Free Will A Major Debate

Essay by matrixhunter June 2006

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Throughout history the thought of whether human beings are capable of free will has been the subject of major debate. The idea of free will has been prominent in the thought of many philosophers dating as far back as the sixteenth century. Even with so much discussion among philosophers the question remains largely unanswered. I will use this paper to show that human beings do not ultimately have free will nor do they have free choice and though they might partially have some free will in decision making, the majority of free will is an illusion and otherwise subject to predetermined external forces. In order to discuss the idea of human free will one must grasp the idea of what free will or free choice is. Free will is the belief that human behaviour is not determined by external causes but is in fact a direct result of choices determined by the will of the being to which the behaviour is associated.

This approach towards free will is supported by the libertarians who believe people have the ability to change one's actions and do otherwise in exactly the same situation, while having external and internal conditions the same. At the same time libertarians also believe that if people did not have libertarian free will then there would not be moral responsibility. Determinism on the other hand can be split into soft determinism and hard determinism, when it is brought into question. Soft determinism rejects the idea that any sort of libertarian idea of free will is required to have moral responsibility. Such as if a person were to make the decision about something, this decision would be made with some degree of freedom and in effect one would be morally responsible for one's decision. Hard determinism on the other hand...