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On Free Will and Determinism

I find that most people don’t have coherent definitions of free will or determinism. Due to this fact, debates on the topic end up resulting in people speaking passed one another.

People who believe in free will tend to define it as … humans have choices that are inspired from their individuality that they are responsible for.

Determinists can be more complex. Some are modest and define it as, all things have causes and lead from previous events. Others are fatalists and negate the concept of human choice, individuality and responsibility.

While some people could say I fit into both camps, I probably fit into the more modest idea of determinist, however, I fully support the subtext behind people who believe in free will. That doesn’t make me a compatiblist. I have decided that a different term fits what I believe better.

I believe in causalism. All things have a cause. Choices aren’t willed into existence, but rather choices are a reaction of how our mind and individual being interacts within the world. You didn’t choose your spouse because you willed it, you chose your spouse because you liked them. You like your spouse because of complex causes that are inside and external to your mind. When a cause is inside your brain, we call it a choice, and that is an accurate term.

Your mind is your mind. Your consciousness is a product of evolution and the environment. You are you and there is no illusion of consciousness. However, the fact that there are causes inside your brain doesn’t negate the fact that those causes can be traced back to natural/physical phenomenon.

Evolution created a complex computer that is you. The consciousness/executive functions and experiences are real things. They are there to weigh values and make complex choices based off of various pieces of information. The fact that there is no form of heavenly “will” doesn’t mean that consciousness or individuality is an illusion. It merely means that consciousness, individuality and choice are a natural phenomenon.

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Aaron White

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