Do We Have Free Will?

Robert H. Kroepel
Copyright  © 2001
Do we have free will?

What is free will?

The freedom to do anything we want?

Or the freedom to choose what we want?

The human mind is an individual's personal system of desires, fears and priorities.

Desire = Wanting a person/thing/event.
[NOTE: Evidence of a desire = Approach Behavior.]

Fear = Not-wanting a person/thing/event.
[NOTE: Evidence of a fear = Avoidance Behavior.]

Desires and fears are interrelated by being opposites. The opposite of the desire to live is the fear of dying (or of being dead).

Priority = The importance of each desire/fear compared to all other desires/fears.
[NOTE: Evidence of a priority = Choosing to achieve a desire or avoid a fear when other choices inre achieving other desires or avoiding other fears are available.]

The concept of free will may be misleading.

If we are comprised of atoms/molecules/etc. which have limitations we might not have free will but instead have predetermination. If we are predetermined, we become predictable. If you know my desires/fears/priorities, my current state of mind/body, and my environmental and mental options/choices/alternatives, then you might have an excellent chance of predicting what I will do in the next few minutes.

What might be a better phrase to use/consider than free will is freedom to make a choice/freedom to choose.

If we have our limitations we may not have free will but nevertheless could have freedom to choose.

That freedom to choose means not having someone/something else dictate what my choices should be/have to be/must be/ought to be/etc.

If I have the following food priorities -

1. New England Style Fried Clams—fried in the stuff that will kill you, not the vegetable oil that kills the taste.
2. Lobster.
3. Steak.
4. Cheeseburgers.

— and I am hungry, then I may not have the free will I think I have when I choose fried clams, but what IS important is that I have the freedom to make the choice/freedom to chose and can therefore choose the fried clams.

The essence herein is the establishment of priorities. Once I have priorities I am limited in what I will choose. Priorities determine decisions. I cannot make decisions unless either I have priorities or I can find priorities among the choices I may have for alternative solutions to a problem. Once I have/find priorities among alternative solutions, I can make decisions, but the decisions are somewhat predetermined by the priorities. Who among us would intentionally choose a lesser priority alternative solution?

To a great extent, at least, we are our desires/fears/priorities, and once we have established our desires/fears/priorities, we become predictable, as if we have less free will, but even with less free will we would continue to have the freedom to choose.