Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Free Will

Posted by Michael Dickens on May 15, 2009

Definitions

Free will: The capability to make a free choice.
Free choice: A choice that ultimately is not influenced by any outside entity and completely unpredictable, but also is completely rational from the perspective of the entity making the choice.
Note that a being with free will does not have to make every choice a free choice, but must only be capable of making a free choice.

Why Free Will Is Impossible

1. Every event is either caused by something or caused by nothing.
2. If an event is caused by something: it is not free because it is a reaction dependent on external cause.
3. If an event is caused by itself: events can’t be their own cause so this is impossible.
4. If an event is caused by nothing: it is unpredictable and therefore random; randomness is not free will.

Therefore, free will cannot exist.

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5 Responses to “Free Will”

  1. Phynnboi said

    It doesn’t appear that your arguments admit any definition of free will. What would make an event “free?”

  2. mtgap said

    Free will is the capacity to choose a course of action without constraint or coercion from outside forces. (paraphrased from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Merriam-Webster)

    Defining the entity that possesses free will is a problem that arises from this definition. I don’t really want to go into it right now, though.

  3. Kelly Dickens said

    This is pretty impressive. As for myself, if the universe is completely deterministic (and so free will is illusory), I imagine myself on a roller coaster ride, with no say as to where it goes or how it turns out. WHEEEEEE!

  4. mtgap said

    You do have a say. You just don’t get to choose what that say is. Well actually you do get to choose, but it isn’t a free choice. It’s a deterministic choice.

  5. […] However, ethical decisions are not necessarily based on free will — besides, we don’t have free will […]

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