Experimental evidence for free will revisionism

Philosophical Explorations 16 (1):31 - 43 (2012)
Philosophers who theorize about whether free will is compatible with causal determinism often rely on ordinary intuitions to bolster their theory. A revisionist theory of free will takes a different approach, saying that the best philosophical theory of what we ought to think about free will conflicts with what we ordinarily do think about free will. I contend that revisionism has not been taken as seriously as should be because philosophers have not realized the extent to which ordinary intuitions are inconsistent. I present an experiment that gives empirical evidence for revisionism. The experiment shows that, in spite of the fact that the ?is compatible with? relation is symmetric, folk intuitions change as a function of whether we ask ?Is determinism compatible with free will?? versus ?Is free will compatible with determinism?? The paper explores possible explanations for why folk intuitions do not mirror the symmetry of the ?is compatible with? relation, but regardless of which of these explanations is correct, I argue that we must be revisionists in at least this sense: what we ought to believe about free will cannot include everything we do believe about free will
Keywords free will  revisionism  experimental philosophy  psychological distance  construal level theory
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2012.708774
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