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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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Determined and Free

Determined and Free

(p.32) 3 Determined and Free
Are We Free?

David G Myers

Oxford University Press

This chapter distinguishes several dimensions of the problem of free will. The descriptive project aims to characterize our everyday notions of choice and responsibility, and to discern the origins of these notions. Psychology is obviously critical to this descriptive endeavor, and there is some evidence that everyday notions of choice are indeterministic. On the substantive project, the goal is to assess whether our everyday notions of choice correspond to the way the world really is. It is argued that psychology is not currently in a position to show directly that determinism is true, however psychology might show that the belief in indeterminist choice is poorly founded. The goal of the prescriptive project is to decide how we should respond if we find that our everyday beliefs in free will are unjustified. Psychology has an important role to play here too, in exploring the potential consequences of revising our everyday practices.

Keywords:   determinism, descriptive project, substantive project, prescriptive project, responsibility

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