Do We Have Freewill?

July 22nd, 2013 by Michael Tabor


I’ve always thought that the freewill/determinism argument was one of the most interesting bones of contention in all of philosophy because it really does touch on what Sam Harris says “everything that makes us distinctly human.” Just imagine if we indeed did not have freewill -everyone would have to rethink his or her position about morality, law, politics, of course all of the major monotheistic religions, personal accomplishment, intimacy, feelings of guilt and responsibility, and quite frankly, EVERYTHING. Not until I watched this video lecture  I’d always thrown my hat into the freewill camp, but now I’m not so sure where I stand; the arguments for everything that we do as being determined are so strong and compelling that I now just don’t know ummmm….

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I can spell out all of the salient points and arguments for and against freewill but if you can find the time to watch this video  , Sam Harris can and does this far better than I can ever do (Sam Harris has written a book on freewill and has been thinking about and studying the concept his whole life).  As Sam states in this monumentally profound lecture, initially one may think that not having freewill to be grim and depressing but actually if you think it through, it’s actually incredibly liberating; essentially your life doesn’t change one iota except  you may become a more compassionate, understanding and tolerant person and you lose the baggage of pride, guilt, and remorse which were no fun anyway.

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8 Responses to “Do We Have Freewill?”

  1. Rick Says:

    We were created with freewill. Free will to do whats right and free to do whats wrong. The fact is even for non-believers there is a differnce between right & wrong. Sadly too many people take the wrong over the right and the consequences on your life for doing wrong usually catch up with you.

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    Hi Rick,

    Do we ? If you believe in cause and effect then it logically follows and stands to reason that we do NOT have freewill. That’s the short answer. I, personally don’t know where I stand on this …..

    BTW, did you watch the whole Sam Harris lecture ??? If not, please do !! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an interesting, important, persuasive, and yes, funny and entertaining lecture on freewill/determinism without all of the intellectual boring jargon. Sam Harris truly is one of today’s preeminent thinkers who is somehow able to communicate to the average guy these incredibly complicated and complex matters in layman’s terms. He’s actually really FUN to watch & he looks like Ben Stiller – lol.

  3. Rick Says:

    Anyone can change the course they are on. Example: Quitting smoking, getting married, changing job careers. It is all free will. We set our life on earths destiny by our actions. This is why Conservatives think socialism hold the poor hostage. By giving certain things it make it harder for certain people to climb out of their current course. we can change the way we do things with our free will.

  4. Rick Says:

    A father gives you commandments and kids will stray as well. Does mean the father condemns the child. God sets guidelines and we have the free will to accept or not. Its that easy.

  5. Rick Says:

    sorry does not mean

  6. Michael Tabor Says:

    Did you watch the Sam Harris lecture, Rick ? Please watch ….I could have chosen another profession? I might have been a republican ? I could choose to believe in God ? Couched in language or phrased with a more pedestrian example, I could have chosen vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate ? Well, if you believe in cause and effect e.g. genes, environment, your parents, hormones, evolution, your temperament – those are the “biggies” and you factor in all the the millions of, seemingly infinite # of preceding causes – some subtle, some not so subtle, well maybe I had vanilla ice cream 10 times in a row and I’m sick of it, and though I believe I have the freewill to choose vanilla again, I won’t. ….I think the best example Harris gives is when he asks the audience to think of a movie – go ahead try it. What movie popped into your head ? Where did it come from & why ?

  7. K. Scot Sparks Says:

  8. Michael Tabor Says:

    Thanks Kevin !

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