Oct 23, 2013 | By George Gantz
Great Summary of the Free Will Debates!
Dr. Jonathon Schooler has authored a discussion Does Belief in Free Will Make Us Better People? (in the Big Questions Online series sponsored by the Templeton Foundation) that succinctly summarizes the current state of knowledge and disagreement on this key metaphysical question. Dr. Schooler’s opening article notes that the lack of consensus leaves us on the position of having to make a choice – “each one of us is faced with deciding for ourselves where we stand on an issue that may have important consequences for how we lead our lives.” Increasingly, the evidence suggests that a belief in free will promotes pro-social behaviors and increases our sense of personal control and our general well-being. His conclusion is that a belief in free will, which is entirely consistent with our subjective intuition, is the better choice.
The comments in response to the article provide a thorough and expert overview of the three dominant perspectives on free will – determinism, compatibilism and libertarianism – and an exploration of the problems with definitions, uncertainties and unknowns that frustrate the search for consensus. The threads lead into issues the ISAS Forum has dealt with previously, including experimental philosophy, neuroscience and causation. Dr. Schooler in his closing words concludes that “people can have very different perspectives on the issue of free will, and that is as it should be at this time”, implying that more empirical data may clarify which answer is the right one. My own conclusion is that free will, as explained in Miracles, is a paradox where we are forced to make a choice (using, of course, our capacity for freely willing).
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