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Do I have free will?

Can I choose what to do or what not to do? Or is it in nature that I have to do what I do? Or does a god control what I do? What are some thoughts on this?

Christologist 4 Sep 26

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  1. No.

  2. Yes

  3. Define 'god'

  4. We like to think that we have because we are unable to predict why individuals appear to respond differently to the same stimuli.

@Christologist Nope.

As I said, we like to think we have and thus we have. It's a huge philosophical argument that will be argued about for millennia and will probably never be answered.

And in the grand scheme of things it really is irrelevant and is of no importance to me.


Who told you to ask that question?

@Christologist Then there is your answer


No ,if we did,I would not have answered this question for the 10th time on this site.


There are many thoughts on this. Free will as posited by Christians can not exist as God is said to know the future and thus we are predestined and could not change our decisions if we wanted to.

Some believe that we can not control our thoughts. What color is an apple? Did you think red? Did you have any choice in what came to mind? This is what is being spoken of.

Others believe that if we are cognizant of our brains natural tendencies then we can have an actual influence on how we think subconsciously and thus possible have some free will.

I would recommend the book "Free Will" by Sam Harris.


Free will is most probably an illusion. If indeed it is real, then it is most certainly very limited in its scope.
However, even if determinism is true, it would be madness not to live as though we were free.


For someone fifteen you ask hard questions.


Depends if you're married or not


If there is an Omnicient God and he created man there can be no free will.


I lean towards Compatibilism:

"Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are mutually compatible and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent. Compatibilists believe freedom can be present or absent in situations for reasons that have nothing to do with metaphysics." Wikipedia

I have not made up my mind regarding determinism, it seems to me to be a highly anthropomorphized concept, and a kind of fundamentalism. I tend to think that there is no reason why nature has to be uniform, which is why David Hume questioned the laws of causality.

cava Level 7 Sep 26, 2018

We think we do but we do not. Even from all outward appearances we look like we do but we do not. The option we chose is based on our own individual past experiences, observations, our own unique way of thinking based on all that has affected us since the beginning if our existance. We may calculate our options in our brains giving the impression that we are deciding but we are not. We will feed the information and options into our brain like a computer but ultimately our processing system is only able to come up with that one answer. Sooooo for each of us there is only one decision that we will make each time no matter how many options. It is cause and effect everytime.

@TheAstroChuck I agree that we are consciously our brains, and therefore we can only choose how to exert our "will" in very personally defined ways. All of the individual ways of expressing our wills is what makes things interesting.

@erikgordon Mind Blown ?

@Christologist a Satanic Book of Rituals ???


Unlike most others who have replied I believe we do have free will. I believe I make choices every day....freely and without influence of any other external being. These choices may be influenced by various factors such as consideration of others views or in the case of whether I choose to do certain activities outdoors, the weather could be a factor. I choose whether to obey the laws laid down by society and if I don’t, I know and accept I will suffer the consequences. I could still choose not to obey these laws as some others do, that is their choice and they do so using their free will. I don’t believe anything is predetermined and that our lives take the paths that we choose, our destiny is ours to control and our actions are ours and ours alone. I reject any notion that there is a god controlling anything and believe it is a cop-out to believe that we cannot be blamed for our own wrongdoing. I take ownership for everything I do, good and bad.

While I agree there are no gods nor predetermination, I'm curious to know how you resolve a few pernicious conundra: 1) free of what? 2) why do you want? 3) choice vs. will 4) responsibility and determinism (reminder: not predeterminism).

More detail:

  1. If your "will" (whatever that might be) is part of the material world and not floating in some spiritual world in which it cannot be impinged upon by natural forces, then how can it be free of influence outside of your control? I mean, gravity impinges upon it. Hunger impinges upon it. Judges have been shown to make worse decisions closer to lunch when they are hungry, for instance. Are they "free" of that influence?

  2. You might claim that you can do whatever you want, but then why do you want what you want? You can't control what you want, it just appears to you. You might fight what you want with one part of yourself, but then why does that part of yourself want to fight? Where did that come from? Did you invent that desire ex nihilo? No, that is impossible.

  3. Just because someone makes a selection, a.k.a. a "choice", it doesn't necessarily imply agency. As I've pointed out elsewhere, machines make choices due to programming. And so do we. The concept of will implies agency, but what is agency? Agency is assigning intention to an identity. But what is intention? It is wanting. See #2. Also, what is an identity? It is the description of a person, who is made up of wants, desires, hopes, dreams, a history, and so on. What part of that is under the control of the person? Again, the question is circular, because it's an after-the-fact description.

  4. Determinism simply means that everything which happens must happen according to the rules of physics. It doesn't mean there was a plan, that someone controls it, nor that it is even necessarily knowable in advance (or even after the fact, in the case of subatomic quantum indeterminacy). It only means that after you net everything out in the accounting, nothing else could have actually happened, because it was inevitable. So in order to presume a system outside of that, you have to presume metaphysics or something outside of the physical world. There is no evidence of such a thing. Since there is no evidence of such a thing, then if we add up items 1-3 above, there is nobody and nothing who is responsible for anything. Or, if we want responsibility, we have to acknowledge that it is a construct which we've invented that has little basis in underlying reality. Of course, we have a long history of creating such useful fictions, like money, national borders, etc. But I think it is also useful to take such fictions with a grain of salt, and consider instead using concepts like empathy, compassion, and understanding. Those concepts are more in line with fundamental reality.


If you need to ask the question, then you don't have it.

A choice is made of free will.


You might be able to "freely" do whatever you want (within highly constraining practical limits, of course), but even then you can't control what you want. Where does "what you want" come from? It comes from someplace prior to "you". Actually, since what you want is part of what makes up who you are, that is, the "I" in the original question, that question is poorly formed since it is circular. There isn't even an "I" with a "will" at all; those are just constructs we've made up for our convenience.

Also, when you ask whether you can "choose" and then equate that with the question of "free will", that is ambiguous. A thermostat can "choose" which temperature to set the room, among many possible selections, based of course upon it's externally programmed settings. However, the fact that a selection is made has nothing to do with "will", whether it be free or otherwise. If I say you cannot make any choices, that is patently false. When presented with an apple or an orange, you will select one. The real question is why you selected one or the other. Was it due to pre-progammed settings like the thermostat, or due to something more "free" than that. I would argue that our selections or choices are closer to the thermostat, because everything we "want" is programmed (whether pre-programmed or programmed on the fly), and that very quality of wanting what we want is part of who we are in the first place - which is, of course, something over which we could not have any control. There is no evidence that we existed "before" or "outside" of ourselves like spirit-believers would have us think, so who we are is totally dependent on forces outside our control.

@Christologist Well yes, but it's not "free will", it's completely determined will. The "freedom" is an illusion.


Sam Harris has written extensively on this I recommend you check it out. Free will as people think of it, does not exist.

@Christologist oh that’s almost impossible he is very articulate. Basically the way we feel and who we are is largely determined by events that are out of our control.


I choose to do what I want but I must obey the rules and laws of society or get in trouble.No god in the equation.


Sorry to go against the grain here, but yes, you have free will. There is no god. You can do whatever you want. You may not like the consequences. For those that suggest that you don't have free will...can you commit suicide (yes, all people can stop eating if that's the only way to do it) ? If you can end your life freely, why can't you do whatever else you want? You may be prevented from doing what you want by someone else's free will or some other stumbling block, but using the definition "the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action" yes, we all have that.

lerlo Level 8 Oct 3, 2018

No one has free will.
Our decisions are a product of a vast number of factors, summarized under the labels nature and nurture.
When you are making a decision there is no "free" element involved. You will take the road you deduce to be better, based on what kind of person you are.
Since we change as we grow and experience new things, people fall under the impression we can make different choices at any time. We can't.


We are free to do as we will as long as there are no obstacles. We are not in control of the events and genetics, etc. that determine what our "will" is.


Everyone has free will. But, our choices in acting do tend to restrict the choices available to us as a result. So, for all intents, our free will is limited by the choices we have made.

I guess that is a qualified yes.


No controls you but society and nature do play a role in shaping your will. Is it really "free" when it is constrained? Hmm...


Yes, no, and no. And meanwhile, I'm still working on "INTJ"

@Christologist thank you....just sitting here marvelous it is that even at seventy-five, an ole dummy like me can still learn new have got to lead a trying life...only one bit of strive for perfection is expect perfection is irrational, in yourself, or anyone else....take time to breathe


Biological free will. The way I see free will is that when the brain evolved in animals, it was originally just subconscious reactions. As more functions evolved, there would ultimately be functions that go against one another. That wouldn't be beneficial for survival as a stalemate of the subconscious would mean death in the natural world. Through evolution, a function appeared that allowed for the ability to override subconscious funtions, consciousness. That function is your biological free will, or rather your free will is a function of your consciousness.

So I have a free Willy or is that just the movie?

@Xanadutoo Ah ha, the things we choose to do and say..


even people who believe in gods (and i am not one of those people) generally do not believe that we are just puppets played by a puppetmaster god.

free will is not something anyone can answer convincingly here, or perhaps anywhere. philosophers have been debating this for ages. the more certain a respondent is, the more likely s/he is to be wrong, because the one thing we should all know is that we don't know. "i don't know" is the only appropriate answer here. you can talk about the likelihood of free will, partial free will and destiny (or whatever you want to call it) but no one knows, and anyone who claims to know doesn't understand the question.



I lean toward thinking that our bodies are automatons and that they have no conscious awareness. How can a bunch of particles stuck together have awareness? The idea makes no sense to me, and no one seems able to explain how it could happen. Without conscious awareness obviously there can be no free will. The body/brain makes choices based on instinct, learned behavior, mental analysis, or just randomness. A computerized robot can be made to do the same thing.

Yet we do have both conscious awareness and free will. It is something that we experience continually. If you have direct experience of free will and awareness how can you say it doesn’t exist? Of course it exists. Perhaps it is all that exists.

The question becomes, “What are we?”

@Christologist it’s not a question of belief—no belief is necessary.

Yes, what we know is conscious awareness. All our experiences are framed in awareness. The nature of that awareness is a mystery to me, but I lean toward the idea that it is something shared, and that our sense of self as an individual is an illusion.

@Christologist There is no hard, testable evidence, and there need not be. It is perfectly legitimate to set forth unproven metaphysical ideas for discussion. The way to foster two way discussion is to present your own ideas on the subject in a respectful way. Demanding proof is a conversation killer.

There are various reasons that I like to muse on the concept of universal consciousness. That concept deals neatly with the enigma of personal identity. Also it addresses the seeming impossibility of organisms having conscious awareness and free will. It provides a sort of basis to get a glimmer of insight into ultimate reality beyond the physical world of our senses as defined by the mater/space/time model. Donald Hoffman’s theory of conscious realism delves into that aspect.


Do or do not.

May the Force be with you

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