Free Will Skepticism and Its Implications: An Argument for Optimism
Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society, ed. Elizabeth Shaw & Derk Pereboom, Forthcoming
30 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2016 Last revised: 22 May 2018
Date Written: April 3, 2016
Would the consequences of giving up the belief in free will cause nihilism and despair as some maintain, or would it rather have a humanizing effect on our practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of free will belief? If it turns out that belief in free will, rather than being a good thing, actually has a dark side, then this would help remove one of the major obstacles in the way of accepting free will skepticism (e.g., concerns over its negative consequences). It would also support disillusionism over illusionism as the proper course of action for free will skeptics. In section I, I discuss two common concerns people have with relinquishing the belief in free will and argue that they are unfounded. In section II, I make the case for the “dark side” of free will by discussing recent findings in moral and political psychology which reveal interesting, and potentially troubling, correlations between people’s free will beliefs and their other moral, religious, and political beliefs.
Keywords: free will, free will skepticism, punishment, retribution, punitiveness, just world belief, moral responsibility
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation