The Psychology of Free Will


Authors
Eddy Nahmias
Georgia State University
Abstract
I argue that the traditional free will debate has focused too much on whether free will is compatible with determinism and not enough on whether free will is compatible with specific causal explanations for our actions, including those offered by empirical psychology. If free will is understood as a set of cognitive and volitional capacities, possessed and exercised to varying degrees, then psychology can inform us about the extent to which humans (as a species and as individuals) possess those capacities and manage to exercise them across various situations. While recent work on the role of consciousness in action has been misinterpreted to suggest its role is illusory, recent work in social psychology presents a more viable challenge to our free will. The extent to which we can act on reasons we would accept or can know why we are doing what we do appears to be much less than we presume. Further work is necessary, of course, and it will need to involve both philosophical analysis and psychological investigation. Questions regarding the nature of human freedom and responsibility clearly require the conceptual resources of philosophy and the empirical resources of psychology. (This chapter was written in 2008 for the never published Oxford Handbook on Philosophy of Psychology.)
Keywords freedom  determinism  psychology
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Degrees of Freedom.Timothy O'Connor - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (2):119 – 125.
Essays in Philosophical Moral Psychology.Antti Kauppinen - 2008 - Dissertation, University of Helsinki

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Epistemic Freedom.J. David Velleman - 1989 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 70 (1):73-97.
How Can Psychology Contribute to the Free Will Debate?Shaun Nichols - 2009 - In J. Baer, J. Kaufman & R. Baumeister (eds.), Psychology and Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Locke on the Freedom of the Will.Vere Chappell - 1994 - In G. A. J. Rogers (ed.), Locke's Philosophy: Content and Context. Oxford University Press. pp. 101--21.
Chaos and Free Will.James W. Garson - 1995 - Philosophical Psychology 8 (4):365-74.
The Psychology of Freedom.Raymond Van Over - 1974 - Fawcett Publications.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-03-20

Total views
439 ( #9,558 of 2,237,167 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
39 ( #15,686 of 2,237,167 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature