Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Free will isn’t an actual thing

“Free will is the ability of agents to make choices unimpeded by certain prevailing factor.”

When i googled “free will”, this is what i found on Wikipedia.Org. In the sense of prevailing factors, you could define the term as many things, focusing on the idea of constraints; physical, mental, social, and metaphysical constraints. These type of constraints are relevant in our everyday lives and affect everyone differently. For example, a mentally handicapped person is unable to control their bodies and movements because of their mental constraints, whereas a paraplegic who is unable to walk is physically constricted and confined to a wheelchair. No matter who you are or where you’re from, there is something that we all have in common; we all are not free. The way I see it is that the whole concept of free will is not attainable by anyone, whether you’re a convict facing the next 50 years in prison, or President Barack Obama. There is always going to be something that stops us from fulling being free.

Another perspective of free will is the idea of “moral responsibility”. Rather than having the willpower and drive to do anything we want, the majority of the population has a sense of moral responsibility which limits what we do in our day to day lives. Most people have the basic understanding of right and wrong, which would stop a strange man from pushing his friend down the stairs. There is also the idea of morals and ethics, which would stop 16 year old Jimmy from stealing from the local convenience store because it doesn’t feel right to him. But then again, some people don’t think morally and feel they have n300x300xNo-Free.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Vhi-wGDxkBo responsibility. Sadly enough i feel like these are the kinds of people who probably are the most free because they feel their actions have no consequences, even though really, there always going to be something stopping you.

I think we should also glance on the idea of making choices. Are we really able to make choices for ourselves independently, or are our thoughts influenced so heavily by things around us that we don’t even realize we are making decisions that conform to the norm? The whole concept of “freedom of choice” really doesn’t even seem to be possible if freedom isn’t actually attainable.We may think the decisions we make are our own, but if there are so many factors that go into what we say or feel, then is it really our own? Is it really real? Wow I sound so metaphysical.

René Descartes defined free will as “the ability to do or not do something” and goes as far as to say it’s “the will is by itsnature so free that it can never be constrained”. I oddly enough disagree with a famous philosopher. Rather than it being an actual tangible things, i always viewed free will as a tool we all attempt to use or say we actually do use, when in actuality its been sealed behind a glass case this whole time. We may try and try and try again to say we all have free will, but we really don’t. but then again this is just my opinion, and it’s quite an extreme view of things. Really, we are free to a certain degree. For example, I have enough freedom to post my opinion of the internet like this. So even though this all sounds pretty negative, it’s only looking at the subject through a microscope, when really the larger picture is quite open, beautiful, and free.


One Response to Free will isn’t an actual thing

  1. Vincent says:

    Have you considered probability’s connection to freewill? The idea that our own choices and personality is governed not by ourselves, but rather the sum of ourself. Of course this only applies if you consider the self as the sum of memories/experiences/influences/ideas that defines a person. It also only applies if there is a separate entity from the self, which, aids in making those decisions but does not truly hold most of the decision making power. Anyhow, back to probability, based on the premises above, I would state that (in line with quantum mechanics) your ideas and memories react to produce a decision which may vary and are defined by a certain probability space. Therefore, the decisions that a person makes may vary further in probability as less social freedom is given. E.g. hierarchical structures, laws, cooperatives ect. Anyway just an idea that I thought might intrigue you. Also Δx . ΔPx = ћ/2, which again states that as less opportunity/space to travel is given, the unpredictability of travel in that space increases.

    Cheers – Vincent Badenhorst


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