Do you have Free will or is it Determined?

2016-09-16 10:15

The belief of having free will is called Libertarianism (Not to be confused with the political philosophy) and its counterpart is called Determinism.  These two along with others such as Compatibilism are a form of metaphysics frequently discussed by modern philosophers.

Do you actually make your own choices or are they Determined by the universe? 

Free will believers argue that we make our own choices based on thought or a chain of events and that your choice is supported by moral consciousness.  Determinists believe that those choices, no matter which you choose, have been Determined by fate.

Ever heard the story about OedepusIt is based on a Greek legend about a prophesy that foretold that Oedepus would one day kill his father and marry his mother.  To avoid this his father abandoned him in the forest hoping he would succumb to his fate by savage animals or die of hunger.  Another couple found the boy and raised him as their own.  Upon hearing the prophesy about what he was destined to do, Oedepus left his family to avoid killing his father.  Unfortunately one day he had an altercation with another man and killed him in the process.  This stranger turned out to be his real Father.  Feeling sorry for the dead mans’ widow he subsequently and unknowingly fulfilled the prophesy by marrying his Real Mother.

Determinists believe that every event has a cause and human actions are events.  Therefore human actions are all caused and Determinism must be true.

Libertarianism argues that a world in which people don’t make their own choices has no morality.

Hard determinism is: “The belief that all events are caused by past events, such that nothing other than what does occur, could occur.”

Libertarianism is based on the PAP (Principle of Alternate Possibilities) and says: “An action is only free if the agent (Person) doing the act, could have done otherwise.”  This can further be broken down into the following:

Event causation – “No physical event can occur without having been caused by a previous physical event.”

Agent causation – “An agent (Being propelled by a mind) can start a whole chain of events that wasn’t caused by anything else.”

Let’s take an example:  You decided to wear your blue trousers this morning.  You had other trousers to choose from but decided to wear the blue ones.  Does this constitute free will or did you make that choice based on the only clean shirt you had available that wouldn’t match the other trousers?   Or did you decide to wear the blue ones because they were your warmer pair and it so happened to be cold outside?  The list of possibilities are endless.  You made your choice, but was it really yours to make?

We console ourselves with these type of decisions on a daily basis as being of our own volition.    How many times have you gone shopping and bought stuff that you didn’t have on the list?  Why did you change your mind? You chose your list, but was tempted to buy something else that you chose not to have on the list.  Besides good marketing and product placement, did you not have a choice in the matter?

This begs us to look at another option.

Reductionism: “The view that all parts of the world, and of our own experience, can be traced back, or reduced down, to one singular thing.”

So it follows that:

Your Brain state = Mental state = Biological state = Physical State and Physical states are Deterministic.

It is true though, that it is very hard to disregard the feeling of freedom.

Libertarians believe that Belief + Desire + Temperament =  Action. 

Taking our example above:  If you believed that the Blue trousers were the right choice, but you desired to wear the Green pair instead and your Temperament was neutral, what caused your Action?

Another example:  If you find this article boring, confusing or it makes you angry, that is Determined.

You had the choice to stop reading, didn’t you?  If you have made it this far into the article, congratulations!

You've guessed it, it was Determined...

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Follow me on twitter: Neil Holtshausen@HoltshausenNeil

Or my blogspot: http://nhfoodforthought.blogspot.com/

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