Problem of Free Will
Before moving on to define what the problem of free will is all about, it is important to begin by defining what free will is. Free will is defined as a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from a variety of alternatives. Different people have varied definitions of free will that only leads to further confusion to the underlying problem of free will.
Since the beginning of the Problem of Free Will, it has been intimately connected to the question of moral obligation or responsibility. Most of the ancient thinkers on the problem were trying to point out that we humans have control over the decisions that we make, that our actions are dependent on us, and that they are not determined in prior by fate, arbitrary gods, logical necessity, or even natural causal.
The Problem of Free Will has often been described as a question of reconciling, ‘free will’ with one or more of the various kinds of determinism. As a result of this, the problem is based on two things, the exact definition of free will and which among the various determinisms is being reconciled. The standard argument against free will is that it cannot possibly be reconciled with either determinism or randomness, and that these two exhaust the logical possibilities.
The ideal Problem of Free Will is to reconcile an element of freedom with the apparent determinism in a world of causes and effects, a world where events occur following a great causal chain. Determinists are against such freedom while compatibilists redefine freedom. Even though our will is determined by prior events in the causal chain, it is in turn causing and determining how we act. According to compatibilists, determinism by our will allows us to take moral responsibility for every action that we commit.
Libertarians think that the will is free when a choice can be made that is not determined or necessitated by events that took place in prior. The will is free when alternative choice could have been made with similar pre-existing conditions. Freedom of the will allows a person to say, ‘’I could have chosen (and done) otherwise.’’
The most recent debate on the Problem of Free Will uses a taxonomy of positions that has caused a great deal of confusion, mostly linguistic and partly logical. Instead of directly tackling the models of free will, the debate is carried out indirectly. According to most philosophers, determinism is viewed as the greatest threat to free will. For example, in Joe Campbell’s book titled, ‘Free Will’, he describes the problem of free will as the free will dilemma. According to him, the central problem can be summed up as:
- If determinism is true, then no one has free will
- If indeterminism is true, then no one has free will.
- Thus, no one has free will.
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