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Is My Future Really Mine?: A Study of Free Will

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Victoria Miller

Intro to Philosophy


8 July 2016

Is My Future Really Mine?: A Study of Free Will

        Most people believe in either fate or free will. How are our futures propelled? Philosophers like Baron d’Holbach believe that humans’ futures are completely determined by a supreme being. Philosophers like Sartre believe in complete free will. Then there are philosophers like Stace and Bender that believe these ideas can coexist. Everyone has a future but the real question is who is in control of it.

Baron d’Holbach argued that, since humans are a part of nature and free will is absent in the “behavior of matter”, there is no free will in humans or nature. In “I Am Determined”, d’Holbach describes two situations to show fate. In one case, a man is pushed out a window and, in the second case, the throws himself out the window. The end result is still the same even though the circumstances that lead to it are different. D’Holbach’s theory of determinism states that humans do not have free will because everything that happens in the universe is determined by preceding actions. Since free will is the ability to decide whether or not do something, d’Holbach argues that it cannot exist because everything is determined. D’ Holbach stated that “… life is a line that nature commands him to describe upon the surface of the earth, without his ever being able to swerve from it, even for an instant” (98). D’Holbach explains that the belief that humans have free will is illusory and is bred out of ignorance.

However, not all philosophers agreed with d’Holbach. Jean-Paul Sartre argued for the libertarianism viewpoint. This theory argues that not all decisions are caused. Since all decisions are not caused, human actions are able to have possibilities. The ability to choose between these possibilities is free will. Sartre discusses how it is not easy to have free will. There are infinite amount of choices each with a different path. Free will is a huge burden and a large responsibility. Another viewpoint different from both determinism and libertarianism is compatibilism.  Compatibilistic theorists , like Stace and Bender, argue that actions can be done in free will in a deterministic universe. They say that being “uncaused” is not part of the definition of free will. They say that being able to act freely supports the idea of morality. Compatibilist state that responsibility is destabilized by uncaused acts because there is no will choose between actions. I believe in compatibilism. The idea that although the universe has order I am still free to make my own choices is comforting. It confirms the Christian teachings I have been taught my whole life and shows the responsibility in being able to make my own choices.

Free will gives humans the options to choose between good and evil. But why would a perfect God give us the option of evil? The problem of evil is a way to argue against the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, good God. If God was good, would it not behoove him to make a world that is all good. If God was all-powerful, couldn’t He prevent evil in the world? If God is all-knowing, wouldn’t He notice if evil was stirring in His perfect world. Since there is evil, there can be no omnipotent, omniscient, perfect God. An example of this theory is cancer. If God was good, why would he make cancer? If God was all-knowing, would he not see cancer growing and killing good people? If God was all-powerful, could he not rid the world of killing diseases like cancer? Since cancer is still killing good people, there can be no omnipotent, omniscient, perfect God.

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