May 17, 2019 in Analysis

Introduction

Free will is one of the most discussed abstract ideas. The persistence of the concept is related to the fact that most of people feel free to think and act, even if it is not explained in logical or philosophical terms. Hence, the idea of ??free will is based on the sensory experience. However, it is easy to ignore the psychological truth when people start talking about philosophy. Philosophical literature provides three ground approaches to the issue: determinism, libertarianism, and compatibilism. Determinism studies the fact that if the core causes of human’s behavior are determined, freedom of will is an illusion. However, libertarianism accepts the concept of free will and is considered as the mainstream of indeterminism. Supporters of determinism believe that people live in the world, where libertarians imagine that human action can magically affect the physical conditions. However, libertarians refer to a non-physical entity, such as a soul as the engine of person’s free act of will. Compatibilism, however, claims that determinists and libertarians are both wrong, and free will is compatible with the truth of determinism (Feltz & Cokely, 2008). Thus, all three concepts address the mechanisms of human’s decision-making. However, only libertarianism considers a man as a primary reason for all events with an inherent free will.

Determinism as the Concept of Distinctness and Destiny of Events

The concept of determinism states that the physical, behavioral, and mental events are not random but occur due to the action of specific causal factors. Philosophy considers determinism as an element of necessity. It means that all things in the world should occur in such way as they come into force under impact of the chain of prior causes before the agent has been born (Koons, 2002). Such idea is central to science, which asserts that if we have been aware of all the factors concerning the certain event, its advent could be accurately predicted. Conversely, if an occasion occurs, it is inevitable. Every event in the universe is determined, and will always be determined by the laws of nature, which can be set or explored by means of scientific methods. Determinism contains the following directions, according to scopes of application: behavioral, casual, cognitive, biological, historical, logical, and others (Doyl, 2011).

The scientists widely discuss the interconnection between determinism and human behavior. Some of them view life as a deterministic process and usually believe in the inevitability of the distinct line of conduct. Freedom of choice is presupposed in accordance to experience (Ogletree & Oberle, 2008). For example, if everything is known about a particular person, its actions could be easily predicted. Other scientists talk about personal freedom and individual responsibility at the level of common sense (Chaffee, 2012). Thus, the opposite concept of indeterminism, which includes libertarianism, is determined. The purest example of indeterminism is the belief in free will, according to which all responsibility for the conscious behavior lies on an individual.

Among the positive aspects of the current concept, the certain sequence of events and the probability of human actions’ prediction can be identified. Determinism protects natural order and eliminates the personal factor, which is always unpredictable (Brincker, 2015). However, the theory has such weakness as fatalism. Determinists reject personal responsibility for existence, relying solely on the natural course of events. It is characteristic of such religion as Buddhism. From my point of view, any attempts to treat life as previously created program deprives it of spirituality and special meaning. Such approach leads to the conclusion that individual should simply wait for the end of his life, without trying to influence anything. Thus, determinism deprives life of deeper meaning.

From a scientific point of view, the feasibility of the theory can be explained by the fact that the data sources should always be accurate to forecast the exact course of events. Accordingly to chaos theory, systems, which are taken as a basis, could provide unpredictable failures. Thus, if a person relies solely on the previous data, a result may disappoint by its inaccuracy (Bricmont, n.d.).

In the long historical dispute between determinists and indeterminists, psychologists occupied different positions. Successive behaviorists tend to support unconditional determinism, while adherents of existentialism support indeterminism. However, contrary to logic, the most of psychologists combine the elements of both approaches in their practice. They pay tribute to determinism as a necessary element of the scientific method that, however, does not prevent them from acting from the position of indeterminism. Such dualistic approach is one of the ways to find a reasonable balance in life separated from the theories.

Compatibilism as the Attempt to Protect Free Will

Compatibilism argues that determinism is compatible with free will. However, it could be more accurate to say that compatibilism supposes that free will coexists with determinism. In contrast to libertarianism, which proclaims the dominance of free will, ignoring the importance of previous experience, or determinism, which eliminates the personal choice, compatibilism tries to find compromises between the two positions (Nichols, 2007).

From the standpoint of compatibilism, freedom can be manifested or be absent for reasons not related to metaphysics. For example, the court assesses if a person has acted according to its will without involvement of metaphysics. Likewise, political freedom is not a metaphysical concept. In contrast, compatibilism defines freedom as the latitude of the will to act in accordance with personal motives without the interference of others. However, the position of incompatibilism is manifested in accordance to a metaphysical free will.

American scientists Nichols and Knobe determine free will as folk intuitions. They maintained in-depth explorations and proved that many people make decisions accordingly to the following variables: the concreteness or abstractness of the scenario and the emotional content of the scenario (Feltz & Cokely, 2008). Studying an abstract situation, people supported the idea of full personal responsibility. However, when they were considering a modeled situation in the determined universe, the respondents hesitated in making decisions. The high level of emotional context has made them take the compatibilism positions, and the low emotionality released respondents from the individual responsibility. The experiment has proved the importance of human emotional factor. Moreover, it is mentioned that there is no single set of folk intuitions regarding free will and moral responsibility (Feltz & Cokely, 2008). For such reason, compatibilism claims that the truth of determinism is not more significant than the will of a man as the result of his desires that are not determined by the external conditions.

The strengths of compatibilism include the fact that its representatives try to find a balance between the rational and irrational factors in the decision-making process. Moreover, it considers the most of human actions as the free will manifestations, just because a person acts (Haslanger, 2005). The concept does not exclude the significant role of free will but, bypassing the higher intelligence impact, opposes to it with internal human feelings and desires. However, the duality towards the role of external determinants causes a weakness of the theory. Compatibilism is not limited to the analysis of the environment and circumstances. The decision-making process grounds on the free will of a man and depends on his reaction to circumstances. Thus, a person does not act in opposite to its desires. However, the desires are shaped by the situation, or in spite of it. In any case, the idea of free will is not perfect due to the fact that it depends to some extent on the objective (external) factors.

Libertarianism as the Concept that Deals with Free Will only

Metaphysical libertarianism is one of the philosophical positions of incompatibilism. Its supporters believe that the individual can choose a way of behavior from several possible actions according to free will. Moreover, libertarianists believe that the moral responsibility is entirely dependent on a man. Thus, he is the measure of his actions and their consequences (Baker, 2006). Libertarianism is divided into physical and non-physical or natural theories. The non-physical theory states that the processes occurring in the brain lead to actions that are not confined to the physical explanations. Such dualistic interactionism assumes that non-physical mind or soul affects the physical causes. Such metaphysical libertarianists as William Ockham and Thomas Reid believe that the existence of non-physical agent, which is responsible for the independent actions, cannot be detected by using empirical or philosophical methods, since otherwise it would entail a paradox (Rowe, 1991). Thus, the evidence would lead to the conclusion damaging the necessary freedom.

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Eminent philosopher of our time, Kane, formulated the theory of the Self-Forming Actions (SFAs), which explains the essence of the formation of independent decisions in the framework of quantum theory (Doyl, 2011). It is based on individual’s awareness of the liability and the need for protection of the moral beliefs that underlie decision-making. Thus, a person chooses one of the numerous options and is consciously responsible for it.

A weakness of libertarianism is its excessive detachment from the environment. A man lives in the society and remains in constant interaction with the outside world. Therefore, his actions cannot be completely separated from reality, which affects the formation of character, personal worldview, and beliefs. However, the strength of such concept can be considered as an approach to the person as a unique being, who influences the life and makes decisions that not only reflect past experiences (determinism) or internal feelings (compatibilism) but determine the course of current and future events and create reality.

The Personal Evaluation and Support of Libertarianism

I believe that libertarianism forms the basis of man’s free will and determine behavior to a greater extent than other discussed theories. If a person’s behavior can be calculated, according to the concept of determinism, and it is predetermined or mechanistic in some cases, then people principally cannot possess free will. I believe that the behavior of a man cannot always be explained from the logical point of view. Some deeds are committed under the influence of the higher factor that the theory of idealism protects. Our world is not entirely material. I suppose that the soul of the world, which can be identified as God by different beliefs, exists. The laws of most societies and the dogmas of numerous religions, especially Judaism and Christianity, are based on the idea of personal responsibility. The consequences of actions in the form of punishment in this world or another one are treated from the standpoint of morality and individual behavior.

I question the fact that the freedom of action is limited by conscious behavior only. If it was true, our actions had to be committed under the influence of logic that is inherent in the brain. The brain is responsible for making conscious decisions. However, our deeds cannot be always analyzed by logic. Sometimes, we act a certain way not because it is convenient but simply because we want to do so, listening to inner spontaneous sensations. Furthermore, I agree that a man is the primary cause of his actions. A person must be a reason for its choice and be responsible for the outcomes. It is understood that there is no prior or previous reason for a choice. Thus, if free will exists, a man is the primary cause of his actions. If determinism is true, any personal choice is caused by the events that are beyond the control of people. However, such argument is disputed even by compatibilists.

I consider that libertarianism is the single concept that deals with the pure free will. The classical determinist denies it; however, compatibilism ties free will with the inner desires, which, in its turn, depend on external variables. Libertarians deny surrounding factors and focus on the inherent right of a person to act considering its emotions and will.

Conclusion

The discussed concepts are equally applicable to the dispute of free will and human behavior. They are both contradictory and complementary to each other. Determinism considers the behavior of a person as a result of previous experience. Any event and human’s actions can be predicted, if the accurate data is available. Determinists negate free will and call it an illusion. However, libertarians argue that free will exists, and there is no determinism. They believe that a person acts considering its wishes based on moral convictions and a sense of personal responsibility. The theory also observes the role of God (or superior forces) in human’s decision-making process. Thus, a man is a primary cause of all actions and their consequences. Classic determinism and libertarianism are diametrically opposite theories, which relate to incompatibilism. The third theory, compatibilism, explores the relationship between free will and postulates of determinism, observing agents of individual feelings and desires. According to my position, libertarianism is the only theory that studies the free will without any external influence on a person. It proves that the actions of individuals are not pre-programmed and every decision can significantly impact reality.

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