Boston College law professor and author Kent Greenfield was in town yesterday to give a thought-provoking colloquium to the UW Law faculty on his new book The Myth of Choice.
Through vivid and entertaining visuals and anecdotes he synthesized much of the current research on how free our choices really are. He is not taking on the standard free will vs. determinism philosophical date per se. Rather he is just showing that even if we have free will, a number of sociological and neuropsychological constraints, biases, and pressures box us into making decisions within narrower frames than we believe we operate under.
So why is a law professor talking about all of this? Because he argues that these far more limited decision frameworks are at odds with the way we construct law and policy systems. In the U.S. and other “free” liberal democracies, we build our law and policy on the foundational premise that individuals can, and do, in many cases make truly unfettered decisions.
I just got a copy of the book and look forward to reading it.