Fate, Time and Language

Review by Anthony Gottlieb

Fate, Time and Language: An Essay on Free Will, by David Foster Wallace, Columbia University Press, RRP$19.95, 252 pages

… Philosophers have long enjoyed trying to work out what exactly is wrong with fatalism. In the first century BC, Cicero reported a riddle, nicknamed “the Lazy Argument”, which goes as follows. If you are ill, there is no point in calling a doctor, because either you are going to recover or you are not. If you are, then calling a doctor is superfluous, and if you are not, it is bound to be ineffective. It is a modern version of the Lazy Argument that the late David Foster Wallace tackles in this tough and impressive book. …

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