Quantitative Psychological Theory and Musings

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Free Will Absolution?

audio/visual version
This book review has spurred me to offer a brief follow up to a previous post on free will.

 I agree with the review author Holly Anderson,  who dismisses the idea that "emergence," or the consideration that brain functioning as a whole is more than the sum of its parts, by pointing out that any process governed by the brain is deterministic. However, focus of this post is on the issue of whether this means people shouldn't be held responsible for their actions.

The answer, in my opinion, is that in a pure abstract moral sense they can't be, but we have to assign responsibility to those who engage in externally damaging behavior anyway, for practical reasons.  We have to protect society. 

By the way, it is interesting to me that the question of whether a lack free will cancels moral responsibility is only considered with respect to negative behavior, at least in my experience.

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