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Are We Free?Psychology and Free Will$
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John Baer, James C. Kaufman, and Roy F. Baumeister

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189636

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189636.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 12 August 2020

The Fear of Determinism

The Fear of Determinism

(p.311) 17 The Fear of Determinism
Are We Free?

Steven Pinker

Oxford University Press

This chapter confronts several fears that determinism engenders, such as the fear that deep down we are not in control of our own choices, and the fear that determinism makes it impossible to hold anyone accountable for their actions. Although the fear of biological determinism seems to many people more frightening, environmental determinism must carry the same baggage. But contrary to what is implied by critics of both biological and environmental theories of the causes of behavior, explaining behavior does exonerate the behavior. This chapter shows that we don't need to solve the puzzle of free will in order to preserve personal responsibility in the face of an increasing understanding of the causes of behavior.

Keywords:   free will, personal responsibility, choices, biological determinism, environmental determinism

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