How Can Psychology Contribute to the Free Will Debate?

Shaun Nichols

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


This chapter offers an introductory overview of freedom and determinism. It contemplates common objections to determinism (presumed fatalism, denial of free choice, and negation of praise, blame, and responsibility). It identifies psychology's challenges to free will (evolutionary influences, genetic influences, brain control, parental/peer/cultural influences, and non-conscious influences). It indicates how psychological science nevertheless affirms human freedom, through research on selfdetermination and the benefits of personal control. Finally, it suggests how theological and practical wisdom converge with science in concluding that we are both the products of our biological and social histories, and the architects of our futures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAre We Free?
Subtitle of host publicationPsychology and Free Will
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199868605
ISBN (Print)9780195189636
StatePublished - Mar 20 2008


  • Determinism
  • Fatalism
  • Free will
  • Freedom
  • Responsibility
  • Self-determination
  • Wisdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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