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Course materials 2015/16

Lecture 8_slidesNew Reading List Software – Talis Aspire

The Philosophy department is trialling the use of a new reading list software for 15/16. While we aim to make sure this list is up to date, it is a transitional year, and so the traditional static reading list on these pages may be more accurate. However, the reading list is also available at:

Term 2

Course outline (includes reading list)(PDF Document)

LECTURE 1: What do we mean by the term ‘freedom’?; the value of freedom; does political freedom require the existence of free will?

Lecture 1 reading material_Machiavelli(PDF Document)

Lecture 1_slides

LECTURE 2: Hobbes on freedom

Lecture 2_reading material_Hobbes(PDF Document)

Lecture 2_slides

LECTURE 3: Rousseau on natural freedom; the relation between freedom and independence

Lecture 3_reading material_Rousseau(PDF Document)

Lecture 3_slides

LECTURE 4: Rousseau on political freedom

Lecture 4_reading material_Rousseau(PDF Document)

Lecture 4 slides

LECTURE 5: Kant on moral autonomy

Lecture 5 reading material Kant(PDF Document)

Lecture 5 slides

LECTURE 6: Mill on liberty and the limits of state interference

Lecture 6 reading material Mill(PDF Document)

Lecture _6_slides

LECTURE 7: Marx on alienation and proletarian freedom

Lecture_7_reading material_Marx(PDF Document)


LECTURE 8: Berlin's distinction between negative and positive freedom

Lecture_8_reading material_Berlin(PDF Document)

Lecture 8 slides

LECTURE 9: Republican freedom

Lecture 9_ reading material_Pettit(PDF Document)

Lecture 9_slides

Essay Questions (Term 2)

(1) Critically assess Hobbes's claim that freedom consists in nothing more than the absence of physical or legal constraints.

(2) Does Rousseau's social contract successfully explain how human beings can remain free even when they have given up their natural freedom?

(3) Is Kant right to argue that the idea of moral autonomy demands thinking that we enjoy free will?

(4) Does Mill's distinction between actions that harm only oneself and actions that harm others provide a sufficient basis for determining what may or may not count as a legitimate constraint on freedom?

(5) Does Marx demonstrate that alienation and domination in capitalist society serve to make individuals unfree?

(6) Is Berlin right to argue that the 'negative' concept of freedom is the only genuine concept of freedom?

Essay Questions

1. What is Hobbes’ argument against Bramhall’s account of human freedom? Is it compelling?

2. If we assume that freedom is incompatible with determinism, should we give up freedom or should we give up determinism?

3. What is the Consequence Argument for the incompatibility of freedom and determinism? How should we respond to the argument?

4. If you perform an action, have a desire to perform the action, and have a further desire to have this desire, is this enough for you to be morally responsible for performing the action?

5. Can you be morally responsible for an action if you are unaware of some of the factors that influenced you towards performing the action?

6. Can a person with racist beliefs be held morally responsible for holding these views?

Term 1


Tom Pink (2004) Free Will: A very short introduction. Oxford Paperbacks.

Useful general collections:

Gary Watson (ed.) (1982) Free Will. Oxford Readings in Philosophy. Oxford: OUP.


Week 1-2 / Lecture 1-3: HOBBES AND BRAMHALL


Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity, Chappell ed., 1999, pp.1-43 , Chappell ed., 1999, pp.1-43

Bramhall reading

Hobbes reading

Pink, 'Thomas Hobbes'


Lecture 1 ppt slides

Lecture 2 ppt slides

Lecture 3 ppt slides




D. Hume, Selections from A Treatise of Human Nature.

B. Loewer, Selections from his (1998) 'Freedom from Physics', reprint from Crane and Farkas (eds.) Metaphysics: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford: OUP.

P. F. Strawson (1962) 'Freedom and Resentment', Proceedings of the British Academy. Also in Watson (ed.)

Norton, J. (2003) 'Causation as Folk Science', Philosophers Imprint.

Lecture 4 ppt slides


Week 3 / Lecture 5-6-: FREEDOM AND DETERMINISM


P. van Inwagen (1975) 'The Incompatibility of Free Will and Determinism', reprint from Crane and Farkas (eds.) Metaphysics: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford: OUP. Also in Watson (ed.)

D. Lewis (1981) 'Are we free to break the laws?', Theoria.

H. Frankfurt (1969) 'Alternate possibilities and moral responsibility', Journal of Philosophy.

Lecture 5 ppt slides

Lecture 6 ppt slides



Harry Frankfurt (1971) "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person".

Galen Strawson (1994) "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility".

John Martin Fischer (2011) "Frankfurt-Type Examples and SemiCompatibilism: New Work" in Robert Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will: Second Edition . 

Week 4 slides

Week 4 script


Susan Wolf (1988) "Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility", in: Ferdinand Schoeman (ed.) Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions: New Essays in Moral Psychology.

Eddie Nahmias (2007) "Autonomous Agency and Social Psychology", in: Massimo Marraffa, Mario De Caro, Francesco Ferretti (eds.) Cartographies of the Mind: Philosophy and Psychology in Intersection.

Sarah Stroud (2014) "Weakness of Will", in: Edward N. Zalta (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition).

slides week 5



Bernard Williams (1973) "Deciding to Believe" in: Problems of the Self: Philosophical Papers 1956–1972.

Thomas J. Cook (1987) "Deciding to Believe Without Self-Deception".

Pascal Engel (2009) "Epistemic responsibility without epistemic agency".

Slides week 7


Week 8 - Art and creativity

Plato, Ion

R. G. Collingwood, excerpts from The Principle of Art

Week 8 slides

Recommended: Christopher Janaway on Ion


Week 9 - Art and freedom

Friedrich Schiller, excerpts from On the Aesthetic Education of Man

Noel Carroll, 'Art, Creativity, and Tradition'

Grace Paley, 'A Conversation with My Father'

Week 9 slides

Recommended: Patrick Gardiner essay on Schiller

Weeks 8 and 9 essay questions:

1. Explain Collingwood's conceptions of art and craft. Is the making of art more or less free than the making of craft?

2. Argue for or against the following claim: the model of inspiration in Plato's Ion leaves no room for creative freedom.

3. For Schiller, what is the significance for humans of aesthetic play?

4. How do tradition and artistic creativity interact?


Week 10 - Is 'conscious will' an illusion?

Daniel M. Wegner (2004). Précis of The illusion of conscious will. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27, pp 649-659 doi:10.1017/S0140525X04000159

Eddy Nahmias (2002). When consciousness matters: A critical review of Daniel Wegner's The illusion of conscious will. Philosophical Psychology 15, pp 527-541

Al Mele (2011). Free Will and Neuroscience: Revisiting Libet's Experiments. Youtube video