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Experimental Philosophy and the Problem of Free Will

Experimental philosophers have recently begun to ask fundamental, but seemingly straightforward, questions about the human condition. Nichols (p. 1401) reviews the problem that free will, which is accepted as a given by most people, poses for determinism: Does free will absolve people of moral respo... Full description

Journal Title: Science Mar 18, 2011, Vol.331(6023), pp.1401-1403
Main Author: Nichols, Shaun
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
ID: ISSN: 00368075 ; DOI: 10.1126/science.1192931
Link: http://search.proquest.com/docview/857530904/?pq-origsite=primo
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title: Experimental Philosophy and the Problem of Free Will
format: Article
creator:
  • Nichols, Shaun
subjects:
  • Philosophy
  • Determinism
  • Morality
  • Responsibilities
  • Psychology
ispartof: Science, Mar 18, 2011, Vol.331(6023), pp.1401-1403
description: Experimental philosophers have recently begun to ask fundamental, but seemingly straightforward, questions about the human condition. Nichols (p. 1401) reviews the problem that free will, which is accepted as a given by most people, poses for determinism: Does free will absolve people of moral responsibility for their actions? Although a definitive resolution of this issue is not in sight, the experimental findings suggest explanations for why people behave as they do, even if the underlying motivations for their reasoning are still debated. Many philosophical problems are rooted in everyday thought, and experimental philosophy uses social scientific techniques to study the psychological underpinnings of such problems. In the case of free will, research suggests that people in a diverse range of cultures reject determinism, but people give conflicting responses on whether determinism would undermine moral responsibility. When presented with abstract questions, people tend to maintain that determinism would undermine responsibility, but when presented with concrete cases of wrongdoing, people tend to say that determinism is consistent with moral responsibility. It remains unclear why people reject determinism and what drives people's conflicted attitudes about responsibility. Experimental philosophy aims to address these issues and thereby illuminate the philosophical problem of free will. [PUBLICATION ]
language: eng
source:
identifier: ISSN: 00368075 ; DOI: 10.1126/science.1192931
fulltext: fulltext
issn:
  • 00368075
  • 0036-8075
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subjectPhilosophy ; Determinism ; Morality ; Responsibilities ; Psychology
descriptionExperimental philosophers have recently begun to ask fundamental, but seemingly straightforward, questions about the human condition. Nichols (p. 1401) reviews the problem that free will, which is accepted as a given by most people, poses for determinism: Does free will absolve people of moral responsibility for their actions? Although a definitive resolution of this issue is not in sight, the experimental findings suggest explanations for why people behave as they do, even if the underlying motivations for their reasoning are still debated. Many philosophical problems are rooted in everyday thought, and experimental philosophy uses social scientific techniques to study the psychological underpinnings of such problems. In the case of free will, research suggests that people in a diverse range of cultures reject determinism, but people give conflicting responses on whether determinism would undermine moral responsibility. When presented with abstract questions, people tend to maintain that determinism would undermine responsibility, but when presented with concrete cases of wrongdoing, people tend to say that determinism is consistent with moral responsibility. It remains unclear why people reject determinism and what drives people's conflicted attitudes about responsibility. Experimental philosophy aims to address these issues and thereby illuminate the philosophical problem of free will. [PUBLICATION ]
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abstractExperimental philosophers have recently begun to ask fundamental, but seemingly straightforward, questions about the human condition. Nichols (p. 1401) reviews the problem that free will, which is accepted as a given by most people, poses for determinism: Does free will absolve people of moral responsibility for their actions? Although a definitive resolution of this issue is not in sight, the experimental findings suggest explanations for why people behave as they do, even if the underlying motivations for their reasoning are still debated. Many philosophical problems are rooted in everyday thought, and experimental philosophy uses social scientific techniques to study the psychological underpinnings of such problems. In the case of free will, research suggests that people in a diverse range of cultures reject determinism, but people give conflicting responses on whether determinism would undermine moral responsibility. When presented with abstract questions, people tend to maintain that determinism would undermine responsibility, but when presented with concrete cases of wrongdoing, people tend to say that determinism is consistent with moral responsibility. It remains unclear why people reject determinism and what drives people's conflicted attitudes about responsibility. Experimental philosophy aims to address these issues and thereby illuminate the philosophical problem of free will. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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pubThe American Association for the Advancement of Science
doi10.1126/science.1192931
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date2011-03-18