The Problem of Free Will: Are We Free?

The Problem of Free Will: Are We Free?

Revolutionary Crowd

The humanity has always faced a certain amount of fundamental questions throughout its history. One of those questions was the question of free will. It appears that it is not enough to say whether we have it or no. Anyone who claims to know an answer, should not only explain what free will is, but also prove that their point is right.

Despite the fact that till today a lot of works were written on this problem with a lot of sideways to come to its solving, we can divide the answers into two groups. The first will be the claim that we have free will and the second one will be the opposite one.

Before starting to express pros of both camps let us define free will first. This notion has a lot of interpretations. Almost every other philosopher or scientist who was writing on the problem of free will found their own way to explain what they understood by it. Nevertheless, it is possible to generalize the explanation and make it acceptable for almost everyone dealing with this question. So generally, free will means that a person has a possibility to choose and decide what to do. My claim is that we do not have such a possibility, but firstly, we should hear out our opponents.

There are probably more philosophers who claimed that we have free will than those who said that we do not have it. However, it is not an argument. Their reasoning is either built on theology, meaning that if there is god then he created us as free individuals, or on the problem of moral responsibility.

Let us oversee their first argument. Theological arguments come from the medieval century and keep on getting more sophisticated till today. Free will here is assumed to be given by god. God as an ideal spirit and created human beings in his own image. That is why Adam and Eve could choose whether to eat an apple of knowledge or not. The second point of view on this problem is that god cannot create our complete essence, otherwise he will determinate every other move we make. That is why certain thinkers devote free will to the nothing. This nothing is something opposite to being, and therefore, to god. Every human being has this part of nothingness in them. God let us have it. God got upset, because it was a time when Adam and Eve have chosen to connect with nothingness in them and from that time on we all choose every day whether to be or not to be in this metaphysical kind of way. Only with god’s blessing we can feel when we are on our way to being, to heaven and so on.

Biting an Apple

The next argument is about moral responsibility. It states that if we do not have a free will it means that every our step is determined by something what we do not have any influence on, so we can do whatever we want and lose any sense of moral responsibility. If so, there is no point in believing in humanity. If we are not controlling ourselves, then we cannot blame criminals and imprison them. It will destroy everything what humanity has built till today. That is why they came out with an idea that we have moral responsibility and, therefore, we have a free will. Certain philosophers as Immanuel Kant and his successors pointed out that human beings, unlike animals, are free from physiological determination, but we are not as free from the moral one. It means that our moves and choices are not determined by physiological influences. We will not immediately eat meat if we happen to see it in front of us. Animals will do otherwise, because they are guided by instincts and reflects. Human beings have something like a moral guide. It is the thing that contributes to our conscience and alerts when we are doing something amoral. So that we have free will not to limit our desires, but as possibility to have a choice.

On the other hand, all those statements can be questioned and doubted. Firstly, the argument with god can be fought in two ways. We may not take into account his existence because it is not the matter of fact. Moreover, we may agree on god’s existence, but still the problem of free will will remain. Let us oversee this issue. If the god exists, then he is the creator of our world, us and everything that surrounds us. If that is the case, then god is the most powerful, intelligible and kind spirit. As the most intelligible spirit who created the world, he should know everything in advance. It means that he knows every other our choice and movement before we make it or even before we are born. Therefore, we do not have any free will, because in the end it is not us who decide or choose something but it is god who has made all of the decisions when he created the world.

Child and Parents

The problem of moral responsibility is also not such a strong argument. If we do not have free will, it can mean also that our feeling of moral responsibility is one of the social constructs which control our behavior. We have certain reasons to state this. Those ones who say that we do not have any free will argue that the person is always a person in their surrounding. It means that we all happen to be born under certain circumstances, in a certain society, culture and so on. Our growing old is always related to our communication with others. We watch TV, we read books and newspapers, we talk to our parents and to people outside our home, we do a lot of stuff which just makes our connection with culture and society deeper. By this connection we can conclude that we know everything we know just because of our outer surroundings. Moral responsibility is one of those concepts, as well as our belief in having a free will. If we had been born in the woods we would have never known even how to speak, not only about free will. In that case we would just listen to our biological instincts because those that are social instincts cannot be developed without being included to a certain society.

Therefore, we conclude that we do not have free will, every our move is determined by our previous experience. Why cannot we oversee it and know it for sure? It is the problem of our knowledge, we just do not have a lot of it, but maybe some day we will.


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