Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting by Daniel C. DennettElbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting by Daniel C. Dennett

Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting

byDaniel C. Dennett

Paperback | February 28, 1985

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 267 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Anyone who has wondered if free will is just an illusion or has asked 'could I have chosen otherwise?' after performing some rash deed will find this book an absorbing discussion of an endlessly fascinating subject. Daniel Dennett, whose previous books include Brainstorms and (with DouglasHofstadter) The Mind's I, tackles the free will problem in a highly original and witty manner, drawing on the theories and concepts of several fields usually ignored by philosophers; not just physics and evolutionary biology, but engineering, automata theory, and artificial intelligence.In Elbow Room, Dennett shows how the classical formulations of the problem in philosophy depend on misuses of imagination, and he disentangles the philosophical problems of real interest from the "family of anxieties' they get enmeshed in - imaginary agents, bogeymen, and dire prospects that seem tothreaten our freedom. Putting sociobiology in its rightful place, he concludes that we can have free will and science too.Elbow Room begins by showing how we can be "moved by reasons" without being exempt from physical causation. It goes on to analyze concepts of control and self-control-concepts often skimped by philosophers but which are central to the questions of free will and determinism. A chapter on "self-madeselves" discusses the idea of self or agent to see how it can be kept from disappearing under the onslaught of science. Dennett then sees what can be made of the notion of acting under the idea of freedomdoes the elbow room we think we have really exist? What is an opportunity, and how can anythingin our futures be "up to us"? He investigates the meaning of "can" and "could have done otherwise," and asks why we want free will in the first place.We are wise, Dennett notes, to want free will, but that in itself raises a host of questions about responsibility. In a final chapter, he takes up the problem of how anyone can ever be guilty, and what the rationale is for holding people responsible and even, on occasion, punishing them.
Daniel C. Dennett is Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Elbow Room is an expanded version of the John Locke Lectures which he gave at Oxford University in 1983.
Title:Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth WantingFormat:PaperbackDimensions:210 pages, 8.86 × 5.71 × 0.51 inPublished:February 28, 1985Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198247907

ISBN - 13:9780198247906

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

PrefacePart I: Please Don't Feed the Bugbears1. The Perennial, Gripping Problem2. The Bogeyman3. Sphexishness and Other Worries4. OverviewPart II: Making Reason Practical1. Where Do Reasons Come From?2. Semantic Engines, Perpetual Motion Machines, and a Defective Intuition Pump3. Reflection, Language, and Consciousness4. Community, Communication, and TranscendencePart III: Control and Self Control1. "Due to Circumstances Beyond our Control"2. Simple Control and Simple Self-Control3. Agentless Control and Our Concept of Causation4. Agents in Competition5. The Uses of Disorder6. "Let Yourself Go"Part IV: Self-Made Selves1. The Problem of the Disappearing Self2. The Art of Self-Definition3. Trying Our Luck4. OverviewPart V: Acting Under the Idea of Freedom1. How Can You Go On Deliberating at a Time Like This?2. Designing the Perfect Deliberator3. Real Opportunities4. "Avoid," "Avoidable," "Inevitable"Part VI: "Could Have Done Otherwise"1. Do We Care Whether We Could Have Done Otherwise?2. What We Care About3. The Can of WormsPart VII: Why Do We Want Free Will?1. Nihilism Neglected2. Diminished Responsibility and the Specter of Creeping Exculpation3. The Dread Secret DeniedBibliographyIndex