Yes, Free Will Exists - Scientific American Blog Network

Definition – Free will = the mental capacity to make choices, even if the freedom to do so is not available.

Professor,

I like the definition you gave of free will. The mental capacity to make choices even if the freedom to choose is unavailable. I think that is a clever definition. Those few words can inspire a long in-depth discussion. I imagine myself in a circumstance where there is no situation to decide anything. It is a challenging mental exercise because I cannot help but make cognitive decisions as long as I can think. So, your definition implies to me that the “mental capacity to make decisions” is an innate faculty within all people for us to use to make decisions. In other words, “the will.” The will then is an innate faculty within all humans used to make decisions. Now, if the will always have the mental capacity to make decisions regardless of freedom to do so, then at what point is it ever truly constrained. If nothing can stop the thinking process, then nothing can stop cognitive decisions. If nothing can stop cognitive decisions, then the will is always free; therefore, it seems irrelevant to call the will free since the will has always been free by default. However, even in that sense, the will may not exist as naturally free as some think.

Considering the argument for and against free will, the exact chemical makeup of our brains and how we exist as conscience is uncertain. What is more certain is that we make choices. Many people are determined to use the word free with the word will, but why? Is it difficult to think of natural attributes of the will as merely the will? For example, I can claim I have a will. I do not necessarily have to state; I have a free will. Regardless of opportunities, limitations, oppression, or violent oppression, the will is still free to decide so long as there is mental capacity. So long as mental capacity exists, then the will is naturally free. If we take the position that the will is at times not free because of circumstantial limitations, we have to accept that the will is universally in bondage because there is never a full measure of decisional freedom in anyone’s life. Absolute freedom of the will only makes sense if there exists a full measure of life with no decisional constraints; this has never been the case for anyone and never will; therefore, free will, as most people claim it, does not exist; there exists only “the will.”

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