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Free Will vs. Determinism

I have to post a detailed outline with notes for my final project presentation. The topic is "Do people really have free will." I don't know where to start could you please assist me with this. Thank you in advance.

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Please see response below, as well as one supporting article attached. I also attached two illustrative examples for ideas. I hope this helps and take care.


In making an outline, consider the following:

1. Probably the most important thing to do in this debate is to define what you mean by "free will". Do this in a manner, which is fair to both sides of the debate. Part of what will make for a good definition is that it explains why this is an issue that people care about.

E.g. As with any philosophical debate, we must be clear on our terms here. The first definition of 'will' from reads "The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action: championed freedom of will against a doctrine of predetermination." The first two definitions of 'free' from are "Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty" and "Not controlled by obligation or the will of another: felt free to go." Hopefully by keeping these definitions in mind we will form a clearer picture of what it is that we're talking about when we say we have free will. Nonetheless we will try to cover all reasonable suggested meanings.

2. Also, make sure that you clarify how your team's position on free will relates to the theory/doctrine of determinism.

E.g. Some arguments are:

1. Determinism is false, so we have free will.
2. Compatibilism is true, so we have free will.
3. Compatibilism is false and determinism is true, so there is no free will.
4. Compatibilism may be true but determinism is false because events are fully random, and this prevents free will.

3. Finally, as always, make sure that you clearly identify the assumptions of your arguments and their logical structure.

E.g. Please refer to the illustrative examples attached as Debate 7 and 6 for assumptions of arguments to consider.

Your tentative outline might look something to the effect:

I. Introduction (e.g., introduce topic of free will debate)
II. Free will definition
a. Doctrine of Determinism
· Argument (e.g., fatalism, necessitarian, determinists)
b. Doctrine of Free will
· Argument (e.g. Libertarians, indeterminists or anti-determinists; ethical arguments and psychological arguments)
· Proof

III. Conclusion

Now let's look at some information for the outline above arguing that there really is free will.

This is an ongoing debate. Some argue that people really do have free will (libertarians, indeterminism and anti-determinism using ethical and psychological arguments). It is sometimes referred to as self-determinism, meaning that our actions are determined by our own choices through free will. Motives are not sufficient to determine actions; hence there is free will.

Conversely, others argue that people do not really have free will (determinism, fatalism, or necessity arguments). In other words, our actions are not a product of our own free will, but rather determined by some external forces, such as environmental or spiritual determinant, such as God. For example, Calvin argued predestination, meaning that God predestines us to behave in a certain way; so then no human act is free. Another example of a deterministic model is behavioral in psychology, which argue that we are born an empty slate and the environment determine our behavior.

The question of free will ranks amongst the three or four most important philosophical problems of all time. The view one takes will determine an individual's position in regard to all issues that present themselves to the human mind. On the one hand, does individual possess genuine moral freedom, power of real choice, true ability to determine the course of his thoughts and volitions, to decide which motives shall prevail within his mind, to modify and mold his own character? Or, on the other, are man's thoughts and volitions, his character and external actions, all merely the inevitable outcome of his circumstances? Are they all inexorably predetermined in every detail along rigid lines by events of the past, over which he himself has had no sort of control? This is the real import of the free-will problem.

From another source:

The question of free will may be stated thus. "Given all the conditions requisite for eliciting an act of will except the act itself, does the act necessarily follow?" Or, "Are all my volitions the inevitable outcome of my character and the motives acting on me at the time?" Fatalists, necessarians, determinists say, "Yes". Libertarians, indeterminists or anti-determinists say "No. ...

Solution Summary

This solution explores the notion that if people have "free will."