Why ‘Willusionism’ Leads to ‘Bad Results’: Comments on Baumeister, Crescioni, and Alquist
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- Nahmias, E. Neuroethics (2011) 4: 17. doi:10.1007/s12152-009-9047-7
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Drawing on results discussed in the target article by Baumeister et al. (1), I argue that the claim that the modern mind sciences are discovering that free will is an illusion (“willusionism”) is ambiguous and depends on how ordinary people understand free will. When interpreted in ways that the evidence does not justify, the willusionist claim can lead to ‘bad results.’ That is, telling people that free will is an illusion leads people to cheat more, help less, and behave more aggressively, but these responses may be based on people’s interpreting willusionist claims to mean that they lack the powers of rational choice and self-control.