Monday, March 02, 2015

Free Will and Responsibility

If there is no free will than people are not responsible for their actions. One ramification of believing free will does not exist is...

"There’s evidence that lowering people’s confidence in the existence of free will increases bad behavior. In one study ( Vohs and Schooler 2008 ), people who read passages in which scientists deny that free will exists are more likely to cheat on a subsequent task. In another experiment ( Baumeister et al. 2009 ), college students presented with a series of sentences denying the existence of free will proceeded to behave more aggressively than a control group: they served larger amounts of spicy salsa to people who said they dislike spicy food, despite being told these people had to eat everything on their plates."
- Alfred Mele, Free: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free Will, pp. 4-5. 

The more a person is convinced that free will is an illusion the less they will see themselves as responsible or accountable for what they do. "If you’re not responsible, you really don’t deserve to be blamed for your unseemly actions. And believing that you can’t be blamed for acting on your dishonest or aggressive urges reduces your incentive to control them. So you cheat or dish out unpleasantness." (Mele, Ib.)