November 15th, 2006

Vexen Crabtree 2015

R. Gross quotes on Free Will

Added this to the first bits of my page on Free Will (
Nisbett and Wilson (1977) go so far as to claim that all psychological activities (including social behaviour) are governed by processes of which we are unaware. [...] Emotions can occur with rapid onset, through automatic appraisal, with little awareness and with involuntary changes in expression and physiology; indeed, we often experience emotions as happening to us rather than chosen by us. [...]

Apart from Freud [...] probably the most outspoken person advocate of the view that the person is not free is Skinner. In Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) he argues that behavioural freedom is an illusion. Just as Freud believed that freedom is an illusion to the extent that we are unaware of the unconscious causes of our feelings and behaviours, so Skinner claimed that it is only because the causes of human behaviour are often hidden from us in the environment that the myth or illusion of free will survives.

"Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour" by Richard Gross, p75, 121 & 875

It follows commentary by other scientists on free will... I'm reading Dawkins' new book at the moment, and he makes some great comments on free will, so when I've finished The God Delusion I will be adding some more to this page again.