Troubador The Nonsense of Free Will

Released: 01/10/2012

ISBN: 9781780882871

eISBN: 9781780887449

Format: Paperback/eBook

Review this Book

The Nonsense of Free Will

Facing up to a false belief


Did Myra Hindley deserve to be punished? Does any criminal? Is belief in free will an essential foundation for morality, or an excuse for unwarranted cruelty? Is free will a myth and, if so, can we let go of it?

In this entertaining, accessible but deeply serious book, the author brings a refreshingly original approach to the age-old conflict between free will and determinism and comes down firmly against free will. But what does ‘free will’ mean? And if we rejected it, what would the consequences be?

The author, a lawyer who has worked both on law reform at the Law Commission and in private practice, and has written legal and other books and articles, has turned to a subject which has interested him for over half a century. He strongly believes that it does not belong exclusively to philosophers. These questions should be of concern to everyone – and no one who is willing to look at them objectively should be afraid to judge for themselves and reach their own conclusions.

Young Lawyer

The Howard Journal

Howard League for Penal Reform

“… a brilliant achievement and a triumphant piece of scholarly writing”

“I … was truly taken aback by the clarity and simplicity with which Oerton approaches this cloudy subject … a fantastic writer and a straight communicator”

“… shows that no great intellect is needed to dispel free will … most people will gain a tremendous amount of insight from reading this book”

“If you are looking for an easy to read yet powerful explanation of the determinism v. free will contest then I strongly recommend this book”

“… presents clear, precise arguments that are well structured and persuasive … should leave you wondering why you believed in free will in the first place and with a whole new perspective on life”

“I absolutely loved [this] book”

by and

“This is a terrific book … so clear and readable that it would be appropriate for general readers, introductory philosophy courses, and undergraduate courses in criminal justice and the humanities”

by Professor Richard Double

“Oerton has written a terrific book, a must read for anyone interested in the free will debate and why it matters. He reaches all the right conclusions, for the right reasons, stated most felicitously … a delightful read – unassuming, straightforward, informed and funny”

by Dr. Tom Clark

I have read a fair amount about this subject. Much of it has been excellent. But nothing I ever read got to the core of things the way Oerton does. No-one ever made their case with such a combination of simplicity and surgical precision. Free will is a vast issue. Vast and slippery and mysterious. To tackle it is no small undertaking. Oerton, however, makes it seem easy. He demystifies free will.

by Stephen Campana

"An easy to read and understand, fun and well written argument for the nonsense of free will"

" ... a fantastic addition to the growing literature about how we interpret a world without free will ... Since it is free of excessive philosophy jargon the text is very accessible for those new to the topic and still rich and rewarding for those more familiar. A 'must read' ..."

"Highly recommended"

"Wonderfully written and - to my mind - totally persuasive"

by and

What Richard Dawkins did for atheism, Richard Oerton has here done for determinism: he has taken those doubts about the existence of free will – all those unspoken blasphemous thoughts so many of us secretly harbour – and distilled them into an intelligent, accessible and highly engaging polemic. I would urge anyone with any doubts about free will to read this book; to read one's own inchoate ideas expressed in such a clear and concise manner is simply exhilarating. After many years of contemplation, The Nonsense of Free Will has provided the encouragement I needed to finally accept determinism and its implications, and I suspect that there will be many others for whom this book will have had a similar effect.

by Benjamin Langlois on LibraryThing

"This is one of the best, balanced and fair books which show 'free will' for what it really is, a nonsense idea. Nonsense, in that it can't even be mapped on to reality"

"Brilliantly explained"


"A very clear and fair account of the problems associated with the concept of free will. Whatever your views are before reading you will be much better informed after finishing this book"

by review

Richard Oerton

Richard Oerton was born in Devon in 1936. He was admitted a Solicitor in 1959 and got married the same year. He worked in private practice, in legal publishing, at the Law Commision and briefly in the Treasury Solicitor's Department, and he ended as consultant with a firm of Solicitors and Parliamentary Agents in Westminster.

He's always been interested in penal reform and was for a while review editor of the Howard Journal (the journal of the Howard League for Penal Reform). He's written or edited quite a few legal textbooks and written two other books ("Who Is the Criminal?" and "A Lament for the Law Commission")and contributed a lot of articles and letters to journals and newspapers.

He's now retired, a widower, and living in Somerset. He has two surviving children (his son died in 2005) and five grandchildren.

  • Buy as a printed
  • £8.49

  • 8 customer reviews
  • Buy as an ebook
  • £5.99
  • Find this ebook at your favourite retailer
Also by Richard Oerton / Related Books