Is freedom an illusion? Are we controlled by fate and everything preset or can we decide our actions independently?Is freedom an illusion? Are we controlled by fate and everything preset or can we...

Is freedom an illusion? Are we controlled by fate and everything preset or can we decide our actions independently?

Is freedom an illusion? Are we controlled by fate and everything preset or can we decide our actions independently?

Asked on by olsenjr

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

If fate does exist, there is no way to prove it; no way to know with any certainty. What science and psychology can tell us, however, is that our freedom of conscious choice is distinctly influenced by experience and culture.

We are free to choose to pursue a law degree, but what leads us to the conclusion that this is a possibility suited to us, the individual? The choice to enter this program is a free and conscious one, but how did we get to the point of this decision? History, personal and social, both play a large role in brining the moment of decision into being. 

This is not exactly determinism, but the example attempts rather to show how a situation of free choice/free will can be posed as a conditional situation. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There is no way to answer this question with any kind of tangible proof.  Philosophers have differed on this question, but none of them have any way of actually proving they are right.

To me, we do have free will simply because we feel like we do.  It is up to me, for example, whether I walk my daughter to school in half an hour or whether I say that it is too cold and I drive her.  I do not feel any compulsion one way or the other.  I am unable to tell you right now which I will do.

That being the case, I at least feel as if I have free will.  If I feel that way, then it seems logical to me to assert that I actually do have free will.

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