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. In normative and applied ethics and the MOL I am particularly interested in moral paradoxes and other forms of "crazy ethics", moral theory, justice, the role of self-deception and illusion in our lives, population ethics, punishment, egalitarianism, moral complaint and hypocrisy, the influence of technology on the future of morality, gratitude, 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 over 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


  • "Can Egalitarians Complain?", Rocky Mountain Ethics Conference, University of Colorado, Boulder; August 13-16 2020 (online).

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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.

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

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

  • "The Moral Evaluation of Past Tragedies: A New Puzzle", Journal of Moral Philosophy 17 (2020): 188-201.

  • "Should We Sacrifice the Utilitarians First?", Philosophical Quarterly

  • (Saul Smilansky and Juha Räikkä) "Black Magic and Respecting Persons - Some Perplexities", Ratio 33 (2020): 173-183.

  • "Do You Have to Reply to This Paper?', Philosophia

  • "The Idea of Moral Duties to History", Philosophy

  • "A Puzzle About Self-Sacrificing Altruism", Journal of Controversial Ideas doi: