Master of Science
Gill, Michael J.
The implications a deterministic world might have for moral responsibility has long been a topic of philosophical debate. While much current research asserts that people are either incompatibilists or compatibilists, we argue that people do not consistently apply these beliefs. Instead, we argue that people maintain both the intuition that determinism diminishes moral responsibility and the intuition that people can be held morally responsible even in the presence of deterministic forces. We presented three studies to test the hypothesis that people will ignore determinism information when 1) selectively reminded that the actor maintains free will or 2) motivated to punish. We found some evidence to support our claim: People lay blame despite the existence of deterministic factors. However, this effect depends on the nature of the scenario and preexisting characteristics of the individual. Future work is necessary to determine if there is an underlying consistency to this effect.
Cerce, Stephanie C., "People are Neither Compatibilists Nor Incompatibilists: They Maintain Distinct, Inconsistent Intuitions Regarding Determinism and Moral Responsibility" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 1449.