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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $94.50

320 pp.
153 mm x 234 mm


Publication date:
January 2017

Imprint: OUP UK


The Ethics of Action, Volume 1

Thomas Pink

Thomas Pink offers a new approach to the problem of free will. Do we have control of how we act, so that we are free to act in more than one way, and does it matter to morality whether we do? Pink argues that what matters to morality is not in fact the freedom to do otherwise, but something more primitive - a basic capacity or power to determine for ourselves what we do. This capacity might or might not take the form of a freedom to act in more than one way, and it might or might not be compatible with causal determinism. What really matters to morality is that it is we who determine what we do. What we do must not simply be a function of powers or capacities for which we are not responsible, or a matter of mere chance. At the heart of moral responsibility is a distinctive form of power that is quite unlike ordinary causation - a power by which we determine outcomes in a way quite differently from the way ordinary causes determine outcomes. Pink examines how this power is involved in action, and how the nature of action permits the operation of such a power to determine it.

Readership : Metaphysicians and philosophers of mind, action and free will. Undergraduates with interest in these areas.

Introduction and summary
1. Action and its place in ethics
2. Freedom and purposiveness
3. Motivation and voluntariness
4. The non-voluntariness of the will
5. The voluntariness-based model of action
6. Freedom and scepticism: incompatibilism
7. Freedom and scepticism: alternatives
8. Moral responsibility and reduction
9. The practical reason-based model and its past
10. Intention and practical reason
11. The action-constitutive exercise of reason
12. Action and its motivation
13. Voluntariness and freedom of the will
14. Freedom and causation
15. Freedom as a power

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Thomas Pink studied history and philosophy at the University of Cambridge. After a short career in banking he became a research fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and has since taught at the University of Sheffield and at King's College London. He has published on the philosophy of action and free will, on ethics and political philosophy and on the history of philosophy. He has recently published an edition of Francisco Suarez's moral and political works, and is editing The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance for the Clarendon Edition of the works of Thomas Hobbes.

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
Kinds of Reasons - Dr. Maria Alvarez
Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life - Derk Pereboom

Special Features

  • A highly original account of free will.
  • Long awaited major work from a leading figure in the field.