Does free-will exist?

AgnosticBoy

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Here's one simple definition of free-will:
Free will, in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. Free will is denied by some proponents of determinism.
Source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/free-will

Here's another good description:
Free will is the idea that we are able to have some choice in how we act and assumes that we are free to choose our behavior, in other words we are self determined.

For example, people can make a free choice as to whether to commit a crime or not (unless they are a child or they are insane). This does not mean that behavior is random, but we are free from the causal influences of past events. According to freewill a person is responsible for their own actions.
Source: Simple Psychology

In light of these definition, I lean more towards not accepting that free-will exists. I have not come across any examples of a behavior that can't be said to be caused. Furthermore, I don't know of any mechanism, perhaps apart from consciousness, that would make free-will possible. Even the sense of a "self" is increasingly being understood as being an illusion - nothing more than a biological phenomenon of the brain.

Given all of the above information, I still accept that we can choose our behavior. We can do this by being able to adjust and/or manipulate the factors that cause or influence our behavior, i.e. environment and biology. Given this power, I can theoretically conform my behavior to anything I can imagine (anything possible that can be enacted through human behavior). I used to think this was enough for free-will but it's still involves the person being part of a causal chain, whereas free-will should not involve any causal factors other than "self".
 

thatquietchick

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Jun 29, 2021
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In my opinion, free-will exists to some extent. While we can't act directly against our code--someone with a severe mental illness or physical injury can't say that they are completely healed all of the sudden, in most cases, we are capable of changing our situation gradually with daily decisions. I define free-will as in the freedom of choice. When you are subject to natural, social, or divine restraints, there's still slight choices that you can make to overcome them over time. It may not be enough to destroy said restraints--that shouldn't be one's goal in life as it's an impossible one to accomplish head on, but it's enough to get to a place where you are happy enough with yourself and your circumstances, also some--not all--restraints can be overcame from doing what you can right now. Despite anything, you have a choice of what you do with what you're given. I would say most people have free-will those without it are usually those with severe health issues who have to depend on copious amounts of doctors and drugs to live. There are people with no free-will but it's usually those that require consistent care and are very dependent of others to take care of themselves and have to depend on someone else to make decisions as to how they would live for them. Babies as well lack free will since they are incapable of determining or changing the situation that their given and depend solely on someone else for their care. So, free-will exists, but not everyone has it and it can be striped away from someone if natural, social, or divine restraints exceed human capabilities.
 
  • All-around winner
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I freely chose to post on this thread. But something drew me to it. A force beyond my control.. like a magnet. I'm a slave to these gravitational pulls.
Just like I was drawn to eating ice cream daily . But now I quit.
Only be addicted to good things. That's my conclusion.
 

AgnosticBoy

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I recently had a little debate on free-will and it was a good chance for me to sum up some of my best thinking yet on the issue.

My previous position was that free-will likely did not exist, but now I accept that it exists in levels or degrees. I thought to myself that if I accept any level of free-will then it is because I don't see how or where every part of my life is outside of my control. The areas that are not set in stone leave room for freedom, in my view.

The only way I could change my mind on this is if someone can show how I'm just as restricted and controlled as a tree branch or even other animals (like lions). The key differences I see are that tree branches and many other animals interact in the world blindly, passively, and reflexively. They don't understand nor do they have the capacity to notice that the laws of nature control their behaviors. In contrast, humans can know about all of the factors and forces that control us. We can also play an active role in changing how we behave. A lion can't actively or intentionally change it's behavior; it's completely passive in the process. Humans can intentionally change their behavior or act out all behaviors that are humanly possible, and we can do this because we have the knowledge and the freedom of thought to think and act on it at any time.