Saul Smilansky

I am a Professor at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Haifa, Israel. I work primarily on normative and applied ethics, the free will problem, and the meaning of life. On normative and applied ethics and the meaning of life (with the exception of free will) I am particularly interested in moral paradoxes and other forms of "crazy ethics", moral theory, justice, population ethics, egalitarianism, moral complaint, the influence of technology on the future of morality, the role of self-deception and illusion in our lives, and the significance of contribution. On free will I have done various things. My main efforts have been, first, to open up the debate on the compatibility question to a dualistic or pluralistic approach that sees both compatibilism and hard determinism (or other forms of free will and moral responsibility denialism) as partly valid and seeks to integrate them. Second, to explore Illusionism, the view that illusion is central and, in many ways, positive in the free will problem. I am the author of Free Will and Illusion (Oxford University Press 2000), 10 Moral Paradoxes (Blackwell 2007), and ninety papers in philosophical journals and edited collections.

I received my B.A. from Tel-Aviv University and my D.Phil from Oxford University (Magdalen College).

Recent Events


  • "Autonomous Vehicles and Normative Pluralism", in "Autonomous Vehicles: Beyond the Trolley Problem", Prague; June 27-28th 2019.

  • "Suicide, Organ Donation and the Meaning of Life", in the "Second International Conference on Philosophy and Meaning in Life", Tokyo; October 7-9 2019.

  • "The Paradoxicality of Self-Sacrificing Altruism", Department of Philosophy, University of Turku, 29 November 2019.

  • "The Paradoxicality of Self-Sacrificing Altruism", Israeli Philosophical Association Annual Meeting; 26 February 2020.

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  • "Free Will Denial and Deontological Constraints", in Elizabeth Shaw, Derk Pereboom, and Gregg D. Caruso, eds. Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

  • "The Good, the Bad, and the Nonidentity Problem: Reflections on Jewish History", in Jewish Philosophy in an Analytic Age, Sam Lebens, Dani Rabinowitz and Aaron Segal, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

  • "The Moral Evaluation of Past Tragedies: A New Puzzle", Journal of Moral Philosophy, 2019, DOI 10.1163/17455243-20192910.

  • "A Hostage Situation", Journal of Philosophy, 2019, 116 (2019): 447-466.

  • "We Are All in this Life Together", Iyyun 68 (2020): 85-93 


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