Free Will: What exactly is it, and does it exist?

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rasungod0's picture
Free Will: What exactly is it, and does it exist?

I admit that philosophy isn't my strongest subject, but I'd class my self as some form of incompatiblist determinist. What is all of your opinions?

Here is an article to read before you post so you can get a handle on the positions and terms used:

The term "free will" is used a lot by theists in their arguments (especially in the moral argument and responses to the problem of evil), but do they even know what they mean when saying it?

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Steven B Kurtz's picture
Many humans have experienced

Many humans have experienced what J.P. Sartre called Existential Angst, which is the anxiety of feeling free and having to make decisions about things one considers important. My position is that our history, which is material/energetic as no other realm has ever been evidenced, is embodied in us electro-chemically. That is responsible, along with our genetic predispositions and epigenetic switching, for our interaction with our current environment/situation. Current research suggests that effects from past stresses, diet, traumas, etc. are passed along for multiple generations.

Thus, free will is a conscious experience, but it is steered (some would say pre-determined) by our history even prior to our birth.

SammyShazaam's picture
I agree with you for the most

I agree with you for the most part, but for some reason something in my head cringes when you use the word "pre-determined"...

I don't think that things are decided for us, but I agree that we're far from blank slates. We come into the world with a basic game plan of neuro-development, and we tend to seek out situations that will allow this plan to operate smoothly. We all have slightly different neuroanatomy and chemical concentrations which fuel our choices, and so seeing one person choose what another person would not creates the impression of free will. However, things don't always go according to plan, and we humans have the remarkable ability to change the whole system up on a moment's notice (anyone with a concussion could tell you that - from their brain scans, lol. They often don't realize the extent to which their personality has changed due to trauma) and continue on with a completely new operating system.

Techniques that have been explored through the ages and are now entering the relatively new arenas of science can potentially allow humans more access to their own programming, so to speak. So, I'm going to go *far* out on a limb and say that I do believe humans are able to obtain free will... but we're not quite there yet, as most of us are still controlled by our internal and external environments.

jordtame's picture
My mother use to tell me "

My mother use to tell me " where there is a will there is a way" free will is like faith, alone it is non existent. I was also told that faith without works is dead. In other wards if you don't work for what you want you don't get it no matter how hard you believe. There will never be a world or place where we can freely do as we will. A price must be paid in one way or another.. If I have the free will to not believe in a god but will be punnished than it is not free will. It has a price. In this case "free will" is a lie used as a selling point. Nothing good comes for free and things worked for have more value.

Zaphod's picture
When I think about free will

When I think about free will me it determines the choice about hwo you want to live your life and I think it boils down to a concept I think Jim Carey (believe it or not) expressed best in the MUM commencement speech. I don't always agree with Jim on all the issues he has spoke out about but here goes the highlights of the speech.

SammyShazaam's picture
I did enjoy that speech. I

I did enjoy that speech. I often disagree with Jim Carey on his political views (and whoever decided that we should look up to entertainers for their political action anyway), but he's still a fascinating character.

ladadada's picture
I do not see the point of the

I do not see the point of the idea of free will in Christianity if their god will punish them because they reject Jesus. They say that our will must be subjected to the will of god, then where is the free will after all.

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