Internal and External Constraints on Free Will
The concept of free will in and of itself is a complex issue with many factors weighing heavily upon it. To say that one is absolutely free in making decisions is shortsighted and naive. For example, environmental, social, biological, and even evolutionary factors greatly effect the way in which we go about choosing a viable option. To be able to make a completely free decision, one would have to live in a vacuum devoid of all external influences. However, one would still have to consider the internal constraints acting upon our will to choose.
Our decision making skills are based upon the principle of deliberation, in which one weighs the advantages and disadvantages of all the options, and picks the one that would most benefit us and our needs at that particular point in time. This, however, does not constitute the act of free will, for it is based on one’s feelings. When one thinks that they are deliberating, they take into account only the external factors. For example, when a person breathes, they are not aware of the mental processes that take place. There may also be internal constraints that one does not consider, something imbedded deep in our psyche that one has no control over, thus the fact that people feel as if they are deliberating may often be an illusion. Evolutionary traits, such as the need to procreate and find food, are instinctual attributes that subconsciously motivate us to make choices. This can be seen in the case of a starving man stealing food from another in which to survive. He is faced with the options of starvation or the will to live, and intuitively chooses the continuation of his own mortality over death. The fact that he could of chosen death does not validate the notion of free will, for free will is an action that is uncoerced and is based on one’s options. In essence, a free decision is one that an person makes absent of any interference from any other agent and is made when a possibility of a choice exists. Physically, mentally, and instinctively he was coerced into stealing food for sustainment.
Determinism also plays a big role when debating free will. Throughout the steps of deliberation yet again, one may feel that they consider various options, yet their actions may already be...