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Mind, Brain, and Free Will Paperback – 15 May 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, Usa (15 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199662576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199662579
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 1.5 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 753,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Swinburne's philosophical system certainly gives us much to think about. Even if one disagrees with Swinburne's conclusions, it is a task to locate which premise is mistaken and to clearly explain why. Swinburne's latest book makes it even more difficult to resist his views about the nature of human beings. (Ted Poston,Journal of Analytic Theology)

Mind, Brain, and the Free Will is the latest in a prolific list of titles from the pen of Richard Swinburne, raising a host of fascinating issues, and there is a fair amount of thought provoking textual analysis in it. (Review of Contemporary Philosophy)

This is an interesting and provocative book. It defends a view about human beings and their nature, which, for better or for worse, is a minority view nowadays among philosophers but which, as Swinburne points out, has probably been the "traditional majority Western view on these issues" . . . The scope of the book is especially impressive, and the picture it paints is powerful and suggestive (David Palmer, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

About the Author

Richard Swinburne was Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Oxford University from 1985 until 2002. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of many books on philosophical issues, most of them concerned with the philosophy of religion, but others concerned with space and time, probability, epistemology, and mind and body. He lectures frequently in many different countries.

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Format: Paperback
This is a book that can be considered as having three parts: first an introduction to metaphysics and a critique of physicalism; second an account and defence of Cartesian substance dualism; and finally a defence of human (libertarian) free will and moral responsibility.

The first part of the book is admirable and very clearly written. It is refreshing to read a philosopher who is willing take a metaphysical approach to the subject, instead of the currently over-fashionable analytic method. Some definitions are made in non-standard ways, such as allowing an event to have an arbitrary duration, so that, as Swinburne says, his `event' is ether an instantaneous event, or a very brief event like an explosion, or a `state of affairs'. Whenever Swinburne makes a non-standard definition, he explains and motivates it clearly. He discusses topics such as the ontological character of the laws of physics: are these just observed regularities (as Hume claimed), or are they descriptions of the causal powers and liabilities (= `propensities to behave') that belong to physical entities, or are they something else? He argues in some detail against mind-brain identity theories. There are thorough, interesting and informative discussions of many other topics. Extended additional notes at the end of the book are also useful.

The second part is a defence of Cartesian substance dualism. This is a welcome, detailed and clear account of this minority position. At university I had been led to believe that substance dualists had been extinct for several hundred years, so it is good to know that one or two are still alive and kicking. Swinburne's first tactical step is to make the mental/physical distinction in terms of our privileged access to mental properties.
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This is the most persuasive argument for substance dualism I have ever come across; it is both philosophically rigorous and empirically well-informed. It goes well alongside Raymond Tallis' 'Aping Mankind'.
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