Determinism Vs. Free Will

Decent Essays
The idea that the future is already determined is known in philosophy as determinism. There are various definitions of determinism available; but in this essay, I shall use the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy definition, which is ‘the metaphysical thesis that the facts of the past, in conjunction with the laws of nature, entail every truth about the future

This idea presents a difficult problem for the concept of free will: how can we make free choices if all our actions are determined by the facts of the past and the laws of nature? A related but distinct question is: how can we be held morally responsible for our actions if we have no free will?

Undesirable consequences like these are not sufficient reasons for declaring determinism to be false; but they can act as a powerful motivator towards resolving the apparent conflict between determinism and free will.

Some philosophers, such as Peter van Inwagen have gone as far as arguing that the existence of moral responsibility entails the existence of free will

In this essay, I intend to argue that a solution to this dilemma lies not in choosing free will over determinism, nor vice versa; but in the theory that determinism and free will are compatible – known as compatibilism.
Before going on, let us be clear about what we mean by the term free will.
‘To have free will is to have what it takes to act freely. When an agent acts freely—when she exercises her free will—it is up to her whether she does one thing
Get Access