Morning Links: XKCD and Free Will
March 23, 2011 9 Comments
Checking my morning links, I saw two reactions to hearing that the mind is the result of physical matter in a deterministic world:
(Alt-text: “Socrates could’ve saved himself a lot of trouble if he’d just brought a flashlight, tranquilizer gun, and a bunch of rescue harnesses.”)
Or this article from the NYTimes finding that subjects who were reminded of deterministic arguments about free will were more likely to cheat on a test:
In a follow-up experiment, the psychologists gave another test in which people were promised $1 for every correct answer — and got to compile their own scores. Just as Dr. Vohs and Dr. Schooler feared, people were more likely to cheat after being exposed beforehand to arguments against free will. These people went home with more unearned cash than did the other people.
This behavior in the lab, the researchers noted, squares with studies in recent decades showing an increase in the number of college students who admit to cheating. During this same period, other studies have shown a weakening in the popular belief in free will (although it’s still widely held).
Or you could go with Daniel Dennett’s approach in Freedom Evolves – No need to panic; we still have the important types of free will even in a deterministic universe. Of course, I can’t exactly imagine Dennett panicking in any context.