2011 Books

Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Levy, N. (2011), 'Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility', (Oxford University Press, Oxford)

  • Presents an original, philosophical approach to the role of luck in our lives
  • Engages with key issues that animate the free will debate today
  • Provides detailed analysis of a broad range of theories and approaches
  • Essential reading for anyone interested in freedom and moral responsibility

The concept of luck has played an important role in debates concerning free will and moral responsibility, yet participants in these debates have relied upon an intuitive notion of what luck is. Neil Levy develops an account of luck, which is then applied to the free will debate. He argues that the standard luck objection succeeds against common accounts of libertarian free will, but that it is possible to amend libertarian accounts so that they are no more vulnerable to luck than is compatibilism. But compatibilist accounts of luck are themselves vulnerable to a powerful luck objection: historical compatibilisms cannot satisfactorily explain how agents can take responsibility for their constitutive luck; non-historical compatibilisms run into insurmountable difficulties with the epistemic condition on control over action. Levy argues that because epistemic conditions on control are so demanding that they are rarely satisfied, agents are not blameworthy for performing actions that they take to be best in a given situation. It follows that if there are any actions for which agents are responsible, they are akratic actions; but even these are unacceptably subject to luck. Levy goes on to discuss recent non-historical compatibilisms, and argues that they do not offer a viable alternative to control-based compatibilisms. He suggests that luck undermines our freedom and moral responsibility no matter whether determinism is true or not.

"Neil Levys new book is a good read. ... Levys thesis is novel and refreshing, for it is intended to be independent of determinism or indeterminism." (Brian Jonathan Garrett, Philosophy in Review)

Enhancing Human Capacities

Savulescu, J., ter Meulen, R. and Kahane, G., (Eds.) (2011). 'Enhancing Human Capacities', Oxford: Wiley Blackwell

Enhancing Human Capacities is the first to review the very latest scientific developments in human enhancement. It is unique in its examination of the ethical and policy implications of these technologies from a broad range of perspectives.
  • Presents a rich range of perspectives on enhancement from world leading ethicists and scientists from Europe and North America
  • The most comprehensive volume yet on the science and ethics of human enhancement
  • Unique in providing a detailed overview of current and expected scientific advances in this area
  • Discusses both general conceptual and ethical issues and concrete questions of policy
  • Includes sections covering all major forms of enhancement: cognitive, affective, physical, and life extension

"Indeed, the book itself is a cognitive enhancer par excellence and is sure to raise the level of debate on the use of enhancements and their potential risks and benefits for individuals and society itself."  (Neuroethics, 14 December 2011)

"This volume is appropriate for all who wish to reflect seriously on the prospects for enhancing human capacities. References in the articles range widely over the literature in bioscience and philosophy. Comprehensive index included. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers." (Choice, 1 November 2011)

"This is clearly the most comprehensive and best collection on human enhancement. It provides needed clarification of both the relevant science and the ethical and policy issues--an indispensable contribution to the debates." (Dan W. Brock, PhD, Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School)

Infectious Disease Ethics: Limiting Liberty in Contexts of Contagion

Selgelid, M. J., McLean, A., Arinaminpathy, N. and Savulescu, J., (Eds.) (2011). 'Infectious Disease Ethics: Limiting Liberty in Contexts of Contagion', (Springer)

  • Covers one of the most important and fastest growing areas of bioethics and public health ethics
  • Offers a unique interdisciplinary collection of papers authored by world leading figures in philosophy, bioethics, law, public health and medicine
  • Features a broad scope, with up-to-date analysis of controversies surrounding pandemic planning, drug resistance, vaccination policy, public health surveillance, bioterrorism, and other emerging topics in public health ethics

Infectious disease ethics is one of the fastest growing—and increasingly being recognised as one of the most important—topics in bioethics and public health ethics. Paramount among ethical issues associated with infectious disease are those that arise with conflict between the goal to promote individual liberty, on the one hand, and the goal to promote other legitimate social goals such as (equality or) utility in the way of public health, on the other. Authored by world leading figures in philosophy, bioethics, law, public health and medicine, the papers in this volume focus on such conflicts and, inter alia, illustrate the diversity of ways in which such conflicts can arise and offer carefully argued, creative solutions for addressing them. They cover a broad range of topics including ethical issues associated with pandemic planning, health.