The problem with free will

Essay by student_girlUniversity, Bachelor's January 2005

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Free will can be determined as the ability or power to choose, which can include making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances, Descartes identifies the faculty of will with freedom of choice, "the ability to do or not do something" (Meditation IV), and even goes so far as to state that "the will is by its nature so free that it can never be constrained" (Passions of the soul,I, art.41). On this level it is often the common and everyday assumption that we all possess free will, and there is no argument. However the varying schools of thought ( determinist, indeterminist) hold contrasting theories regarding how we can attempt to explain the possession, or the absence, of free choice. This is where the dilema concerning free will takes place.

Determinist theorists argue from a perspective that every event, and everything that happens, is caused by antecedent events.

The basic argument lies in the statement that if an event were uncaused, it wouldn't have occurred. Hard determinists believe in the theory of determinism and as a result state that no person has free will. The more scientific explanation holds on the principle that for every physical event that occurs, there is a physical (or series of physical) events that cause it. If an action occurs, and those physical circumstances (conditions) are replicated again exactly, the same action will repeat (same cause, same effect)

Indeterminists, on the other hand, hold the belief that at least some events that take place can be deemed as being uncaused. So free will may be demonstrated in the choices or decisions we make for actions that are uncaused, the final choice was not pushed in that direction so it must have been of the persons free will.

At this point, the argument...