Reading Stephen Pinkers’ “How the Mind Works”,
in its first chapter, before starting to explain how mind works he tries to preempt the use of his work to justified immoral behavior by claiming that understanding the physical condition that necessitate an immoral act does not mean the said acts are justified. He wrote “A human being is simultaneously a machine and a sentient free agent…”. He did not stray away from the view that free will is necessary for discussion of morality, law and punishment. in fact it seems that he went out of his way to show that the idea of free will is still intact even if science has proof it is an illusion.
This protection of free will comes from the believe that our justice system cannot function without it. in the sense that free will allow us to punish people who commit crime and reward people for their good deeds. without free will there will be no agent to punish or reward.
I disagree. I do not believe that free will is needed for a functional justice system.
Criminals dont have to be met with punishment because they deserve it, but because our society collectively decide thought democratic process to raise the cost of acts they committed. Punishment become not a form of revenge, but an incurred cost to prevent occurrence of socially undesirable act.
Indeed, it is the rejection of the notion that people are free, and they comment crime because they are evil; and the acceptance of people commit crime because their behaviors system demands it under certain circumstances, can we look beyond punishment as the only preventive tool but a tool among many.
We can look at what causes a criminals’ behaviors system to grown to such a state that will act criminally where others wont and seek to neutralize those causes. Those causes will come in forms of how is build up by the accumulated interaction between genes and the environment (parenting, schooling, memes, culture, society in general). Understanding those cause, will lead to innovative solutions that may involve better parenting education, better education system, legal systems and other current unknown factors.
Acknowledging free will as an illusion, demystify human thought and open up possibility for new crime prevention strategy. Free will, I believe, we are better off without it.