Criticisms on Free Will





Criticisms on Free Will

Thomas Nagel tries to understand the meaning behind a series of concerns related specifically to the field of philosophy. In this particular case, his thoughts focus on the aspect of free will. Over the years, the aspect of free will has generated considerable debate. For some, free will is nothing but an illusion since human beings cannot engage in any actions without premeditation. On the other hand, free will may be inherent in every individual due to the choices that one makes on a daily basis. Interestingly, Nagel’s arguments on the possibility of free will are limited to the disposition of human behavior. Simply, the perception he employs regarding free will does not abide by the presence of physical or social limitations as evidenced by the aforementioned claims.

Contrary to common viewpoints on the dimension of free will, Nagel views the respective aspect as the capacity to carry out activities while being independent of the circumstances of that particular moment. Simply, free will is dependent on whether people are capable of acting independently in the event that the encompassing circumstances or situations remain similar. The illustration he provides concerning the decision to choose a peach or a cake further exemplifies his understanding of free will. For instance, if a person regrets his or her choice by asserting that he or she “could have had a peach instead” then, he or she alleges that he could have carried out his or her actions in a different way than his or her actual actions (Nagel 47). The example provided by Nagel questions whether a person bears the capacity to engage in an action in a series of ways or not.

Nevertheless, understanding whether human beings possess free will posits further positions concerning the issue. For David Hume, free will mainly aligns to personal liberty. Accordingly, it constitutes the power or the authority to act or cease to act with respect to the will’s determination (Palmer 36). Simply, if a person decides to move or to act, then he or she can do as he or she pleases in relation to the condition at hand. Conversely, philosophers such as John Martin Fischer reject the notion that human beings possess free will. Despite this, every individual is responsible for the repercussions that arise from their actions and decisions (Palmer 77). Hume and Fischer’s allegations localize the argument on free will on the issue of determinism. Indeed, if certain conditions determine a person’s actions or decisions or not, then determinism is innate to free will.

Therefore, in respect to the aspect of determinism, are human beings capable of acting independently regardless of the surrounding circumstances? The question summarizes Nagel’s view on the subject. Even though Hume and Fischer posit different assumptions for free will, their claims allege that the conditions that surround a person may or may not affecting an individual’s conscious decisions. However, asserting that the respective argument is true means acknowledging that the conditions before any action determine the consequent decisions and establish them as inevitable. Hence, free will cannot exist without the implications that arise from determinism. Reverting to Nagel’s peach and cake illustration, the choice to select cake may imply free will. However, the desires exhibited by the individual also act as causative agents. Hence, the desire to select cake creates the circumstances that allow the person to finally rest on the respective commodity.

Personally, the conditions or a set of circumstances that surround a person are responsible for determining a person’s free will. As such, free will may not solely comprise the liberty to carry out or refuse to act in any given situation. However, asserting this means rejecting the notion concerning the freedom of will. Simply, if pre-existing conditions determine the actions that an individual carries out, then is it still possible to assert that a person possesses the freedom of will? Even though the definition that free will currently embodies is complicated, the rationale that free will arises from determinism presents a pragmatic claim to the question on whether people possess the respective problem.































Works Cited

Nagel, Thomas. What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Print.

Palmer, David. Libertarian Free Will: Contemporary Debates. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.

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