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Positive Illusions, Perceived Control and the Free Will Debate

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It is a common assumption among both philosophers and psychologists that having accurate beliefs about ourselves and the world around us is always the epistemic gold standard. However, there is gathering data from social psychology that suggest that illusions are quite prevalent in our everyday thinking and that some of these illusions may even be conducive to our overall well being. In this paper, we explore the relevance of these so-called ‘positive illusions' to the free will debate. More specifically, we use the literature on positive illusions as a springboard for examining Saul Smilansky's so-called ‘free will illusionism’. At the end of the day, we will use data from both social and developmental psychology concerning perceived control to try to show that his view is on shaky empirical footing.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of PhilosophyDickinson College

Publication date: November 1, 2009


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