Existence Of Free Will Essay

1636 words - 7 pages

Existence of Free Will

Existence of free will is often argued from introspection. Freedom means choice. Since I chose to write this paper and I could have chosen otherwise, I am free in writing this paper. However, to establish that I could have chosen otherwise, proving that I felt that I could have chosen otherwise is not enough: One must also prove that my choice is the original cause of my motives to write this paper.

According to compatibilists, your action is free if the immediate cause of the action are your thoughts, there is no coercion, no duress (physical or mental), and your thoughts satisfy a certain condition on freedom, which varies depending on the compatibilist. If that is used as definition of freedom, then my writing this paper is free.

Unfortunately, if determinism is true, then the compatibilist freedom is merely an illusion of freedom. In evaluating freedom, we are not interested in counter factual conditionals unless the agent was free to make the conditional true. If a person is being shot, then the person would have been unharmed if he had stopped the bullet. Nevertheless, the person is not free not to be harmed because he was not free to stop the bullet.

According to determinism, my actions today are determined by what had existed a million years ago. Thus, if what happened a million years ago is held fixed, it is (according to determinism) impossible for me not to write this paper. I could only choose not to write this paper by changing what occurred one million years ago, and that is impossible. One can argue that there are some possible worlds in which the past is different and I am not writing this paper. However, we are restricted to this world, freedom of choice means freedom to choose in this world, where the past is unalterable. Existence of possible worlds in which what happened one million years ago was different is irrelevant. Moreover, the only way to show existence of possibilities is through choices and randomness, so if the world is deterministic, there is no evidence that the world can possibly be anything but what it is; deciding what is possible would be a matter of convention and not reality. In a deterministic world, choosing to do otherwise is as impossible as choosing for 2+2 to equal five: Under no circumstance does any person has any choice.

Rejection of determinism, however, is insufficient for free will. Mere randomness does not amount to freedom since it is indistinguishable whether the randomness is generated now or one million years ago. Postulating a free agent is not sufficient either, because of the following argument: Suppose that whenever you act, you act a particular way solely because of the way you are except for the external factors or randomness. At this moment, you cannot change what you are at this moment since at any given time you are what you are at that time. The external factors are also what they are--they can change with time, but we are analyzing them at the...

Find Another Essay On Existence of Free Will

The Question of Free Will Versus Fate

1164 words - 5 pages The question of free will--the idea that we are free to make decisions unhindered by external forces--is very disconcerting to deal with because most people are not willing to accept that we are not in control of our lives. It is also controversial because it wrestles with the idea of a world possibly without moral responsibility. If there is no free will how do we hold a person responsible for molesting someone or for stealing? If someone

Implications of Determinism and Free Will

2264 words - 9 pages Having the free will to write an essay on the “implications of determinism for our understanding of free will” clearly shows that we have the free will to write the essay and the implication for failure of not writing is our decision. Upon reading this essay the free will to decide to write the essay was decided upon by the writer. It was already determined before embarking on this course that an essay would need to be written. Therefore, as

Philosophical Exploration of Human Free Will

1144 words - 5 pages Choices that people make have a giant place in their lives. Most of us consider that we do these choices freely, that we have free will to make these choices. The point that most of us miss is free will is not simple as is it looks like. When one makes choices doesn’t he consider that what would that choices lead him to? Therefore does he make those choices for his benefits or his desires to make those choices? Does the environment push him to

Critiquing the Notion of Free Will

1488 words - 6 pages Free will is defined as "the partial freedom of the agent, in acts of conscious choice, from the determining compulsion of heredity, environment and circumstance" (www.willdurant.com/glossary.htm).In this paper I will ultimately attempt to show that the concept of free will as it is previously defined is in fact a false premise. The free will of any person to make any truly "free" decision is merely an illusory concept. To prove this position, I

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

What is Frankfurt's account of free will? Is it successful?

954 words - 4 pages second-order volitions. That is, if an agent can’t assess, or change, their second-order volitions then they are not free. This is not, however, to posit the existence of a separate mind but just to say that if someone’s reflective capacity is constrained by external forces then they are not free. So, Frankfurt’s account of free will is unsatisfactory because it misses out something important – an agent’s reflective ability. In conclusion

The Question of Free Will: Descartes, Hume, and Nietzsche

2474 words - 10 pages Nietzsche, Hume, and Descartes all obtain their strong suits as well as their pitfalls. Nietzsche insists free will is created by theologians and therefore denies its existence, while Descartes embraces free will, and Hume individualizes the meaning of free will. With the “Design Argument” in Meditations on First Philosophy to ignite his proclamation of the topic of free will, Descartes summons free will is given entirely through the creator, God. With

Concept of Free Will in The Brothers Karamazov

2583 words - 10 pages  God.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (John 5:2­10, English Standard Version) One of the most important concepts in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov is the concept of free will. It is important to the novel because of the overall theme that everyone is responsible in some way for everything

The Power of Free Will in Milton?s Paradise Lost

1548 words - 6 pages The Power of Free Will in Milton's Paradise Lost Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Remember always that you not only have to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one." To be an individual means to act by choice and make decisions with free will enhanced by the power of knowledge. Only then are people true to themselves and to others. In Paradise Lost, Milton clearly conveys this concept of acting freely under God. He shows the reader

Do we really have free will? A study of Predestination.

2066 words - 8 pages How free are we? Do we really have a choice in what we do, or is our path already chosen for us? Some would say that God is limited in his knowledge, while others say that if he is all knowing, and that does not allow for human's free will because God's knowledge of the future actually removes the choice. The fact is however, God is omniscient, he knows the past, present and future, God has a plan for the world, and the world is free to do as

Free Will in East of Eden by John Steinbeck

1398 words - 6 pages Timshel; meaning “thou mayest”, holds a significant role in East of Eden. It shows that anyone can desire to surmount vile in their hearts and create morality within them self. In the novel, Steinbeck portrays the significance of timshel through the introduction of free will, the internal conflict of Caleb, and the blessing of Adam. Steinbeck portrays the significance of timshel through the introduction of free will, which plays an important

Similar Essays

Lack Of Free Will Essay

1375 words - 6 pages In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness one important theme in the novel is predetermined fate. The lack of free will that Marlow exhibits points to a driving sense that he has only one way out of the jungle. Marlow's only mission is to find Kurtz. Tunnel vision captures Marlow's psyche and his want of destruction is only rivaled by his need to find Kurtz. Heart of Darkness exemplifies the absurdist and existentialist viewpoints that reside in

The Free Will Of Macbeth Essay

816 words - 3 pages The Free Will of Macbeth      Destiny "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." (William Jennings Bryan) Are we in control of our own destiny, our own fate, or are our lives really already planned and mapped out for us? Does Macbeth willfully choose evil in order to achieve his "destiny"? Or, is his "destiny" doomed by the witches' prophecies

Destiny, Fate, Free Will And Free Choice In Oedipus The King The Paradox Of Free Will

1315 words - 5 pages A Paradox: Oedipus's Free will in the Play Oedipus Rex William Shakespeare once wrote, "Who can control his fate?" (Othello, Act v, Sc.2). A hero and leader must acknowledge above all else his honor, and the pride of his image.  In ancient Greek beliefs, a hero was a man who stood taller than the rest; he was able to better any conflict.  He did this not for himself or for any token award that may be given to him, but for the security of

The Imposition Of Law As Free Will

3668 words - 15 pages , programmed by the doctrines of government, compelled by the circumstances of environment. It seems as though one could only press a button and extinguish the spark of life that glows, now ever so faintly, in the eyes of every human being; as if one could merely bring to a halt the mechanism that mankind has become. A person cannot exist without freedom; it is a condition of humanity that a person be free. Perhaps mankind will, one day, bring himself into existence; or perhaps he will simply fade away, having never been more than a shadow of a thought in the mind of the Creator; having never truly existed at all.