Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society: Challenging Retributive Justice

Elizabeth Shaw* (Editor), Derk Pereboom (Editor), Gregg D. Caruso (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBook

3 Citations (Scopus)


'Free will skepticism' refers to a family of views that all take seriously the possibility that human beings lack the control in action - i.e. the free will - required for an agent to be truly deserving of blame and praise, punishment and reward. Critics fear that adopting this view would have harmful consequences for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and laws. Optimistic free will skeptics, on the other hand, respond by arguing that life without free will and so-called basic desert moral responsibility would not be harmful in these ways, and might even be beneficial. This collection addresses the practical implications of free will skepticism for law and society. It contains eleven original essays that provide alternatives to retributive punishment, explore what (if any) changes are needed for the criminal justice system, and ask whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic about the real-world implications of free will skepticism.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages246
ISBN (Electronic)9781108655583
ISBN (Print)9781108493475
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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