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Anscombe, G. Elizabeth M., , . Causality and Determination
1981, In Anscombe, G. E. M. Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind: Collected Philosophical Papers Volume II. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: A classic text in which Anscombe argues for a realist view of causation. Specifically, Anscombe holds that causation is both directly perceivable and not subject to philosophical analysis. Anscombe seeks to establish that causal relations do not presuppose laws, and that causal relations can be perceived in a direct way.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics, philosophy of science or philosophy of action. Anscombe is not always an easy writer, but this paper is not technical and is widely considered to be a classic. This could be used at any undergraduate or graduate level.

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Manne, Kate, , . Internalism about Reasons, Sad but True?
2014, Philosophical Studies 167(1): 89-117.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: Internalists about reasons following Bernard Williams claim that an agent’s normative reasons for action are constrained in some interesting way by her desires or motivations. In this paper, I offer a new argument for such a position – although one that resonates, I believe, with certain key elements of Williams’ original view. I initially draw on P.F. Strawson’s famous distinction between the interpersonal and the objective stances that we can take to other people, from the second-person point of view. I suggest that we should accept Strawson’s contention that the activity of reasoning with someone about what she ought to do naturally belongs to the interpersonal mode of interaction. I also suggest that reasons for an agent to perform some action are considerations which would be apt to be cited in favor of that action, within an idealized version of this advisory social practice. I then go on to argue that one would take leave of the interpersonal stance towards someone – thus crossing the line, so to speak – in suggesting that she do something one knows she wouldn’t want to do, even following an exhaustive attempt to hash it out with her. An internalist necessity constraint on reasons is defended on this basis.

Comment: I use this as one of the key pieces of reading whenever I discuss reasons internalism (alongside Williams’ original ‘Internal and External Reasons’). Gives a good overview and a good original argument.

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Steward, Helen, , . A Metaphysics for Freedom
2012, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: A metaphysics for freedom argues that determinism is incompatible with agency itself–not only the special human variety of agency, but also powers which can be accorded to animal agents. It offers a distinctive, non-dualistic version of libertarianism, rooted in a conception of what biological forms of organisation might make possible in the way of freedom.

Comment: Specific chapters (e.g. 1 and 4) would be useful for an advanced philosophy of mind/action course, but also it could be really nice to read the whole book in a dedicated Masters course – reading and discussing one chapter per seminar. Chapter 1 is especially useful because it outlines Steward’s position, ‘agency incompatibilism’ which it could be useful to have students discuss and compare with classical compatibilism and incompatibilism. Chapter 4 is also a great one to use because it discusses animal agency – this could perhaps come towards the end of an intermediate philosophy of mind course – once students have already learned something about agency when considered in relation to humans.

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Steward, Helen, , . Processes, Continuants, and Individuals
2013, Mind 122 (487):fzt080
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Abstract: The paper considers and opposes the view that processes are best thought of as continuants, to be differentiated from events mainly by way of the fact that the latter, but not the former, are entities with temporal parts. The motivation for the investigation, though, is not so much the defeat of what is, in any case, a rather implausible claim, as the vindication of some of the ideas and intuitions that the claim is made in order to defend — and the grounding of those ideas and intuitions in a more plausible metaphysics than is provided by the continuant view. It is argued that in addition to a distinction between events (conceived of as count-quantified) and processes (conceived of as mass-quantified) there is room and need for a third category, that of the individual process, which can be illuminatingly compared with the idea of a substance. Individual processes indeed share important metaphysical features with substantial continuants, but they do not lack temporal parts. Instead, it is argued that individual processes share with substantial continuants an important property I call ‘modal robustness in virtue of form’. The paper explains what this property is, and further suggests that the category of individual process, thus understood, might be of considerable value to the philosophy of action.

Comment: An important contribution to the debate on processes and events which should be central reading in a metaphysics course dealing with those issues. Steward argues against Stout’s view of processes, so this paper should be taught alongside his ‘Processes’ (1997). Steward also deals with methodological issues in metaphysics and involves a nice elucidation of Wiggins’s Conceptual Realism so can be taught as an example of that view. This paper could easily be taught in a senior year metaphysics course.

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Steward, Helen, , . The Truth in Compatibilism and the Truth of Libertarianism
2009, Philosophical Explorations 12 (2):167 – 179.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Abstract: The paper offers the outlines of a response to the often-made suggestion that it is impossible to see how indeterminism could possibly provide us with anything that we might want in the way of freedom, anything that could really amount to control, as opposed merely to an openness in the flow of reality that would constitute the injection of chance, or randomness, into the unfolding of the processes which underlie our activity. It is suggested that the best first move for the libertarian is to make a number of important concessions to the compatibilist. It should be conceded, in particular, that certain sorts of alternative possibilities are neither truly available to real, worldly agents nor required in order that those agents act freely; and it should be admitted also that it is the compatibilist who tends to give the most plausible sorts of analyses of many of the ‘can’ and ‘could have’ statements which seem to need to be assertible of those agents we regard as free. But these concessions do not bring compatibilism itself in their wake. The most promising version of libertarianism, it is argued, is based on the idea that agency itself (and not merely some special instances of it which we might designate with the honorific appellation ‘free’) is inconsistent with determinism. This version of libertarianism, it is claimed, can avoid the objection that indeterminism is as difficult to square with true agential control as determinism can sometimes seem to be.

Comment: Steward’s paper is an innovative response to a classic problem for libertarianism in the free will debate. It should be taught in any Free Will module which deals with libertarianism and luck.

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Wiseman, Rachael, , . Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Anscombe’s Intention
2016, Routledge.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Publisher’s Note: G. E. M. Anscombe’s Intention is a classic of twentieth-century philosophy. The work has been enormously influential despite being a dense and largely misunderstood text. It is a standard reference point for anyone engaging with philosophy of action and philosophy of psychology.

In this Routledge Philosophy GuideBook, Rachael Wiseman situates Intention in relation to Anscombe’s moral philosophy and philosophy of mind considers the influence of Aquinas, Aristotle, Frege, and Wittgenstein on the method and content of Intention adopts a structure for assessing the text that shows how Anscombe unifies the three aspects of the concept of intention considers the influence and implications of the piece whilst distinguishing it from subsequent work in the philosophy of action

Ideal for anyone wanting to understand and gain a perspective on Elizabeth Anscombe’s seminal work, this guide is an essential introduction, useful in the study of the philosophy of action, ethics, philosophy of psychology and related areas.

Comment: Wiseman’s guidebook is essential reading for a course directly on Anscombe’s work and chapters or sections could be set alongside pieces by Anscombe. Early chapters could also be set for First Year introductory readings on Anscombe’s approach to the philosophy of action and her place in the history of philosophy.

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Wolf, Susan, , . Freedom Within Reason
1990, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Jojanneke Vanderveen

Publisher’s Note: In Freedom Within Reason, Susan Wolf charts a course between incompatibilism, or the notion that freedom and responsibility require causal and metaphysical independence from the impersonal forces of nature, and compatibilism, or the notion that people are free and responsible as long as their actions are governed by their desires. Wolf argues that some of the forces which are beyond our control are friends to freedom rather than enemies of it, enabling us to see the world for what it is. The freedom we want is not independence from the world, but independence from the forces that prevent us from choosing how to live in the light of a sufficient appreciation of the world.

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

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