Free Will Skepticism and Its Implications: An Argument for Optimism — Part 2

Posted on December 27, 2014 by


This is the second post from Prof. Gregg Caruso re: an optimistic view of Free Will Skepticism.

Scientia Salon

Evil02_insideby Gregg D. Caruso

[This two-part essay was inspired by the author’s TEDx talk on the same topic, which can be viewed here.] [1]

I. Addressing Pragmatic Concerns with Free Will Skepticism

Let me begin with the concern that giving up free will belief will increase anti-social behavior. This concern has been fueled largely by two widely reported on studies in social psychology (Vohs and Schooler 2008; Baumeister, Masicampo and DeWall 2009). Kathleen Vohs and Jonathan Schooler (2008) found, for example, that participants who were exposed to anti-free will primes were more likely to cheat than participants exposed to pro-free will or neutral primes. In one study, they asked thirty college students to solve math problems on a computer. The volunteers were told that owing to a computer glitch, the answers would pop up on the screen after the problem if they did not hit the space bar…

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