Consider the view that free will is an illusion (30 marks)
You decide on the chocolate cake confident that you could have chosen the sandwich instead. You were free to do both, but as a matter of fact, you chose to eat the unhealthy option. But were you actually free to choose the unchosen alternative? Many philosophers think that free will is actually an illusion – that the choice you actually made was inevitable. Schopenhauer, for example, argued that for a man to say that he could have chosen an alternative is analogous to water in a still pond saying it could be flowing. Yes, he said, the water could be flowing if that same water were in a river, but given that it is actually in a pond its stillness is inevitable. I will argue that the arguments that purport to show that free will is an illusion are weak, and that we have such a thing as free will. First let us look at the arguments for determinism (here I will understand the determinism being discussed to be hard determinism – the view that our free will is illusory – rather than the compatibilist idea that free will can exist alongside causal determinism). What makes you take the chocolate cake instead of the sandwich? We think that the chocolate taking is the result of our deliberation and that the motive for eating the chocolate cake overcame our desire to be healthy. But what determined or caused us to be the kind of being that preferred the one to the other? It was our overall character. But what caused this? We say it is our upbringing and our genes. Now did we decide upon our upbringing that started the casual chain of events that culminated in the taking of the chocolate? No, so there was no other action that was in fact possible. Think of a snooker ball falling into the pocket. What caused this to happen? It was the combination of its shape, the direction of the cue, and the nature of the table. These factors combined with the laws of physics made the event inevitable. Of course, the snooker ball...
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