What Is Free Will?

Topics: Free will, Causality, Determinism Pages: 5 (1498 words) Published: December 1, 2012

What is free will? Free will is about people can make the choice on their action or decision freely. Choice is between good and evil. For example, you think that you study at HKU SPACE community college is free; it is because you could have studied at City university instead of HKU SPACE community college.


Determinists believe that the level of which human beings has influence over their future is itself dependent on present and past, that mean every event is determined by the previous events. If an event is determined, it is impossible for it not to happen given everything that happened before it. Moreover, determinism is follows from physicalism, it is because every event is a physical event and every physical event is given the laws of physics. In the meantime, determinism thinks that every event is predestined but not by random, so we could not have luck. Furthermore, people’s choice is depended on their preference and some external factors to make a decision. For example, considering your choice to study at HKU SPACE community college again, you chose SPACE rather than City University because you preferred SPACE to City University, so it means that your choice was caused by your preference. To summarize the determinists’ argument: firstly, whatever happens is determined by prior events; secondly, we act freely whenever we could have acted otherwise. Finally, if our actions are determined, we could not have acted otherwise. Therefore, we have not free will. Apart from these, determinism thinks that we are unfree is because both luck and free will is our illusions. We think there is luck it is because we fail to predict the outcome of a rolling dice or a flipping coin. Although the outcome of a rolling dice is determined, we cannot get all the variables in order to calculate the result.


Indeterminism states that free actions are uncaused actions so they are indeterminate, those free actions are actions which happen randomly. For example, if my arm’s behavior is uncaused, then it may sometimes move up and sometimes move down, which is totally out of my control. As a result, we have no free will since indeterminism is true, then our action is out of my control.

On the other hand, Robert Kane introduces the theory of modified indeterminism which defines free actions are caused by our decisions but they are indeterminate before we make decisions. For instance, when you have inner conflicts, you are torn between action A and action B, which creates a neutral indeterminacy. As both of the actions have a 0.5 chance of occurring, the probability of the occurrence of A would change to 1 if you decide to perform A. The action A is caused by your own decision although it is indeterminate before you make the decision.

Nevertheless, Taylor rejects the theory of indeterminism due to the cause of your decision. If there is no cause, we do not have free will because the action is out of our control even though this action resulted from an inner club-wielding desire of yours, you have nothing to do, and that it arose, to be followed by its inevitable effect. This behavior can be concluded as erratic, impulsive and irresponsible. Also, the reason of rejecting modified indeterminism is the decision is not free events because it has a cause. So it has contradiction in this theory.

In order to support his argument, he introduces the theory of agency to further explain his point. In this theory, an action is both free and rational, it must be such that the agent who performed it did so for some reason, but this reason cannot have been the cause of it. Moreover, there is an extraordinary conception of causation, according to such agent, which is a substance and not an event, can nevertheless be the cause of an event. For example, you pick a drink from the fridge, and then you represent the agent that causes the action - pick a drink from the fridge, without any reasons that control...
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