Free Will and the Anders Breivik Trial by Sarah Lucas

In culture, ethics, Europe, government, philosophy, politics on September 1, 2012 at 17:31


From: Free Will and the Anders Breivik Trial by Sarah Lucas, The Humanist,

Obtaining revenge for heinous crimes appeals to our moral intuitions; if someone intentionally harms others, he or she should suffer the consequences. Revenge has been an understandably present theme in Norway in the aftermath of Breivik’s killing spree. On the opening day of the trial, the daily newspaper Dagsavisen carried the headline, “The Hour of Reckoning,” surrounded by the name of every person killed on Utoya. VG, Norway’s most-read paper, quoted a survivor who said, “I’m looking forward to him receiving his punishment.”

Our conviction that punishment is just in the face of crimes like Breivik’s is so strong that it obscures a built-in assumption. We take for granted that humans possess free will, and that each individual is therefore at liberty to act as he or she chooses. Our assumption is rooted in the powerful feeling of free will we experience: if I want to raise my hand right now, I will. Free will does not, however, flow from a materialistic (non-supernatural) understanding of the world. Without resorting to the supernatural, it is difficult to make a case for the existence of free will, at least for the type that would imply moral responsibility.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: The Humanist

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