I’m sure, by now, most of you have heard the debate of Determinism and Free Will. Well, what is determinism? It states that all our actions are pre-determined by external forces instead of our will and some philosphers have gone on to say that this means we have no free will and should not be held responsible for our actions. Do we have free will?
I don’t think this is a testable concept by science and is rather a metaphysical one. Well, are our actions predetermined by external forces? I would say, to a great extent, yes. Certainly for major decisions, we weigh a lot of factors based on our life experiences and would only come to one possible choice in that matter. And I think if we were presented with the same situation again at another time we would come to the same decision again, giving us the idea that we have no choices to choose from and so our action is predetermined. Does this mean we are robots with no free will? I would say no.
For example, by asking myself the hypothetical question, of whether, given the opporturnity to kill a man for a huge amount of money and at no risk of being caught either then or later, I would always choose no, no matter what. This is because of my morals learned in life and way I see myself. But given the option of killing an innocent man to save my family, I am not so sure what my choice would be. It would be decided at the moment. Most likely I would say I kill him (because I love my family) but not before weighing the options of the worth of the man to me, what I would think of myself after, how my family would see me after etc. This is one situation where I would weigh the options carefully before making my choice, given the time. I might instead choose to turn the gun on myself. Determinists would say no matter what choice I made, it would be only one I would have made given the same chance each time. Ofcourse, they have no way to prove this….
And what about completely random decisions that have no effect on our life? We CAN prove this. Pick three random numbers. Do it again. Did you come up with the same set? I doubt it. Ofcourse, then we are not really weighing any options. A better example might be: You see a packet of nachos in the store on your way to visit a friend. Do you decide to buy a packet to share with him or not? Hard to tell. Given the same set of factors(enough money in my pocket, friend who likes nachos) I don’t know what I would choose. I also think creativity and imagination are good indicators of free will. In the end, when factors control our final choice, the point is that we ARE weighing potential choices and making one in the end. We can’t make 2 after all. It is not a preset option in our brain.