Do We Have Free Will?

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Do we have free will?

Whether we have free will is widely controversial. The absence of a universal definition poses a primary problem to this question. In this essay, I shall base my argument on a set of three conditions for free will: 1) that the actor is unconstraint in his action, 2) the actor could have acted otherwise and 3) the actor must be ‘ultimately responsible’ (Kane, 2005: 121) for his action. After I have explained them, I shall apply these conditions to three scenarios that cover most, if not any, circumstances that occur when taking choices. The purpose of this essay is to show that if my conditions are true, none of the scenarios is based on free will and thus we do not have free will.

The first condition seems to be obvious. If an actor wants to act in a certain way but constraints hinder him from doing so, then he cannot pursue his will; he is not free in his actions. This condition must be satisfied in order to have free will.

My second notion of free will requires that an actor is able to decide between different possibilities of actions that lead towards different futures. Robert Kane calls this concept ‘a garden of forking paths’; every action leads to other actions that again allow for alternatives of action (Kane, 2005: 7). If an actor could not have done otherwise, he would not have had free choice. Even if he did not choose to do otherwise, he could not have done so. Free will seems to require the power to do otherwise, or our actions would

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