Freewill is actually an ontological issue which is rooted in metaphysicaland pure scientific perspectives. Debate has been ongoing withconflicting arguments between philosophers and scientists with regardto free will. The scientific approach is based on the law ofcausality where every effect has a cause. Additionally, the law ofcausality implies that every change must have a cause. However, Ibelieve that human beings possess the free will to choose one thingover the other.
Freewill implies that an individual is in a position to cause his or herown actions. Free will is evident in the society in almost everyaspect of life. An individual’s decision to vote for a particularperson or to follow the rule of law is perceived as exercising freewill. The American dream also revolves around the tenet of free willwhere people feel that they can make something out of themselves.Objection to free will is, therefore, a conflict with the law ofcausality (Tse, 2013).
Thefirst argument in support of free will arises from observation. In asimilar manner that scientists argue that real science is based onobservation so is free will. The choices that we make can be observedas driven by free will. Caplan (1997) argues that any argumentagainst free will is “in common with the worst a priorischolasticism than with modern science” (p. 3). Science does notoffer evidence against introspection. Human beings are not purelypassive actors, but rather are able to observe how various stimulimove about. Our minds are, therefore, able to observe the freedomwith which our choices are embedded on.
Itis possible to influence our behavior by altering our decisions fromwhat is predicted. For example, in an experiment where one issupposed to behave in a particular manner such as raising a hand aspredicted through previous observations, such an individual can onthe other hand falsify such a prediction by failing to raise thehand. Even if such a prediction were derived from the perfectknowledge of human behavior, it would be rendered wrong. This clearlyindicates freedom of the mind.
Everyday we regard ourselves as agents who have various choices with whichto choose from. For example, once I have made a choice to go andwatch a soccer match, I might be left regretting having forgone thechance to watch a new movie premiere. Every plan of action has analternative. The human being is therefore driven by a conviction inall the decisions and absence of which would dehumanize us. Evendeterminists who argue that there is no free will are also driven bythe same convictions. Based on moral responsibility, Nahmias (2015)alludes that we have free will that guides our moral behavior. Everyindividual is morally responsible for the choice of actions if he orshe could have undertaken an alternative.
Determinismhas been argued to bring about self-contradiction especially in aposition of dismal skepticism. It is common for people to disagree ona particular issue rendering the question of what is actuallycorrect. On one side, an individual will be entirely convinced thathis or her opinion is actually correct. However, it would not bepossible to double check one’s views if the content of the mind wasbased on the level of micro-particles (Caplan, 1997). In such a case,an individual is determined to believe such views through aconviction brought about by the arguments. Hence such views, whethertrue or false would be elements of causal forces that would beinevitable.
IfI have knowledge I would only accept a belief that I understand to betrue. On the other hand, if determinism is attributed to be true, Iwill also accept the kind of belief attributed to it. It is thereforetrue that whereas we may accept some beliefs to be true, such wouldnot be entirely the causal agents prevailing upon us. The belief thatthere is no free will is thus skeptical. Skepticism is based onfalsehood, making determinism incorrect too.
Thedeterminists’ theory that the universe falls in the order ofwidespread organized principles has been found to contain weaknesses.Determinists argue that an individual’s behavior can be judgedaccurately where their habitual past can be recognized. However,where it is effectively possible to determine the behavior of peoplethrough the use of external incentives and punishments, then peoplewould in most cases conform to the behavior that is acceptable by all(Kearns, 2015). This is not the case as people behave differently.
Despitebeing influenced by an external force individuals still possess theability to exercise their free will. For example, a person who has agun pointed at his face with clear instructions not to move still,possess the free will to move his eyes about. The externalenvironment can therefore impact on our behavior, but doesn’ttotally influence the choices that we make. A child who observes aparticular role model may choose not to follow such traitsirrespective of the rewards or retributions that he or she is likelyto be awarded with.
Accordingto Watson (2003) each individual is born with some inherentattributes of self-actualization and the need for positive growth.The individual is therefore responsible for his or her behavior.Where people are in control of their own behavior, they can befacilitated to exercise free will through therapy. An individual hasa choice for an evil behavior or a negative emotion. However, whetheran individual will end up translating such impulses into a particularbehavior will depend on voluntary choice and social conditioning. Inthe absence of social conditioning that seeks to justify causality,then individuals will behave in a manner that is devoid of anyexternal triggers.
Ethicalaccountability also justifies the existence of free will. People wholack control of their actions cannot be held accountable. The societyon the other hand, requires each individual to be responsible fortheir actions thus favoring the existence of free will. Even softdeterminists attribute the existence of free will noting that even ifall acts are caused, “only those that are not coerced orconstrained are free” (Bernstein & Helms, 2015 198).
Itis worth noting that nothing possesses a greater plausibility than apremise. In this regard, the denial of the existence of free will cannever be greater than the premise where free will exists. John Searleargues that his believe in free will is always unmoved despite therebeing arguments against it (Caplan, 1997). To deny the existence offree will is therefore a reductio ad absurdum.
Freewill is a matter of empirical fact and is witnessed throughobservation of our daily actions. Although causality forms the basisfor the denial of the existence of free will, in the absence of thelatter would thus dehumanize us. Any denial of free will goes againstvices and virtues that are choices that human beings make. Bydisregarding empirical knowledge, a predetermined universe wouldrender individuals powerless. However, it is evident that people takeresponsibility of their life that is not controlled by causal forces.As witnessed in morality and social accountability, the decision tochoose right or wrong is driven to some extent by an individual’sfree will. We are therefore able to introspectively see free will inform of our abilities and not through feelings. Being deceived offree will, thus amount to a deception of our very nature as humanbeings.
Bernstein,C., & Helms, N. (2015). A simpler free willdefence. InternationalJournal for Philosophy of Religion, 77(3),197-203. doi:10.1007/s11153-015-9512-7
Caplan,B. (1997). Some Arguments for the Existence of Free Will and someObjections Answered. Journalof Philosophical Notes,46, 1-4.
Kearns,S. (2015). Free Will Agnosticism [Thanks to]. Nous, 49(2),235-252. doi:10.1111/nous.12032
Nahmias,E. (2015). Why we have free will. ScientificAmerican, 312(1),77-79.
Tse,P. (2013). Theneural basis of free will: Criterial causation.Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Watson,G. (2003). Freewill.Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press.