While reading this question about the existence of free will, I thought that the implications of stating nonexistence of free will can be at least as important (and interesting) as the main question itself.
Assuming that one accepts no free will. I thought about two levels in which it can affect our lives:
- as an individual:
Assume a person is told that she lacks free will. As a typical person, she ends up thinking:
"OK. Since whatever I do is predetermined, then I can do whatever I want (in some sense)."
and then she goes crazy (e.g. starts smoking, stops exercising and starts breaking the law etc.) completely deactivating her self-control.
Well, in my opinion, her thought seems only partially true. It is true that whatever she does is already predetermined and she can't control it whatsoever. But she is forgetting that all our actions have consequences (smoking significantly increases the chance of lung cancer, inactivity can lead to a heart attack). So although she can't choose what she does, her actions depend on her current state of mind which should've changed, after reading this statement (or in some other way).
So now she realises that her actions are as inevitable as their consequences, and to avoid those consequences, she should avoid the actions (and hopefully activate her self-control again)!
- as the society (the system of justice):
At first, not having free will may seem really horrible for our justice system. After all, no one can be held responsible for their actions. It is just the circumstances that led them to this point.
Again, I should disagree. Not inculpating anyone for their actions can be a perfect idea! In our current standpoint, we tend to demonise the criminals and cage them like animals (e.g. solitary) and then reason since they had free will, something intrinsically evil about them caused them to do bad.
Instead, if we accept they didn’t have a free will, we can concentrate on the causes of their actions like poverty, poor education or even psychological disorders. So, this view definitely doesn't say that we should let all criminals free. We should control and monitor them in whatever way appropriate and more importantly try to solve their problems as well.
Also, I think there should be some punishment involved. Not because we want to punish the person since they are evil, but to impact the mental state of society. So, in my first example (when that person decides to do whatever they want), thinking about this punishment would change their state of mind and prevent them from breaking the law.
I wish to know:
Are there any other dilemmas when accepting the premise of no free will? What are the solutions to them?
How reasonable are my solutions to the two problems above?