An error theory for compatibilist intuitions

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© 2013, © 2013 Taylor & Francis. One debate in the experimental exploration of everyday judgments about free will is whether most people are compatibilists or incompatibilists. Some recent research suggests that many people who have incompatibilist intuitions are making a mistake; as such, they do not have genuine incompatibilist intuitions. Another worry is whether most people appropriately understand determinism or confuse it with similar, but different, notions such as fatalism. In five studies we demonstrate people distinguish determinism from fatalism. While people overall make this distinction, a large percentage of people still judge that a person who is fated to perform an action is both free and morally responsible for that action. Those who thought that one freely performs and is morally responsible for a fated action had much stronger compatibilist judgments. These data suggest that a substantial percentage of people have “free will no matter what” intuitions. As a result, even though many people may appear to be compatibilists, they are not.

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Philosophical Psychology