that free market inequalities in incomes be allowed. Olsaretti argues, however, that neither argument is successful, and shows that when we examine closely the principle of desert and the notions of liberty and choice invoked by defenders of the free market, it appears that a conception of justice that would accommodate these notions, far from supporting free market inequalities, calls for their elimination. Her book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in political philosophy, political theory and normative economics.

Comment: Attacks libertarian defences of market distributions on the grounds that they are either justified or the result of free choices. Provides a good counterpoint to Nozick’s entitlement theory in particular, and draws out important issues on the relationship between choice, voluntariness, and responsibility. Olsaretti’s own account of voluntariness, which she develops in the later chapters is hugely influential. Would make good reading for an in-depth treatment of libertarianism and/or Nozick’s entitlement theory. Would also provide very substantial further reading.

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Wolf, Susan, , . Asymmetrical freedom
1980, Journal of Philosophy 77(3): 151-166.
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Diversifying Syllabi: Thesis: interesting and sophisticated position compatibilist position in the debate about free will and determinism. Slogan: To be free is to be determined by the Good. The claim is that if we do the right thing for the right reasons, then we are free – in the sense that is required by moral responsibility – even if we are determined. But if we do the wrong thing, then we are free and morally responsible only if we are not determined (i.e. if we could have done otherwise).

Comment: This text offers an interesting discussion of the issue of free will and determinism, and its relation to moral responsibility. It is best used in teaching metaphysics and moral philosophy classes on those topics. It offers some review of the debate, but is not general enough to be used as an introduction. It can also be used in more specific classes in ethics, focusing on moral luck or blameworthiness.

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