The Connection Between Free Will And Morality

Dr. Michael LaitmanA physiology experiment and its results:
Objective: “Does a belief in free will have a relationship with morals? Does the belief in free will make one more moral or less moral?”

Experiment: “A set of 30 people were taken and divided into two groups of 15 people each. One group was given passages and statements which seemed to state that free will does not exist. They were made to read the viewpoints of philosophers and scientists who were determinists and stated that free will is only an illusion. One of the passages they read was from Francis Crick’s book (Crick along with Watson discovered the structure of DNA), The Astonishing Hypothesis: ‘You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.’

“So, one group was given ‘anti-free-will’ passages to read. The other group was given neutral passages to read that said nothing about free will or the lack of it.”

Test: “Then, the two groups were given a set of mathematical questions to solve on a computer. The computer program that asked the questions had a bug that the students could use to cheat in the test. After the test was over the experimenters checked the results of which group cheated more. The subjects of the experiment thought that the experiment was about math skills, but actually the experiment was about who cheats more.”

Result: “The experimenters found that the group that was given ‘anti-free-will’ passages to read cheated much more as compared to the group that read no passages related to free will.”

Conclusion: “So, the study suggested that a belief in free will makes one more moral. The person who believes in free will tends to take responsibility for his actions. A non-believer in free will tends to assign the moral responsibility to determinism – it had to happen that way!

“So scientists think that we may not have free will, but a belief in free will keeps society more moral. Our deterministic brain neurons fire based on its previous state, but one of the components of the state is our belief system. And having belief in free will in the system causes the neurons to fire more ‘morally’ than when the brain does not have this belief.”

My Comment: Kabbalah takes all of the opposite points of view and combines them, saying that a human being has no freedom in any regard; he is completely influenced by the environment. However, he can choose the environment on his own and thus change himself under its influence. This way, he can change his own destiny. (See Baal HaSulam’s article “The Freedom.”)

Related Material:
The Influence Of The Environment On Decisions And Memory
In Search For Freedom
True And False Freedom

One Comment

  1. “Free will” is really quite limited, despite belief that we control ourselves and our lives. We think we have endless choices…until we try to make them. Each decision must not only be based on what we “want to do,” but also on our own capabilities and what is expected of us. Nature and society imprison us, whether we like it or not. The key to release is mystical realization. All in One and One in All, the divine unity, opens the gate between heaven and Earth…between a universal consciousness and most people’s constrained awareness.

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