[lit-ideas] Re: Do You Have Free Will?

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 01:33:37 +0100 (BST)

--- On Wed, 30/3/11, Julie C <juliereneb@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9501E0D61431F931A15750C0A9679D8B63&ref=johntierney

At one point the article refers to studies on the usefulness of a belief in 
free will:-

"The benefits of this belief have been demonstrated in other research showing 
that when people doubt free will, they do worse at their jobs and are less 
honest."

This difference in the effect of this belief (compared to the effect of its not 
being believed) is not impossible to square with full-on determinism but seems 
to tell against it, as it suggests that behavioural outcomes may be dependent 
on variations in belief and if those beliefs may be varied then it would seem 
the outcomes are not predeterminined.  

Any argument for full-on determinism has a self-defeating character as a 
rational argument, for it must be predetermined rather than a product of 
non-determined rational evaluation. [If full-on determinism were true then the 
conduct and result of the research would have been predetermined].

For similar reasons, it is hard to square the truth of full-on determinism with 
either the truth, or the efficacy, of the content of 'beliefs' that ascribe 
responsibility to others or ourselves.

While the existence of free will remains debateable, the existence of "Free 
Willy" has not been paid anything like as much attention even though we do not 
know whether "Free Willy 5" will ever exist, though most philosophers hope it 
will never after the execrable "Free Willy 4".

Donal
London
 

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