8.3276 Study Project: Experimental Philosophy: Folk Intuitions about Free Will and Determinism and why they Matter (Part III)Walter, Stephan
Prerequisites: Introduction to Philosophy of Mind Basics in the Free Will Debate / Participation in Part II
The traditional philosophical debate about "free will" typically takes for granted certain views about what it is "natural" to believe and what one comes to believe only after indulging in too much philosophy. For instance, it is often claimed that incompatibilism (i.e., the view that free will and determinism are incompatible) is the "natural" view of the folk and that it requires quite some philosophical work to convince people of compatibilism (i.e., the view that free will and determinism are compatible). Likewise, it has been argued that a belief in determinism is "natural" and indeterminism is an "unnatural" view. And it is usually taken for granted that people believe they have free will, while the denial of free will is "unnatural". And finally, some have argued that not believing in free will has negative consequences, because it makes one more likely to behave immorally.
All these are clearly important questions. And they cannot be resolved from the philosophical armchair only; they require empirical investigation and careful experimental design. This is what has been done during the past decade or so under the heading of "experimental philosophy". There are only a few studies so far, with mixed results. The study project aims to improve the existing studies and develop new ones, in particular with an eye on cross-cultural questions.
The study project will culminate in the organization of an international conference on Experimental Philosophy in Osnabrück in 2017.