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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Free Will Skepticism and Its Implications: An Argument for Optimism

By Gregg Caruso
For Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society, ed. Elizabeth Shaw & Derk Pereboom

Here is an excerpt:

     What, then, would be the consequence of accepting free will skepticism? What if we came to disbelieve in free will and moral responsibility? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some maintain? Or perhaps increase anti-social behavior as some recent studies have suggested (Vohs and Schooler 2008; Baumeister, Masicampo, and DeWall 2009)? Or would it rather have a humanizing effect on our  practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of free will belief? These questions are of profound pragmatic importance and should be of interest independent of the metaphysical debate over free will. As public proclamations of skepticism continue to rise, and as the mass media continues to run headlines announcing "Free will is an illusion" and "Scientists say free will probably doesn't exist,"we need to ask what effects this will have on the general public and what the responsibility is of professionals.

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