Jurriën Hamer

Why Bad Guys Have Bad Luck

A New Philosophy of Free Will

Winner of the Socrates Cup for the Best Philosophy Book 2022

For centuries philosophers have debated the existence of free will. Biologists and neurologists have declared it an illusion for decades. The evidence against free will grows with every year: we are a product of our genes, our history and our surroundings. And yet this myth seems to hold more influence than ever – in our criminal justice system, our economy and our quest for happiness.

In this confronting debut, jurist and philosopher Jurriën Hamer ventures where others turn a blind eye. He argues that free will doesn’t exist, and examines how we are coaxed into believing otherwise. In this he makes a distinction between libertarian free will, or what we think of as absolute free will, and reflective free will, which maintains that our choice of action is always limited and determined by circumstance. When we reject the former, the concept of justice gains new meaning in a world where nobody ‘deserves’ to be punished and success is the product of luck.

Along the way, he shows us the implications for the justice system, personal morality and the idea of social engineering, using numerous concrete examples and thought experiments. Written in a clear and accessible style, this is a provocative read suitable for a broad audience.

‘Jurriën Hamer shows that serious philosophy doesn’t make life easier, but more difficult. Read this book at your own risk, because once you’ve read it you won’t be able to unread it.’

Rutger Bregman

Jurriën Hamer

Jurriën Hamer (b. 1988) is a philosopher and jurist. He obtained his doctorate from Utrecht University and has done research at the London School of Economics. Why Bad Guys Have Bad Luck is his debut.

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Waarom schurken pech hebben en helden geluk. Een nieuwe filosofie van de vrije wil (2022). Non-fiction, 176 pages.


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