Do you have free will? You’d better believe it

Do you have free will? It’s the only choice.  Nice review by John Tierney of ideas about free will.

How do philosophers’ and scientists’ theories about free will line up with what people actually think about it? “Intellectual concepts of free will can vary enormously, but there seems to be a fairly universal gut belief in the concept starting at a young age.  … Whatever their cultural differences, people tend to reject the notion that they live in a deterministic world without free will.”

Does it make any practical difference whether you believe you have free will?  We “pragmatically intuit that regardless of whether free will exists, our society depends on everyone’s believing it does. 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.”

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2 thoughts on “Do you have free will? You’d better believe it

  1. Well the problem occurs if freewill existed and people didn’t believe in it. If freewill doesn’t really exist, then we don’t really have a choice in believing whether it does or not, right?

  2. Right. So you might as well believe. Suppose we did something like a Pascal’s wager analysis of the matter. If free will doesn’t exist, we’ll believe or not as we’re determined to do. If it does exist but you don’t believe it does, everyone (you and everyone you affect) is worse off. If it does exist and you believe it does, everyone is better off. So why not believe (either because that’s what was going to happen anyway or because you freely decide that’s the right answer)?

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