1 FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM: AN ADOPTION STUDY James J. Lee, Matt McGue University of Minnesota Twin Cities
2 UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA RESEARCH TEAM James J. Lee, Department of Psychology Matt McGue, Department of Psychology Alan C. Love, Department of Philosophy William G. Iacono, Department of Psychology Emily Willoughby, Department of Psychology Jack Quigley, Department of Psychology
3 RESEARCH AIMS General aim. Investigate the nature, origin, and correlates (consequences?) of agentic beliefs. Specific aim 1. Pilot psychometric investigation of alternative approaches to the assessment of agentic beliefs.
4 RESEARCH AIMS Specific aim 2. In a sample of adoptive and non-adoptive families, investigate how agentic beliefs are shaped. Specific aim 3. Investigate how agentic beliefs are associated with (a) political and religious beliefs, (b) traits related to industry and self-control, and (c) knowledge of genetics and behavioral genetics.
5 TIMELINE Funding started: April 24, 2017 Pilot data collection completed: May 5, 2017 Pilot data analysis to be completed: July 2017 Finalize assessment battery for family sample: July 2017 Initiate assessments (interviews and online) of family sample: August 2017
6 THE PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM OF FREE WILL The question of whether humans can have free will in a law-governed universe has been debated for over 2,000 years. St. Augustine (AD ) may have been the first to put the problem of free will in something resembling its modern form. St. Augustine, author of On Free Choice of the Will.
7 THE PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM OF FREE WILL Problem. If God is omniscient, then he knows whether a person will sin even before that person is born. But then how can it be that people freely choose whether to sin or to be virtuous? If we replace God s foreknowledge with initial conditions, then we have something like a modern formulation. St. Augustine, author of On Free Choice of the Will.
8 THE MODERN PHILOSOPHICAL DEBATE OVER FREE WILL Initial conditions are not enough to specify the present state. We also need laws of nature specifying how the tableau of the current moment evolves into that of the next. The modern debate over free will thus grew up together with the Scientific Revolution. Isaac Newton s copy of Principia Mathematica.
9 THE NOTION OF SCIENTIFIC DETERMINISM We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain, and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes. Pierre-Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities
10 THE COMPATIBILIST VIEW OF FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM Hume was the first exponent of compatibilism the philosophical view that a valuable kind of freedom can exist even in a deterministic universe. Let us call dissatisfaction with the kinds of freedom available in a deterministic universe incompatibilism. David Hume, author of A Treatise of Human Nature.
11 THE COMPATIBILIST VIEW OF FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM Hume called the freedom to act voluntarily, without undue coercion, liberty of spontaneity or civil liberty. He thought that this kind of liberty can exist in a deterministic universe. He also aggressively attacked incompatibilism. David Hume, author of A Treatise of Human Nature.
12 THE COMPATIBILIST VIEW OF FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM E.g., he pointed out that madmen are often deemed to be deprived of liberty. But madmen seem to enjoy more indeterminism! Their actions are not as easily predicted from their character and situation as those of the sane. To the extent that freedom is the ability to advance your interests, a deterministic connection between cause and effect is essential for the very existence of freedom. David Hume, author of A Treatise of Human Nature.
13 THE COMPATIBILIST VIEW OF FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM Hume also gave a psychological argument for why people think that they have incompatibilist free will (liberty of indifference). When making a decision, people have a strong subjective experience of considering multiple options. Hume does not deny that genuine deliberation occurs. But once a decision is made, he denies that it was possible for the agent to have chosen otherwise.
14 THE INCOMPATIBILIST VIEW OF FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM Perhaps responding directly to Hume, Kant called the compatibilist view a wretched subterfuge. William James had similarly harsh words for compatibilism: a quagmire of evasion. Incompatibilists typically believe that the universe is indeterministic (thus enabling free will) or that nothing worthy of being called free will actually exists. Immanual Kant, author of A Critique of Practical Reason.
15 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? Genetic research has demonstrated that just about every measurable behavioral trait is heritable. Some non-philosophers seem to think that these findings undermine the notion of free will. The Jim twins were the first twins reared apart studied by Thomas Bouchard.
16 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? I am often asked, Given your experience with identical twins reared apart, what is your feeling about determinism and free will? This is an interesting question I am not prepared to even attempt to answer the question. THOMAS BOUCHARD Steven Pinker devoted one chapter of The Blank Slate to the fear of determinism. The Jim twins were the first twins reared apart studied by Thomas Bouchard.
17 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? NOT SO MUCH FREE WILL OVER HERE? A LOT OF FREE WILL OVER HERE? genetic variance 10% environmental variance 40% genetic variance 60% environmental variance 90%
18 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? As far as we can tell, however, current philosophical literature concerning free will and determinism does not address nature-nurture. Possible reason. If genetic influence threatens free will, then any form of causality does so as well.
19 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? Suppose that all individual differences are due to differences in environmental experiences. In this hypothetical world, it may turn out that I have a low IQ because I was not subjected to enough tiger mothering.
20 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? But what is the difference between this case and the case where I have a low IQ because of my genetics? Either way, I cannot will myself to prove the Twin Prime Conjecture!
21 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? gene behavior environment behavior If the first causal chain eliminates free will, then the second one does so just as effectively.
22 RELATIONSHIP OF NATURE- NURTURE ISSUE TO FREE WILL? The precise extent of genetic influence, then, is irrelevant to the issue of free will. What matters is determinism of any kind not the percentage of the determinism that happens to be genetic. Question. Is this all there is to be said, philosophically? More later
23 THE EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY OF FREE WILL The relationship between free will and determinism continues to provoke pronouncements and debate. Two features of this discourse are remarkable: (1) the strong feelings engendered and (2) intractability, in the sense that no participants ever seem to change their minds.
24 THE EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY OF FREE WILL This impasse is a motivation for experimental philosophy the empirical study of how laypeople think about philosophical issues. Philosophers often argue that their view is more intuitive than that of their opponents. Experimental philosophy puts such claims to the test. The philosopher Eddy Nahmias.
25 THE EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY OF FREE WILL As the results of experimental philosophy have accumulated and become more complex, the avowed aims of its practitioners have changed ( Goal. To shed light on the psychological processes that lead people, in some circumstances, to say that free will exists (or not). The philosopher Eddy Nahmias.
26 AN EXAMPLE OF EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY Imagine there is a world where the beliefs and values of every person are caused completely by the combination of genes and environment. For instance, one day in this world, two identical twins, named Fred and Barney, are born to a mother who puts them up for adoption. Fred is adopted by the Jerksons and Barney by the Kindersons.
27 AN EXAMPLE OF EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY One day Fred and Barney each happen to find a wallet containing $1000 and the identification of the owner (neither man knows the owner). Each man is sure there is nobody else around. After deliberation, Fred Jerkson, because of his beliefs and values, keeps the money. After deliberation, Barney Kinderson, because of his beliefs and values, returns the wallet to its owner.
28 AN EXAMPLE OF EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY Given that, in this world, one s genes and environment completely cause one s beliefs and values, it is true that if Fred had been adopted by the Kindersons, he would have had the beliefs and values that would have caused him to return the wallet; and if Barney had been adopted by the Jerksons, he would have had the beliefs and values that would have caused him to keep the wallet.
29 AN EXAMPLE OF EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY PROPORTION RESPONDING YES FRED BARNEY FREE WILL Nahmias et al. (2005) MORAL RESPONSIBILITY Did Fred [Barney] keep [return] the wallet of his free will? Is Fred [Barney] morally blameworthy [praiseworthy] for keeping [returning] the wallet?
30 PILOT DATA FROM OUR STUDY OF AGENTIC BELIEFS scenario genetic background family environment behavioral outcome free will? 1 same different different 2 different same different 3 same different same 4 different same same
31 PILOT DATA FROM OUR STUDY OF AGENTIC BELIEFS scenario genetic background family environment behavioral outcome free will? 1 same different different different same different 3 same different same 4 different same same 0.875
32 PILOT DATA FROM OUR STUDY OF AGENTIC BELIEFS scenario genetic background family environment behavioral outcome free will? 1 same different different different same different same different same different same same 0.875
33 THE SIBLING INTERACTION AND BEHAVIOR STUDY We propose to study beliefs about free will and determinism in the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study (SIBS). 409 adoptive and 208 nonadoptive families, each consisting of two offspring (not biologically related in the adoptive families) and their rearing parents. In total, 1,232 offspring and 1,164 parents.
34 THE SIBLING INTERACTION AND BEHAVIOR STUDY SIBS will allow us to integrate the nature-nurture issue into experimental philosophy in two distinct ways. (1) What do people say about free will when genetics and environment are explicitly made part of the causal story? (2) What influence do genetic and environmental factors have on beliefs about free will and determinism?
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