Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Put that genie BACK in the bottle, cried John ...

Science journalist John “End of Science” Horgan asked last month (December 8, 2010), "Dear Scientists: Please Stop Bashing Free Will!":
When people doubt free will, they are more likely to behave badly. After reading a passage from a book that challenged the validity of free will, students were more likely to cheat on a mathematics exam. Others were less likely to let a classmate use their cell phone. “Some philosophical analyses may conclude that a fatalistic determinism is compatible with highly ethical behavior,” the psychologist Jesse Bering comments in an article on these studies, “but the present results suggest that many laypersons do not yet appreciate that possibility.”
It's not surprising that people who have been told that there is no free will do not "appreciate the possibility" of highly ethical behavior. There would be no point in even describing it as highly ethical behaviour.

Horgan wants to be a materialist atheist but still have free will, as if such a position were even possible.

 One can understand a non-materialist atheist assuming free will, of course, but then the non-materialist does not claim to have a theory by which the movement of elementary particles accounts for everything.

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