Mind vs Heart on Free Will

An interesting x-phi discovery "in our abstract brains we’re incompatibilists, but in our hearts we’re compatibilists". See the article here at the New York Times. Not that it settles the philosophical issue in any way. Just tells how people tend to think about the issue. [I personally think that a compatibilist free will, if it exists, is sufficient for moral responsibility.]

An excerpt:

'At an abstract level, people seem to be what philosophers call incompatibilists: those who believe free will is incompatible with determinism. If everything that happens is determined by what happened before, it can seem only logical to conclude you can’t be morally responsible for your next action.

But there is also a school of philosophers — in fact, perhaps the majority school — who consider free will compatible with their definition of determinism. These compatibilists believe that we do make choices, even though these choices are determined by previous events and influences. In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, “Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.”

Does that sound confusing — or ridiculously illogical? Compatibilism isn’t easy to explain. But it seems to jibe with our gut instinct that Bill is morally responsible even though he’s living in a deterministic universe. Dr. Nichols suggests that his experiment with Mark and Bill shows that in our abstract brains we’re incompatibilists, but in our hearts we’re compatibilists.'


Komal said…
I think even if hard determinism was true, we would still have moral responsibility.
Thinking said…
hmm...nice blog you have here...will come back soon to read again...keep sharing...
Alec Lindsay said…
No, it doesn't sound confusing or illogical. You (or rather the NYT article) explained it perfectly adequately. If there is a problem (of understanding) it's that people find it hard to accept that previous events and influences can determine more than one outcome.
No thought, incidentally, goes on in the heart.
shakeel said…
i think it would be much better to review the criteria of determinism once again. And i also think that quantum physics is a much better field of science to help us in understanding it. According to quantum physics, world and its phenomena are not deterministic in the classical sense we have come to know off. It always talks about and explores the realms of probabilities. double slit experiment is a classical example of it. The path taken by electron is determined by sum over histories method derived by feynman. so even with all the knowledge of the event that is going to take place we can not predict the precise outcome. now one can argue that quantum effects are dealt at subatomic levels and not at the level of macroscopic phenomena. well that is partially true but still brain's activity is itself a process that proceeds at the atomic levels. so quantum electrodynamics concepts can not be totally overlooked.
so if according to quantum mechanics there can be more than one realities or more than one solution to the problem so then why can not it be in this case. Even better is the concept of model dependent reality where it depends on the observer what he thinks is the real view of the things he sees around himself. there can be more than one solutions to a problem. so one thing is for sure according to modern concepts world is not as deterministic as is being implied here. quantum physics refutes the deterministic approach towards phenomena, rather it follows a stochastic approach.
The question of free will is a very problematic one coz there are as many arguments to refute it as there are to support it. but one thing can never be overlooked and it is that our will depends a lot on circumstances and initial states as is well explained by the concept of chaos theory. and quantum physics effects are not to be overlooked too