Introduction to Philosophy 

Is free will an illusion or not? It is perhaps one of the philosophy's best-known claims. Every philosopher has his own opinions on this, making it a historic argument. When it comes to the debate of free will, the views of other scholars are split, some say it is an illusion and some say it is not. This paper argues that it is not an illusion.

First of all, free will, as defined by Psychology Today, is the ability to consciously make decisions that are not determined by our brain's physics and biology (O’Connor, 2018). It's the idea that people can choose how they act and assume they are free to choose their behaviour.

Concerning free will, without discussing such terms one cannot simply leave out determinism and pre-determinism. Determinism could be described as a philosophical concept that any situation or turn of events, along with any human decision and behaviour, is an unavoidable and essential outcome of the prior turn of events. Pre-determinism expresses the belief that both the history and the future were predetermined at the beginning of the universe. Saint Augustine did not deny that man had free will, but he strongly believed that everything had been predetermined by God beforehand. God already has therefore planned how we will function according to Saint Augustine (Augustine, 1991). Philosophers like Descartes and Spinoza, whereas, do not accept that man has any free will at all. According to them, God is in charge of the entire world, including our experiences, and it is assumed by them that God has predestined the future of each and everyone beforehand. In simple words, philosophers believe that man has no free will, and according to them, free will is an illusion (Pereboom, 1994). Particularly Spinoza believes that people do not control anything that happens in their bodies, neither people decide on how to think. Thus, man does not even have a free soul. Saint Thomas Aquinas claims that man is made of free will. Unlike philosophers such as Spinoza and St. Augustine believes, he thought that man had free choices to choose from.

The most extreme statement is that free will is not only metaphysically lacking but unlikely possible. This claim has been more strongly linked in recent decades by Galen

Strawson (2015). Strawson identifies free will to be, in the end, legally accountable for one's behaviour. He claims that psychologically speaking, as to how one behaves is a product of, or demonstrated by, who one is. The free option allows for an unlikely infinite sequence of options to be the way you make decisions.

There have been several reactions to Strawson's claim. Mele claims that Strawson misrepresents the locus of liberty and obligation (Oshana, 2006). Liberty is mainly a characteristic of our acts and only resultant of our personalities from which these activities derive. The theorist's job is to explain how one is in logical and reflective charge of the decisions that one produces, along with the idea that there are no circumstances that preclude independence. Although this sounds correct, while considering certain concepts that allow one's free will to exist explicitly in the causal potency of one's motives, such as compatibilist reason-responsive accounts or incident-causal libertarianism, it is not beside the point of reflecting about how one came to be that way in the first place and wondering whether these reflections will lead people to believe the true accountability (McKenna, 2019). Clarke (2003) claims that in-deterministic, and nondeterministic agent-causal theorists, in particular, should have an important responsibility. Similar theories claim that the facets of who one is, psychologically speaking, thoroughly describe the decision of an agent without causally establishing it, and the agent himself triggers the decision produced, so that the antecedent condition of the agent, though describing the behavior, is not the complete causal source.

Another set of theories against free will claim that nondeterministic hypotheses of independence in one manner or another imply either that agents lose the influence of their decisions, or that preferences cannot be properly clarified. Such claims are called the claims of the brain, rollback, or statements of luck, with several variations being accepted by the theorists. Coffman (2015) identifies imaginary scenarios — individual scenarios, or comparisons of intra- or inter-world parallel referential situations accompanied by divergent outcomes — designed to give rise to the conclusion that the existence of a decision that remained unsettled owing to all intervening causal variables can only be a matter of chance, natural, or fate. These definitions have been borrowed from other sources and have become embedded in such debates as pseudo-technical, unexamined principles, and it is, therefore, more beneficial to remove these metaphors and specifically pursue the debates in definitions of the philosophical essence of power and the epistemological essence of clarification.

It's always been popular for scholars to claim that there is scientific evidence to assume that the universe is causally defined in general and because human beings are members of the environment, they are too (Rosenberg, 2018). Many considered this to be firmly validated by the phenomenal popularity of the system for Isaac Newton's view of the cosmos as ruled by relatively clear, exceptional laws of motion. In comparison, the psychological, behavioral, and medical sciences are often riddled with pure generalizations of statistics revolving around a man’s free will. The jury is plainly out on each of these inter-theoretical subjects. But this is only a way of suggesting this modern research does not accept unequivocally the notion that everything we do is decided by the past, and inevitably by the remote past, completely out of our influence.

So maybe people are exposed to countless causal factors, but the complete amount of these causes doesn't decide what we're doing, they only make it more or less probable they are going to do something related to the choices present to them. Perhaps some of the above no-free-will claims focus on non-deterministic hypotheses that there are empirical referent variables correlated with each potential result of the decision. Compatibilism proposes a remedy to the question of free will and has to do with a debated incompatibility between free will and determinism. Compatibilism is the concept that determinism is consistent with free will. Since free will is usually taken as an essential prerequisite of moral responsibility, often it is articulated as an argument on the consistency of moral responsibility and determinism (McKenna, 2019).

Apart from philosophers, scientists have also proven that free will is an illusion developed by human brains. Human beings have the preconceived notion that throughout their lives they make informed decisions. But then it could be that once the decision is taken, the brain convinces itself that it has made a valid choice between the available choices. The theory was checked by tricking the participants into thinking they had decided before they could consider the implications of the option. Participants were led to assume in the study that they had reached a choice through free will – as though it was unlikely. Nearly 20 years ago psychologists Dan Wegner and Thalia Wheatley set forward in a paper the theory that human beings deceive themselves into believing in free will (Wegner, 2004). They indicated that the feelings of desiring to do something were present, but there is no link between the feeling and performing it in reality.

The current research draws on the analysis and suggests as it makes its decisions, the brain rewrites memory, altering our perceptions until we think we chose to do it when it occurred. The principle of free will could have emerged as a good thing to have, which offers individuals a sense of power over their life and enables people to be disciplined or punished for their wrong or immoral actions. But the same feeling could go awry, the scientists wrote in the journal, Scientific American. For example, it can be necessary for people to believe they are in charge of their lives, but distortions in the same mechanism can cause people to believe they are in charge of external factors such as the environment. Since it has been developed that the vision of libertarianism cannot occur, the deterministic path will now be explored in greater detail. Thus, it is stated that free-will is an illusion, to believe it implies something is determined; either by a metaphysical, social, behavioral, or environmental process (Blatchford, 1972).

Thus the above discussion proves that free will is an illusion and is not free, it is ruled by the hereditary and the environment. A man acts according to what he has been taught in his life and what he considers right and wrong based on the learnings that he has received. A man is free to act as he chooses, however, from where does that thinking come, it comes from the perception that he has created because of the learning received. Hence, it is answered that there is no such thing as free will, it is a choice that a person makes because of his learnings.

References for Introduction to Philosophy

Augustine, S. (1991). The Trinity (Vol. 5). Unites States: New City Press.

Blatchford, R. (1972). The Delusion of Free Will. New York: The Macmillan Company

Clarke, R. (2003). Libertarian accounts of free will. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Coffman, C. K. (2015). Modern Challenges to Past Philosophy: Arguments and Responses. The Catholic Library World, 85(4), 280.

McKenna, M. (2019). Compatibilism. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

O’Connor, T. (2018). Free will. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/#FreeWillMoraResp

Oshana, M. (2006). Personal autonomy in society. United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Pereboom, D. (1994). Stoic psychotherapy in Descartes and Spinoza. Faith and Philosophy, 11(4), 592-625.

Rosenberg, A. (2018). Philosophy of social science. Australia: Routledge.

Strawson, G. (2015). The impossibility of ultimate responsibility?.Philosophy of Action: An Anthology, 40, 373.

Wegner, D. M. (2004). Précis of the illusion of conscious will. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27(5), 649-659.

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