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Oxford dictionary definition: The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate;
the ability to act at one's own discretion.
Religious implications: Individual will can coexist with the a deity that possesses unlimited
power (omnipotent divinity).
Legal implications: The idea of free will forms the basis of the human rights, hence it has an
impact on punishment and rehabilitation.
Ethical implications: It questions moral accountability (conscious / subconscious)
Scientific implications: Neuroscience research, pertaining to free will, (into activity within the
nervous system) could generate new ways to anticipate human actions.
Problems: Free will is incompatible with Psychology's status as a science. Science assumes
cause and effect.
Benefits: it encourages responsibility and allows us to have control over our lives.
There are 3 common types.
Causal determinism, which contains nomological (scientific) determinism as a sub group.
Everything happens as a result of previous conditions, it is impossible for anything else to
occur within the circumstances.
Logical determinism: All propositions can be designated a true or false value regardless of their
context (past, present or future). Future actions already determined, hence free will can be
Theological determinism:A deity determines the future, knowing the outcome in advance,
eradicating the ability to make choices without constraint. Similar to Pre destination theory.
Problems: Determinism is controversial. For instance, if aggression is deterministic,
does this mean that aggressive people are not responsible for their own actions?
Taking a deterministic stance on life is not good for you. When an individual feels
that they have no control over their lives they are shown to feel more stress.
Clearly human beings are very complicated and it is unlikely that there is one
determining factor controlling behaviour. Our behaviour is likely to be controlled by a
complex relationship between many variables making isolating one variable in a study
The determining factors in a study, where people know their behaviour is being
investigated, are likely to be different from real life determining factors. People's
behaviour in a laboratory, for instance, is often unnatural and affected by the strange
Free will / determinism spectrum
The opposing idea to free will is determinism.
These are some of the main stances taken on the free will / determinism debate.
Free will Vs Determinism.
Incompatibilists: Must believe in determinism or free will there is no overlap.
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Compatibilism: Determinism is true and free will is also true.(Metaphysical)
libertarianism:Determinism is false and free will is possible.
Hard determinism: Determinism is true, free will is impossible.
Hard incompatibilism: Determinism is false and free will is impossible.…read more