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Is it true that humans have free will?
In the last century, philosophers have debated the concept of free will extensively. The topic of determinism has been widely discussed in philosophy. The idea of freedom would permeate virtually every aspect of life, including morality, science, religion, and so on. According to some theorists such as Sam Harris, free will is an illusion that does not exist. They argue that previous events dictate our will.
Consequently, we are not liable for our actions, or they assume that events arise by chance, suggesting determinism (Hobart 19). Both Frankfurt and Watson believe in the concept of free will. They think that people have the right to choose their actions and that their actions of desire hence people should be morally responsible for their actions (pp 254).
Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of actions. These activities are linked to how they occur in that some actions are freely chosen, and previous incidents necessitate others actions or events. Some philosophers argue that free will is impossible because of it very incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism. The consideration that should be put in place is whether we possess free will and the approaches developed. Some thinkers are hard determinists, and they argue that people cannot initiate actions in that any decision one makes is controlled by the previous causes. In that case, free will never be compatible with determinism. (Hobart 17)
When we look at other perspectives, we find that there is freedom of choice in those actions which are fundamental to our moral responsibilities. Hence when we are free, we must take full responsibility for our actions. Kane (pp. 13) portrays a firm believe that human beings have free will. Therefore, libertinism is the key that is compatible with free will. In the belief in freewill, people choose their beliefs; they choose their body movements, what to think about and when to think about it. David Hume maintains that our behaviors and desires determine our choices and actions. This idea of libertarianism may be false according to Hobart because he believes that free action is caused by its agent character (Hobart 19)
The notion of fatalism is very confusing because it is sometimes mistaken from determinism. Global fatalism is the situation whereby some things are fated, and they must happen. If this concept is true, then the idea of free will is an illusion. Time and death are examples that explain global fatalism. Nobody can control fate in that death is imminent and can occur anytime. Therefore, nobody can have a choice not to die and even choose the time that this death will take place. People who think about the future and the past are called fatalists. These persons tend to believe that they cannot do anything to change the future. In this perspective, a fatalist thinks about the present and the past under the aspect of eternity. He views the future and the present in the aspect of eternity the same way God is supposed to consider them (Hobart 16).
In the Christian perspective, some thinkers tend to argue that if God is the creator of everything, then he is the cause of all events in the human nature. Therefore, it is perceived that through this concept God is the cause of everything and since evil is imminent, then God is the cause of evil. There is another argument that predestination and free will are real. Due to this fact, God predetermines every event that ever happens. However, humans have the free will to make choices. This notion tries to explain the sovereignty of God and that if the person cannot make choices, then they will not be regarded as human. When god created Adam and eve he gave them the ability to obey or disobey him. In the bible also there are instances where life and death has been discussed. In this notion God’s desire is for everybody to obey him. Hence whatever happens to a human beings is the true result of their actions and the choices they make in life (Augustine 3).
Science is another aspect trying to explain the undistinguishable fact that free will doesn’t exist. Contrary to this, physical sciences support determinism. Physics tend to tell that some events occur in nature due to fundamental laws of physics in that these laws govern the occurrence of events thus free will. But due to incomprehensible development in biological sciences, psychology, psychiatry e.t.c, they have convinced human beings that their actions and behaviors are guided and determined by unknown forces that are beyond our control. There are some physical events that cause or give rise to actions such as the neurophysiology of the brain. Scientists come up with ideas which cause brain tumor (Kane 8).
Frankfurt gives an example of an agent who does whatever the controller wants. This is a notion that the controller can control the agent`s brain. But if the officer decides to do things according to his/her will, then it is said that the agent is morally responsible for his actions but also the controller will not have allowed it if the agent does otherwise (Frankfurt 829). With this fact in mind, free will does not require any possible alternatives; therefore, it is regarded as a kind of freedom that mainly requires moral responsibility. Free will is considered to be the basis of moral responsibility. It is ascertained and argued that without it ethical values and principles of humanity will not prevail. People are said to possess freewill if they are the source of their actions (Frankfurt 260).
The idea of free will is a subject which needs to be scrutinized since the dawn of philosophy. Some of the famous thinkers have argued that individuals are independent in that they make their decisions that cannot be determined by outside factors. Due to this fact, they have come to a conclusion that free will is just an illusion. There have also been questions arising among philosophers and scientists who tend to question Gods’ omniscience and whether God predetermines people's fate and if individuals have choices in what has been determined. The full concept of freewill is guided by right and wrong, justice and law, good or bad. In this perspective, if freewill is an illusion, then all the wrong doers are not guilty of their crimes since forces beyond their control influenced their actions. Also, the issue of freedom will entirely be eliminated. Therefore, it is right to say that humanness measures the concept of freewill and that our future will be affected with what we choose. But these decisions are defined by knowing what is right and taking into consideration of our moral feelings. Therefore, the argument about free will is a contest between those who believe in the concept of determinism and that it applies to our brains and to those who firmly believe in indeterminism. Hence each side has staunch supporters and the philosophers in question have indeed supported their views about free will. The issue of moral responsibility is considerably a problem to be taken into consideration. The principle of freewill can, therefore, be understood according to everyone`s own perspective.
Clark, Mary T. "Augustine, Philosopher of Freedom a Study in Comparative Philosophy." (1959).
Frankfurt, Harry G., and Gary Watson. Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person. Oxford University Press, 1982.
Hobart, R. E. (1934). Free will as involving determination and inconceivable without it. Mind, 43(169), 1-27.
Kane, Robert. The significance of free will. Oxford University Press, 1998.
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