Compatibility Of Free Will In The Tenseless Theory Of Time

2424 words - 10 pages

, The debate between free will and fatalism has existed since the conceptualization of time. On one hand, in everyday life, time flows in a uniform fashion. People experience time in which there is a past, present, and a future. Yet, physicists and philosophers see time as something completely different. In fact, they see time as an illusion. Called the tenseless theory of time, time does not flow but this theory views time as a fourth dimension where all past, present, and future events are equal (Callender & Edney, 2004). Essentially, this theory proposes that there is no passage of time and no becoming of future events. As a result, one can view this theory as a “block” universe in which every event that has happened, is happening as of right now, and is going to happen has been set in stone.
Can free will truly exist when the tenseless theory of time seems to be committed to fatalism? The topic of fatalism and free will is prominent in the tenseless theory of time. If one is faced with two choices, the illusion of free will arises because the choice that is being made is actually the one that has already been laid out. So does this mean that free will does not exist in the tenseless theory of time? A person has free will “if and only if he or she is free with regard to some actions, and a person is free with regard to some action A if and only if she has it ‘within her power’ to perform A and she has it ‘within her power’ to refrain from performing A” (Smith & Oaklander, 118). This suggests that every person does have to a certain degree of free will. If one is faced with a decision and decides to veto against the decision to do so, then it does reiterate the fact that free will does exist. This means that free will is not an illusion. How can it be proven in which free will exists in a theory that suggests otherwise? Through the usage of experiments done in the neurological field, theories within the world of physics, and other fact-based opinions, logical arguments will be presented to show that the tenseless theory of time does not necessarily entail fatalism. Thus, if fatalism is about the penultimate outcome, then free will is the process about decision-making that leads up to the final outcome. Not only does free will exist, it can also be viewed as compatible with the tenseless theory of time as well.
Firstly, fatalism alludes to the idea that what happened was always going to happen. Fatalism is the view in which it implies there are no alternate possibilities. The tenseless theory of time is committed to this belief. Yet, this assumption is still ambiguous. The brain and especially the mind is complex. Experiments done in the field of neuroscience have tried to resolve this particular question. Can it be shown that what will happen has already been pre-determined in the mind? One experiment, conducted by Benjamin Libet (1983), tried to answer this question. In the experiment, he would ask each participant to sit...

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