sabato 30 luglio 2016

Does Belief in Free Will Make Us Better People? Jonathan Schooler

Notebook per
Does Belief in Free Will Make Us Better People?
Jonathan Schooler
Citation (APA): Schooler, J. (2014). Does Belief in Free Will Make Us Better People? [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Parte introduttiva
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 2
Does Belief in Free Will Make Us Better People? By Jonathan Schooler
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Resolving what to think about free will is itself a choice.
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Too often scholars treat the topic of free will as if there currently exists a single indisputably “correct” perspective.
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Initial evidence for the functionality of a belief in free will emerged from several studies by Kathleen Vohs and myself [1] examining the impact of discouraging a belief in free will on individuals’ tendency to cheat.
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In one study, participants were presented with one of two essays by the Nobel Laureate Francis Crick [2], the co-discoverer of DNA
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For example, Baumeister [3] and colleagues demonstrated that discouraging a belief in free will leads to less helping, more aggression, more mindless conformity, less feeling of guilt, less learning of moral lessons from one’s misdeeds, and less counterfactual thinking about how one might have behaved better.
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Other studies have begun to reveal the mechanisms underpinning these behavioral effects. For example, Rigoni and colleagues found [4] that discouraging a belief in free will reduces a specific signal of the brain’s electrical activity (the “readiness potential,” as measured by electroencephalography) known to be associated with the preparation of intentional action.
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Research by Stillman and colleagues found that believing in free will is associated with better career prospects and job performance.
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belief in free will is positively correlated with a host of positive attributes (including: self-control, life satisfaction, subjective happiness, mindfulness, and ambition) and negatively correlated with several less desirable traits (such as neuroticism and mind-wandering).
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First, the strengths of the relationships between belief in free will and the assorted positive traits and behaviors reviewed above, though observed in various labs and typically statistically significant, are generally relatively modest.
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a recent set of studies by Sharif and colleagues found that discouraging a belief in free will reduced people’s tendency to punish purely for the sake of vengeance.
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Personally, I find all three of the major conceptualizations of free will lacking, which contributes to my belief that neither logic nor science currently requires me to abandon a concept that I find quite useful.
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Hard determinism [7]’ s assumption, as endorsed by Crick, that free will is an illusion,
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Compatibilism [8] ’s assumption (alluded to just above) that genuine free will can exist in an entirely deterministic universe is by far the most popular view among modern philosophers [9]. However, it is very difficult for me to gain an intuitive understanding
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The Libertarian view [10] that conscious intent somehow transcends the causal chain of physical events most closely resonates with my personal experience, but it is difficult (though perhaps not impossible) to imagine how this might happen.
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Yet as William James [11] observed in making the case for pragmatism, [12] when an idea cannot be evaluated on reason alone, it may be appropriate to: "Grant an idea or belief to be true," and ask "what concrete difference will its being true make in anyone's actual life?
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For myself, the functionality of a belief in free will, both as revealed by research and through personal experience, contributes to its appeal.
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Why are there such disparate views about free will?
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For example, a study by Aarts and Kees van den Bos [13]
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This finding suggests that people who believe in free will may experience a stronger association between their actions and the events that follow them. In short, differences in how we experience the world may color our views about free will.
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Is it reasonable to consider the functionality of a belief in determining whether to adopt it?
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For those who find themselves undecided about metaphysical issues of all sorts, the functional value of these beliefs may seem an appropriate consideration in deciding whether or not to hold them. This is certainly the conclusion of some great minds such as William James [11] and Blaise Pascal.
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