Can some one basically summarize the arguments FOR and AGAINST free will, and summarize the POSITIONS of those FOR and AGAINST free will? Thanks!
Hi Diogenes phil,
The direct answer to your question, "does free will exist?" is no.
"Free will," unfortunately is a concept with roots firmly in theology from where it found its way into philosophy along with much confusion. One version of determinism comes from theology (predestination, for example).
The better term for human choice is, "volition," which means, all human behavior which is strictly human behavior (excluding reflexes, the autonomic nervous system, and biological functions) must be consciously chosen--every thought, every choice, and every overt action.
Those who deny human beings are volitional fall into one of three categories according to what they believe determines human behavior:
Supernatural determinism--God or some other supernatural agency determines everything, including human behavior;
Physicalist determinism--everything is physical and all physical behavior is determined by the laws of the physical sciences. Physicalists believe that the physical brain is the source of consciousness, and since the brain conforms to physical laws all the behavior of the brain must be determined by physical laws. Some are consistent enough to admit that all we believe we think, choose, and do consciously is an illusion.
Biological/environmental determinism--is not strict determinism but does believe that some degree of human behavior is determined by an individual's hereditary characteristics, environment influences (from birth to culture to society) or other physical causes.
The view that human beings are volitional beings required by their nature to consciously choose everything they think, choose, and do rejects all forms of determinism. As a consequence the strict volitionist view means that every human being is responsible for every aspect of his life because it is consciously chosen.
I personally believe human beings are volitional beings.