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If Heredity Explains Behavior, Do People Have Free Will?

Thursday September 2009

On Tuesday, September 29th, the Manhattan Institute sponsored the thirteenth in MI's series of annual addresses on public policy by James Q. Wilson, one of the nation’s most distinguished and influential social scientists.

The title of Professor Wilson’s talk this year is “If Heredity Explains Behavior, Do People Have Free Will?” Science has made great gains in finding how much heredity explains human behavior.  In his speech, Professor Wilson explored whether or not this progress makes it hard or impossible to hold people accountable for their actions.

James Wilson is a recipient of the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  He has written seminal works on the nature of human morality, government, and urban problems, and is the author or coauthor of 15 books that include The Moral Sense, The Marriage Problem, and Crime and Human Nature.  A former professor at Harvard and UCLA, he is now lecturing at Pepperdine University.