Jul 132015


Some compatibilists find it hard to believe that a large majority of the world actually does intuitively believe in the incoherent definition of free will. They think it’s fine and dandy to redefine the word as if the other definition is of no concern what-so-ever. Others realize that people do actually have these intuitions but look to evade such by redefining free will. Such evasion is, however, very problematic. Understanding that we could not have, of our own accord, done otherwise, is a very important understanding with implications that could change the world (in positive ways) if everyone understood such.

The fact that a majority of people think others could have done otherwise, and who place moral blameworthiness and praiseworthiness (not just for the sake of utility) on to people who in fact couldn’t have done, of their own accord, otherwise, is a fact that must be dealt with. We cannot progress if we are stuck in these antiquated ideas that our intuitions create and enforce. They are harmful ideas, and more than that, they are fictions. If you don’t know why such free will ability is logically incoherent or why we truly need to abandon the belief in such, check out a copy of Breaking the Free Will Illusion.

If you like this infographic and find it useful, please share it around in it’s unaltered format (a clickable link back to this page would be appreciated as well in order to drive traffic). I’m looking to educate and create a strong site around this topic, so please support it by subscribing to the blog, sharing on social media, or any other ways you deem fit.

And thank you so much for your continued learning, educating, and support of this awesome topic. For more information on this particular study, read an article about it here:
Common Intuitions about Free Will (and how it needs to be defined)

Note: Per the study: “Participants were drawn from an Honors student colloquium and several introductory philosophy classes at Florida State University (before studying the free will problem). Any participants who indicated that they had taken a previous college philosophy course were excluded from the results. We also excluded those participants who missed the manipulation check and the few who answered ‘‘I don’t know’’ in response to the experimental question.”

Due to the fact that such is a study of university students (undergraduates), I think the 76% is a cautious one that is probably much higher in an average town for a general population.

Nahmias, E., S. Morris, T. Nadelhoffer, and J. turner. 2006. Surveying freedom: Folk intuitions about free will and moral responsibility. Philosophical Psychology 18:561-584.


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'Trick Slattery

'Trick Slattery is the author of Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. He's an author, philosopher, artist, content creator, and entrepreneur. He has loved and immersed himself in philosophy since he was teenager. It is his first and strongest passion. Throughout the years he has built a philosophy based on analytic logic and critical thinking. Some of the topics he is most interested in are of a controversial variety, but his passion for the topics and their importance drives him to want to express these ideas to others. His other passions include pen and ink line art and digital artwork.

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  6 Responses to “Free Will Intuitions: Fred and Barney Case Study – InfoGraphic”

Comments (6)
  1. Trick,

    Excellent post. What do you think is at the core of the Compatibilist error? We know they are choosing to be so terribly incorrect in the way that they are, so what are the determinants that are making them fail at something that is so clearly documented. MOST PEOPLE ARE UNDER THE ILLUSION OF FREEWILL, WHICH DOES NOT IN REALITY EXIST.

    • Thanks Steve! I think they have a certain type of bias and a misunderstood concern that if we tell people they don’t have such a type of free will they will act immorally (adverse consequence fallacy). They also don’t have a full understanding of the benefits of dropping the notion of free will.


      – This nailed it. :-)

  2. ‘Trick,

    The “based on one study” footnote should be highlighted and not hidden in the small print. Otherwise it seems you are jumping to conclusions. I don’t believe in free will, but I also don’t think one study should lead to firm conclusions. Thx!

    • Hi Bill, thanks for the visit.

      Keep in mind that for the same study there were other smaller studies done with different scenarios, giving similar results. There are also other studies with similar results such as Moral Responsibility and Determinism: The Cognitive Science of Folk Intuitions (Nichols), etc. I think it should be quite obvious that this particular infographic is addressing a single study. It’s hardly “hidden”, even if the note was left entirely off – in fact the infographic says “76% of people who took the survey have…”. The main point is that people do think, even given an entirely deterministic universe, that others “could have done otherwise”. I think this “otherwise” intuition is obvious regardless of the study (just ask a few people who aren’t used to the topic).

      The study does say a whole lot about the incoherent thinking people hold in these regards. And these were college students. I suspect the numbers (for the “otherwise” assessment) would be much higher in a normal community of people. I do think more studies like this need to happen.

      Later. :-)

  3. Trick, you need to make it clear that parts of the infographic are NOT based on the study, but are your assertions as to what the study means (and are NOT the study authors’ conclusion!)

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