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PHIL 8N: Free Will and Responsibility

FDR Memorial: 4 Freedoms Quote by Neil R via Flickr

Meet the Instructor | General Education Requirements

Course Description

In what sense are we—or might we be—free agents? Is our freedom compatible with the same natural, causal order that includes other physical and biological systems? What assumptions about our freedom do we make when we deliberate about what to do, or when we hold other people morally and/or legally accountable for what they do? If we hold people responsible for their actions, can we still see them as part of the natural, causal order, or are these two ways of understanding ourselves fundamentally incompatible? We will explore these and related questions primarily by way of careful study of recent and contemporary philosophical research on these matters.

General Education Requirements

Meet the Instructor

Michael Bratman

Michael Bratman

Michael E. Bratman has been at Stanford University since 1974. He is currently U.G. and Abbie Birch Durfee Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and professor of philosophy at Stanford University. He earned a B.A. from Haverford College in 1967, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rockefeller University in 1974. His major book publications are Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason (1987), Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency(1999), and Structures of Agency: Essays (2007), Shared Agency (2015), Planning, Time, and Self-Governance (Essays) (2018), and Shared and Institutional Agency (2022). He is also a co-editor of Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. He has been awarded an ACLS Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the Stanford University Humanities Center. You can get a sense of the focus of his philosophical research here.

Learn more about Michael Bratman