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Wallace, E.R. (1997). Replies. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:311-314.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:311-314


Edwin R. Wallace

I was surprised and puzzled by Professor Wallwork's reaction to my review of his Psychoanalysis and Ethics (JAPA 43/4), especially his charge that I had neglected “the duty of a book reviewer to inform readers of the author's central arguments.” The initial section (pp. 1221-1223) of my review was in fact an overview of his work's objectives, contents, and central arguments. Moreover, my general assessment of the book was favorable, indeed “dust jacket endorsement” positive. And this despite my enumeration (p. 1223) of several areas that the book either overlooked altogether or inadequately attended to; and despite my judgment that its author did not accomplish what he set out to do—demonstrate that psychoanalysis in and of itself constitutes a coherent moral vision (i.e., a naturalistic ethic; see Hartmann 1960; Wallace 1986b). My general applause of Wallwork's book rests more on the fact that it struggles with issues that are too often ignored than on any sense that it has decisively resolved them.

Following my initial overview of the volume, I then exercised the liberty due any reviewer—to focus on issues over which author and reader substantially disagree (in this case, the free will / determinism controversy and its ethical ramifications). Our disagreements here appear to rest primarily on our divergent concepts of causation and on our differing interpretations of some of Freud's statements and his predominant position on the matter.

My conception of causation is the one adhered to by most analytical philosophers (see, e.g., Taylor 1967; Mackie 1980)—that causal “constellations” (since we are nearly always dealing with overdetermination or multicausality in both the human and nonhum an spheres) necessitate their particular effects—i.e., are their own necessary and sufficient conditions.

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