Value in Free Will

Category: Ethics
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What is Free Will?

Free will is a concept that will always be one of the greatest debates in psychological and philosophical history. As humans, we believe that free will was or is something in our minds that make us choose what we want when we want to choose it and isn’t being forced by anybody or anything. Just as we go through the debate of nature vs nurture, free will could be thought of in the same way. Free will is the desires and drives to do things by our environment because we are organism moving toward goals in life. We should acknowledge that free will is determined together by processes set into motion directly by our environment and by the processes instigated by our conscious choice and will. (Chartrand, 1999) Baumeister and John Bargh Roy Baumeister studies self-control or self-regulation as he called it. His study was to see if people throughout the day if resisted temptation would deplete in energy and later indulge in something they were tempted by earlier or how they would do on something they had to perform on. These studies were to show that if people had some type of desire or temptation that they were using some type of energy and that their energy was limited.

Baumeister explains that if you can resist certain desires or temptation that this is a certain type of skill and that skill if practiced like resisting bad food can become stronger or automatic. (TED 2012) Baumeister also states that will power controls things such as thoughts, feelings, impulse and performing task. When it comes to automaticity Bargh had different and similar things to say about how the nonconscious mind worked. Bargh often talked about how we are motivated toward being successful in life or in achieving a certain desire. When that desire is met like driving a car it becomes automatic.

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Intentional acquisition of automaticity. This is an ability that we have learned and practice so much that when we do it, we do it really without thinking and can constraint on other things such as the conversation we are having with the people in the car. Though self-regulation isn’t the same as using a car and doing it without thought, the difference here is that Baumeister would say that you don’t need self-control to drive. This isn’t a temptation or desire to do something. What we can contribute to this is the unintentional acquisition of automaticity. It would be the same as Baumeister allege to not eating bad food becoming a strength of willpower. If you can resist the same food over and over and make the same decision over time it will become automatic that you won’t eat that food.

Will Many believe that you if you mess with someone’s beliefs your messing with the way they think and the way that they act. It is well established that changing people’s sense of responsibility can change their behavior. For example, invoking a sense of personal accountability causes people to modify their behavior to better align with their attitudes. (Schooler, 2008) If this is true, there must be a value in people’s thoughts of free will. In an experiment by Kathleen D. Vohs reported that a hypothesis of participants primed to believe that human behavior is under the control of biological and environmental determination forces would cheat more than would participants who were not led to believe that behavior is predetermined was significant. (Schooler, 2008)

The people who read deterministic lecture had a change in free will thus giving them a reason to cheat. Vohs’s Research Vohs’s research was on the bases of, could you manipulate participants values and behavior by having them think they have no free will. These experiments explored whether participants who free will was challenged would cheat if giving the opportunity to do so. It showed us if reducing a person’s sense of control also could reduce their ethics or behavior. (Schooler, 2008) Though some of these things they did explain about manipulating someone’s free will would change some ethics, other moral and ethical infractions are unknown. 

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Value in Free Will. (2021, Nov 29). Retrieved from