General Question

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Is Free Will a choice?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30938points) June 10th, 2009

I guess this is somewhat of a straw man question. Both Yes and No confirm Free Will in this context. Do you have an argument against that notion?

Is something else forcing you to reply against your Will? But in that case, then you still have a Will, albeit a caged one.

Would you contend that you have no Will at all? Then who am I speaking with?

Is there Deterministic, or any other argument against Free Will that does not negate Accountability?

I listen.

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20 Answers

Ivan's avatar

Uh, I guess you could choose to let someone else dominate you and never let you make a choice.

ragingloli's avatar

i doubt the existence of free will.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

It is for those who don’t believe in fate, destiny or luck- kind of puts responsibility and accountability in your own court.

augustlan's avatar

It’s a choice to not cede your free will to another.

dannyc's avatar

No, it is a manifestation of a decision process, biased to presented reality. In hindsight it was free will, in retrospect was predictable based on your brain’s neuron firings that have been set due to your genetic/environmental factors.

LocoLuke's avatar

Is the illusion of free will the same thing as the actual article? Say that you create a robot, with every possible reaction to every possible situation pre-programmed into its metallic brain. It would appear to have free will, but technically, since it was created with every reaction planned ahead, one could argue that it does not. We do something comparable, but instead of storing every action, we calculate it on the spot using our current knowledge and experiences to shape it.
Because the of the knowledge that one may be held accountable to the results of his or her actions, and this is factored into the decision making process, there is no reason to deny said accountability.
Even the robot I mentioned earlier would have to be held accountable for its actions, as long as, given the exact same circumstances, it would repeat the action.

AstroChuck's avatar

No. Free Willy was a movie.

DarkScribe's avatar

As long as you are not intellectually impaired then, yes, you have free will. It isn’t a choice to have it, it can be a choice to use it.

CMaz's avatar

Is it a matter of directing blame to others for your decisions in order to asses choice? He forced me to do it! Ya still did it. Might have been under diereses but still your choice. Also, using that type of example. You might say, I was tied down and forced. You made the choice to put yourself in that position. Could have stayed home.
Weather you like the outcome or not. It still comes down to your choice / decision.
If a plane you are in crashes. Do you say not my choice I did not know. You know that there are risks to air travel. You still got on that plane.

I agree with DARKSCRIBE.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Let’s stipulate, for the sake of this discussion, that currently you do have free will. If you now use that capability to choose not to have it, then you would no longer be the same person, so the question is meaningless, because the term “I” as the current you is using it is not stable enough to serve as part of an argument.

Blondesjon's avatar

If there is no free will then you are all just characters in my dream.

bea2345's avatar

These days I am sorting my personal collection of books. Sometimes it is hard to make a decision: keep this, discard that, whyever did I buy this? Some unsorted materials are in the garage, and this morning, I found one of the books in shreds – torn up by one of the dogs. My first thought was, well, that is one decision out of my hands.

Rsam's avatar

as with all things, a “perfect” free will is not possbile. but neither is perfect enslavement. There are always precursors and predetermining factors which have to various degrees influenced a particular individual’s decision. The degree to which that individual consciously allows those factors to come into their thoughts and guide what they do seems to be a good measure of “free will”, yet, they have indeed “chosen” that very variable; that is, the degree to which each of those things influence a person, so is this any less “free”.

And by the same token, it is often in the individuals who seem least conscious of their enslavement of will that we are most likely to deem enslaved.

what i might suggest then, is that Free will exists, in some degree, the moment the idea is understood by a given individual.

It seems fair to say that strict lack of free will (as in Skinner’s Walden Two) is improbable in any long term experiment. And perfect free will as i believe tha character Castel tries to uphold is also tricky.

Overall i’d say that Conditioning of the Will is essentially inevitable but can be altered so that the individual can take a greater control of what s/he does.

mammal's avatar

some flutherians could sink into a question like this
never to surface again
fortunately most of them gaily drift just below the surface, where the sunlight still shimmers and the ripples are warm :)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Yes, it is safe on the surface.

Dare not the shark to dive so deeply low, into the coldest dark waters. Tis best to look up into the soft round bellies of the prey above. Down here we might find ourselves, discovering cannibal.

Yes, there are hungry man eaters down here. Tis best to look up.

Rsam's avatar


that sounds like the murkiest post on here.

LexWordsmith's avatar

@mammal : from your current ID-pic, i conclude that you have given yourself an apt handle! i’m sure (from personal experience) that there are many who would be eager to join you in drifting just below the surface, where the sunlight still shimmers and the ripples are warm.

adr's avatar

“Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world? Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers yes!”

Its an interesting book, with an intriguing argument. I’m liking it:

LostInParadise's avatar

How could free will be defined? I defy anyone to design a thought experiment to show its existence. It is like asking what God is.

rOs's avatar

It doesn’t really matter… Just try not to get in your way..

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