Science and Freedom

Mainstream science supports a physicalist understanding of human beings and their behavior which challenges traditional notions of self and free will.  But a fully naturalistic, science-based view of ourselves nevertheless provides a robust basis for morality, while pointing the way toward humane revisions in our responsibility practices.

An article published in Free Inquiry (link is external), Spring 2002.

Some fear that science, by revealing the causes of behavior, will undermine traditional concepts of freedom and responsibility, leaving us with no moral recourse.  Science indeed undermines the traditional libertarian notion of free will, but there are viable concepts of freedom and responsibility which are compatible with a scientific understanding of ourselves.  The compatibilist view of moral responsibility underwrites moral judgments, but it also suggests we invest our energies in addressing the causes of evil and criminality instead of imposing unnecessarily harsh punishments which simply perpetuate the cycle of violence.