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Last edited by The_Last_Melon; 17-05-2013 at 15:54.
- 17-05-2013 15:45
- 19-05-2013 20:55
Is Free Will Real?
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe in fate. However, there is considerable doubt as to whether the usual concept of free will is viable. I for one do not think we exercise complete conscious control over our actions, and that our reactions are pre-determined by genetics, other biological factors, and our environment (i.e. the factors which determine how our personality develops).
If you ever regret your actions, and think you should have done differently, then something has gone wrong with your logic. You simply could not have thought any differently at the time – unless the environmental factors were different, or your neurons were fired differently. Do you see where I’m coming from yet? We cannot consciously control our brain’s biological actions – we cannot ask our brain for more dopamine (imagine how great it would be if we could!). This means that all the events leading up to the event in question, mixed with your personality, determines your reaction before you have even thought about it. There is also evidence that you have already made decisions before you consciously think you have made them, and that your unconscious brain is better at making decisions than your conscious brain (“Conscious thought is considered to lead to good choices. However, because of its low capacity to process multiple factors, it actually leads to worse choices on issues that are more complex”).
Let’s take an example of someone with schizophrenia. Exactly how much control did they have over their eventual development of their illness? Considering that schizophrenia is caused by both genetic and environmental factors when growing up, the idea that the patient had some kind of choice about this seems preposterous.
Once the illness had fully developed, how much control did they have over their actions? Let’s rewind – they had no choice about developing the illness, and no choice over how their personality developed. Their actions are determined by their personality. Therefore, the person has no real choice over their actions. They could not have chosen any differently, because their personality prevented them from doing so at the time.
Just some food for thought! Next time you regret your actions, remember – there’s no point. Also, if someone wrongs you, consider if they really had a choice over their actions. I’m not condoning immoral/illegal behaviour of any kind; I’m just suggesting it may not be as black and white as it seems prima facie.