This book employs Heidegger’s work of the 1920s and early 1930s to develop distinctively Heideggerian accounts of agency, freedom, and responsibility, making the case that Heidegger’s thought provides a compelling alternative to the mainstream philosophical accounts of these concepts.Hans Pedersen demonstrates that Heidegger’s thought can be fruitfully used to develop a plausible alternative understanding of agency that avoids the metaphysical commitments that give rise to the standard free-will debate. The first several chapters are devoted to working out an account of the ontological structure of human agency, specifically focusing on the Heideggerian understanding of the role of mental states, causal explanations, and deliberation in human agency, arguing that action need not be understood in terms of the causal efficacy of mental states. In the following chapters, building on the prior account of agency, Pedersen develops Heideggerian accounts of freedom and responsibility. Having shown that action need not be understood causally, the Heideggerian view thereby avoids the conflict between free will and determinism that gives rise to the problem of free will and the correlative problem of responsibility.
List of Abbreviations for Heidegger’s Works
Chapter 1: A Heideggerian Theory of Motivation
Chapter 2: The Heideggerian Argument Against Causal Theories of Action
Chapter 3: The Role of Deliberation in Heideggerian Agency
Chapter 4: Heideggerian Freedom and the Free Will Debate
Chapter 5: Heideggerian Responsibility—Responsibility as Responsiveness
Chapter 6: Concluding Thoughts
Hans Pedersen has made an important and timely contribution to Heidegger studies with his interpretation of human agency in Heidegger’s early period. Combining meticulous research with clear and lively prose, Pedersen brings Heidegger’s views on free will and responsibility into conversation with mainstream Anglophone philosophy and illuminates how influential and groundbreaking Heidegger’s insights on these matters have been. I envision Agency, Freedom, and Responsibility in the Early Heidegger will be a key text in the philosophy of action for years to come.