Free Will Essay Research Paper Free WillBy

Free Will Essay, Research Paper Free Will By Jeffrey Shamberger Analyzing our individual free will can be very intriguing and can almost reach the point of being paradoxical. Ultimately, free will determines the level

Free Will Essay, Research Paper

Free Will

By Jeffrey Shamberger

Analyzing our individual free will can be very intriguing and can almost

reach the point of being paradoxical. Ultimately, free will determines the level

of responsibility we claim for our actions. Obviously, if outside forces

determine our choices, we cannot be held responsible for our actions. However,

if our choices are made with total freedom than certainly we must claim

responsibility for our choices and actions.

The readings I chose offered two quite opposite theories on individual

human freedom, determinism vs. existentialism. In comparing these two

theories the contrasts are quite outstanding.

Evidently, some philosophers felt that human beings did not really have a

free will. This view, defined as determinism held that certain casual laws rule

what occurs in the universe. There are two major forms of determinism,

including hard determinism and soft determinism.

Hard determinism taught that each of our actions is determined by factors

beyond our control such as heredity and environment. From this point of view

there can be no real moral responsibility for our actions if our actions were

determined by factors beyond our control. There is a complete denial of

personal free will in hard determinism.

Soft determinism, however, appears to combine determinism and free will.

It teaches that all human actions are determined by such things as early

childhood experiences thus relinquishing us from total responsibility for our

actions caused by such determining factors. However, if my actions were the

result of my own reasoning exclusive of outside factors than I must take

responsibility for my choices.

In total contrast with determinism, existentialism professes the complete

freedom of the human being. The particular reading I read dealt with atheistic

existentialism, this view of personal freedom rejected a belief in God, feeling

that it would be incompatible with the uncertainty and harsh reality of life

during the time of two wars. This view shared that a person was not ruled by

heredity or environment but was always free at any time to make his own

choices. Due to the denial of God, this theory held that there were no existing

moral laws, thus, individuals were free to determine their own human nature

through choices for which they stand accountable (existentialism, in general,

emphasizes what makes each life a unique personal experience as opposed to

any existing moral laws). ?Authentic? living involves free choices that allows

the individual to become his own person. The big difference between

existentialism and the previously discussed views is the emphasis on the

freedom of the person to do and be anything with no limits and all choices are


Any attempt to avoid freedom of choice would be considered ?bad-faith?,

or living in an inauthentic way. Examples of this would be saying that we

could not help ourselves or that we are not really responsible for what we did

thus placing responsibility on someone or something else.

Existentialism cannot include ?groupthink?, which includes large

organizations such as church. If you belong to a church, there are some moral

issues you must believe in and some you should not. The same is true for

memberships in groups and gangs. To commit to such circumstances would be

acting in ?bad-faith?.

Furthermore, love automatically would put a person in ?bad-faith?. This is

because once we are in love we might modify our opinions and actions as a way

to insure we don?t lose our loved one or ones. An authentic existence would be

impossible if we had to check our actions against the imagined judgement of the

person who fulfills our need for true love.

Obviously, a huge contrast exists between determinism and existentialism.

After much contemplation, I personally would have to place my opinion of

individual free will to the left of soft determinism and to the right of

existentialism. I have come to this conclusion because of a few definate beliefs

I would have to consider. I personally believe in God, who I believe represents

all that is good in people. I also believe that early childhood experiences and

heredity factors such as personality can have an influence on the choices we

make. Our choices are generally made out of love or fear. As we mature,

hopefully, we can sift through our influences and sort out the love or fear

involved in our choices. Ultimately, I feel that although there can be many

circumstances that interfere with our choices and actions we all have the power

to make choices for ourselves and learn from those choices. This could be why

God gave us, human beings, the precious gift of our own free will.