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The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays Paperback – May 27, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0521336116 ISBN-10: 0521336112

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 27, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521336112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521336116
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Harry Frankfurt is one of the great philosophers of our time. For those who lament that contemporary academic philosophy has become too technical and detached from basic questions of human meaning and value, this small, readable book is a breath of fresh air." Robert George, Princeton University, Princeton Alumni Weekly

Book Description

Thirteen essays on ethics, free will, and the philosophy of mind define the distinctive nature of human freedom by exploring such fundamental problems as what being a person entails and what one should care about.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By J. Davenport on May 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book collects Frankfurt's most important essays from 1969 - 1988. It begins with "Alternative Possibilities and Moral Responsibility," the most important essay on the conditions of moral responsibility in the second half of the twentieth-century. This essay introduced "Frankfurt-style" counterexamples to the principle that to be responsible for an action (or intention, decision, etc) we must have alternatives to it, or be able to avoid it. Thirty years later, the debate about free will and moral responsibility ignited by Frankfurt's essay continues to dominate the scholarly literature. Frankfurt's reply to Peter van Inwagen in this debate is also included in the book. The second essay, "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person," is even more important: in response to Peter Strawson, it introduced the idea that a person is a being capable of forming "higher-order volitions," and thus capable of taking volitional attitudes towards his/her own motivational states (1st-order desires, emotions, etc). This essay began a series of debates about human autonomy and the structure of the self that continue to dominate that literature in analytic philosophy. Frankfurt develops his idea that we can identify with or alienate our own first-order desires (or subjective reasons for action) in "Three Concepts of Free Action," "Identification and Externality," and "Identification and Wholeheartedness.Read more ›
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mac on September 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book contains essays about personal ethics -- the decisions we make and what those decisions say about us. The author's conclusions are revealing and complex, and they lead the reader to deeper self-examination. I will re-read this book several times before I surrender it to someone else.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J on March 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found Frankfurt's themes well chosen and pleasingly semi-idiosyncratic but the exposition tends to dullness and he rarely convinced me.
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More About the Author

Harry G. Frankfurt is a professor of philosophy emeritus at Princeton University. His books include The Reasons of Love; Necessity, Volition, and Love; and The Importance of What We Care About. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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