Free Will?

The topic of Free Will is truly controversial, and one of the most difficult concepts to grasp. After reading a bit about it I still hold some kind confusion. 

In my opinion we have Free Will in some situations, but it is limited so it really would not be considered free. More like Limited will.  I have choices in life, that have some power over my future, but there are also some things that are inevitable.  We are a product of our environment and genetics. Free will does not come easily, and a conscious effort must be made to exercise it. However we are influenced by our social influences. Our behaviors are constantly influenced by our environment, Culture and even upbringing.  

Conformity is a change in behavior or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure

“Thirteenth century philosopher Thomas Aquinas viewed humans as pre-programmed (by virtue of being human) to seek certain goals, but able to choose between routes to achieve these goals. “

If we believe in the concept of free will–either by nature or nurture–and we feel we are responsible for our choices, then we are able to established accepted rules of conduct. However, if we have no choices and are, therefore, not responsible for our actions, then all law is superfluous. The only reason people could behave a certain way is that they can’t help it–their brains made them do it.  (Stenberg, 2012)

In 1884 William James described a two-stage model of free will in the first stage the mind develops random alternative possibilities for action, and in the second an adequately determined will selects one option.

In some generative philosophies of cognitive sciences and evolutionary psychology, free will is assumed not to exist.

However, an illusion of free will is created, within this theoretical context, due to the generation of infinite or computationally complex behavior from the interaction of a finite set of rules and parameters.

Different Views:

Universal determinism

Every event has a cause that fully determines it

Human determinism

All human actions are fully determined by preceding events – some are internal, some are external

At least some human actions are not fully determined by preceding events

Voluntary actions

Characterized by a prior decision process and the subjective feeling that several different choices are available

Incompatibilism

An act is free if and only if the actor could have done something different under exactly the same circumstances

Hard determinism

Humans lack free will, no one is morally responsible for what they do

Indeterministism

(Libertarianism) humans do have free will

Compatibilism

View that it is conceptually possible that both human determinism is true and humans have free will

Soft determinism

Determinism is true and at least some human actions are free, you can be held morally responsible for your actions

Agent causation

Version of libertarianism where the freely acting agent has the ability to terminate causal chains or start up new chains

What do you think?

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1 Comment

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One response to “Free Will?

  1. M.J. Miello

    Hi Isadiy. Interesting stuff. Free will is such a fascinating topic to me as well. Studying psychology really lets you see it in a new light. I think without a little study of psychology it seems like a silly question–but once you scratch the surface boy it gets deep. I went through a phase in college when Free Will was my favorite topic and I would argue with anyone who would listen that there is none (incidentally, if you ever find yourself in an unpleasant political debate it is quite fun to shift the conversation to the free will debate. It will be equally fruitless but much more interesting. The question of Free will seems to underly everything. What a paradox. 95% of culture/society/government seems to be based on it and yet it makes no sense as a scientific concept. Here are a few points I find interesting: If yoyu do accept that there is no free will, than you still have to go on living your life as if there was. Also, if as a leader of people you understand that there is no free will, you still have hope your people will accept responsibility for their own behavior. It is almost as if there are two worlds: A subjective personal world where free will exists and an objective materialistic world where it cannot. I hope to deal with some more of this on my own blog in the future (Viativity.com) Keep up the great writing Isaidy!

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