The Idea of Free Will Against Determinism

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About this sample


Words: 1373 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Words: 1373|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Free will is the concept we are ready to have some choice in how we act and assumes that we are liberal to choose our behavior. Free will has been shown as an illusion, and determinism is the belief that all behavior has a cause and is predictable. Our behavior is governed by internal or external forces over which we have no control. We can choose how we act, behave and feel to an extent that our brain makes us believe, which is called ‘soft determinism’. Soft determinism is the idea that our external or internal forces can cause us to feel, constrain us, and ultimately influence us to behave a certain way but there is an element of free will in the choices we make and it’s not a total illusion. In a debate between free will and determinism, we have determinism. Particularly soft determinism. 

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The term ‘free will’ has emerged over the past two millennia as the canonical designator for a significant kind of control over one’s actions. Some people will say free will is the only correct answer. Using deterministic arguments to undermine people’s belief in free will has led to a number of negative outcomes including increased cheating and aggression. It has also been linked to a reduction in helping behaviors and lowered feelings of gratitude. We can understand Free will because we should always hold ourselves responsible for our behavior and actions. Some go so far as to define ‘free will’ as ‘the strongest control condition necessary for moral responsibility.’ A person is morally accountable for performing an action and deserves blame if it is morally wrong. By using determinism we allow ourselves to not take the responsibility for what we do and the concept, free will, forces us to take responsibility.

Determinism is the sole belief in which many people try to blame what they do on, but in all reality the internal and external forces that you are surrounded by daily affect your emotional and physical well being, whether it is negative or positive. Thus showing that we do have determinism as well. Soft determinists is that of explaining how our actions can be both predetermined but free. You can predict your reactions to certain events or situations that you may have no control over like crying about a movie. It made you feel a way you had no control over and that caused you to cry. According to the soft determinist, your desires, decisions, and volitions (your entire character) are ultimately determined by other factors that are equally outside your control. Examples, your genetic makeup, your upbringing, and your environment.

Some examples of Free will are choices like weather or not to commit a crime. Free will would be that a person is fully responsible for their actions. I understand you may say, “yes, we are all responsible for our actions.” but there are circumstances in which soft determinism comes into play and there are external or internal forces that influence us to make these decisions. For example something that would influence the crime of theft to be committed is being poor. The person is more likely to steal through desperation than someone who is rich and it doesn’t stress them to pay as much money as they need to for items. Not to say that just because someone is poor they will steal and have no control over whether they do or not but they will have more urge and influence to (soft determinism) based on the external force/situation at hand

It is to be believed through determinism that our actions and our thoughts are controlled by our unconscious. This does suggest that determinism removes freedom and dignity, and devalues human behavior. It underestimates the uniqueness of human beings and their freedom. But If we argue against determinism, we are rejecting the scientific approach to explaining behavior for what it is. We can predict events based on things that may have occurred previously causing one’s actions and behaviors to be influenced. Examples such as a bang on the head they received earlier in life, recent relationship stresses or work stresses, maybe even a psychiatric problem. This can also be proven through individuals with autism or mental illness. Do they really have free will? No, they are being controlled by their conscience. Another example is individuals with OCD, they lose control of their thoughts and actions and people with depression lose control over their emotions. People in abusive situations gain learned behaviors based on their environments. Thus being we don’t have complete free will whatsoever and science proves that.

Through depression, OCD and abuse, Free will can be impacted by determinism. People with depression and OCD often feel they are unable to exercise free will due to having no control or a depressed state of emotions. This goes for the same with people who are in emotionally or physically abusive relationships. They fall into determinism because they learn behaviors after years of this abuse. They only know what they have been surrounded by. Their only free will is to find a way to get help. Other people’s words or actions affect them and they have no free will to stop what that person is physically and mentally doing. There isn’t a way for them to just stop getting hurt by others’ abuse. Getting help in situations like OCD, depression and abuse are the only ways people with these chemical imbalances or these situations can have true freedom and free will in their life. In some instances people can’t even find a way to get help for these problems, they fall into complete determinism and have no hope. That’s the idea of soft determinism because there is always something you can control but it’s overcoming it and being honest with your amount of control over a situation, emotion or behavior. The idea is how you respond to your actions and emotions.

You may want to say that it’s the two, (Free will and determinism) against each other or opposites. However, philosophers recognize four possible points of view regarding the two—both true, both false, and one or the other. Compatibilism, the theory that they can both be true at the same time, is popular, since most people want to believe in both. Then again, the theory that they are both false is also popular; because that is what current science seems to imply. They both are very controversial topics. 

It doesn’t seem correct to say that we have complete free will nor do we have complete determinism. I feel the statement should be identified as though individuals have a response to those internal and external forces whether they can control it some or they let it drive their actions and behaviors. Meaning it can be defined as both or an element of soft determinism. A person can still have internal emotions that drive their everyday behaviors even if they don’t show these emotions, physically their conscious is aware. The term determinism itself displays a problem with the idea of responsibility and self control that form the basis of our moral and legal obligations. We cannot completely blame our actions on our unconscious. The idea of free will can be considered an illusion to a degree considering that we started through science but we never have full control over our every emotion, action or behavior.

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In conclusion, we have soft determinism. Soft determinism is to explain the position that people do have a choice, but their behavior is usually subject to some sort of biological or environmental pressure. It suggests that some behaviors are more constrained than others and that there is an element of free will in all behavior but there is not one nor the other. This means we cannot blame our actions on our unconscious but that we can also explain to the people around us and educate. We can relate and share what we have experienced and how we feel but find ways to help control some of those emotions and actions. You do not have complete control over how you feel or act at times but you do have enough control to know your body and what it’s experienced to gain power over your unconscious and behave in the correct manner.

Works Cited

  1. Baumeister, R. F., Masicampo, E. J., & DeWall, C. N. (2009). Prosocial benefits of feeling free: Disbelief in free will increases aggression and reduces helpfulness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(2), 260-268.
  2. Dennett, D. C. (2003). Freedom evolves. Penguin Books.
  3. Frankfurt, H. G. (1971). Freedom of the will and the concept of a person. The Journal of Philosophy, 68(1), 5-20.
  4. Haggard, P., & Eitam, B. (2015). The sense of agency: A philosophical and empirical review of the "Who" system. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 1-14.
  5. Holton, R. (2009). Determinism and the death of folk psychology: Two challenges to responsibility from neuroscience. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 33(1), 32-53.
  6. Mele, A. R. (2009). Effective intentions: The power of conscious will. Oxford University Press.
  7. Pereboom, D. (2014). Free will, agency, and meaning in life. Oxford University Press.
  8. Roskies, A. L. (2006). Neuroscientific challenges to free will and responsibility. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(9), 419-423.
  9. Vohs, K. D., & Schooler, J. W. (2008). The value of believing in free will: Encouraging a belief in determinism increases cheating. Psychological Science, 19(1), 49-54.
  10. Wegner, D. M. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. MIT Press.
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The Idea of Free Will Against Determinism. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
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