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02/21/2014

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Reading right now, planning on using in near future. Wondering about FW item "external circumstances"--what about internal constraints, like ignorance, sleepwalking, addiction...? Also, do the DE item "big bang" and DU item "we have souls" become irrelevant, and thus less informative, for participants who don't believe in the big bang or souls? I can imagine such a participant answering NO to these without subscribing to the intended philosophical notion. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Liz,

Thanks for your comments. First, since we didn't include items involving internal constraints, I am unsure how people's intuitions on that front line up with their intuitions about external constraints. That would be a nice issue to explore experimentally! Second, your question about the big bang and soul items is a good one. Since I do believe in the big bang, I will set that one aside and focus instead on how I would respond to the soul-specific items.

Soul Items from Part 1:

The fact that we have souls that are distinct from our material bodies is what makes humans unique.

Because I do believe humans are unique and I don’t believe in a soul, I would strongly disagree with this statement. This strong disagreement would lower my score on the dualism/non-reductionism subscale (as I believe it should).

Human action can only be understood in terms of our souls and minds and not just in terms of our brains.

Because I don’t believe in the soul and I don’t think there is a mind distinct from the brain, I would once again strongly disagree with this statement. Once again, this strong disagreement would lower my score on the dualism/non-reductionism scale (as I once again think it should).

Soul Items from Part 2:

If it turned out that people lacked non-physical (or immaterial) souls, then they would lack free will.

Now this item is trickier for me. On the one hand, as an incompatibilist who thinks the ordinary concept of free will is tied to a dualistic notion of the mind-body relation and a number of metaphysical beliefs stemming from religious tradition, I am inclined to agree with the statement. On the other hand, I also appreciate that compatibilists have a different notion of free will that does not require a soul, etc. As such, I would be inclined to neither agree nor disagree with this statement. Given that the mean was 3.8 for this item, lots of people were similarly undecided. But since this item comes from Part 2 of the scale, my lack of agreement or disagreement doesn’t affect my score—since only Part 1 is scored.

If it turned out that people lacked non-physical (or immaterial) souls, then they would lack moral responsibility

My response to this one is similar to my response to the last item. I would neither agree nor disagree. Once again, the mean was 3.8. So lots of people were undecided when it came to how to reply to this item.

The reason these items are all trickier for me is that I am a skeptic about free will and moral responsibility. But for people who either think we have fw and mr and that these depend on the soul or who think we have fw and mr and these don't require a soul, these items should be pretty straightforward. Or so it seems to me...

That said, thanks again for your comment. Let me know what you think about my response!

Thanks for the thorough reply.

Soul items:

The fact that we have souls that are distinct from our material bodies is what makes humans unique.

Because I do believe humans are unique and I don’t believe in a soul, I would strongly disagree with this statement. This strong disagreement would lower my score on the dualism/non-reductionism subscale (as I believe it should).

Liz: I feel like this may have two parts for some respondents. If I believe that non-human animals have souls too (humans not unique), I'd answer no, making me look like the dualist I am.


Human action can only be understood in terms of our souls and minds and not just in terms of our brains.

Because I don’t believe in the soul and I don’t think there is a mind distinct from the brain, I would once again strongly disagree with this statement. Once again, this strong disagreement would lower my score on the dualism/non-reductionism scale (as I once again think it should).

Liz: Sort of the same comment as the last--do you think this is double-barreled at all? What if I'm an atheist dualist, with belief in distinct mind but not soul?

Also wondering if you have correlated the FWI with the Paulhus & Carey measure (especially for each of your subscales). Would be interested to see how comparable scores are, to infer validity and effect size across findings when trying to understand a FW phenomena.

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