Christopher Hitchens once averred that you don't.  Religionists claim that it is divinely endowed. Others claim that all are freelancers subject to subornation by others. Your thoughts?

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Also different kinds of behavior vary in how voluntary they are.  People like to think of eating as voluntary but a lot of it isn't, and people may even eat without realizing it. 

You're right that we don't have free will as regards a lot of what our bodies do.

Perhaps we can imagine what it's like to be a primitive creature, by thinking of what it would be like if ALL our behavior were unconscious like that. 

We have at the very least an illusion of free will, if nothing else, and as long as we cannot trace the path by which each and every choice is made, it is difficult to make a scientific assertion on free will or determinism that can be verified by clear evidence.That we can imagine determinism or free will is not good enough to decide the question.

One problem is repeatability—to prove determinism, it would seem that as a minimum you would have to be able to show that faced with the same options a given individual would make the same choice in every instance. The problem is that in between choices the individual's brain may alter in unmeasurable ways so that he may make the same choice as a result of a different configuration.

If people aren't "really" making free choices, in what way are their choices constrained?  If you make the choice you want to make, given the circumstances, in what way is your will not "free"?

Free will seems to me compatible with determinism.  I don't know to what extent the world is deterministic at a macroscopic level.  Clearly quantum randomness plays a part, but who knows how big a part.  But determinism involves the entire observable universe, and no you aren't ever going to recreate a decision or predict it with certainty. 

If you make the choice you want to make, given the circumstances, in what way is your will not "free"?

The answer is: if what you want to choose is determined, then so is what you choose.

It isn't so much that you are constrained as is it more that you are predisposed to decide a certain way.  I think the free will side would be more concerned with constraints.

Of course choices are often constrained—somethings are not possible, others not wise, etc.—but as long as there is a choice of at least two options in a situation and no way to predict the outcome, there is at least a plausible case for free will.

And we do act as though free will exists whenever we insist that someone is responsible for their actions. Of course we may be quite mistaken, but we don't seem to act as though we are.

we do act as though free will exists whenever we insist that someone is responsible for their actions.

And the moralistic mentality is often harmful and unkind. 

When someone commits a terrible crime, society needs to constrain them so they can't hurt anyone else. 

Beyond that, there is no need to punish, no need to deprive criminals or make their later existence a nightmare.  Some criminals are very talented people, and they might make good contributions to society, if they are restrained from harming anyone while not depriving them of the chance to contribute. 

Yet the punitive mentality makes people cruel.  People actually rejoice in the idea that some criminal is going to be anally raped in prison.  Many criminals have been severely traumatized - that's how they can do these terrible things - yet people love the idea that they will be traumatized even more. 

It seems that people don't want to identify with criminals.  They want to ward off the idea (or reality) that they might themselves be capable of the same terrible acts under some circumstances.  They ward off this idea by being moralistic and punitive. 

I mean, I don't think our free choices imply non-determinism - that's an extreme conclusion which isn't necessary.  Since a person's decisions are unknowable before they make them, in what way do their decisions "already exist"?

I thought I could do anything I want to do if I am willing to take the consequences.

In my teen-age years I was always looking for a date with that outlook.

lol, Dr. Allan.

Free will is a construct of christian "thought". Within the christian delusion it solves the problem of god's authorship of evil. 

If the universe is utterly deterministic free will is not possible. Strict determinism is an issue for science and who knows whether it will ever be known.

On the other hand if some aspect of consciousness is without defined and predictable parameters free will is impossible. By definition the absence of control negates freedom.




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