Philosophy 113 - 6.4 Free Will

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define free will.
  • Explain how determinism, libertarianism, and compatibilism are different.

Though the presence of evil in the world suggests that we have free will, the idea of a first mover or an all-powerful divine being challenges the idea that we might have free will in the material world. Throughout most of our experiences, it seems as if we are free. When we complete a task, we seem very capable of marking this experience as different from being free. But what if the sensation of freedom does not demonstrate the presence of freedom?

Amusement parks often have rides that consist of a car on a track that has safety features forcing the car to stay within predetermined paths. In most cases, there is an accelerator, a brake, and a steering wheel. Some rides have strategically placed rubber boundaries guiding the vehicle, while others have a steel post hidden underneath the car that guides the car by means of a predetermined tract. While “driving” the car, the young driver feels free to choose the direction. As vivid as the experience for the driver may be, the thrill and phenomenon does not prove the presence or existence of freedom! Similarly, does the feeling of being free demonstrate the presence of freedom in our actions?

This lesson has no exercises.

The content of this course has been taken from the free Philosophy textbook by Openstax