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Human Free Will in Philosophical Theories Essay

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Updated: Aug 23rd, 2020

The argument on whether humans have free will has remained controversial for decades. Determining whether our actions are purely based on our own volition or controlled by a chain of preceding events has remained very complex. Attempts by scientists and philosophers to find a universally accepted explanation for the phenomenon have been futile. According to Ross (2012), both freedom and determinism play significant roles in influencing human choices and behavior. However, in my opinion, humans do not have free will. Their decisions are influenced by various external factors.

Philosophers such as Rene Descartes claimed that humans have free will and that external factors play a minimal role in influencing their decisions. In fact, Descartes was so convinced of human free will that he described it as “so free in its nature that it cannot be constrained” (Frankfurt 74). Those who hold the position that human decisions are controlled by free will argue that even though our surroundings bully us, the final decision is ours. We consciously decide how to respond to situations and what to do despite external influence. The fact that we make our own choices makes us responsible for them and the consequences that they may attract. The proponents of this argument also claim that the fact that humans are held responsible for their actions and decisions can only mean that they are free to choose what to do for how can people be held responsible for something they have no power to choose how to respond to? Since we are always held accountable for our choices, then it means that we are free when making those choices.

Our genes, biology, and environment play a significant role in shaping our characters. Our characters in tern shape our choices. The above factors are completely out of our control thereby affirming the fact that we do not act out of free will. Our decisions are always influenced by external factors. For instance, if a person decides to change residence, it could be because of changes in his or her socio-economic situation but not just a random decision to move. Additionally, a customer who decides to buy an ice cream may be seen to have made a random decision but in reality, the customer may have been influenced by hunger, thirst, and the availability of money to buy the ice cream. Without the money, thirst, and hunger, the customer may not have considered buying the ice cream. From the above examples, it becomes clear that what many people consider free choices may just be illusions. In fact, if situations were changed, 100% of the choices we make may not be the same. If choices were indeed random, then situational changes should not affect them in any way. Neuroscience studies have also shown that human brains make decisions even before we become aware of them, which shows that our actions and decisions are not out of our own free will.

Essentially, we may seem to have free will but our actions and decisions are actually part of a causal chain. The causal chain “operates on a sub-molecular level” making events at that level to be random. However, at the decision level, every event is caused or influenced by an array of factors. These factors make our decisions incapable of being free. Therefore, we cannot claim that humans have free will.

Works Cited

Frankfurt, Harry G. Necessity, Volition, and Love. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 1999. Print.

Ross, Craig. Philosophy Now. 2012. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Human Free Will in Philosophical Theories." August 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-free-will-in-philosophical-theories/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Human Free Will in Philosophical Theories'. 23 August.

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