This paper relies on experimental methods to explore the psychological underpinnings of folk intuitions about free will and responsibility. In different conditions, people give conflicting responses about agency and responsibility. In some contexts, people treat agency as indeterminist; in other contexts, they treat agency as determinist. Furthermore, in some contexts people treat responsibility as incompatible with determinism, and in other contexts people treat responsibility as compatible with determinism. The paper considers possible accounts of the psychological mechanisms that underlie these conflicting responses.
Many psychologists and philosophers have suggested that religious ideas emerge because they are motivationally attractive. This paper attempts to support a version of the motivational thesis by relying on religious creeds as a source of historical evidence. This simple source of evidence indicates that the cultural evolution of religious ideas is partly a function of the motivational attractiveness of the religious ideas.