Laypersons’ beliefs and intuitions about free will and determinism: new insights linking the social psychology and experimental philosophy paradigms

Social Psychological and Personality Science 1 (9):539-549 (2018)
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Abstract

We linked between the social-psychology and experimental-philosophy paradigms for the study of folk intuitions and beliefs regarding the concept of free will to answer three questions: (1) what intuitions do people have about free-will and determinism? (2) do free will beliefs predict differences in free-will and determinism intuitions? and (3) is there more to free-will and determinism than experiencing certainty or uncertainty about the nature of the universe? Overall, laypersons viewed the universe as allowing for human indeterminism, and they did so with certainty. Examining intuitions of prosociality, future-orientation, learning, meaningfulness, human uniqueness, and well-being, ratings were highest in the indeterministic universe condition and lowest in the deterministic universe condition, both significantly different from the uncertain universe condition. Participants’ free will beliefs had only weak impact on realism, happiness, and learning intuitions, but did not reverse the general intuition favoring indeterminism, and showed no impact on other intuitions.

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