Social Explanations and the Free Will Problem

There is strikingly little agreement across academic fields about the existence of free will, what experimental results show, and even what the term ‘free will’ means. In Lee and Harris’ “A Social Perspective on Debates About Free Will” the authors argue that group identities and their attendant social rewards are part of the problem. As they portray it, “different philosophical stances create social groups and inherent conflict, hindering interdisciplinary intellectual exploration on the question of free will because people incorporate their support for a particular stance into their identity” (ms 1). Lee and Harris’ exciting approach downplays the stated basis of academic disagreements, instead looking to social phenomena to explain why academic theorists adopt their positions. In particular, they argue that (1) philosophical convictions are structured by social group membership, and (2) the way such groups operate disfavors alternative philosophical commitments on free will
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