For Whom Does Determinism Undermine Moral Responsibility? Surveying the conditions for free will across cultures

Ivar R. Hannikainen*, Edouard Machery, Paulo Sousa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Philosophers have long debated whether, if determinism is true, we should hold people morally responsible for their actions since in a deterministic universe, people are arguably not the ultimate source of their actions nor could they have done otherwise if initial conditions and the laws of nature are held fixed. To reveal how non-philosophers ordinarily reason about the conditions for free will, we conducted a cross-cultural and cross-linguistic survey (N = 5,268) spanning twenty countries and sixteen languages. Overall, participants tended to ascribe moral responsibility whether the perpetratorlacked sourcehood or alternate possibilities. However, for American, European, and Middle Eastern participants, being the ultimate source of one’s actions promoted perceptions of free will and control as well as ascriptions of blame and punishment. By contrast, being the source of one’s actions was not particularly salient to Asian participants. Finally, across cultures, participants exhibiting greater cognitive reflection were more likely to view free will as incompatible with causal determinism. We discuss these findings in light of documented cultural differences in the tendency toward dispositional versus situational attributions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2428
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2019

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'For Whom Does Determinism Undermine Moral Responsibility? Surveying the conditions for free will across cultures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this