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Monday, November 2, 2015

Does Disbelief in Free Will Increase Anti-Social Behavior?

By Gregg Caruso
Psychology Today Blog
Originally published October 16, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Rather than defend free will skepticism, however, I would like to examine an important practical question: What if we came to disbelieve in free will and basic desert 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 (more of this in a moment)? 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 media continues to run headlines proclaiming that free will is an illusion, we need to ask what effects this will have on the general public and what the responsibility is of professionals.

In recent years a small industry has actually grown up around precisely these questions. In the skeptical community, for example, a number of different positions have been developed and advanced—including Saul Smilansky’s illusionism, Thomas Nadelhoffer’s disillusionism, Shaun Nichols’ anti-revolution, and the optimistic skepticism of Derk Pereboom, Bruce Waller, and myself.

The entire article is here.