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Encyclopedia > Free will

The question of free will is whether, and in what sense, rational agents exercise control over their actions and decisions. Addressing this question requires understanding the relationship between freedom and cause, and determining whether the laws of nature are causally deterministic. The various philosophical positions taken differ on whether all events are determined or not—determinism versus indeterminism—and also on whether freedom can coexist with determinism or not—compatibilism versus incompatibilism. So, for instance, hard determinists argue that the universe is deterministic, and that this makes free will impossible. A rational agent takes actions which, given its knowledge of its environment, maximizes its chances of success. ... For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. ... Indeterminism is the philosophical belief contradictory to determinism: that there are events which do not correspond with determinism (and therefore have no cause). ... Compatibilism, also known as soft determinism and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. ... Compatibilism, also known as soft determinism and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. ...


The principle of free will has religious, ethical, and scientific implications. For example, in the religious realm, free will may imply that an omnipotent divinity does not assert its power over individual will and choices. In ethics, it may imply that individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. In the scientific realm, it may imply that the actions of the body, including the brain and the mind, are not wholly determined by physical causality. The question of free will has been a central issue since the beginning of philosophical thought. Various Religious symbols, including (first row) Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Bahai, (second row) Islamic, tribal, Taoist, Shinto (third row) Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jain, (fourth row) Ayyavazhi, Triple Goddess, Maltese cross, pre-Christian Slavonic Religion is the adherence to codified beliefs and rituals that generally involve a faith in a spiritual... For other uses, see Ethics (disambiguation). ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... Omnipotence (literally, all power) is the power to do absolutely anything. ... For other uses, see Divinity (disambiguation) and Divine (disambiguation). ... // For the racing driver, see Will Power. ... For other uses, see Choice (disambiguation). ... Causality or causation denotes the relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the consequence (result) of the first. ...

Contents

In Western philosophy

A simplified taxonomy of the most important philosophical positions regarding free will.
A simplified taxonomy of the most important philosophical positions regarding free will.

The basic philosophical positions on the problem of free will can be divided in accordance with the answers they provide to two questions: Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ...

  1. Is determinism true? and
  2. Does free will exist?

Determinism is roughly defined as the view that all current and future events are necessitated by past events combined with the laws of nature. According to McKenna (2004), neither determinism nor its opposite, non-determinism, are positions in the debate about free will.[1][neutrality disputed] This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. ...


Compatibilism is the view that the existence of free will and the truth of determinism are compatible with each other; this is opposed to incompatibilism which is the view that there is no way to reconcile a belief in a deterministic universe with a belief in free will.[2] Hard determinism is the version of incompatibilism that accepts the truth of determinism and rejects the idea that humans have any free will.[3] Metaphysical libertarianism topically agrees with hard determinism only in rejecting compatibilism. Because libertarians accept the existence of free will, they must reject determinism and argue for some version of indeterminism that is compatible with freedom.[4] Compatibilism, also known as soft determinism and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. ... Compatibilism, also known as soft determinism and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. ... Compatibilism, also known as soft determinism and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. ... In philosophical debates about free will and determinism, libertarianism is generally held to be the combination of the following beliefs: that free will is incompatible with determinism that human beings do possess free will, and that determinism is false All libertarians subscribe to the philosophy of incompatibilism which states that...


Determinism

Main article: Determinism

Determinism is a broad term with a variety of meanings. Corresponding to each of these different meanings, there arises a different problem of free will.[5] This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. ... This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. ...


Causal (or nomological) determinism is the thesis that 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. Such an entity may be able to use this knowledge to foresee the future, down to the smallest detail.[6] In philosophy, physics, and other fields, a thought experiment (from the German Gedankenexperiment) is an attempt to solve a problem using the power of human imagination. ... In the history of science, Laplaces demon is a hypothetical demon envisioned in 1814 by Pierre-Simon Laplace such that if it knew the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe then it could use Newtons laws to reveal the entire course of cosmic events...


Logical determinism is 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.[5] This article is about the word proposition as it is used in logic, philosophy, and linguistics. ...


Theological determinism is the thesis that there is a God who determines all that humans will do, either by knowing their actions in advance, via some form of omniscience[7] or by decreeing their actions in advance.[8] 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 ahead of time. Theological determinism is the religious view that all events in the world were pre-ordained by God. ... This article is about the thesis in academia. ... This article is about the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Omniscience is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. ...


Biological determinism is the idea that all behavior, belief, and desire are fixed by our genetic endowment. There are other theses on determinism, including cultural determinism and psychological determinism.[5] Combinations and syntheses of determinist theses, e.g. bio-environmental determinism, are even more common. Categories: Biology stubs ... Cultural determinism is a term used to describe the concept that culture determines economic and political arrangements. ...


Compatibilism

Thomas Hobbes was a classical compatibilist.
Thomas Hobbes was a classical compatibilist.

Compatibilists maintain that determinism is compatible with free will. A common strategy employed by "classical compatibilists", such as Thomas Hobbes, is to claim that a person acts freely only when the person willed the act and the person could have done otherwise, if the person had decided to. Hobbes sometimes attributes such compatibilist freedom to the person 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."[9] 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".[10] To illustrate their position, compatibilists point to clear-cut cases of someone's free will being denied, through rape, murder, theft, or other forms of constraint. In these cases, free will is lacking not because the past is causally determining the future, but because the aggressor is overriding the victim's desires and preferences about his own actions. The aggressor is coercing the victim and, according to compatibilists, this is what overrides free will. Thus, they argue that determinism does not matter; what matters is that individuals' choices are the results of their own desires and preferences, and are not overridden by some external (or internal) force.[9][10] 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.[1] Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are in fact compatible and capable of co-existence (people who hold this belief are known as compatibilists). ... Image File history File links Thomas_Hobbes_(portrait). ... Image File history File links Thomas_Hobbes_(portrait). ... Hobbes redirects here. ... Compatibilism, also known as soft determinism and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. ... Hobbes redirects here. ... For other persons named David Hume, see David Hume (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Coercion (disambiguation). ...


William James's 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[12] This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Pragmatism is a philosophic school that originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Sanders Peirce, who first stated the pragmatic maxim. ... Meliorism is the idea in metaphysical thinking that progress is a real concept leading to an improvement of the world. ...


"Modern compatibilists", such as Harry Frankfurt and Daniel Dennett, argue that there are cases where a coerced agent's choices are still free because such coercion coincides with the agent's personal intentions and desires.[13][14] Frankfurt, in particular, 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 to be identified with her effective first-order desire, i.e., the one that she acts on. 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 to which they are addicted and to not want to take it. Harry Gordon Frankfurt (born May 29, 1929) is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University. ... Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a prominent American philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. ...


The first group, "wanton addicts", has no second-order desire not to take the drug. The second group, "unwilling addicts", has a second-order desire not to take the drug, while the third group, "willing addicts", has a second-order desire to take it. According to Frankfurt, the members of the first group are to be considered devoid of will and therefore 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 to which they are addicted. 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.[15] Others argue that Frankfurt offers no adequate explanation of how the various levels in the hierarchy mesh together.[16]


In Elbow Room, Dennett presents an argument for a compatibilist theory of free will, which he further elaborated in the book Freedom Evolves.[17] The basic reasoning is that, if one excludes God, an infinitely powerful demon, and other such possibilities, then because of chaos and epistimic 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. Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting (1984) is a book by the American philosopher Daniel Dennett, which discusses the philosophical issues of free will and determinism. ... Freedom Evolves is a 2003 popular science and philosophy book by Daniel Dennett. ... “Fiend” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Chaos Theory (disambiguation). ...


According to Dennett, because individuals have the ability to act differently from what anyone expects, free will can exist.[17] 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.[18] More sophisticated analyses of compatibilist free will have been offered, as have other critiques.[1]


Incompatibilism

Baron d'Holbach was a hard determinist.

"Hard determinists", such as d'Holbach, are those incompatibilists who accept determinism and reject free will. "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.[19] Another view is that of hard incompatibilism which states that free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism. This view is defended by Derk Pereboom.[20] Paul Heinrich Dietrich Baron dHolbach Source: german Wikipedia de:Bild:Paul Heinrich Dietrich Baron dHolbach. ... Paul Heinrich Dietrich Baron dHolbach Source: german Wikipedia de:Bild:Paul Heinrich Dietrich Baron dHolbach. ... Baron dHolbach Paul-Henri Thiry, baron dHolbach (1723 – 1789) was a German-French author, philosopher and encyclopedist. ... Baron dHolbach Paul-Henri Thiry, baron dHolbach (1723 – 1789) was a German-French author, philosopher and encyclopedist. ... In philosophical debates about free will and determinism, libertarianism is generally held to be the combination of the following beliefs: that free will is incompatible with determinism that human beings do possess free will, and that determinism is false All libertarians subscribe to the philosophy of incompatibilism which states that... For the Scottish footballer, see Thomas Reid (footballer). ... Peter van Inwagen is John Cardinal OHara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. ... Robert Kane (born 1938) is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently on phased retirement. ... Hard incompatibilism is the philosophical belief that we do not have the kind of free will necessary for moral responsibility. ... This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. ... Indeterminism is the philosophical belief contradictory to determinism: that there are events which do not correspond with determinism (and therefore have no cause). ...


One of the traditional arguments for incompatibilism is based on an "intuition pump": if a person is determined in his or her choices of actions, then he or she must be like other mechanical things that are determined in their behavior such as a wind-up toy, a billiard ball, a puppet, or a robot. Because these things have no free will, then people must have no free will, if determinism is true.[21][19] 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 does not follow that there are no important differences.[14] An intuition pump is a term coined by Daniel Dennett for a thought experiment structured to elicit intuitive answers about a problem. ...


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 a causa sui, in the traditional phrase. To be responsible for one's choices is to be 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.[22][23][24] This argument has also been challenged by various compatibilist philosophers.[25][26] Causa sui (meaning cause of itself in Latin) denotes something, which is generated within itself. ...


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.[27][28] Peter van Inwagen remarks that C.D. Broad had a version of the consequence argument as early as the 1930s.[29]


The difficulty of this argument for 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".[28] David Lewis suggests that compatibilists are only committed to the ability to do something otherwise if different circumstances had actually obtained in the past.[30] For other persons named David Lewis, see David Lewis (disambiguation). ...


Libertarian incompatibilism

The other view under the heading of incompatiblism is metaphysical libertarianism. Libertarianism holds that free-will exists, which entails that the individual is able to take more than one possible course of actions under a given set of circumstances. Since determinism implies that there is only one possible future, it is not compatible with this conception of free-will, and must be false. In philosophical debates about free will and determinism, libertarianism is generally held to be the combination of the following beliefs: that free will is incompatible with determinism that human beings do possess free will, and that determinism is false All libertarians subscribe to the philosophy of incompatibilism which states that... In philosophical debates about free will and determinism, libertarianism is generally held to be the combination of the following beliefs: that free will is incompatible with determinism that human beings do possess free will, and that determinism is false All libertarians subscribe to the philosophy of incompatibilism which states that...


Accounts of libertarianism subdivide into supernatural theories and scientific or naturalistic theories. Supernatural theories hold that a non-physical mind or soul overrides physical causality, so that physical events in the brain that lead to the performance of actions do not have an entirely physical explanation. This approach is allied to mind-body dualism, and sometimes has a theological motivation. For other uses, see Mind (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Soul (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Dualism (disambiguation). ... Theology is literally rational discourse concerning God (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, rational discourse). By extension, it also refers to the study of other religious topics. ...


Scientific explanations of libertarianism (described as "naturalistic") sometimes involve invoking panpsychism, the theory that a quality of mind is associated with all particles, and pervades the entire universe, in both sentient and non-sentient entities.[31]. Other naturalistic approaches do not require free will to be a fundamental constituent of the universe; ordinary randomness is appealed to as supplying the "elbow room" believed to be necessary by libertarians. Free volition is regarded as a particular kind of complex, high-level process with an element of indeterminism. An example of this kind of approach has been developed by Robert Kane. Panpsychism, in philosophy, is either the view that all parts of matter involve mind, or the more holistic view that the whole universe is an organism that possesses a mind. ... For other uses, see Mind (disambiguation). ... Volition is the study of will, choice, and decision. ... Robert Kane (born 1938) is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently on phased retirement. ...


Other views

Much of Arthur Schopenhauer's writing is focused on the notion of will and its relation to freedom.
Much of Arthur Schopenhauer's writing is focused on the notion of will and its relation to freedom.

Some philosophers' views are difficult to categorize as either compatibilist or incompatibilist, hard determinist or libertarian. John Locke, for example, 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".[32] Similarly, David Hume discussed the possibility that the entire debate about free will is nothing more than a merely "verbal" issue. He also 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.[33] Image File history File links Schopenhauer. ... Image File history File links Schopenhauer. ... Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his work The World as Will and Representation. ... For other persons named John Locke, see John Locke (disambiguation). ... Theological noncognitivism is the argument that religious language, and specifically words like God (capitalized), are not cognitively meaningful. ...


Arthur Schopenhauer put the puzzle of free will and moral responsibility in these terms: Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his work The World as Will and Representation. ...

Everyone believes himself a priori to be 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 himself condemns...."[34]

In his 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."[35] On the Freedom of the Will was an essay presented to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in 1839 by Arthur Schopenhauer as a response to the academic question that they had posed. ...


Rudolf Steiner, who collaborated in a complete edition of Arthur Schopenhauer's work[36], 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. He 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. 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.[37] Rudolf Steiner. ... The Philosophy of Freedom is Rudolf Steiners fundamental philosophical work. ...


The contemporary philosopher Galen Strawson agrees with Locke that the truth or falsity of determinism is irrelevant to the problem.[4] 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 in order to be responsible for the way one is in some situation "S", one must have been responsible for the way one was at "S-1". In order 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.[4] Galen John Strawson is a British philosopher who deals primarily with philosophy of mind, metaphysics, British empiricists, ethics, Immanuel Kant and identity. ... Ex nihilo is a Latin term meaning out of nothing. It is often used in conjunction with the term creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning creation out of nothing. Due to the nature of this, the term is often used in philosophical or creationistic arguments, as a number of... Hard incompatibilism is the philosophical belief that we do not have the kind of free will necessary for moral responsibility. ...


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 determinism is true, incompatibilists have not, 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 needed in order 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.[38] Ted Honderich, British philosopher, (born 1933) Grote Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic, University College London and Visiting Professor, University of Bath. ... For other uses, see Abstract It is a commonplace in philosophy that every thing or object is either abstract or concrete. ...


Moral responsibility

Society generally holds people responsible for their actions, and will say that they deserve praise or blame for what they do. However, many believe that moral responsibility requires free will. Thus, another important issue in the debate on free will is whether individuals are ever morally responsible for their actions—and, if so, in what sense. Young people interacting within an ethnically diverse society. ... Social responsibility is an ethical or ideological theory that an entity whether it is a government, corporation, organization or individual has a responsibility to society. ... Almanac · Categories · Glossaries · Lists · Overviews · Portals · Questions · Site news · Index Art | Culture | Geography | Health | History | Mathematics | People | Philosophy | Science | Society | Technology Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written by its users in over 200 languages worldwide. ...


Incompatibilists tend to think that determinism is at odds with moral responsibility. It seems impossible that one can hold someone responsible for an action that could be predicted from (potentially) the beginning of time. Hard determinists say "So much the worse for free will!" and discard the concept.[39] Clarence Darrow, the famous defense attorney, pleaded the innocence of his clients, Leopold and Loeb, by invoking such a notion of hard determinism.[40] During his summation, he declared: Clarence Seward Darrow (April 18, 1857 Kinsman Township, Trumbull County, Ohio - March 13, 1938 Chicago) was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, best known for defending teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb in their trial for murdering 14-year-old Bobby Franks (1924) and... Nathan Leopold (left) and Richard Loeb (center) under arrest Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. ...

What has this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was not his own mother; he was not his own grandparents. All of this was handed to him. He did not surround himself with governesses and wealth. He did not make himself. And yet he is to be compelled to pay.[40]

Conversely, libertarians say "So much the worse for determinism!"[39] Daniel Dennett asks why anyone would care about whether someone had the property of responsibility and speculates that the idea of moral responsibility may be "a purely metaphysical hankering".[14] Jean-Paul Sartre argues that people sometimes avoid incrimination and responsibility by hiding behind determinism: "... we are always ready to take refuge in a belief in determinism if this freedom weighs upon us or if we need an excuse".[41] However, the position that classifying such people as "base" or "dishonest" makes no difference to whether or not their actions are determined is quite as tenable. Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a prominent American philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. ... Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980), normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre (pronounced: ), was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. ...


The issue of moral responsibility is at the heart of the dispute between hard determinists and compatibilists. Hard determinists are forced to accept that individuals often have "free will" in the compatibilist sense, but they deny that this sense of free will can ground moral responsibility. The fact that an agent's choices are unforced, hard determinists claim, does not change the fact that determinism robs the agent of responsibility.


Compatibilists argue, on the contrary, that determinism is a prerequisite for moral responsibility. Society cannot hold someone responsible unless his actions were determined by something. This argument can be traced back to David Hume. If indeterminism is true, then those events that are not determined are random. It is doubtful that one can praise or blame someone for performing an action generated spontaneously by his nervous system. Instead, one needs to show how the action stemmed from the person's desires and preferences—the person's character—before one can hold the person morally responsible.[10] Libertarians may reply that undetermined actions are not random at all, and that they result from a substantive will whose decisions are undetermined. This argument is considered unsatisfactory by compatibilists, for it just pushes the problem back a step. It also seems to involve some mysterious metaphysics, as well as the concept of ex nihilo nihil fit. Libertarians have responded by trying to clarify how undetermined will could be tied to robust agency.[42] For other persons named David Hume, see David Hume (disambiguation). ... Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome) Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy investigating principles of reality transcending those of any particular science. ... Nothing comes from nothing is a philosophical expression often stated in its Latin form: ex nihilo nihil fit. ...


St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans addresses the question of moral responsibility as follows: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"[43] In this view, individuals can still be dishonoured for their acts even though those acts were ultimately completely determined by God. Paul of Tarsus (b. ... The Epistle to the Romans is one of the letters of the New Testament canon of the Christian Bible. ...


A similar view has it that individual moral culpability lies in individual character. That is, a person with the character of a murderer has no choice other than to murder, but can still be punished because it is right to punish those of bad character. How one's character was determined is irrelevant from this perspective. Hence, Robert Cummins and others argue that people should not be judged for their individual actions, but rather for how those actions "reflect on their character". If character (however defined) is the dominant causal factor in determining one's choices, and one's choices are morally wrong, then one should be held accountable for those choices, regardless of genes and other such factors.[44][45]


One exception to the assumption that moral culpability lies in either individual character or freely willed acts is in cases where the insanity defense—or its corollary, diminished responsibility—can be used to argue that the guilty deed was not the product of a guilty mind.[46] In such cases, the legal systems of most Western societies assume that the person is in some way not at fault, because his actions were a consequence of abnormal brain function. In criminal trials, the insanity defenses are possible defenses by excuse, by which defendants argue that they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law, as they were legally insane at the time of the commission of alleged crimes. ... In criminal law, diminished responsibility (or diminished capacity) is a potential defense by excuse by which defendants argue that although they broke the law, they should not be held criminally liable for doing so, as their mental functions were diminished or impaired. ...


Joshua Greene and Jonathan Cohen, researchers in the emerging field of neuroethics, argue, on the basis of such cases, that our current notion of moral responsibility is founded on libertarian (and dualist) intuitions.[47] They argue that cognitive neuroscience research is undermining these intuitions by showing that the brain is responsible for our actions, not only in cases of florid psychosis, but even in less obvious situations. For example, damage to the frontal lobe reduces the ability to weigh uncertain risks and make prudent decisions, and therefore leads to an increased likelihood that someone will commit a violent crime.[48] This is true not only of patients with damage to the frontal lobe due to accident or stroke, but also of adolescents, who show reduced frontal lobe activity compared to adults,[49] and even of children who are chronically neglected or mistreated.[50] In each case, the guilty party can be said to have less responsibility for his actions.[47] Greene and Cohen predict that, as such examples become more common and well known, jurors’ interpretations of free will and moral responsibility will move away from the intuitive libertarian notion which currently underpins them. Neuroethics is most commonly understood to be the bioethics subcategory concerned with neuroscience and neurotechnology. ... René Descartes illustration of dualism. ... The field of cognitive neuroscience concerns the scientific study of the neural mechanisms underlying cognition and is a branch of neuroscience. ... For other uses, see Psychosis (disambiguation). ... {{Infobox Brain| Name = Frontal lobe | Latin = lobus frontalis | GraySubject = 189 | GrayPage = 821 | Map = Cerebrum map| MapPos = | MapCaption = Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum viewed laterally. ... {{Infobox Brain| Name = Frontal lobe | Latin = lobus frontalis | GraySubject = 189 | GrayPage = 821 | Map = Cerebrum map| MapPos = | MapCaption = Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum viewed laterally. ...


Greene and Cohen also argue that the legal system does not require this libertarian interpretation. Only retributive notions of justice, in which the goal of the legal system is to punish people for misdeeds, require the libertarian intuition. Consequentialist approaches to justice, which are aimed at promoting future welfare rather than meting out just deserts, can survive even a hard determinist interpretation of free will. The legal system and notions of justice can thus be maintained even in the face of emerging neuroscientific evidence undermining libertarian intuitions of free will. This article is about the concept of justice. ... Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. ...


In science

Physics

Many, but not all, arguments for or against free will make an assumption about the truth or falsehood of determinism. The scientific method holds out the promise of being able to turn such assumptions into fact. However, such facts would still need to be combined with philosophical considerations in order to amount to an argument for or against free will. For instance, if compatibilism is true, the truth of determinism would have no effect on the question of the existence of free will. On the other hand, a proof of determinism in conjunction with an argument for incompatibilism would add up to an argument against free will. Compatibilism, also known as soft determinism and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. ...


Early scientific thought often portrayed the universe as deterministic,[51] 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.[52] Quantum mechanics predicts events only in terms of probabilities, casting doubt on whether the universe is deterministic at all. The possibility that the universe at the macroscopic level may be governed by indeterministic laws, as it is generally accepted to be at the quantum level, has revived interest in free will among physicists.[53] However, there are a number of objections. For other uses, see Universe (disambiguation). ... Physical information refers generally to the information that is contained in a physical system. ... Stochastic, from the Greek stochos or goal, means of, relating to, or characterized by conjecture; conjectural; random. ... For a generally accessible and less technical introduction to the topic, see Introduction to quantum mechanics. ...


It is claimed by some that quantum indeterminism is confined to microscopic phenomena.[54] The claim that events at the atomic or particulate level are unknowable can be challenged experimentally and even technologically: for instance, some hardware random number generators work by amplifying quantum effects into practically usable signals. However, this only amounts to macroscopic indeterminism if it can be shown that microscopic events really are indeterministic. In computing, a hardware random number generator is an apparatus that generates random numbers from a physical process. ...


This consideration leads to the criticism of indeterminism-based free will on the basis that quantum mechanics is not really random, but merely unpredictable. Some scientific determinists, following Albert Einstein, believe in so-called "hidden variable theories" according to which the unpredictability of quantum mechanics is due to ignorance of an additional set of physical variables not explicitly included in the standard theory (see the Bohm interpretation and the EPR paradox).[55] “Einstein” redirects here. ... In physics, the hidden variable theory is espoused by a minority of physicists who argue that the statistical nature of quantum mechanics indicates that QM is incomplete. ... The Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics, sometimes called the Bohmian Mechanics or Ontological interpretation is an interpretation postulated by David Bohm in 1952, which was an extension of the de Broglie-pilot-wave theory of 1927. ... In quantum mechanics, the EPR paradox is a thought experiment which challenged long-held ideas about the relation between the observed values of physical quantities and the values that can be accounted for by a physical theory. ...


There is also a further, more philosophical, objection. It has been argued that if an action is taken due to quantum randomness, this in itself means that free will is absent, since such action cannot be controllable by someone claiming to possess such free will.[56] If this argument is conjoined with incompatibilism, then it would follow that free will is impossible, since it would be incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism, and these are the only options. If it is conjoined with compatibilism, on the other hand, it would mean that free will is only possible in a deterministic universe.


Robert Kane has capitalized on the success of quantum mechanics and chaos theory in order to defend incompatibilist freedom in his The Significance of Free Will and other writings.[57] Robert Kane (born 1938) is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently on phased retirement. ... For other uses, see Chaos Theory (disambiguation). ...


Genetics

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.[58] The view of most researchers is that many human behaviors can be explained in terms of humans' brains, genes, and evolutionary histories.[59][60][61] This point of view raises the fear that such attribution makes it impossible to hold others responsible for their actions. 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 behavior to be uncaused, as long as behaviour responds to praise and blame.[62] Moreover, it is not certain that environmental determination is any less threatening to free will than genetic determination.[63] For other uses, see Biology (disambiguation). ... The nature versus nurture debates concern the relative importance of an individuals innate qualities (nature) versus personal experiences (nurture) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. ... Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a prominent Canadian-born American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and popular science writer known for his spirited and wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. ...


Neuroscience

Typical recording of the readiness potential. Libet investigated whether this neural activity corresponded to the "felt intention" (or will) to move of experimental subjects.
Typical recording of the readiness potential. Libet investigated whether this neural activity corresponded to the "felt intention" (or will) to move of experimental subjects.

It has become possible to study the living brain, and researchers can now watch the brain's decision-making "machinery" 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 her wrist while he measured the associated activity in her brain (in particular, the build-up of electrical signal called the readiness potential). Although it was well known that the readiness potential preceded the physical action, Libet asked whether the readiness potential corresponded to the felt intention to move. To determine when the subject felt the intention to move, he asked her to watch the second hand of a clock and report its position when she felt that she had the conscious will to move.[64] Image File history File links Bereitschaftspotenzial_fig1. ... Image File history File links Bereitschaftspotenzial_fig1. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... For other uses, see Brain (disambiguation). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Libet found that the unconscious brain activity leading up to the conscious decision by the subject to flick his or her wrist began approximately half a second before the subject consciously felt that she had decided to move.[64][65] Libet's findings suggest that decisions made by a subject are first being made on a subconscious level and only afterward being translated into a "conscious decision", and that the subject's belief that it occurred at the behest of her will was only due to her retrospective perspective on the event. The interpretation of these findings has been criticized by Daniel Dennett, who argues that people will have to shift their attention from their intention to the clock, and that this introduces temporal mismatches between the felt experience of will and the perceived position of the clock hand.[66][67] Consistent with this argument, subsequent studies have shown that the exact numerical value varies depending on attention.[68][69] Despite the differences in the exact numerical value, however, the main finding has held.[70] Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a prominent American philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. ...


In a variation of this task, Haggard and Eimer asked subjects to decide not only when to move their hands, but also to decide which hand to move. In this case, the felt intention correlated much more closely with the "lateralized readiness potential" (LRP), an EEG component which measures the difference between left and right hemisphere brain activity. Haggard and Eimer argue that the feeling of conscious will therefore must follow the decision of which hand to move, since the LRP reflects the decision to lift a particular hand.[68] EEG redirects here. ...


Related experiments showed that neurostimulation could affect which hands people move, even though the experience of free will was intact. Ammon and Gandevia found that it was possible to influence which hand people move by stimulating frontal regions that are involved in movement planning using transcranial magnetic stimulation in either the left or right hemisphere of the brain.[71] Right-handed people would normally choose to move their right hand 60% of the time, but when the right hemisphere was stimulated they would instead choose their left hand 80% of the time (recall that the right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere for the right). Despite the external influence on their decision-making, the subjects continued to report that they believed their choice of hand had been made freely. In a follow-up experiment, Alvaro Pascual-Leone and colleagues found similar results, but also noted that the transcranial magnetic stimulation must occur within 200 milliseconds, consistent with the time-course derived from the Libet experiments.[72] {{Infobox Brain| Name = Frontal lobe | Latin = lobus frontalis | GraySubject = 189 | GrayPage = 821 | Map = Cerebrum map| MapPos = | MapCaption = Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum viewed laterally. ... Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is the use of powerful rapidly changing magnetic fields to induce electric fields in the brain by electromagnetic induction without the need for surgery or external electrodes. ... Alvaro Pascual-Leone (born Valencia, Spain, 8/6/61) has been an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School since 1997. ...


Despite these findings, Libet himself does not interpret his experiment as evidence of the inefficacy of conscious free will—he points out that although the tendency to press a button may be building up for 500 milliseconds, the conscious will retains a right to veto that action in the last few milliseconds.[73] According to this model, unconscious impulses to perform a volitional act are open to suppression by the conscious efforts of the subject (sometimes referred to as "free won't"). A comparison is made with a golfer, who may swing a club several times before striking the ball. The action simply gets a rubber stamp of approval at the last millisecond. Max Velmans argues however that "free won't" may turn out to need as much neural preparation as "free will".[74] This article is about the game. ... Max Velmans is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. ...


Neurology and psychiatry

There are several brain-related conditions in which an individual's actions are not felt to be entirely under his or her control. Although the existence of such conditions does not directly refute the existence of free will, the study of such conditions, like the neuroscientific studies above, is valuable in developing models of how the brain may construct our experience of free will.


For example, people with Tourette syndrome and related tic disorders make involuntary movements and utterances, called tics, despite the fact that they would prefer not to do so when it is socially inappropriate. Tics are described as semi-voluntary or "unvoluntary",[75] because they are not strictly involuntary: they may be experienced as a voluntary response to an unwanted, premonitory urge. Tics are experienced as irresistible and must eventually be expressed.[75] People with Tourette syndrome are sometimes able to suppress their tics to some extent for limited periods, but doing so often results in an explosion of tics afterward. The control which can be exerted (from seconds to hours at a time) may merely postpone and exacerbate the ultimate expression of the tic.[76] Tourette redirects here. ... A tic is a repeated, impulsive action, almost reflexive in nature, which the actor feels powerless to control or avoid. ... Not to be confused with Tick. ...


In alien hand syndrome, the afflicted individual's limb will produce meaningful behaviours without the intention of the subject. The clinical definition requires "feeling that one limb is foreign or has a will of its own, together with observable involuntary motor activity" (emphasis in original).[77] This syndrome is often a result of damage to the corpus callosum, either when it is severed to treat intractable epilepsy or due to a stroke. The standard neurological explanation is that the felt will reported by the speaking left hemisphere does not correspond with the actions performed by the non-speaking right hemisphere, thus suggesting that the two hemispheres may have independent senses of will.[78][79] This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The corpus callosum is a structure of the mammalian brain in the longitudal fissure that connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres. ... For other uses, see Stroke (disambiguation). ...


Similarly, one of the most important ("first rank") diagnostic symptoms of schizophrenia is the delusion of being controlled by an external force.[80] People with schizophrenia will sometimes report that, although they are acting in the world, they did not initiate, or will, the particular actions they performed. This is sometimes likened to being a robot controlled by someone else. Although the neural mechanisms of schizophrenia are not yet clear, one influential hypothesis is that there is a breakdown in brain systems that compare motor commands with the feedback received from the body (known as proprioception), leading to attendant hallucinations and delusions of control.[81] // Proprioception (PRO-pree-o-SEP-shun (IPA pronunciation: ); from Latin proprius, meaning ones own and perception) is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body. ...


Also, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other compulsive behaviour, such as compulsive overeating and addiction, may be linked to a lack of free will. And only hints, or degrees, of this may be linked to a lack of totally free will. Binge eating disorder is a medical syndrome in which, according to currently accepted definitions, people: feel their eating is out of control; eat what most people would think is an unusually large amount of food; eat much more quickly than usual during binge episodes; eat until so full they are... This article is about the concept of addiction. ...


Determinism and emergent behaviour

Main article: Emergence

In generative philosophy of cognitive sciences and evolutionary psychology, free will is assumed not to exist.[82][83] However, an illusion of free will is created, within this theoretical context, due to the generation of infinite or computationally complex behaviour from the interaction of a finite set of rules and parameters. Thus, the unpredictability of the emerging behaviour from deterministic processes leads to a perception of free will, even though free will as an ontological entity is assumed not to exist.[82][83] In this picture, even if the behavior could be computed ahead of time, no way of doing so will be simpler than just observing the outcome of the brain's own computations.[84] A termite cathedral mound produced by a termite colony: a classic example of emergence in nature. ... A termite cathedral mound produced by a termite colony: a classic example of emergence in nature. ... Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... Evolutionary psychology (EP) attempts to explain mental and psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language—as adaptations, that is, as the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection. ... In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek , genitive : of being (part. ...


As an illustration, some strategy board games have rigorous rules in which no information (such as cards' face values) is hidden from either player and no random events (such as dice rolling) occur in the game. Nevertheless, strategy games like chess and especially Go, with its simple deterministic rules, can have an extremely large number of unpredictable moves. By analogy, "emergentists" suggest that the experience of free will emerges from the interaction of finite rules and deterministic parameters that generate infinite and unpredictable behaviour. Yet, if all these events were accounted for, and there were a known way to evaluate these events, the seemingly unpredictable behavior would become predictable.[82][83] Random redirects here. ... This article is about the Western board game. ... Go is a strategic board game for two players. ...


Cellular automata and the generative sciences model emergent processes of social behavior on this philosophy, showing the experience of free will to be a gift of ignorance or a product of incomplete information.[82] A cellular automaton (plural: cellular automata) is a discrete model studied in computability theory and mathematics. ... The Generative Sciences (or Generative Science) is the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary sciences that explore the natural world and its complex behaviours as a generative process. ...


Experimental psychology

Experimental psychology's contributions to the free will debate have come primarily through social psychologist Daniel Wegner's work on conscious will. In his book, The Illusion of Conscious Will[85] Wegner summarizes empirical evidence supporting the view that human perception of conscious control is an illusion. Wegner observes that one event is inferred to have caused a second event when two requirements are met: Experimental psychology approaches psychology as one of the natural sciences, and therefore assumes that it is susceptible to the experimental method. ... Daniel M. Wegner is a social psychologist and a professor of psychology at Harvard University. ...

  1. The first event immediately precedes the second event, and
  2. The first event is consistent with having caused the second event.

For example, if a person hears an explosion and sees a tree fall down that person is likely to infer that the explosion caused the tree to fall over. However, if the explosion occurs after the tree falls down (i.e., the first requirement is not met), or rather than an explosion, the person hears the ring of a telephone (i.e., the second requirement is not met), then that person is not likely to infer that either noise caused the tree to fall down.


Wegner has applied this principle to the inferences people make about their own conscious will. People typically experience a thought that is consistent with a behavior, and then they observe themselves performing this behavior. As a result, people infer that their thoughts must have caused the observed behavior. However, Wegner has been able to manipulate people's thoughts and behaviors so as to conform to or violate the two requirements for causal inference.[85][86] Through such work, Wegner has been able to show that people will often experience conscious will over behaviors that they have in fact not caused, and conversely, that people can be led to experience a lack of will over behaviors that they did cause. The implication for such work is that the perception of conscious will is not tethered to the execution of actual behaviors. Although many interpret this work as a blow against the argument for free will, Wegner has asserted that his work informs only of the mechanism for perceptions of control, not for control itself.


In Eastern philosophy

In Hindu philosophy

Swami Vivekananda: "there cannot be any such thing as free-will; the very words are a contradiction".
Swami Vivekananda: "there cannot be any such thing as free-will; the very words are a contradiction".

The six orthodox (astika) schools of thought in Hindu philosophy do not agree with each other entirely on the question of free will. For the 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 the Nyaya and Vaisheshika schools strongly suggest a belief in determinism, but do not seem to make explicit claims about determinism or free will.[87] Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Swami Vivekananda (Sanskrit: , Svāmi Vivekānanda) (January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902), whose pre-monastic name was Narendranath Dutta (Bengali: , Nôrendrônath Dôt-tô), was one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. ... Astika (Sanskrit:, one who acknowledges) is a term used in Hinduism to refer to a person or philosophical school that accepts the Vedas. ... Hindu philosophy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Samkhya, also Sankhya, (Sanskrit: सांख्य, IAST: Sāṃkhya - Enumeration) is one of the six schools of classical Indian philosophy. ... For other uses such as Yoga postures, see Yoga (disambiguation) Statue of Shiva performing Yogic meditation Yoga (Sanskrit: योग Yog, IPA: ) is a group of ancient spiritual practices designed for the purpose of cultivating a steady mind. ... Ishvara (Sanskrit lord, master, from an adjective capable) is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, similar to the Abrahamic concept of God. ... (Sanskrit ni-āyá, literally recursion, used in the sense of syllogism, inference)) is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic. ... Vaisheshika, also Vaisesika, (Sanskrit: वैशॆषिक)is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy (orthodox Vedic systems) of India. ...


A quotation from Swami Vivekananda, a Vedantist, offers a good example of the worry about free will in the Hindu tradition. Swami Vivekananda (Sanskrit: , Svāmi Vivekānanda) (January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902), whose pre-monastic name was Narendranath Dutta (Bengali: , Nôrendrônath Dôt-tô), was one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. ... For other uses, see Vedanta (disambiguation). ...

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.[88]

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."[88] However, Vivekananda never said that it was 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."[88]


Mimamsa, Vedanta, and the more theistic versions of Hinduism such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, have often emphasized the importance of free will. The doctrine of Karma in Hinduism requires both that we pay for our actions in the past, and that our actions in the present be free enough to allow us to deserve the future reward or punishment that we will receive for our present actions. The main objective of the Purva (earlier) Mimamsa school was to establish the authority of the Vedas. ... For other uses, see Vedanta (disambiguation). ... Hinduism is a religious tradition[1] that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ... This article is about the religion Shaivism. ... Vaishnavism is one of the principal traditions of Hinduism, and is distinguished from other schools by its primary worship of Vishnu (and his associated avatars) as the Supreme God. ... Karma is a concept in Hinduism, based on the Vedas and Upanishads, which explains causality through a system where beneficial events are derived from past beneficial actions and harmful events from past harmful actions, creating a system of actions and reactions throughout a persons reincarnated lives. ...


In Buddhist philosophy

Buddhism accepts both freedom and determinism (or something similar to it), but rejects the idea of an agent, and thus the idea that freedom is a free will belonging to an agent.[89] 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 [connection] of those elements."[89] Buddhists believe in neither absolute free will, nor determinism. It preaches a middle doctrine, named pratitya-samutpada in Sanskrit, which is often translated as "inter-dependent arising". It is part of the theory of karma in Buddhism. The concept of karma in 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 focussed 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 lives. Buddhism, a Dharmic faith, is usually considered one of the worlds major religions, with between 230 to 500 million followers. ... Standing Buddha, ancient region of Gandhara, northern Pakistan, 1st century CE. Gautama Buddha was a South Asian spiritual leader who lived between approximately 563 BCE and 483 BCE. Born Siddhartha Gautama in Sanskrit, a name meaning descendant of Gotama whose aims are achieved/who is efficacious in achieving aims, he... The doctrine of Pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit: ) or Paticcasamuppāda, Pali: ; Tibetan: ; Chinese: ) Dependent Arising is an important part of Buddhist metaphysics. ... Sanskrit ( , for short ) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. ... Karma (Sanskrit: कर्मन karman, Pāli: कमा Kamma) means action or doing; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. ...


In Buddhism it is taught that the idea of absolute freedom of choice (i.e. that any human being could be completely free to make any choice) is foolish, because it denies the reality of one's physical needs and circumstances. Equally incorrect is the idea that we have no choice in life or that our lives are pre-determined. To deny freedom would be to undermine 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 expounded by Nagarjuna in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.[89] Agency considered in the philosophical sense is the capacity of an agent to act in a world. ... Causality or causation denotes the relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the consequence (result) of the first. ... JAIN is an activity within the Java Community Process, developing APIs for the creation of telephony (voice and data) services. ... (Sanskrit ni-āyá, literally recursion, used in the sense of syllogism, inference)) is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic. ... Samkhya, also Sankhya, (Sanskrit: सांख्य, IAST: Sāṃkhya - Enumeration) is one of the six schools of classical Indian philosophy. ... (or Cārvāka Hindi चारवाक) is a system of Indian philosophy that assumed various forms of philosophical skepticism and religious indifference. ... Buddhism, a Dharmic faith, is usually considered one of the worlds major religions, with between 230 to 500 million followers. ... For other uses, see Nagarjuna (disambiguation). ... MÅ«lamadhyamakakārikā, or Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, is a key text by Nagarjuna, one of the most important Buddhist philosophers. ...


In other theology

Further information: Free will in theology

The theological doctrine of divine foreknowledge is often alleged to be in conflict with free will, particularly in Reformed circles. After all, if God knows exactly what will happen, right down to every choice one makes, the status of choices as free is called into question. If God had timelessly true knowledge about one's choices, this would seem to constrain one's freedom.[90] This problem is related to the Aristotelian problem of the sea battle: tomorrow there will or will not be a sea battle. If there will be one, then it seems that it was true yesterday that there would be one. Then it would be necessary that the sea battle will occur. If there won't be one, then by similar reasoning, it is necessary that it won't occur.[91] This means that the future, whatever it is, is completely fixed by past truths—true propositions about the future. Free Will in Theology is an important part of the debate on free will in general. ... Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas Luther · Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      Calvinism... This article is about the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ...


However, some philosophers follow 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.[92] Some philosophers follow Philo of Alexandria in holding that free will is a feature of a human's soul, and thus that non-human animals lack free will.[93] William of Ockham (also Occam or any of several other spellings, IPA: ) (c. ... Philo (20 BCE - 40 CE) was an Alexandrian Jewish philosopher born in Alexandria, Egypt. ... For other uses, see Soul (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Animal (disambiguation). ...


Jewish philosophy stresses 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 which 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). In 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.[94] In Shia Islam, Ash'aris understanding of a higher balance toward predestination is challenged by most theologists[95] . Free will, according to Shia Islamic doctrine is the main factor for man's accountability in his/her actions throughout life. All actions taken by man's free will are said to be counted on the Day of Judgement because they are his/her own and not God's. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology. ... Hebrew redirects here. ... For people named Islam, see Islam (name). ... AbÅ« al-Hasan AlÄ« ibn Ismāīl al-AsharÄ« (874 – 936) (Arabic: ابو الحسن بن إسماعيل اﻷشعري) was a Muslim Arab theologian and the founder of the Ashari school of early Islamic philosophy and Islamic theology. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Shia may refer to a denomination of Islam, or related items, such as: Shia Islam, the second largest denomination of Islam, after Sunni Islam. ... Predestination (also linked with foreknowledge) is a religious concept, which involves the relationship between the beginning of things and their destinies. ... This article or section should be merged with End times and Last judgment The Last Judgement - Tympanum sculpture at the Abbey Church of Ste-Foy, Conques-en-Rouergue, France In Christian eschatology, the Last Judgement is the ethical-judicial trial, judgement, and punishment/reward of individual humans (assignment to heaven...


The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard claimed that divine omnipotence cannot be separated from divine goodness.[96] As a truly omnipotent and good being, God could create beings with true freedom over God. Furthermore, 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."[97] Alvin Plantinga's "free will defense" is a contemporary expansion of this theme, adding how God, free will, and evil are consistent.[98] Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (pronounced , but usually Anglicized as ;  ) (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. ... Alvin Carl Plantinga (born 15 November 1932 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA) is a contemporary American philosopher known for his work in epistemology, metaphysics, the philosophy of religion and modest support of intelligent design. ... Theodicy (IPA: ) (adjectival form theodicean) is a specific branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to reconcile the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the belief in an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God, i. ... In the philosophy of religion and theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of a god. ...


See also

The argument from free will is an argument against the Existence of God which contends that omniscience and free will are incompatible, and that any conception of God which incorporates both properties is therefore inherently contradictory. ... For other uses, see Autonomy (disambiguation). ... Buridans ass is the common name for the paradox which states that an entirely rational ass, placed exactly in the middle between two stacks of hay of equal size and quality, will starve since it cannot make any rational decision to start eating one rather than the other. ... Causality or causation denotes the relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the consequence (result) of the first. ... Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are in fact compatible and capable of co-existence (people who hold this belief are known as compatibilists). ... This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. ... Existentialism is a philosophical movement that posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives, as opposed to deities or authorities creating it for them. ... The free will theorem of J. H. Conway and Simon Kochen states that, if we have a certain amount of free will, then, subject to certain assumptions, so do some elementary particles. ... Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logical principles and not be compromised by authority, tradition, or any other dogma. ... In philosophical debates about free will and determinism, libertarianism is generally held to be the combination of the following beliefs: that free will is incompatible with determinism that human beings do possess free will, and that determinism is false All libertarians subscribe to the philosophy of incompatibilism which states that... Morality (from the Latin manner, character, proper behavior) has three principal meanings. ... In Nassim Nicholas Talebs definition, a black swan is a large-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare event beyond the realm of normal expectations. ... This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims. ... Predestination (also linked with foreknowledge) is a religious concept, which involves the relationship between the beginning of things and their destinies. ... Prevenient grace is a Christian theological concept rooted in Augustinian theology[1] and embraced primarily by Arminian Christians who are influenced by the theology of John Wesley and who are part of the Methodist movement. ... Responsibility assumption is a doctrine in the spirituality and personal growth fields holding that each individual has substantial or total responsibility for the events and circumstances that befall them in their life. ... Random redirects here. ... The Philosophy of Freedom is Rudolf Steiners fundamental philosophical work. ... In the philosophy of religion and theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of a god. ... This box:      In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is the statement that locating a particle in a small region of space makes the momentum of the particle uncertain; and conversely, that measuring the momentum of a particle precisely makes the position uncertain. ... Free Will in Theology is an important part of the debate on free will in general. ...

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Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher born in Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland. ... On the Freedom of the Will was an essay presented to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in 1839 by Arthur Schopenhauer as a response to the academic question that they had posed. ... ‎ Democritus (Greek: ) was a pre-Socratic Greek materialist philosopher (born at Abdera in Thrace ca. ... (or Cārvāka Hindi चारवाक) is a system of Indian philosophy that assumed various forms of philosophical skepticism and religious indifference. ... Swami Vivekananda (Sanskrit: , Svāmi Vivekānanda) (January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902), whose pre-monastic name was Narendranath Dutta (Bengali: , Nôrendrônath Dôt-tô), was one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. ... Harry Austryn Wolfson (1887–1974) Harry Austryn Wolfson (November 2, 1887–September 20, 1974) was a scholar, philosopher, and historian at Harvard University, the first chairman of a Judaic Studies Department in the United States. ...

Further reading

  • Bischof, Michael H. (2004). Kann ein Konzept der Willensfreiheit auf das Prinzip der alternativen Möglichkeiten verzichten? Harry G. Frankfurts Kritik am Prinzip der alternativen Möglichkeiten (PAP). In: Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung (ZphF), Heft 4.
  • Epstein J.M. (1999). Agent Based Models and Generative Social Science. Complexity, IV (5).
  • Gazzaniga, M. & Steven, M.S. (2004) Free Will in the 21st Century: A Discussion of Neuroscience and Law, in Garland, B. (ed.) Neuroscience and the Law: Brain, Mind and the Scales of Justice, New York: Dana Press, ISBN 1932594043, pp51–70.
  • Goodenough, O.R. (2004) Responsibility and punishment, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences (Special Issue: Law and the Brain), 359, 1805–1809.
  • Hofstadter, Douglas. (2007) I Am A Strange Loop. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465030781
  • Kane, Robert (1998). The Significance of Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-512656-4
  • Lawhead, William F. (2005). The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages ISBN 0-07-296355-7.
  • Libet, Benjamin; Anthony Freeman; and Keith Sutherland, eds. (1999). The Volitional Brain: Towards a Neuroscience of Free Will. Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic. Collected essays by scientists and philosophers.
  • Morris, Tom Philosophy for Dummies. IDG Books ISBN 0-7645-5153-1.
  • Muhm, Myriam (2004). Abolito il libero arbitrio - Colloquio con Wolf Singer. L'Espresso 19.08.2004 http://www.larchivio.org/xoom/myriam-singer.htm
  • Nowak A., Vallacher R.R., Tesser A., Borkowski W. (2000). Society of Self: The emergence of collective properties in self-structure. Psychological Review. 107
  • Schopenhauer, Arthur (1839). On the Freedom of the Will., Oxford: Basil Blackwell ISBN 0-631-14552-4.
  • Van Inwagen, Peter (1986). An Essay on Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-824924-1.
  • Velmans, Max (2003) How Could Conscious Experiences Affect Brains? Exeter: Imprint Academic ISBN 0907845-39-8.
  • Wegner, D. (2002). The Illusion of Conscious Will. Cambridge: Bradford Books
  • Williams, Clifford (1980). Free Will and Determinism: A Dialogue. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.

Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher born in Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland. ... On the Freedom of the Will was an essay presented to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in 1839 by Arthur Schopenhauer as a response to the academic question that they had posed. ...

External links

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  • The Garden of Forking Paths--a blog on free will and action theory written by top experts

Image File history File links Freewill. ... Image File history File links Sound-icon. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Portal. ... Image File history File links Portal. ... Image File history File links Portal. ... The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (hereafter SEP) is a free online encyclopedia of philosophy run and maintained by Stanford University. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
free will (1289 words)
Free will is probably located in the pre-frontal cortex, and we may even be able to narrow it down to the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex.
Free will is a concept in traditional philosophy used to refer to the belief that human behavior is not absolutely determined by external causes, but is the result of choices made by an act of will by the agent.
Free will advocates, or libertarians, as they are sometimes called, believe that while everything else in the universe may be the inevitable consequence of external forces, human behavior is unique and is determined by the agent, not by God or the stars or the laws of nature.
free will (1289 words)
Free will is probably located in the pre-frontal cortex, and we may even be able to narrow it down to the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex.
Free will is a concept in traditional philosophy used to refer to the belief that human behavior is not absolutely determined by external causes, but is the result of choices made by an act of will by the agent.
Free will advocates, or libertarians, as they are sometimes called, believe that while everything else in the universe may be the inevitable consequence of external forces, human behavior is unique and is determined by the agent, not by God or the stars or the laws of nature.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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