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A Case for Free Will

Autor:   •  August 2, 2016  •  Essay  •  2,091 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,140 Views

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A Case for Free Will

Without a doubt, humans are inherently poised to desire to be free in everything they do; this is the essence of freedom, where people do not feel restricted to do what pleases them. However, people do not do whatever they want since there are laws that govern people and they have proved to be necessary since people have different desires that could make them happy but could hurt others. Still, people have the freedom to act as they want provided they are within the boundaries of country laws, and this is enough for them. Seemingly, people will only do the things they do not want to do if they are forced by circumstances or outcomes, or at least this is what most people believe. Collectively, the aforementioned ideas may form the basis of two old arguments that have resulted in a great divide among the philosophical world. On one hand, there is the concept of determinism, which explains that everything people do, including their actions and choices depend on a certain set of conditions that make people act as they do. In essence, there are conditions, or as mentioned before, circumstances, that determine what a person will and the way he or she will do it. Determinists argue that given a certain set of conditions, there can only be one outcome and there is no possibility that other outcomes could come into play. On the other hand, the concept of free will explains that people have the ability to choose and do what they desire when they want; in essence, despite a certain set of conditions, it is up to a person to choose whatever he or she thinks is best for him or her. These two schools of thought have been debated with references to famous philosophers and their ideas on the two issues since they seem to explain certain premises for argument. In this regard, it is necessary to determine whether people are really free to do as they please or their actions are predetermined by both visible and inconceivable conditions. This paper will assert that people do have free will and while there might be conditions of performing an act, people hold the power to choose. To accomplish this, the paper will also analyze the various arguments for both sides.

When people go to a restaurant, it is likely that they would ask for a menu to see what is offered at the establishment and choose what they want to have. Arguments for free will often hold the word ‘choice’ imperative to their explanations since it is the hallmark of freedom. Here, I will limit the contents of the menu to just two for a more basic and easier understanding of the concept of free will and determinism. If the menu had cake and a salad, then the person would only have two choices in front of him or her; this means that the person can only choose one or the other. In this case, determinism explains that no matter what the person chooses, there are some preexisting conditions that compel the chooser to make the choice he or she makes. For example, if a person chose cake instead of salad, the conditions for this choice could range from the person’s love for cake that might have been influenced by the person’s childhood experiences or the person’s previous meals that might have had salad in them to push the person to want something different among others. Here, the point is that these conditions are many and some are unknown to the chooser, but still play a big role in influencing his or her choice (Hagop, et al. 347; Harald and Bishop 28). Determinists contend that if the person is presented with the same choice under the same conditions he or she will always pick cake over salad. In truth, this notion makes sense since a person may consider some of the known conditions and choose cake over salad. By contrast, free will contends that even though these conditions might exist, the chooser has the ability to still choose salad over cake since he or she makes the decision (Barbey and Sloman 167-168). Seemingly, this example seems to favor determinism since the claims of conditions here are accurate; the chooser is ignorant of other numerous conditions that influence his or her decision and this implies that his choice was already determined by these conditions without his or her knowledge. In deterministic belief, the person might have thought of choosing salad but still decided on having cake since these conditions were already in existence. Many examples could be used to argue a case for determinism; all point to the idea that events in the universe happen due to the happening of others (Harald and Bishop 28). If some events do not occur, then some will not, and this forms the thinking behind cause and effect. Linking this notion to our previous case, choosing cake is the effect of the chooser experiencing different conditions with or without knowing them. According to determinists this analogy is true since we are physical parts of the universe and we are subject to the laws of the universe; this literary means that people do not have a choice, even though it might appear as though they do (Harald and Bishop 28). According to determinists, choice is illusory since the chooser does not know what he or she will choose even though the conditions that drive him or her to choose something already exist and cannot allow him or her to choose anything different from what he or she could have chosen. In a deterministic world, people’s brains control their actions because the brain has been exposed to conditions that brought them to the conditions they are in at moment the choice is being made.


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