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

Abstract

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

Caruso, Gregg, Free Will Skepticism and Its Implications: An Argument for Optimism (April 3, 2016). Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society, ed. Elizabeth Shaw & Derk Pereboom, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2758311 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2758311

Gregg Caruso (Contact Author)

SUNY Corning ( email )

1 Academic Drive
Corning, NY 14830
United States

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