FREE WILL is the ability to choose between different possible courses
of action unimpeded. It is closely linked to the concepts of
responsibility , praise , guilt , sin , and other judgments which
apply only to actions that are freely chosen. It is also connected
with the concepts of advice , persuasion , deliberation , and
prohibition. Traditionally, only actions that are freely willed are
seen as deserving credit or blame. There are numerous different
concerns about threats to the possibility of free will, varying by how
exactly it is conceived, which is a matter of some debate.
Some conceive free will to be the capacity to make choices in which
the outcome has not been determined by past events. Determinism
suggests that only one course of events is possible, which is
inconsistent with the existence of free will thus conceived. This
problem has been identified in ancient Greek philosophy , and remains
a major focus of philosophical debate. This view that conceives free
will to be incompatible with determinism is called incompatibilism ,
and encompasses both metaphysical libertarianism , the claim that
determinism is false and thus free will is at least possible, and hard
determinism , the claim that determinism is true and thus free will is
not possible. It also encompasses hard incompatibilism , which holds
not only determinism but also its negation to be incompatible with
free will, and thus free will to be impossible whatever the case may
be regarding determinism.
In contrast, compatibilists hold that free will is compatible with
determinism. Some compatibilists even hold that determinism is
necessary for free will, arguing that choice involves preference for
one course of action over another, requiring a sense of how choices
will turn out. Compatibilists thus consider the debate between
libertarians and hard determinists over free will vs determinism a
false dilemma . Different compatibilists offer very different
definitions of what "free will" even means, and consequently find
different types of constraints to be relevant to the issue. Classical
compatibilists considered free will nothing more than freedom of
action, considering one free of will simply if, had one
counterfactually wanted to do otherwise, one could have done otherwise
without physical impediment. Contemporary compatibilists instead
identify free will as a psychological capacity, such as to direct
one's behavior in a way responsive to reason. And there are still
further different conceptions of free will, each with their own
concerns, sharing only the common feature of not finding the
possibility of determinism a threat to the possibility of free will.
* 1 Western philosophy
* 1.1.3 Non-causal theories
* 1.1.4 Event-causal theories
* 1.1.5 Agent/substance-causal theories
* 1.1.7 Related philosophical issues
* 22.214.171.124 High level determinism and free will
Destiny and fate
* 126.96.36.199 Mind-body problem
Free will as lack of physical restraint
Free will as a psychological state
Free will as unpredictability
* 1.2.4 The physical mind
* 1.3 Other views
Free will as an illusion
Free will as "moral imagination"
Free will as a pragmatically useful concept
Free will and views of causality
Free will according to
Free will as a pseudo-problem
History of free will
* 2 Scientific approaches
* 2.1 Physics
* 2.2 Genetics
* 2.4 Neurology and psychiatry
* 2.6 Believing in free will
* 2.6.1 What people believe
* 2.6.2 Among philosophers
* 2.6.3 Among evolutionary biologists
* 2.6.4 Effects of the belief itself
* 3 Eastern philosophy
* 3.2 Buddhist philosophy
* 4 In theology
* 4.1 Christianity
* 4.4 Others
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 External links
Free will in antiquity
The underlying questions are whether we have control over our
actions, and if so, what sort of control, and to what extent. These
questions predate the early Greek stoics (for example,
and some modern philosophers lament the lack of progress over all
On one hand, humans have a strong sense of freedom, which leads us to
believe that we have free will. On the other hand, an intuitive
feeling of free will could be mistaken.
It is difficult to reconcile the intuitive evidence that conscious
decisions are causally effective with the view that the physical world
can be explained to operate perfectly by physical law . The conflict
between intuitively felt freedom and natural law arises when either
causal closure or physical determinism (nomological determinism ) is
asserted. With causal closure, no physical event has a cause outside
the physical domain, and with physical determinism, the future is
determined entirely by preceding events (cause and effect).
The puzzle of reconciling 'free will' with a deterministic universe
is known as the problem of free will or sometimes referred to as the
dilemma of determinism. This dilemma leads to a moral dilemma as
well: the question of how to assign responsibility for actions if they
are caused entirely by past events.
Compatibilists maintain that mental reality is not of itself causally
effective. Classical compatibilists have addressed the dilemma of
free will by arguing that free will holds as long as we are not
externally constrained or coerced. Modern compatibilists make a
distinction between freedom of will and freedom of action, that is,
separating freedom of choice from the freedom to enact it. Given that
humans all experience a sense of free will, some modern compatibilists
think it is necessary to accommodate this intuition. Compatibilists
often associate freedom of will with the ability to make rational
A different approach to the dilemma is that of incompatibilists ,
namely, that if the world is deterministic then, our feeling that we
are free to choose an action is simply an illusion . Metaphysical
libertarianism is the form of incompatibilism which posits that
determinism is false and free will is possible (at least some people
have free will). This view is associated with non-materialist
constructions, including both traditional dualism , as well as models
supporting more minimal criteria; such as the ability to consciously
veto an action or competing desire. Yet even with physical
indeterminism , arguments have been made against libertarianism in
that it is difficult to assign Origination (responsibility for "free"
Free will here is predominately treated with respect to physical
determinism in the strict sense of nomological determinism , although
other forms of determinism are also relevant to free will. For
example, logical and theological determinism challenge metaphysical
libertarianism with ideas of destiny and fate , and biological ,
cultural and psychological determinism feed the development of
compatibilist models. Separate classes of compatibilism and
incompatibilism may even be formed to represent these.
Below are the classic arguments bearing upon the dilemma and its
Incompatibilism is the position that free will and determinism are
logically incompatible, and that the major question regarding whether
or not people have free will is thus whether or not their actions are
determined. "Hard determinists", such as d\'Holbach , are those
incompatibilists who accept determinism and reject free will. In
contrast, "metaphysical libertarians ", such as
Thomas Reid , Peter
van Inwagen , and Robert Kane , are those incompatibilists who accept
free will and deny determinism, holding the view that some form of
indeterminism is true. Another view is that of hard incompatibilists,
which state that free will is incompatible with both determinism and
Traditional arguments for incompatibilism are based on an "intuition
pump ": if a person is like other mechanical things that are
determined in their behavior such as a wind-up toy, a billiard ball, a
puppet, or a robot, then people must not have free will. This
argument has been rejected by compatibilists such as
Daniel Dennett on
the grounds that, even if humans have something in common with these
things, it remains possible and plausible that we are different from
such objects in important ways.
Another argument for incompatibilism is that of the "causal chain".
Incompatibilism is key to the idealist theory of free will. Most
incompatibilists reject the idea that freedom of action consists
simply in "voluntary" behavior. They insist, rather, that free will
means that man must be the "ultimate" or "originating" cause of his
actions. He must be causa sui , in the traditional phrase. Being
responsible for one's choices is the first cause of those choices,
where first cause means that there is no antecedent cause of that
cause. The argument, then, is that if man has free will, then man is
the ultimate cause of his actions. If determinism is true, then all of
man's choices are caused by events and facts outside his control. So,
if everything man does is caused by events and facts outside his
control, then he cannot be the ultimate cause of his actions.
Therefore, he cannot have free will. This argument has also been
challenged by various compatibilist philosophers.
A third argument for incompatibilism was formulated by
Carl Ginet in
the 1960s and has received much attention in the modern literature.
The simplified argument runs along these lines: if determinism is
true, then we have no control over the events of the past that
determined our present state and no control over the laws of nature.
Since we can have no control over these matters, we also can have no
control over the consequences of them. Since our present choices and
acts, under determinism, are the necessary consequences of the past
and the laws of nature, then we have no control over them and, hence,
no free will. This is called the consequence argument. Peter van
Inwagen remarks that C. D. Broad had a version of the consequence
argument as early as the 1930s.
The difficulty of this argument for some compatibilists lies in the
fact that it entails the impossibility that one could have chosen
other than one has. For example, if Jane is a compatibilist and she
has just sat down on the sofa, then she is committed to the claim that
she could have remained standing, if she had so desired. But it
follows from the consequence argument that, if Jane had remained
standing, she would have either generated a contradiction, violated
the laws of nature or changed the past. Hence, compatibilists are
committed to the existence of "incredible abilities", according to
Ginet and van Inwagen. One response to this argument is that it
equivocates on the notions of abilities and necessities, or that the
free will evoked to make any given choice is really an illusion and
the choice had been made all along, oblivious to its "decider". David
Lewis suggests that compatibilists are only committed to the ability
to do something otherwise if different circumstances had actually
obtained in the past.
Using T, F for "true" and "false" and ? for undecided, there are
exactly nine positions regarding determinism/free will that consist of
any two of these three possibilities:
Galen Strawson's table
FREE WILL FW
Incompatibilism may occupy any of the nine positions except (5), (8)
or (3), which last corresponds to soft determinism. Position (1) is
hard determinism, and position (2) is libertarianism. The position (1)
of hard determinism adds to the table the contention that D implies FW
is untrue, and the position (2) of libertarianism adds the contention
that FW implies D is untrue. Position (9) may be called hard
incompatibilism if one interprets ? as meaning both concepts are of
Compatibilism itself may occupy any of the nine
positions, that is, there is no logical contradiction between
determinism and free will, and either or both may be true or false in
principle. However, the most common meaning attached to compatibilism
is that some form of determinism is true and yet we have some form of
free will, position (3). A domino\'s movement is determined
completely by laws of physics.
Alex Rosenberg makes an extrapolation of physical determinism as
inferred on the macroscopic scale by the behaviour of a set of
dominoes to neural activity in the brain where; "If the brain is
nothing but a complex physical object whose states are as much
governed by physical laws as any other physical object, then what goes
on in our heads is as fixed and determined by prior events as what
goes on when one domino topples another in a long row of them."
Physical determinism is currently disputed by prominent
interpretations of quantum mechanics , and while not necessarily
representative of intrinsic indeterminism in nature, fundamental
limits of precision in measurement are inherent in the uncertainty
principle . The relevance of such prospective indeterminate activity
to free will is, however, contested, even when chaos theory is
introduced to magnify the effects of such microscopic events.
Below these positions are examined in more detail.
Hard determinism A simplified taxonomy of
philosophical positions regarding free will and determinism.
Determinism is a broad term with a variety of meanings.
Corresponding to each of these different meanings, there arises a
different problem for free will.
Hard determinism is the claim that
determinism is true, and that it is incompatible with free will , so
free will does not exist. Although hard determinism generally refers
to nomological determinism (see causal determinism below), it can
include all forms of determinism that necessitate the future in its
entirety. Relevant forms of determinism include:
The idea that everything is caused by prior conditions, making it
impossible for anything else to happen. In its most common form,
nomological (or scientific) determinism , future events are
necessitated by past and present events combined with the laws of
nature. Such determinism is sometimes illustrated by the thought
experiment of Laplace\'s demon . Imagine an entity that knows all
facts about the past and the present, and knows all natural laws that
govern the universe. If the laws of nature were determinate, then such
an entity would be able to use this knowledge to foresee the future,
down to the smallest detail.
Logical determinism The notion that
all propositions , whether about the past, present or future, are
either true or false. The problem of free will, in this context, is
the problem of how choices can be free, given that what one does in
the future is already determined as true or false in the present.
Theological determinism The idea that the future is already
determined, either by a creator deity decreeing or knowing its outcome
in advance. The problem of free will, in this context, is the
problem of how our actions can be free if there is a being who has
determined them for us in advance, or if they are already set in time.
Other forms of determinism are more relevant to compatibilism, such
as biological determinism , the idea that all behaviors, beliefs, and
desires are fixed by our genetic endowment and our biochemical makeup,
the latter of which is affected by both genes and environment,
cultural determinism and psychological determinism . Combinations and
syntheses of determinist theses, such as bio-environmental
determinism, are even more common.
Suggestions have been made that hard determinism need not maintain
strict determinism, where something near to, like that informally
known as adequate determinism , is perhaps more relevant. Despite
this, hard determinism has grown less popular in present times, given
scientific suggestions that determinism is false – yet the intention
of their position is sustained by hard incompatibilism.
Libertarianism (metaphysics) Various definitions
of free will that have been proposed for Metaphysical Libertarianism
(agent/substance causal, centered accounts, and efforts of will
theory ), along with examples of other common free will positions
(Compatibilism, Hard Determinism, and Hard
Incompatibilism ). Red
circles represent mental states; blue circles represent physical
states; arrows describe causal interaction.
Metaphysical libertarianism is one philosophical view point under
that of incompatibilism. Libertarianism holds onto a concept of free
will that requires that the agent be able to take more than one
possible course of action under a given set of circumstances.
Accounts of libertarianism subdivide into non-physical theories and
physical or naturalistic theories. Non-physical theories hold that the
events in the brain that lead to the performance of actions do not
have an entirely physical explanation, which requires that the world
is not closed under physics. This includes interactionist dualism ,
which claims that some non-physical mind , will, or soul overrides
physical causality .
Physical determinism implies there is only one
possible future and is therefore not compatible with libertarian free
will. As consequent of incompatibilism, metaphysical libertarian
explanations that do not involve dispensing with physicalism require
physical indeterminism, such as probabilistic subatomic particle
behavior – theory unknown to many of the early writers on free will.
Incompatibilist theories can be categorised based on the type of
indeterminism they require; uncaused events, non-deterministically
caused events, and agent/substance-caused events.
Non-causal accounts of incompatibilist free will do not require a
free action to be caused by either an agent or a physical event. They
either rely upon a world that is not causally closed, or physical
indeterminism. Non-causal accounts often claim that each intentional
action requires a choice or volition – a willing, trying, or
endeavoring on behalf of the agent (such as the cognitive component of
lifting one's arm). Such intentional actions are interpreted as free
actions. It has been suggested, however, that such acting cannot be
said to exercise control over anything in particular. According to
non-causal accounts, the causation by the agent cannot be analysed in
terms of causation by mental states or events, including desire,
belief, intention of something in particular, but rather is considered
a matter of spontaneity and creativity. The exercise of intent in such
intentional actions is not that which determines their freedom –
intentional actions are rather self-generating. The "actish feel" of
some intentional actions do not "constitute that event's activeness,
or the agent's exercise of active control", rather they "might be
brought about by direct stimulation of someone's brain, in the absence
of any relevant desire or intention on the part of that person".
Another question raised by such non-causal theory, is how an agent
acts upon reason, if the said intentional actions are spontaneous.
Some non-causal explanations involve invoking panpsychism , the
theory that a quality of mind is associated with all particles, and
pervades the entire universe, in both animate and inanimate entities.
Event-causal accounts of incompatibilist free will typically rely
upon physicalist models of mind (like those of the compatibilist), yet
they presuppose physical indeterminism, in which certain
indeterministic events are said to be caused by the agent. A number of
event-causal accounts of free will have been created, referenced here
as deliberative indeterminism, centred accounts, and efforts of will
theory. The first two accounts do not require free will to be a
fundamental constituent of the universe. Ordinary randomness is
appealed to as supplying the "elbow room" that libertarians believe
necessary. A first common objection to event-causal accounts is that
the indeterminism could be destructive and could therefore diminish
control by the agent rather than provide it (related to the problem of
origination). A second common objection to these models is that it is
questionable whether such indeterminism could add any value to
deliberation over that which is already present in a deterministic
Deliberative indeterminism asserts that the indeterminism is confined
to an earlier stage in the decision process. This is intended to
provide an indeterminate set of possibilities to choose from, while
not risking the introduction of luck (random decision making). The
selection process is deterministic, although it may be based on
earlier preferences established by the same process. Deliberative
indeterminism has been referenced by
Daniel Dennett and John Martin
Fischer . An obvious objection to such a view is that an agent cannot
be assigned ownership over their decisions (or preferences used to
make those decisions) to any greater degree than that of a
Centred accounts propose that for any given decision between two
possibilities, the strength of reason will be considered for each
option, yet there is still a probability the weaker candidate will be
chosen. An obvious objection to such a view is that decisions
are explicitly left up to chance, and origination or responsibility
cannot be assigned for any given decision.
Efforts of will theory is related to the role of will power in
decision making. It suggests that the indeterminacy of agent volition
processes could map to the indeterminacy of certain physical events
– and the outcomes of these events could therefore be considered
caused by the agent. Models of volition have been constructed in which
it is seen as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an
element of physical indeterminism. An example of this approach is that
of Robert Kane , where he hypothesizes that "in each case, the
indeterminism is functioning as a hindrance or obstacle to her
realizing one of her purposes – a hindrance or obstacle in the form
of resistance within her will which must be overcome by effort."
According to Robert Kane such "ultimate responsibility" is a required
condition for free will. An important factor in such a theory is that
the agent cannot be reduced to physical neuronal events, but rather
mental processes are said to provide an equally valid account of the
determination of outcome as their physical processes (see
non-reductive physicalism ).
Although at the time quantum mechanics (and physical indeterminism )
was only in the initial stages of acceptance, in his book Miracles: A
C. S. Lewis stated the logical possibility that if
the physical world were proved indeterministic this would provide an
entry point to describe an action of a non-physical entity on physical
reality. Indeterministic physical models (particularly those
involving quantum indeterminacy ) introduce random occurrences at an
atomic or subatomic level. These events might affect brain activity,
and could seemingly allow incompatibilist free will if the apparent
indeterminacy of some mental processes (for instance, subjective
perceptions of control in conscious volition ) map to the underlying
indeterminacy of the physical construct. This relationship, however,
requires a causative role over probabilities that is questionable,
and it is far from established that brain activity responsible for
human action can be affected by such events. Secondarily, these
incompatibilist models are dependent upon the relationship between
action and conscious volition, as studied in the neuroscience of free
will . It is evident that observation may disturb the outcome of the
observation itself, rendering limited our ability to identify
Niels Bohr , one of the main architects of quantum theory,
suggested, however, that no connection could be made between
indeterminism of nature and freedom of will.
Agent/substance-causal accounts of incompatibilist free will rely
upon substance dualism in their description of mind. The agent is
assumed power to intervene in the physical world. Agent
(substance)-causal accounts have been suggested by both George
Thomas Reid . It is required that what the agent
causes is not causally determined by prior events. It is also required
that the agent's causing of that event is not causally determined by
prior events. A number of problems have been identified with this
view. Firstly, it is difficult to establish the reason for any given
choice by the agent, which suggests they may be random or determined
by luck (without an underlying basis for the free will decision).
Secondly, it has been questioned whether physical events can be caused
by an external substance or mind – a common problem associated with
interactionalist dualism .
Hard incompatibilism is the idea that free will cannot exist, whether
the world is deterministic or not – it is an incoherent concept.
Derk Pereboom has defended hard incompatibilism, identifying a variety
of positions where free will is irrelevant to
indeterminism/determinism, among them the following:
Determinism (D) is true, D does not imply we lack free will (F),
but in fact we do lack F.
* D is true, D does not imply we lack F, but in fact we don't know
if we have F.
* D is true, and we do have F.
* D is true, we have F, and F implies D.
* D is unproven, but we have F.
* D isn't true, we do have F, and would have F even if D were true.
* D isn't true, we don't have F, but F is compatible with D.
Derk Pereboom, Living without Free Will, p. xvi.
Pereboom calls positions 3 and 4 soft determinism, position 1 a form
of hard determinism, position 6 a form of classical libertarianism,
and any position that includes having F as compatibilism. He largely
ignores position 2.
John Locke denied that the phrase "free will" made any sense (compare
with theological noncognitivism , a similar stance on the existence of
God ). He also took the view that the truth of determinism was
irrelevant. He believed that the defining feature of voluntary
behavior was that individuals have the ability to postpone a decision
long enough to reflect or deliberate upon the consequences of a
choice: "... the will in truth, signifies nothing but a power, or
ability, to prefer or choose".
The contemporary philosopher
Galen Strawson agrees with Locke that
the truth or falsity of determinism is irrelevant to the problem. He
argues that the notion of free will leads to an infinite regress and
is therefore senseless. According to Strawson, if one is responsible
for what one does in a given situation, then one must be responsible
for the way one is in certain mental respects. But it is impossible
for one to be responsible for the way one is in any respect. This is
because to be responsible in some situation S, one must have been
responsible for the way one was at S−1. To be responsible for the
way one was at S−1, one must have been responsible for the way one
was at S−2, and so on. At some point in the chain, there must have
been an act of origination of a new causal chain. But this is
impossible. Man cannot create himself or his mental states ex nihilo .
This argument entails that free will itself is absurd, but not that it
is incompatible with determinism. Strawson calls his own view
"pessimism" but it can be classified as hard incompatibilism .
Related Philosophical Issues
Determinism And Free Will
Causal determinism is the concept that events within a given paradigm
are bound by causality in such a way that any state (of an object or
event) is completely determined by prior states. Causal determinism
proposes that there is an unbroken chain of prior occurrences
stretching back to the origin of the universe. Causal determinists
believe that there is nothing uncaused or self-caused . The most
common form of causal determinism is nomological determinism (or
scientific determinism), the notion that the past and the present
dictate the future entirely and necessarily by rigid natural laws,
that every occurrence results inevitably from prior events. Quantum
mechanics poses a serious challenge to this view.
Fundamental debate continues over whether the physical universe is
likely to be deterministic . Although the scientific method cannot be
used to rule out indeterminism with respect to violations of causal
closure , it can be used to identify indeterminism in natural law.
Interpretations of quantum mechanics
Interpretations of quantum mechanics at present are both deterministic
and indeterministic , and are being constrained by ongoing
Destiny And Fate
Destiny or fate is a predetermined course of events. It may be
conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an
individual. It is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed
natural order to the cosmos.
Although often used interchangeably, the words "fate" and "destiny"
have distinct connotations.
Fate generally implies there is a set course that cannot be deviated
from, and over which one has no control.
Fate is related to
determinism , but makes no specific claim of physical determinism.
Even with physical indeterminism an event could still be fated
externally (see for instance theological determinism ). Destiny
likewise is related to determinism, but makes no specific claim of
physical determinism. Even with physical indeterminism an event could
still be destined to occur.
Destiny implies there is a set course that cannot be deviated from,
but does not of itself make any claim with respect to the setting of
that course (i.e., it does not necessarily conflict with
incompatibilist free will).
Free will if existent could be the
mechanism by which that destined outcome is chosen (determined to
B-theory of time
Discussion regarding destiny does not necessitate the existence of
Logical determinism or determinateness is the
notion that all propositions, whether about the past, present, or
future, are either true or false. This creates a unique problem for
free will given that propositions about the future already have a
truth value in the present (that is it is already determined as either
true or false), and is referred to as the problem of future
Omniscience is the capacity to know everything that there is to know
(included in which are all future events), and is a property often
attributed to a creator deity.
Omniscience implies the existence of
destiny. Some authors have claimed that free will cannot coexist with
omniscience. One argument asserts that an omniscient creator not only
implies destiny but a form of high level predeterminism such as hard
theological determinism or predestination – that they have
independently fixed all events and outcomes in the universe in
advance. In such a case, even if an individual could have influence
over their lower level physical system, their choices in regard to
this cannot be their own, as is the case with libertarian free will.
Omniscience features as an incompatible-properties argument for the
God , known as the argument from free will , and is
closely related to other such arguments, for example the
incompatibility of omnipotence with a good creator deity (i.e. if a
deity knew what they were going to choose, then they are responsible
for letting them choose it).
Predeterminism See also:
Predeterminism is the idea that all events are determined in advance.
Predeterminism is the philosophy that all events of history , past,
present and future, have been decided or are known (by
God , fate , or
some other force), including human actions.
frequently taken to mean that human actions cannot interfere with (or
have no bearing on) the outcomes of a pre-determined course of events,
and that one's destiny was established externally (for example,
exclusively by a creator deity). The concept of predeterminism is
often argued by invoking causal determinism , implying that there is
an unbroken chain of prior occurrences stretching back to the origin
of the universe. In the case of predeterminism, this chain of events
has been pre-established, and human actions cannot interfere with the
outcomes of this pre-established chain.
Predeterminism can be used to
mean such pre-established causal determinism, in which case it is
categorised as a specific type of determinism . It can also be used
interchangeably with causal determinism – in the context of its
capacity to determine future events. Despite this, predeterminism is
often considered as independent of causal determinism. The term
predeterminism is also frequently used in the context of biology and
heredity, in which case it represents a form of biological determinism
The term predeterminism suggests not just a determining of all
events, but the prior and deliberately conscious determining of all
events (therefore done, presumably, by a conscious being). While
determinism usually refers to a naturalistically explainable causality
of events, predeterminism seems by definition to suggest a person or a
"someone" who is controlling or planning the causality of events
before they occur and who then perhaps resides beyond the natural,
Predestination asserts that a supremely powerful
being has indeed fixed all events and outcomes in the universe in
advance, and is a famous doctrine of the
Calvinists in Christian
Predestination is often considered a form of hard
theological determinism .
Predeterminism has therefore been compared to fatalism .
the idea that everything is fated to happen, so that humans have no
control over their future.
Theological determinism is a form of determinism stating that all
events that happen are pre-ordained, or predestined to happen, by a
monotheistic deity , or that they are destined to occur given its
omniscience . Two forms of theological determinism exist, here
referenced as strong and weak theological determinism.
* The first one, strong theological determinism, is based on the
concept of a creator deity dictating all events in history:
"everything that happens has been predestined to happen by an
omniscient, omnipotent divinity."
* The second form, weak theological determinism, is based on the
concept of divine foreknowledge – "because
God 's omniscience is
God knows about the future will inevitably happen, which
means, consequently, that the future is already fixed."
There exist slight variations on the above categorisation. Some claim
that theological determinism requires predestination of all events and
outcomes by the divinity (that is, they do not classify the weaker
version as 'theological determinism' unless libertarian free will is
assumed to be denied as a consequence), or that the weaker version
does not constitute 'theological determinism' at all. Theological
determinism can also be seen as a form of causal determinism , in
which the antecedent conditions are the nature and will of God. With
respect to free will and the classification of theological
compatibilism/incompatibilism below, "theological determinism is the
God exists and has infallible knowledge of all true
propositions including propositions about our future actions," more
minimal criteria designed to encapsulate all forms of theological
determinism. A simplified taxonomy of philosophical positions
regarding free will and theological determinism.
There are various implications for metaphysical libertarian free will
as consequent of theological determinism and its philosophical
* Strong theological determinism is not compatible with metaphysical
libertarian free will, and is a form of hard theological determinism
(equivalent to theological fatalism below). It claims that free will
does not exist, and
God has absolute control over a person's actions.
Hard theological determinism is similar in implication to hard
determinism , although it does not invalidate compatibilist free will.
Hard theological determinism is a form of theological incompatibilism
(see figure, top left).
* Weak theological determinism is either compatible or incompatible
with metaphysical libertarian free will depending upon one's
philosophical interpretation of omniscience – and as such is
interpreted as either a form of hard theological determinism (known as
theological fatalism ), or as soft theological determinism
(terminology used for clarity only). Soft theological determinism
claims that humans have free will to choose their actions, holding
that God, while knowing their actions before they happen , does not
affect the outcome. God's providence is "compatible" with voluntary
choice. Soft theological determinism is known as theological
compatibilism (see figure, top right). A rejection of theological
determinism (or divine foreknowledge ) is classified as theological
incompatibilism also (see figure, bottom), and is relevant to a more
general discussion of free will.
The basic argument for theological fatalism in the case of weak
theological determinism is as follows:
* Assume divine foreknowledge or omniscience
* Infallible foreknowledge implies destiny (it is known for certain
what one will do)
Destiny eliminates alternate possibility (one cannot do otherwise)
* Assert incompatibility with metaphysical libertarian free will
This argument is very often accepted as a basis for theological
incompatibilism: denying either libertarian free will or divine
foreknowledge (omniscience) and therefore theological determinism. On
the other hand, theological compatibilism must attempt to find
problems with it. The formal version of the argument rests on a number
of premises, many of which have received some degree of contention.
Theological compatibilist responses have included:
* Deny the truth value of future contingents , as proposed for
Aristotle (although this denies foreknowledge and therefore
* Assert differences in non-temporal knowledge (space-time
independence), an approach taken for example by
Boethius , Thomas
Aquinas , and
C. S. Lewis .
* Deny the
Principle of Alternate Possibilities : "If you cannot do
otherwise when you do an act, you do not act freely." For example, a
human observer could in principle have a machine that could detect
what will happen in the future, but the existence of this machine or
their use of it has no influence on the outcomes of events.
In the definition of compatibilism and incompatibilism , the
literature often fails to distinguish between physical determinism and
higher level forms of determinism (predeterminism, theological
determinism, etc.) As such, hard determinism with respect to
theological determinism (or "Hard Theological Determinism" above)
might be classified as hard incompatibilism with respect to physical
determinism (if no claim was made regarding the internal causality or
determinism of the universe), or even compatibilism (if freedom from
the constraint of determinism was not considered necessary for free
will), if not hard determinism itself. By the same principle,
metaphysical libertarianism (a form of incompatibilism with respect to
physical determinism) might be classified as compatibilism with
respect to theological determinism (if it was assumed such free will
events were pre-ordained and therefore were destined to occur, but of
which whose outcomes were not "predestined" or determined by God). If
hard theological determinism is accepted (if it was assumed instead
that such outcomes were predestined by God), then metaphysical
libertarianism is not, however, possible, and would require
reclassification (as hard incompatibilism for example, given that the
universe is still assumed to be indeterministic – although the
classification of hard determinism is technically valid also).
Mind–body problem See also:
Philosophy of mind ,
Dualism (philosophy of mind)
Dualism (philosophy of mind) ,
Monism , and
The idea of free will is one aspect of the mind-body problem , that
is, consideration of the relation between mind (for example,
consciousness, memory, and judgment) and body (for example, the human
brain and nervous system ). Philosophical models of mind are divided
into physical and non-physical expositions.
Cartesian dualism holds that the mind is a nonphysical substance, the
seat of consciousness and intelligence, and is not identical with
physical states of the brain or body. It is suggested that although
the two worlds do interact, each retains some measure of autonomy.
Under cartesian dualism external mind is responsible for bodily
action, although unconscious brain activity is often caused by
external events (for example, the instantaneous reaction to being
burned). Cartesian dualism implies that the physical world is not
deterministic—and in which external mind controls (at least some)
physical events, providing an interpretation of incompatibilist free
will. Stemming from Cartesian dualism, a formulation sometimes called
interactionalist dualism suggests a two-way interaction, that some
physical events cause some mental acts and some mental acts cause some
physical events. One modern vision of the possible separation of mind
and body is the "three-world" formulation of Popper . Cartesian
Popper's three worlds are two forms of what is called
epistemological pluralism , that is the notion that different
epistemological methodologies are necessary to attain a full
description of the world. Other forms of epistemological pluralist
dualism include psychophysical parallelism and epiphenomenalism .
Epistemological pluralism is one view in which the mind-body problem
is not reducible to the concepts of the natural sciences.
A contrasting approach is called physicalism .
Physicalism is a
philosophical theory holding that everything that exists is no more
extensive than its physical properties ; that is, that there are no
non-physical substances (for example physically independent minds).
Physicalism can be reductive or non-reductive. Reductive physicalism
is grounded in the idea that everything in the world can actually be
reduced analytically to its fundamental physical, or material, basis.
Alternatively, non-reductive physicalism asserts that mental
properties form a separate ontological class to physical properties:
that mental states (such as qualia ) are not ontologically reducible
to physical states. Although one might suppose that mental states and
neurological states are different in kind, that does not rule out the
possibility that mental states are correlated with neurological
states. In one such construction, anomalous monism , mental events
supervene on physical events, describing the emergence of mental
properties correlated with physical properties - implying causal
Non-reductive physicalism is therefore often categorised
as property dualism rather than monism , yet other types of property
dualism do not adhere to the causal reducibility of mental states (see
Incompatibilism requires a distinction between the mental and the
physical, being a commentary on the incompatibility of (determined)
physical reality and one's presumably distinct experience of will.
Secondarily, metaphysical libertarian free will must assert influence
on physical reality, and where mind is responsible for such influence
(as opposed to ordinary system randomness), it must be distinct from
body to accomplish this. Both substance and property dualism offer
such a distinction, and those particular models thereof that are not
causally inert with respect to the physical world provide a basis for
illustrating incompatibilist free will (i.e. interactionalist dualism
and non-reductive physicalism).
It has been noted that the laws of physics have yet to resolve the
hard problem of consciousness : "Solving the hard problem of
consciousness involves determining how physiological processes such as
ions flowing across the nerve membrane cause us to have experiences."
According to some, "Intricately related to the hard problem of
consciousness, the hard problem of free will represents the core
problem of conscious free will: Does conscious volition impact the
material world?" Others however argue that "consciousness plays a far
smaller role in human life than Western culture has tended to
Thomas Hobbes was a classical
Compatibilists maintain that determinism is compatible with free
will. They believe freedom can be present or absent in a situation for
reasons that have nothing to do with metaphysics. For instance, courts
of law make judgments about whether individuals are acting under their
own free will under certain circumstances without bringing in
metaphysics. Similarly, political liberty is a non-metaphysical
concept. Likewise, some compatibilists define free will as freedom to
act according to one's determined motives without hindrance from other
individuals. So for example
Aristotle in his
Nicomachean Ethics , and
the Stoic Chrysippus. In contrast, the incompatibilist positions are
concerned with a sort of "metaphysically free will", which
compatibilists claim has never been coherently defined. Compatibilists
argue that determinism does not matter; though they disagree among
themselves about what, in turn, does matter. To be a compatibilist,
one need not endorse any particular conception of free will, but only
deny that determinism is at odds with free will.
Although there are various impediments to exercising one's choices,
free will does not imply freedom of action.
Freedom of choice (freedom
to select one's will) is logically separate from freedom to implement
that choice (freedom to enact one's will), although not all writers
observe this distinction. Nonetheless, some philosophers have defined
free will as the absence of various impediments. Some "modern
compatibilists", such as
Harry Frankfurt and
Daniel Dennett , argue
free will is simply freely choosing to do what constraints allow one
to do. In other words, a coerced agent's choices can still be free if
such coercion coincides with the agent's personal intentions and
Free Will As Lack Of Physical Restraint
Most "classical compatibilists", such as
Thomas Hobbes , claim that a
person is acting on the person's own will only when it is the desire
of that person to do the act, and also possible for the person to be
able to do otherwise, if the person had decided to. Hobbes sometimes
attributes such compatibilist freedom to each individual and not to
some abstract notion of will, asserting, for example, that "no liberty
can be inferred to the will, desire, or inclination, but the liberty
of the man; which consisteth in this, that he finds no stop, in doing
what he has the will, desire, or inclination to doe ." In
articulating this crucial proviso,
David Hume writes, "this
hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to every one who
is not a prisoner and in chains." Similarly,
Voltaire , in his
Dictionnaire philosophique , claimed that "
Liberty then is only and
can be only the power to do what one will." He asked, "would you have
everything at the pleasure of a million blind caprices?" For him, free
will or liberty is "only the power of acting, what is this power? It
is the effect of the constitution and present state of our organs."
Free Will As A Psychological State
Compatibilism often regards the agent free as virtue of their reason.
Some explanations of free will focus on the internal causality of the
mind with respect to higher-order brain processing – the interaction
between conscious and unconscious brain activity. Likewise, some
modern compatibilists in psychology have tried to revive traditionally
accepted struggles of free will with the formation of character.
Compatibilist free will has also been attributed to our natural sense
of agency , where one must believe they are an agent in order to
function and develop a theory of mind .
The notion of levels of decision is presented in a different manner
by Frankfurt. Frankfurt argues for a version of compatibilism called
the "hierarchical mesh". The idea is that an individual can have
conflicting desires at a first-order level and also have a desire
about the various first-order desires (a second-order desire) to the
effect that one of the desires prevails over the others. A person's
will is identified with their effective first-order desire, that is,
the one they act on, and this will is free if it was the desire the
person wanted to act upon, that is, the person's second-order desire
was effective. So, for example, there are "wanton addicts", "unwilling
addicts" and "willing addicts". All three groups may have the
conflicting first-order desires to want to take the drug they are
addicted to and to not want to take it.
The first group, wanton addicts, have no second-order desire not to
take the drug. The second group, "unwilling addicts", have a
second-order desire not to take the drug, while the third group,
"willing addicts", have a second-order desire to take it. According to
Frankfurt, the members of the first group are devoid of will and
therefore are no longer persons. The members of the second group
freely desire not to take the drug, but their will is overcome by the
addiction. Finally, the members of the third group willingly take the
drug they are addicted to. Frankfurt's theory can ramify to any number
of levels. Critics of the theory point out that there is no certainty
that conflicts will not arise even at the higher-order levels of
desire and preference. Others argue that Frankfurt offers no adequate
explanation of how the various levels in the hierarchy mesh together.
Free Will As Unpredictability
In Elbow Room , Dennett presents an argument for a compatibilist
theory of free will, which he further elaborated in the book Freedom
Evolves . The basic reasoning is that, if one excludes God, an
infinitely powerful demon , and other such possibilities, then because
of chaos and epistemic limits on the precision of our knowledge of the
current state of the world, the future is ill-defined for all finite
beings. The only well-defined things are "expectations". The ability
to do "otherwise" only makes sense when dealing with these
expectations, and not with some unknown and unknowable future.
According to Dennett, because individuals have the ability to act
differently from what anyone expects, free will can exist.
Incompatibilists claim the problem with this idea is that we may be
mere "automata responding in predictable ways to stimuli in our
environment". Therefore, all of our actions are controlled by forces
outside ourselves, or by random chance. More sophisticated analyses
of compatibilist free will have been offered, as have other critiques.
In the philosophy of decision theory , a fundamental question is:
From the standpoint of statistical outcomes, to what extent do the
choices of a conscious being have the ability to influence the future?
Newcomb\'s paradox and other philosophical problems pose questions
about free will and predictable outcomes of choices.
The Physical Mind
Neuroscience of free will
Compatibilist models of free will often consider deterministic
relationships as discoverable in the physical world (including the
brain). Cognitive naturalism is a physicalist approach to studying
human consciousness in which mind is simply part of nature, perhaps
merely a feature of many very complex self-programming feedback
systems (for example, neural networks and cognitive robots ), and so
must be studied by the methods of empirical science, for example,
behavioral science and the cognitive sciences like neuroscience and
cognitive psychology . Cognitive naturalism stresses the role of
neurological sciences. Overall brain health, substance dependence ,
depression , and various personality disorders clearly influence
mental activity, and their impact upon volition also is important.
For example, an addict may experience a conscious desire to escape
addiction, but be unable to do so. The "will" is disconnected from the
freedom to act. This situation is related to an abnormal production
and distribution of dopamine in the brain.
The neuroscience of free will places restrictions on both
compatibilist and incompatibilist free will conceptions.
Compatibilist models adhere to models of mind in which mental
activity (such as deliberation) can be reduced to physical activity
without any change in physical outcome. Although compatibilism is
generally aligned to (or is at least compatible with) physicalism ,
some compatibilist models describe the natural occurrences of
deterministic deliberation in the brain in terms of the first person
perspective of the conscious agent performing the deliberation. Such
an approach has been considered a form of identity dualism. A
description of "how conscious experience might affect brains" has been
provided in which "the experience of conscious free will is the
first-person perspective of the neural correlates of choosing."
Some philosophers' views are difficult to categorize as either
compatibilist or incompatibilist, hard determinist or libertarian. For
Ted Honderich holds the view that "determinism is true,
compatibilism and incompatibilism are both false" and the real problem
lies elsewhere. Honderich maintains that determinism is true because
quantum phenomena are not events or things that can be located in
space and time, but are abstract entities. Further, even if they were
micro-level events, they do not seem to have any relevance to how the
world is at the macroscopic level. He maintains that incompatibilism
is false because, even if indeterminism is true, incompatibilists have
not provided, and cannot provide, an adequate account of origination.
He rejects compatibilism because it, like incompatibilism, assumes a
single, fundamental notion of freedom. There are really two notions of
freedom: voluntary action and origination. Both notions are required
to explain freedom of will and responsibility. Both determinism and
indeterminism are threats to such freedom. To abandon these notions of
freedom would be to abandon moral responsibility. On the one side, we
have our intuitions; on the other, the scientific facts. The "new"
problem is how to resolve this conflict.
Free Will As An Illusion
Spinoza thought that there is no free will. "Experience
teaches us no less clearly than reason, that men believe themselves
free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and
unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined."
Baruch Spinoza ,
David Hume discussed the possibility that the entire debate about
free will is nothing more than a merely "verbal" issue. He suggested
that it might be accounted for by "a false sensation or seeming
experience" (a velleity), which is associated with many of our actions
when we perform them. On reflection, we realize that they were
necessary and determined all along.
Arthur Schopenhauer claimed
that phenomena have no free will but the will as noumenon , is free.
Arthur Schopenhauer put the puzzle of free will and moral
responsibility in these terms:
Everyone believes himself, a priori, perfectly free – even in his
individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence
another manner of life. ... But a posteriori, through experience, he
finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to
necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he
does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life
to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he
In his essay
On the Freedom of the Will ,
Schopenhauer stated, "You
can do what you will, but in any given moment of your life you can
will only one definite thing and absolutely nothing other than that
one thing." According to Schopenhauer, phenomena do not have free
will. However, will as noumenon is free.
Free Will As "moral Imagination"
Rudolf Steiner , who collaborated in a complete edition of Arthur
Schopenhauer's work, wrote The
Philosophy of Freedom , which focuses
on the problem of free will. Steiner (1861–1925) initially divides
this into the two aspects of freedom: freedom of thought and freedom
of action. The controllable and uncontrollable aspects of decision
making thereby are made logically separable, as pointed out in the
introduction. This separation of will from action has a very long
history, going back at least as far as
Stoicism and the teachings of
Chrysippus (279–206 BCE), who separated external antecedent causes
from the internal disposition receiving this cause.
Steiner then argues that inner freedom is achieved when we bridge the
gap between our sensory impressions, which reflect the outer
appearance of the world, and our thoughts, which give us access to the
inner nature of the world. Acknowledging the many influences on our
choice, he points to the impact of our becoming aware of just these
determinants. Outer freedom is attained by permeating our deeds with
moral imagination. Steiner aims to show that these two aspects of
inner and outer freedom are integral to one another, and that true
freedom is only achieved when they are united.
Free Will As A Pragmatically Useful Concept
William James ' views were ambivalent. While he believed in free will
on "ethical grounds", he did not believe that there was evidence for
it on scientific grounds, nor did his own introspections support it,
he did believe that the problem of free will was a metaphysical issue
and, therefore, could not be settled by science. Moreover, he did not
accept incompatibilism as formulated below; he did not believe that
the indeterminism of human actions was a prerequisite of moral
responsibility. In his work
Pragmatism , he wrote that "instinct and
utility between them can safely be trusted to carry on the social
business of punishment and praise" regardless of metaphysical
theories. He did believe that indeterminism is important as a
"doctrine of relief" – it allows for the view that, although the
world may be in many respects a bad place, it may, through
individuals' actions, become a better one. Determinism, he argued,
undermines meliorism – the idea that progress is a real concept
leading to improvement in the world.
Free Will And Views Of Causality
Principle of sufficient reason
David Hume in his
A Treatise of Human Nature approached free
will via the notion of causality. It was his position that causality
was a mental construct used to explain the repeated association of
events, and that one must examine more closely the relation between
things regularly succeeding one another (descriptions of regularity in
nature) and things that result in other things (things that cause or
necessitate other things). According to Hume, 'causation' is on weak
grounds: "Once we realise that 'A must bring about B' is tantamount
merely to 'Due to their constant conjunction, we are psychologically
certain that B will follow A,' then we are left with a very weak
notion of necessity."
This empiricist view was often denied by trying to prove the
so-called apriority of causal law (i.e. that it precedes all
experience and is rooted in the construction of the perceivable
* Kant 's proof in Critique of Pure Reason (which referenced time
and time ordering of causes and effects)
Schopenhauer 's proof from The Fourfold Root of the
Sufficient Reason (which referenced the so-called intellectuality of
representations, that is, in other words, objects and qualia perceived
In the 1780s
Immanuel Kant suggested at a minimum our decision
processes with moral implications lie outside the reach of everyday
causality, and lie outside the rules governing material objects.
"There is a sharp difference between moral judgments and judgments of
fact.... Moral judgments ... must be a priori judgments."
Freeman introduces what he calls "circular causality" to "allow for
the contribution of self-organizing dynamics", the "formation of
macroscopic population dynamics that shapes the patterns of activity
of the contributing individuals", applicable to "interactions between
neurons and neural masses ... and between the behaving animal and its
environment". In this view, mind and neurological functions are
tightly coupled in a situation where feedback between collective
actions (mind) and individual subsystems (for example, neurons and
their synapses ) jointly decide upon the behaviour of both.
Free Will According To Thomas Aquinas
Thirteenth century philosopher
Thomas Aquinas viewed humans as
pre-programmed (by virtue of being human) to seek certain goals, but
able to choose between routes to achieve these goals (our Aristotelian
telos ). His view has been associated with both compatibilism and
In facing choices, he argued that humans are governed by intellect,
will, and passions. The will is "the primary mover of all the powers
of the soul ... and it is also the efficient cause of motion in the
Choice falls into five stages: (i) intellectual consideration
of whether an objective is desirable, (ii) intellectual consideration
of means of attaining the objective, (iii) will arrives at an intent
to pursue the objective, (iv) will and intellect jointly decide upon
choice of means (v) will elects execution.
Free will enters as
Free will is an "appetitive power", that is, not a cognitive
power of intellect (the term "appetite" from Aquinas's definition
"includes all forms of internal inclination"). He states that
judgment "concludes and terminates counsel. Now counsel is terminated,
first, by the judgment of reason; secondly, by the acceptation of the
A compatibilist interpretation of Aquinas's view is defended thus:
"Free-will is the cause of its own movement, because by his free-will
man moves himself to act. But it does not of necessity belong to
liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as
neither for one thing to be cause of another need it be the first
cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both
natural and voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does
not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He
does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He
the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing
according to its own nature."
Free Will As A Pseudo-problem
Historically, most of the philosophical effort invested in resolving
the dilemma has taken the form of close examination of definitions and
ambiguities in the concepts designated by "free", "freedom", "will",
"choice" and so forth. Defining 'free will' often revolves around the
meaning of phrases like "ability to do otherwise" or "alternative
possibilities". This emphasis upon words has led some philosophers to
claim the problem is merely verbal and thus a pseudo-problem. In
response, others point out the complexity of decision making and the
importance of nuances in the terminology.
HISTORY OF FREE WILL
The problem of free will has been identified in ancient Greek
philosophical literature. The notion of compatibilist free will has
been attributed to both
Aristotle (fourth century BCE) and Epictetus
(1st century CE); "it was the fact that nothing hindered us from doing
or choosing something that made us have control over them".
Susanne Bobzien , the notion of incompatibilist free will
is perhaps first identified in the works of Alexander of Aphrodisias
(third century CE); "what makes us have control over things is the
fact that we are causally undetermined in our decision and thus can
freely decide between doing/choosing or not doing/choosing them".
The term "free will" (liberum arbitrium) was introduced by Christian
philosophy (4th century CE). It has traditionally meant (until the
Enlightenment proposed its own meanings) lack of necessity in human
will, so that "the will is free" meant "the will does not have to be
such as it is". This requirement was universally embraced by both
incompatibilists and compatibilists.
Science has contributed to the free will problem in at least three
ways. First, physics has addressed the question whether nature is
deterministic, which is viewed as crucial by incompatibilists
(compatibilists, however, view it as irrelevant). Second, although
free will can be defined in various ways, all of them involve aspects
of the way people make decisions and initiate actions, which have been
studied extensively by neuroscientists. Some of the experimental
observations are widely viewed as implying that free will does not
exist or is an illusion (but many philosophers see this as a
misunderstanding). Third, psychologists have studied the beliefs that
the majority of ordinary people hold about free will and its role in
assigning moral responsibility.
Early scientific thought often portrayed the universe as
deterministic – for example in the thought of
Democritus or the
Cārvākans – and some thinkers claimed that the simple process of
gathering sufficient information would allow them to predict future
events with perfect accuracy. Modern science, on the other hand, is a
mixture of deterministic and stochastic theories. Quantum mechanics
predicts events only in terms of probabilities, casting doubt on
whether the universe is deterministic at all, although evolution of
the universal state vector is completely deterministic. Current
physical theories cannot resolve the question of whether determinism
is true of the world, being very far from a potential Theory of
Everything , and open to many different interpretations .
Assuming that an indeterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics
is correct, one may still object that such indeterminism is for all
practical purposes confined to microscopic phenomena. This is not
always the case: many macroscopic phenomena are based on quantum
effects. For instance, some hardware random number generators work by
amplifying quantum effects into practically usable signals. A more
significant question is whether the indeterminism of quantum mechanics
allows for the traditional idea of free will (based on a perception of
free will). If a person's action is, however, only result of complete
quantum randomness, and mental processes as experienced have no
influence on the probabilistic outcomes (such as volition), this in
itself would mean that such traditional free will does not exist
(because the action was not controllable by the physical being who
claims to possess the free will).
Like physicists, biologists have frequently addressed questions
related to free will. One of the most heated debates in biology is
that of "nature versus nurture ", concerning the relative importance
of genetics and biology as compared to culture and environment in
human behavior. The view of many researchers is that many human
behaviors can be explained in terms of humans' brains, genes, and
evolutionary histories. This point of view raises the fear that
such attribution makes it impossible to hold others responsible for
Steven Pinker 's view is that fear of determinism in
the context of "genetics" and "evolution" is a mistake, that it is "a
confusion of explanation with exculpation". Responsibility doesn't
require that behavior be uncaused, as long as behavior responds to
praise and blame. Moreover, it is not certain that environmental
determination is any less threatening to free will than genetic
Neuroscience of free will See
It has become possible to study the living brain , and researchers
can now watch the brain's decision-making process at work. A seminal
experiment in this field was conducted by
Benjamin Libet in the 1980s,
in which he asked each subject to choose a random moment to flick
their wrist while he measured the associated activity in their brain;
in particular, the build-up of electrical signal called the readiness
potential (after German
Bereitschaftspotential , which was discovered
by Kornhuber this became known as Libet's W time.
Libet found that the unconscious brain activity of the readiness
potential leading up to subjects' movements began approximately half a
second before the subject was aware of a conscious intention to move.
These studies of the timing between actions and the conscious
decision bear upon the role of the brain in understanding free will. A
subject's declaration of intention to move a finger appears after the
brain has begun to implement the action, suggesting to some that
unconsciously the brain has made the decision before the conscious
mental act to do so. Some believe the implication is that free will
was not involved in the decision and is an illusion. The first of
these experiments reported the brain registered activity related to
the move about 0.2 s before movement onset. However, these authors
also found that awareness of action was anticipatory to activity in
the muscle underlying the movement; the entire process resulting in
action involves more steps than just the onset of brain activity. The
bearing of these results upon notions of free will appears complex.
Some argue that placing the question of free will in the context of
motor control is too narrow. The objection is that the time scales
involved in motor control are very short, and motor control involves a
great deal of unconscious action, with much physical movement entirely
unconscious. On that basis "... free will cannot be squeezed into time
frames of 150–350 ms; free will is a longer term phenomenon" and
free will is a higher level activity that "cannot be captured in a
description of neural activity or of muscle activation...." The
bearing of timing experiments upon free will is still under
More studies have since been conducted, including some that try to:
* support Libet's original findings
* suggest that the cancelling or "veto" of an action may first arise
subconsciously as well
* explain the underlying brain structures involved
* suggest models that explain the relationship between conscious
intention and action
Benjamin Libet 's results are quoted in favor of epiphenomenalism,
but he believes subjects still have a "conscious veto", since the
readiness potential does not invariably lead to an action. In Freedom
Daniel Dennett argues that a no-free-will conclusion is
based on dubious assumptions about the location of consciousness, as
well as questioning the accuracy and interpretation of Libet's
results. Kornhuber every action determines a reaction. Determinism,
therefore emphasizes the importance and responsibility one has in
decision making as every choice will have an accompanying effect.
Seeing this flaw throughout commonly cited research, Miles presents
countering research which includes “evidence that the myth of free
choice encourages immoral, unjust, prejudiced, and anti-intellectual
behaviour.” Miles suggests that while both extremes of fatalism and
belief in free will result in negative social outcomes, determinism
serves to encourage intentional, prosocial decision making.
Ultimately, the point of this research is to encourage accurate
knowledge of the free will debate when conducting and evaluating such
studies in experimental psychology.
Regardless of the validity of, or benefit of, belief in free will, it
may be beneficial to understand where the idea comes from. One
contribution is randomness. While it is established that that
randomness is not the only factor in the perception of the free will,
it has been shown that randomness can be mistaken as free will due to
its indeterminacy. This misconception applies both when considering
oneself and others. Another contribution is choice. It has been
demonstrated that people’s belief in free will increases if
presented with a simple level of choice. The specificity of the amount
of choice is important, as too little or too great a degree of choice
may negatively influence belief. It is also likely that the
associative relationship between level of choice and perception of
free will is influentially bidirectional. It is also possible that
one’s desire for control, or other basic motivational patterns, act
as a third variable.
BELIEVING IN FREE WILL
In recent years, free will belief in individuals has been analysed
with respect to traits in social behaviour. In general the concept of
free will researched to date in this context has been that of the
incompatibilist, or more specifically, the libertarian, that is
freedom from determinism.
What People Believe
Whether people naturally adhere to an incompatibilist model of free
will has been questioned in the research. Eddy Nahmias has found that
incompatibilism is not intuitive – it was not adhered to, in that
determinism does not negate belief in moral responsibility (based on
an empirical study of people's responses to moral dilemmas under a
deterministic model of reality). Edward Cokely has found that
incompatibilism is intuitive – it was naturally adhered to, in that
determinism does indeed negate belief in moral responsibility in
general. Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols have proposed that
incompatibilism may or may not be intuitive, and that it is dependent
to some large degree upon the circumstances; whether or not the crime
incites an emotional response – for example if it involves harming
another human being. They found that belief in free will is a
cultural universal, and that the majority of participants said that
(a) our universe is indeterministic and (b) moral responsibility is
not compatible with determinism.
Studies indicate that peoples' belief in free will is inconsistent.
Emily Pronin and Matthew Kugler found that people believe they have
more free will than others.
Studies also reveal a correlation between someone's likelihood of
accepting a deterministic model of mind, and their personality type.
For example, Adam Feltz and Edward Cokely found that people of an
extrovert personality type are more likely to dissociate belief in
determinism from belief in moral responsibility.
Roy Baumeister and colleagues reviewed literature on the
psychological effects of a belief (or disbelief) in free will. The
first part of their analysis (which is all that we are concerned with
here) was not meant to discover which types of free will actually
exist. The researchers instead sought to identify what other people
believe, how many people believed it, and the effects of those
beliefs. Baumeister found that most people tend to believe in a sort
of "naive compatibilistic free will".
The researchers also found that people consider acts more "free" when
they involve a person opposing external forces, planning, or making
random actions. Notably, the last behaviour, "random" actions, may
not be possible; when participants attempt to perform tasks in a
random manner (such as generating random numbers), their behaviour
betrays many patterns.
A recent 2009 survey has shown that compatibilism is quite a popular
stance among those who specialize in philosophy (59%).
libertarianism amounted to 13.7%. More than a half of surveyed people
were US Americans.
Among Evolutionary Biologists
79 percent of evolutionary biologists said that they believe in
free-will according to a survey conducted in 2007, only 14 percent
chose no free will, and 7 percent did not answer the question.
Effects Of The
See also: self-efficacy An alternative explanation builds on the
idea that subjects tend to confuse determinism with fatalism... What
happens then when agents’ self-efficacy is undermined? It is not
that their basic desires and drives are defeated. It is rather, I
suggest, that they become skeptical that they can control those
desires; and in the face of that skepticism, they fail to apply the
effort that is needed even to try. If they were tempted to behave
badly, then coming to believe in fatalism makes them less likely to
resist that temptation. “ ” —Richard Holton
Baumeister and colleagues found that provoking disbelief in free will
seems to cause various negative effects. The authors concluded, in
their paper, that it is belief in determinism that causes those
negative effects. This may not be a very justified conclusion,
however. First of all, free will can at least refer to either
libertarian (indeterministic) free will or compatibilistic
(deterministic) free will . Having participants read articles that
simply "disprove free will" is unlikely to increase their
understanding of determinism, or the compatibilistic free will that it
In other words, "provoking disbelief in free will" probably causes a
belief in fatalism . As discussed earlier in this article,
compatibilistic free will is illustrated by statements like "my
choices have causes, and an effect – so I affect my future", whereas
fatalism is more like "my choices have causes, but no effect – I am
powerless". Fatalism, then, may be what threatens people's sense of
self-efficacy . Lay people should not confuse fatalism with
determinism, and yet even professional philosophers occasionally
confuse the two. It is thus likely that the negative consequences
below can be accounted for by participants developing a belief in
fatalism when experiments attack belief in "free will". To test the
effects of belief in determinism, future studies would need to provide
articles that do not simply "attack free will", but instead focus on
explaining determinism and compatibilism. Some studies have been
conducted indicating that people react strongly to the way in which
mental determinism is described, when reconciling it with moral
responsibility. Eddy Nahmias has noted that when peoples actions are
framed with respect to their beliefs and desires (rather than their
neurological underpinnings) they are more likely to dissociate
determinism from moral responsibility.
Various social behavioural traits have been correlated with the
belief in deterministic models of mind, some of which involved the
experimental subjection of individuals to libertarian and
After researchers provoked volunteers to disbelieve in free will,
participants lied, cheated, and stole more. Kathleen Vohs has found
that those whose belief in free will had been eroded were more likely
to cheat. In a study conducted by Roy Baumeister, after participants
read an article arguing against free will, they were more likely to
lie about their performance on a test where they would be rewarded
with cash. Provoking a rejection of free will has also been
associated with increased aggression and less helpful behaviour as
well as mindless conformity. Disbelief in free will can even cause
people to feel less guilt about transgressions against others.
Baumeister and colleagues also note that volunteers disbelieving in
free will are less capable of counterfactual thinking . This is
worrying because counterfactual thinking ("If I had done something
different...") is an important part of learning from one's choices,
including those that harmed others. Again, this cannot be taken to
mean that belief in determinism is to blame; these are the results we
would expect from increasing people's belief in fatalism.
Along similar lines, Tyler Stillman has found that belief in free
will predicts better job performance.
Free will in theology § In Hinduism
The six orthodox (astika ) schools of thought in
Hindu philosophy do
not agree with each other entirely on the question of free will. For
Samkhya , for instance, matter is without any freedom, and soul
lacks any ability to control the unfolding of matter. The only real
freedom (kaivalya) consists in realizing the ultimate separateness of
matter and self. For the
Yoga school, only
Ishvara is truly free, and
its freedom is also distinct from all feelings, thoughts, actions, or
wills, and is thus not at all a freedom of will. The metaphysics of
Vaisheshika schools strongly suggest a belief in
determinism, but do not seem to make explicit claims about determinism
or free will.
A quotation from
Swami Vivekananda , a Vedantist , offers a good
example of the worry about free will in the Hindu tradition.
Therefore we see at once that there cannot be any such thing as
free-will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we
know, and everything that we know is within our universe, and
everything within our universe is moulded by conditions of time, space
and causality. ... To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the
limitations of this universe; it cannot be found here.
However, the preceding quote has often been misinterpreted as
Vivekananda implying that everything is predetermined. What
Vivekananda actually meant by lack of free will was that the will was
not "free" because it was heavily influenced by the law of cause and
effect – "The will is not free, it is a phenomenon bound by cause
and effect, but there is something behind the will which is free."
Vivekananda never said things were absolutely determined and placed
emphasis on the power of conscious choice to alter one's past karma :
"It is the coward and the fool who says this is his fate . But it is
the strong man who stands up and says I will make my own fate."
Buddhism accepts both freedom and determinism (or something similar
to it), but in spite of its focus towards the human agency, rejects
the western concept of a total agent from external sources. According
to the Buddha , "There is free action, there is retribution, but I see
no agent that passes out from one set of momentary elements into
another one, except the of those elements." Buddhists believe in
neither absolute free will, nor determinism. It preaches a middle
doctrine, named pratitya-samutpada in
Sanskrit , often translated as
"inter-dependent arising". This theory is also called "Conditioned
Genesis" or "
Dependent Origination ". It teaches that every volition
is a conditioned action as a result of ignorance. In part, it states
that free will is inherently conditioned and not "free" to begin with.
It is also part of the theory of karma in
Buddhism . The concept of
Buddhism is different from the notion of karma in Hinduism.
In Buddhism, the idea of karma is much less deterministic. The
Buddhist notion of karma is primarily focused on the cause and effect
of moral actions in this life, while in Hinduism the concept of karma
is more often connected with determining one's destiny in future
Buddhism it is taught that the idea of absolute freedom of choice
(that is that any human being could be completely free to make any
choice) is unwise, because it denies the reality of one's physical
needs and circumstances. Equally incorrect is the idea that humans
have no choice in life or that their lives are pre-determined. To deny
freedom would be to deny the efforts of Buddhists to make moral
progress (through our capacity to freely choose compassionate action).
Pubbekatahetuvada, the belief that all happiness and suffering arise
from previous actions, is considered a wrong view according to
Buddhist doctrines. Because Buddhists also reject agenthood , the
traditional compatibilist strategies are closed to them as well.
Instead, the Buddhist philosophical strategy is to examine the
metaphysics of causality. Ancient India had many heated arguments
about the nature of causality with Jains , Nyayists , Samkhyists ,
Cārvākans , and Buddhists all taking slightly different lines. In
many ways, the Buddhist position is closer to a theory of
"conditionality" than a theory of "causality", especially as it is
Nagarjuna in the
St. Augustine's view of free will and predestination would go on
to have a profound impact on
The notions of free will and predestination are heavily debated among
Christians. Among Catholics, there are those holding to
adopted from what
Thomas Aquinas put forth in the
Summa Theologica .
There are also some holding to
Molinism which was put forth by Jesuit
Luis de Molina
Luis de Molina . Among Protestants there is
Arminianism , held
Methodist and some
Baptist , and formulated by Dutch
Jacobus Arminius ; and there is also
Calvinism held by most
Reformed tradition which was formulated by the French Reformed
John Calvin .
John Calvin was heavily influenced by
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo views on predestination put forth in his work On
Predestination of the Saints.
Martin Luther seems to hold views on
predestination similar to
Calvinism in his On the Bondage of the Will
, thus rejecting free will. Jesse Omoregie detailed in 'Freewill: The
degree of freedom within' that, in Christianity, there are numerous
occasions where 'man' lived life according to pre-written scripts; in
one example, he detailed how in The Bible
God commented that He loved
Jacob and hated Esau, his twin brother even while he was still in his
mother's womb. Thus, Esau lived his life thinking he had power of
real choice, whereas, he was living a script.
Paul the Apostle discusses
Predestination in some of his Epistles.
"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the
image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called,
these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also
glorified.” —Romans 8:29–30
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to
Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” —Ephesians
The exact meaning of these verses has been debated by Christian
theologians throughout history.
Some views in
Jewish philosophy stress that free will is a product of
the intrinsic human soul, using the word neshama (from the Hebrew root
n.sh.m. or .נ.ש.מ meaning "breath"), but the ability to make a free
choice is through Yechida (from Hebrew word "yachid", יחיד,
singular), the part of the soul that is united with God, the only
being that is not hindered by or dependent on cause and effect (thus,
freedom of will does not belong to the realm of the physical reality,
and inability of natural philosophy to account for it is expected).
This understanding is developed in Kabbalistic circles from medieval
times and later.
Islam the theological issue is not usually how to reconcile free
will with God's foreknowledge, but with God's jabr, or divine
commanding power. al-Ash\'ari developed an "acquisition" or
"dual-agency" form of compatibilism, in which human free will and
divine jabr were both asserted, and which became a cornerstone of the
dominant Ash\'ari position. In
Shia Islam, Ash'aris understanding of
a higher balance toward predestination is challenged by most
theologians. Free will, according to Islamic doctrine is the main
factor for man's accountability in his/her actions throughout life.
Actions taken by people exercising free will are counted on the Day of
Judgement because they are their own; however, the free will happens
with the permission of God.
Søren Kierkegaard claimed that divine omnipotence
cannot be separated from divine goodness. As a truly omnipotent and
God could create beings with true freedom over God.
God would voluntarily do so because "the greatest good
... which can be done for a being, greater than anything else that one
can do for it, is to be truly free."
Alvin Plantinga 's "free will
defense " is a contemporary expansion of this theme, adding how God,
free will, and evil are consistent.
Some philosophers follow
William of Ockham
William of Ockham in holding that necessity
and possibility are defined with respect to a given point in time and
a given matrix of empirical circumstances, and so something that is
merely possible from the perspective of one observer may be necessary
from the perspective of an omniscient. Some philosophers follow Philo
of Alexandria , a philosopher known for his homocentrism, in holding
that free will is a feature of a human's soul , and thus that
non-human animals lack free will.
* Angst §
Argument from free will (the argument that free will and an
God are incompatible)
* Buridan\'s ass
* De libero arbitrio – early treatise about the freedom of will by
Augustine of Hippo
Free will in antiquity
Free will theorem
Free will in theology
Hard problem of consciousness
Locus of control
On the Freedom of the Will ; an essay presented to the Royal
Norwegian Society of Sciences in 1839 by Arthur Schopenhauer
Problem of future contingents
Agency (LDS Church)
* ^ Omoregie, J. (2015). Freewill: The degree of freedom within.
UK: Author House ISBN 9781504987516
* ^ Hegeler, Edward C. (1910). The Monist, Vol. 20. Open Court. p.
* ^ A B Bobzien, Susanne (1998).
Determinism and freedom in Stoic
philosophy. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
Aristotle and Epictetus: In the latter authors it was the fact that
nothing hindered us from doing or choosing something that made us have
control over them. In Alexander's account, the terms are understood
differently: what makes us have control over things is the fact that
we are causally undetermined in our decision and thus can freely
decide between doing/choosing or not doing/choosing them.
* ^ An argument by
Rudolph Carnap described by: C. James Goodwin
(2009). Research In Psychology: Methods and Design (6th ed.). Wiley.
p. 11. ISBN 047052278X .
* ^ Robert C Bishop (2010). "§28.2:
incompatibilism". In Raymond Y. Chiao; Marvin L. Cohen; Anthony J.
Leggett; William D. Phillips; Charles L. Harper, Jr. Visions of
Discovery: New Light on Physics, Cosmology, and Consciousness.
Cambridge University Press. p. 603. ISBN 0521882397 .
* ^ See, for example, Janet Richards (2001). "The root of the free
will problem: kinds of non-existence". Human Nature After Darwin: A
Philosophical Introduction. Routledge. pp. 142 ff. ISBN 041521243X .
* ^ McKenna, Michael; Coates, D. Justin (1 January 2015). Zalta,
Edward N., ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy – via
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Thomas Nagel (1989). "Freedom". The View From Nowhere. Oxford
University Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780195056440 . Nothing that might be a
solution has yet been described. This is not a case where there are
several possible candidate solutions and we don't know which is
correct. It is a case where nothing believable has (to my knowledge)
* ^ John R Searle (2013). "The problem of free will". Freedom and
Neurobiology: Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power.
Columbia University Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780231510554 . The persistence
of the traditional free will problem in philosophy seems to me
something of a scandal. After all these centuries...it does not seem
to me that we have made very much progress.
* ^ Gregg D Caruso (2012). Free Will and Consciousness: A
Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will. Lexington Books. p.
8. ISBN 0739171364 . One of the strongest supports for the free choice
thesis is the unmistakable intuition of virtually every human being
that he is free to make the choices he does and that the deliberations
leading to those choices are also free flowing..
* ^ Corliss Lamont (1969).
Freedom of choice affirmed. Beacon
Press. p. 38.
* ^ A B C D E Azim F Shariff; Jonathan Schooler; Kathleen D Vohs
(2008). "The hazards of claiming to have solved the hard problem of
free will". In John Baer; James C. Kaufman; Roy F. Baumeister. Are We
Psychology and Free Will. Oxford University Press. pp. 183,
190–93. ISBN 0195189639 .
* ^ TW Clark (1999). "Fear of mechanism: A compatibilist critique
of The Volitional Brain.". Journal of
Consciousness Studies. 6
(8–9): 279–93. Feelings or intuitions per se never count as
self-evident proof of anything. Quoted by Shariff, Schooler & Vohs:
The hazards of claiming to have solved the hard problem of free will
For full text on line see this Archived 2013-05-05 at the Wayback
* ^ A B Max Velmans (2002). "How Could Conscious Experiences Affect
Brains?". Journal of
Consciousness Studies. 9 (11): 2–29.
William James (1896). "The dilemma of determinism". The Will to
believe, and other essays in popular philosophy. Longmans, Green. pp.
* ^ John A Bargh (2007-11-16). "
Free will is un-natural" (PDF).
Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-03. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
Are behaviors, judgments, and other higher mental processes the
product of free conscious choices, as influenced by internal
psychological states (motives, preferences, etc.), or are those higher
mental processes determined by those states? Also found in John A
Bargh (2008). "Chapter 7:
Free will is un-natural". In John Baer,
James C. Kaufman, Roy F. Baumeister. Are We Free?
Psychology and Free
Will. Oxford University Press. pp. 128 ff. ISBN 0195189639 . CS1
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* ^ Paul Russell (2002). "Chapter 1: Logic, "liberty", and the
metaphysics of responsibility". Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume\'s
Way of Naturalizing Responsibility. Oxford University Press. p. 14.
ISBN 0195152905 . ...the well-known dilemma of determinism. One horn
of this dilemma is the argument that if an action was caused or
necessitated, then it could not have been done freely, and hence the
agent is not responsible for it. The other horn is the argument that
if the action was not caused, then it is inexplicable and random, and
thus it cannot be attributed to the agent, and hence, again, the agent
cannot be responsible for it.... Whether we affirm or deny necessity
and determinism, it is impossible to make any coherent sense of moral
freedom and responsibility.
* ^ Azim F Shariff; Jonathan Schooler; Kathleen D Vohs (2008).
"Chapter 9: The hazards of claiming to have solved the hard problem of
free will". In John Baer; James C. Kaufman; Roy F. Baumeister. Are We
Psychology and Free Will. Oxford University Press. p. 193. ISBN
* ^ Max Velmans (2009). Understanding
Consciousness (2nd ed.).
Taylor & Francis. p. 11. ISBN 0415425158 .
* ^ Strawson, Galen (2011) . "Free will. In E. Craig (Ed.)".
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* ^ A B O'Connor, Timothy (Oct 29, 2010). Edward N. Zalta, ed.
"Free Will". The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Summer 2011
Edition). Retrieved 2013-01-15.
* ^ Joshua Greene; Jonathan Cohen (2011). "For the law,
neuroscience changes nothing and everything". In Judy Illes; Barbara
J. Sahakian. Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics. Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0191620912 . Free will, compatibilists argue, is here to stay,
and the challenge for science is to figure out exactly how it works
and not to peddle silly arguments that deny the undeniable (Dennett
2003) referring to a critique of Libet's experiments by DC Dennett
(2003). "The self as a responding and responsible artifact" (PDF).
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1001: 39–50. doi
* ^ Walter J. Freeman (2000). How Brains Make Up Their Minds.
Columbia University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0231120087 . Instead of
postulating a universal law of causality and then having to deny the
possibility of choice, we start with the premise that freedom of
choice exists, and then we seek to explain causality as a property of
* ^ A B McKenna, Michael (2009). "Compatibilism". In Edward N.
Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Winter ed.).
* ^ Libet, (2003). "Can Conscious
Experience affect brain
Activity?", Journal of
Consciousness Studies 10, nr. 12, pp. 24–28.
* ^ A B C D E Kane, Robert; John Martin Fischer; Derk Pereboom;
Manuel Vargas (2007). Four Views on Free Will (Libertarianism). Oxford
UK: Blackwell Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 1-4051-3486-0 .
* ^ A B C Vihvelin, Kadri (2011). "Arguments for Incompatibilism".
In Edward N. Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of
* ^ A B C D Zagzebski, Linda (2011). "Foreknowledge and Free Will".
In Edward N. Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Fall 2011
ed.). See also McKenna, Michael (2009). "Compatibilism". In Edward N.
Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Winter 2009 ed.).
* ^ A B van Invagen, P. (1983) An Essay on Free Will. Oxford:
Clarendon Press . ISBN 0-19-824924-1
* ^ A B C D Pereboom, D. (2003). Living without Free Will.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521791987 .
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* ^ A B Dennett, D. (1984). Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will
Worth Wanting. Bradford Books. ISBN 0-262-54042-8 .
* ^ Kane, R. (1996) The Significance of Free Will, Oxford: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0-19-512656-4
* ^ Campbell, C. A. (1957) On Selfhood and Godhood, London: George
Allen and Unwin. ISBN 0-415-29624-2
* ^ Sartre, J. P. (1943)
Being and Nothingness, reprint 1993. New
York: Washington Square Press. Sartre also provides a psychological
version of the argument by claiming that if man's actions are not his
own, he would be in bad faith.
* ^ Fischer, R. M. (1994) The
Metaphysics of Free Will,
* ^ Bok, H. (1998) Freedom and Responsibility, Princeton:Princeton
University Press. ISBN 0-691-01566-X
* ^ Ginet, C. (1966) "Might We Have No Choice?" In Lehrer, 1966:
* ^ A B Van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. (1998) Metaphysics: The
Big Questions. Oxford: Blackwell
* ^ Inwagen, P. (n.d.) "How to think about free will" Archived
2008-09-11 at the
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* ^ Lewis, D. (2008). "Are We Free to Break the Laws?". Theoria. 47
(3): 113–21. doi :10.1111/j.1755-2567.1981.tb00473.x .
* ^ A B C Strawson, Galen (2010). Freedom and belief (Revised ed.).
Oxford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0199247501 .
* ^ Fischer, John Martin (2009). "Chapter 2: Compatibilism". Four
Views on Free Will (Great Debates in Philosophy). Wiley-Blackwell. pp.
44 ff. ISBN 1405134860 .
Alex Rosenberg (2005).
Philosophy Of Science: A Contemporary
Introduction (2nd ed.).
Psychology Press. p. 8. ISBN 0415343178 .
* ^ A B Niels Bohr. "The Atomic Theory and the Fundamental
Principles underlying the Description of Nature; Based on a lecture to
the Scandinavian Meeting of Natural Scientists and published in Danish
in Fysisk Tidsskrift in 1929. First published in English in 1934 by
Cambridge University Press.". The
Information Philosopher, dedicated
to the new information philosophy. Robert O. Doyle, publisher.
Retrieved 2012-09-14. ... any observation necessitates an interference
with the course of the phenomena, which is of such a nature that it
deprives us of the foundation underlying the causal mode of
* ^ A B
Niels Bohr (April 1, 1933). "Light and Life". Nature. 131:
457 ff. ISBN 9780444899729 . doi :10.1038/131457a0 . For instance, it
is impossible, from our standpoint, to attach an unambiguous meaning
to the view sometimes expressed that the probability of the occurrence
of certain atomic processes in the body might be under the direct
influence of the will. In fact, according to the generalized
interpretation of the psycho-physical parallelism, the freedom of the
will must be considered a feature of conscious life that corresponds
to functions of the organism that not only evade a causal mechanical
description, but resist even a physical analysis carried to the extent
required for an unambiguous application of the statistical laws of
atomic mechanics. Without entering into metaphysical speculations, I
may perhaps add that an analysis of the very concept of explanation
would, naturally, begin and end with a renunciation as to explaining
our own conscious activity. Full text on line at us.archive.org.
* ^ Lewis, E. R.; MacGregor, R. J. (2006). "On Indeterminism,
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Neuroscience . 5 (2): 223–47. doi
* ^ G. H. R. Parkinson (12 October 2012). "determinism".
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Zalta (ed.), ((online))
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Ethics. philosophy.lander.edu. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 19
December 2012. Predeterminism: the philosophical and theological view
God with determinism. On this doctrine events throughout
eternity have been foreordained by some supernatural power in a causal
* ^ See for example Hooft, G. (2001). "How does god play dice?
(Pre-)determinism at the Planck scale". arXiv :hep-th/0104219 .
Predeterminism is here defined by the assumption that the
experimenter's 'free will' in deciding what to measure (such as his
choice to measure the x- or the y-component of an electron's spin), is
in fact limited by deterministic laws, hence not free at all , and
Sukumar, CV (1996). "A new paradigm for science and architecture".
City. Taylor & Francis. 1 (1–2): 181–83. doi
:10.1080/13604819608900044 . Quantum Theory provided a beautiful
description of the behaviour of isolated atoms and nuclei and small
aggregates of elementary particles. Modern science recognized that
predisposition rather than predeterminism is what is widely prevalent
* ^ Borst, C. (1992). "Leibniz and the compatibilist account of
free will". Studia leibnitiana. JSTOR: 49–58. Leibniz presents a
clear case of a philosopher who does not think that predeterminism
requires universal causal determinism
* ^ Far Western
Philosophy of Education Society (1971). Proceedings
of the Annual Meeting of the Far Western
Philosophy of Education
Society. Far Western
Philosophy of Education Society. p. 12. Retrieved
20 December 2012. "Determinism" is, in essence, the position holding
that all behavior is caused by prior behavior. "Predeterminism" is the
position holding that all behavior is caused by conditions predating
behavior altogether (such impersonal boundaries as "the human
conditions", instincts, the will of God, inherent knowledge, fate, and
* ^ "Predeterminism". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster,
Incorporated. Retrieved 20 December 2012. See for example Ormond, A.
T. (1894). "Freedom and psycho-genesis". Psychological Review.
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problem of predeterminism is one that involves the factors of heredity
and environment, and the point to be debated here is the relation of
the present self that chooses to these predetermining agencies , and
Garris, M. D.; et al. (1992). "A Platform for Evolving Genetic
Automata for Text Segmentation (GNATS)". Science of Artificial Neural
Networks. Citeseer. 1710: 714–24. doi :10.1117/12.140132 . However,
predeterminism is not completely avoided. If the codes within the
genotype are not designed properly, then the organisms being evolved
will be fundamentally handicapped.
* ^ Sherman, H. (1981). "Marx and determinism". Journal of Economic
Issues. JSTOR: 61–71. Many religions of the world have considered
that the path of history is predeterminied by
God or Fate. On this
basis, many believe that what will happen will happen, and they accept
their destiny with fatalism.
* ^ Anne Lockyer Jordan; Anne Lockyer Jordan Neil Lockyer Edwin
Tate; Neil Lockyer; Edwin Tate (25 June 2004).
Philosophy of Religion
for A Level OCR Edition. Nelson Thornes. p. 211. ISBN
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* ^ A. Pabl Iannone (2001). "determinism". Dictionary of World
Philosophy. Taylor & Francis. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-415-17995-9 .
Retrieved 22 December 2012.
* ^ Wentzel Van Huyssteen (2003). "theological determinism".
Encyclopedia of science and religion. 1. Macmillan Reference. p. 217.
ISBN 978-0-02-865705-9 . Retrieved 22 December 2012.
* ^ Boethius. "Book V, Prose vi". The Consolation of Philosophy.
* ^ Aquinas, St. Thomas. "Ia, q. 14, art 13.". Summa Theologica.
C. S. Lewis (1980). Mere Christianity. Touchstone:New York. p.
* ^ Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski (25 April 1996). "chapter 6, section
2.1". The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge. Oxford University
Press. ISBN 978-0-19-510763-0 . Retrieved 22 December 2012.
* ^ A B See for example: Sandro Nannini (2004). "Chapter 5: Mental
causation and intentionality in a mind naturalizing theory". In
Mind and Causality. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 69
ff. ISBN 1588114759 .
* ^ Karl Raimund Popper (1999). "Notes of a realist on the
body-mind problem". All Life is Problem Solving (A lecture given in
Mannheim, 8 May 1972 ed.).
Psychology Press. pp. 23 ff. ISBN
0415174864 . The body-mind relationship...includes the problem of
man's position in the physical world...'World 1'. The world of
conscious human processes I shall call 'World 2', and the world of the
objective creations of the human mind I shall call 'World 3'.
* ^ See Josh Weisberg. "The hard problem of consciousness".
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. or Robert Van Gulick (Jan 14,
2014). Edward N. Zalta, ed. "Consciousness: §9.9 Non-physical
theories". The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Spring 2014
* ^ E. Bruce Goldstein (2010). Sensation and
Perception (12th ed.).
Cengage Learning. p. 39. ISBN 0495601497 .
* ^ Quote from Tor Nørretranders (1998). "Preface". The user
illusion: Cutting consciousness down to size (Jonathan Sydenham
translation of Maerk verden 1991 ed.). Penguin Books. p. ix. ISBN
* ^ Susan Sauve Meyer,
Aristotle on Moral Responsibility., Oxford
* ^ Bobzien, Susanne , Freedom and
Determinism in Stoic Philosophy,
Oxford 1998, Chapter 6.
* ^ A B McKenna, Michael, "Compatibilism", The Stanford
Philosophy (Summer 2004 Edition), Edward N. Zalta
* ^ A B Frankfurt, H. (1971). "Freedom of the Will and the Concept
of the Person". Journal of Philosophy. 68 (1): 5–20.
JSTOR 2024717 .
doi :10.2307/2024717 .
* ^ Hobbes, T. (1651) Leviathan Chapter XXI.: "Of the liberty of
subjects" (1968 edition). London: Penguin Books.
* ^ Hume, D. (1740).
A Treatise of Human Nature Section VIII.: "Of
liberty and necessity" (1967 edition).
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press ,
Oxford. ISBN 0-87220-230-5
* ^ A B Roy F Baumeister; Matthew T Galliot; Dianne M Tice (2008).
"Chapter 23: Free Willpower: A limited resource theory of volition,
choice and self-regulation". In Ezequiel Morsella; John A. Bargh;
Peter M. Gollwitzer. Oxford Handbook of Human Action (Volume 2 of
Cognition and Social
Neuroscience ed.). Oxford University
Press. pp. 487 ff. ISBN 0195309987 . The nonconscious forms of
self-regulation may follow different causal principles and do not rely
on the same resources as the conscious and effortful ones.
* ^ Roy F Baumeister; Matthew T Galliot; Dianne M Tice (2008).
"Chapter 23: Free Willpower: A limited resource theory of volition,
choice and self-regulation". In Ezequiel Morsella, John A. Bargh,
Peter M. Gollwitzer. Oxford Handbook of Human Action (Volume 2 of
Cognition and Social
Neuroscience ed.). Oxford University
Press. pp. 487 ff. ISBN 0195309987 . Yet perhaps not all conscious
volition is an illusion. Our findings suggest that the traditional
folk notions of willpower and character strength have some legitimate
basis in genuine phenomena. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link )
* ^ Saul Smilansky (2000). Free Will and Illusion. Oxford
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* ^ Gallagher, S. (2000). "Philosophical conceptions of the self:
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14–21. doi :10.1016/s1364-6613(99)01417-5 .
* ^ Watson, D. (1982). Free Will. New York: Oxford University
* ^ Fischer, John Martin, and Mark Ravizza. (1998). Responsibility
and Control: An Essay on Moral Responsibility. Cambridge: Cambridge
* ^ A B Dennett, D. (2003) Freedom Evolves. Viking Books. ISBN
* ^ Kane, R. The Oxford Handbook to Free Will. Oxford University
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* ^ A key exponent of this view was
Willard van Orman Quine . See
Hylton, Peter (Apr 30, 2010). Edward N. Zalta, ed. "Willard van Orman
Quine". The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition).
* ^ A thoughtful list of careful distinctions regarding the
application of empirical science to these issues is found in Stoljar,
Daniel (Sep 9, 2009). Edward N. Zalta, ed. "Physicalism: §12 –
Physicalism and the physicalist world picture". The Stanford
Philosophy (Fall 2009 Edition).
* ^ Nora D Volkow; Joanna S Fowler; Gene-Jack Wang (2007). "The
addicted human brain: insights from imaging studies". In Andrew R
Marks; Ushma S Neill. Science In Medicine: The JCI Textbook Of
Molecular Medicine. Jones & Bartlett Learning. pp. 1061 ff. ISBN
* ^ Honderich, T. (2001). "
Determinism as True,
Incompatibilism as Both False and the Real Problem" in The Free Will
Handbook, edited by Robert Kane of the University of Texas. Oxford
* ^ Benedict de Spinoza (2008). "Part III: On the origin and nature
of the emotions; Postulates (
Proposition II, Note)". In R. H. M.
Elwes, trans. The
Ethics (Original work published 1677 ed.).
Digireads.com Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 1420931148 .
* ^ Hume, D. (1765). An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,
Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Co. Second edition. 1993. ISBN
* ^ Schopenhauer, Arthur, The Wisdom of Life, p. 147
Schopenhauer , Arthur,
On the Freedom of the Will , Oxford:
Basil Blackwell ISBN 0-631-14552-4
* ^ Steiner, Rudolf. "Arthur Schopenhauers sämtliche Werke in
zwölf Bänden. Mit Einleitung von Dr. Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart:
Verlag der J.G. Cotta\'schen Buchhandlung Nachfolger, o.J.
(1894–96)" (in German).
* ^ Keimpe Algra (1999). "Chapter VI: The Chyrsippean notion of
fate: soft determinism". The Cambridge
History of Hellenistic
Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. p. 529. ISBN 0521250285 .
* ^ Steiner, R. (1964).
Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1964, 1970,
1972, 1979, 230 pp., translated from the 12th German edition of 1962
by Michael Wilson. ((online))
* ^ See Bricklin, Jonathan, "A Variety of Religious Experience:
William James and the Non-
Reality of Free Will", in Libet (1999), The
Volitional Brain: Toward a
Neuroscience of Free Will (Thorverton UK:
* ^ A B James, W. (1907)
Pragmatism (1979 edition). Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press
* ^ Robert Kane (1998). "Notes to pages 74–81, note 22". The
significance of free will (Paperback ed.). Oxford University Press. p.
226. ISBN 0195126564 .
* ^ CM Lorkowski (November 7, 2010). "David Hume: Causation".
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
* ^ Kant argued that, in order that human life is not just a
"dream" (a random or projected by subjects juxtaposition of moments),
the temporality of event A as before or after B must submit to a rule.
An established order then implies the existence of some necessary
conditions and causes, that is: sufficient bases (a so-called
sufficient reason is the coincidence of all the necessary conditions).
Without established causality, both in subject and in the external
world, the passing of time would be impossible, because it is
essentially directional. See online text of his proof
* ^ Schopenhauer, who by the way continued and simplified Kant's
system, argued (among others basing on optical illusions and the
"initial processing") that it is the intellect or even the brain what
generates the image of the world out of something else, by concluding
from effects, e.g. optical, about appropriate causes, e.g. concrete
physical objects. Intellect in his works is strictly connected with
recognizing causes and effects and associating them, it is somewhat
close to the contemporary view of cerebral cortex and formation of
associations. The intellectuality of all perception implied then of
course that causality is rooted in the world, precedes and enables
experience. See online text of his proof
* ^ R Kevin Hill (2003). "Chapter 7: The critique of morality: The
three pillars of Kantian ethics". Nietzsche\'s Critiques : The Kantian
Foundations of His
Thought (Paperback ed.). pp. 196–201. ISBN
* ^ Herbert James Paton (1971). "§2 Moral judgements are a
priori". The Categorical Imperative: A Study in Kant\'s Moral
Philosophy. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 20. ISBN 0812210239 .
* ^ Freeman, Walter J. (2009). "Consciousness, intentionality and
causality". In Susan Pockett; WP Banks; Shaun Gallagher. Does
Consciousness Cause Behavior?. MIT Press. p. 88. ISBN 0262512572 .
Circular causality departs so strongly from the classical tenets of
necessity, invariance, and precise temporal order that the only reason
to call it that is to satisfy the human habitual need for causes....
The very strong appeal of agency to explain events may come from the
subjective experience of cause and effect that develops early in human
life, before the acquisition of language...the question I raise here
is whether brains share this property with other material objects in
* ^ Staley, Kevin M. (2005). "Aquinas:
Libertarian" (PDF). The Saint Anselm Journal. 2 (2): 74. Retrieved
* ^ Hartung, Christopher (May 2013). "
Thomas Aquinas on Free Will".
University of Delaware. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
* ^ A discussion of the roles of will, intellect and passions in
Aquinas' teachings is found in Stump, Eleonore (2003). "Intellect and
will". Aquinas, Arguments of the philosophers series. Routledge
Psychology Press). pp. 278 ff. ISBN 0415029600 .
* ^ Timothy O'Connor (Oct 29, 2010). Edward N. Zalta, ed. "Free
Will". The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition).
Metaphysics Research Lab Center for the Study of Language and
Information, Stanford University. Philosophers who distinguish freedom
of action and freedom of will do so because our success in carrying
out our ends depends in part on factors wholly beyond our control.
Furthermore, there are always external constraints on the range of
options we can meaningfully try to undertake. As the presence or
absence of these conditions and constraints are not (usually) our
responsibility, it is plausible that the central loci of our
responsibility are our choices, or "willings".
* ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Appetite". Newadvent.org. 1907-03-01.
* ^ "Summa Theologica: Free-will (Prima Pars, Q. 83)".
Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
* ^ Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Q83 A1.
* ^ Further discussion of this compatibilistic theory can be found
in Thomas' Summa contra gentiles, Book III about Providence, c.
88–91 (260–67), where it is postulated that everything has its
cause and it is again and again in detail referred also to all
individual choices of man etc., even refuting opposite views. Here the
online text of the Summa. In order to avoid, at least in concept, the
absolution of man of any guilt he then notes the contingency of all
that takes place, i.e. lack of direct necessity from
God strictly with
regard to a concrete ("contingent") act. A typical choice was not
separately ordained to be so-and-so by God; St. Thomas says the choice
is not necessary, but in fact that apparently means it was contingent
with regard to
God and the law of nature (as a specific case that
could have not existed in other circumstances), and necessary with
regard to its direct previous cause in will and intellect. (The
contingency, or fortuity, is even intuitive under modern chaos theory
, where one can try to show that more and more developed products
appearing in the evolution of a universe or, simpler, an automaton are
chaotic with regard to its principles.)
* ^ Paul Russell; Oisin Deery (2013). "I. The free will problem –
real or illusory". The
Philosophy of Free Will: Essential Readings
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* ^ Bobzien, Susanne (2000). "Did Epicurus discover the free-will
problem?". Retrieved 2015-12-09.
* ^ A. Schopenhauer, On the Freedom of the Will, c. 1, "What is
* ^ Hence the notion of contingency appeared as the very opposition
of necessity, so that wherever a thing is considered dependent or
relies upon another thing, it is contingent and thus not necessary.
* ^ Boniolo, G. and Vidali, P. (1999) Filosofia della Scienza,
Milan: Mondadori. ISBN 88-424-9359-7
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* ^ Vedral, Vlatko (2006-11-18). "Is the Universe Deterministic?".
New Scientist. 192 (2578). Physics is simply unable to resolve the
question of free will, although, if anything, it probably leans
* ^ Honderich, E. "
Determinism as True,
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* ^ "Infidels. "Metaphysical Freedom"". Infidels.org. Retrieved
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