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Question of the Day

Keep in mind I'm a complete novice in philosophy, especially when it comes to the literature. I might misrepresent some positions completely. Please call me out. In short: The determinist states: Our decisions are bound to causation, and thus we are not truly free. This statement implies that the only way for free will to exist would be to detach an agent from causation; as long as some factors affect out motivation to do something, we are not truly free. The determinist thus claims that the only way for a choice to be free is that there would be some force acting above the physical reality, especially when it comes to cognition and decisionmaking. Thus only in a dualistic reality is free will possible. I have a few problems with this: 1. This method of defining free will seems to consequentally destroy the agent. If we were to be able to decide what we want, we'd, at least apparently, fundamentally be nothing. How would it be possible to even assign a different "want" to ourselves without that want coming from another, fundamental source? 2. This method of defining free will seems to also bind itself to the same constraints it tries to release itself from. To clarify: this sort of causation free agent would just bind itself to wants momentarily, thus polluting the "pure free will" that determinists define it as. 3. This method of defining free will is completely detached from practice. This is only a personal constraint, as the point might not be to be practical, but to be accurate and correct. Still, by determinist logic we seem to be unable to assign personal responsibility to any extent. If free will is absolutely non-existent, then it should be a non-factor in moral dilemmas. I'd like commentary and insight to my opening question as is, and further ideas relating to the body of the text if you're interested. Thank you for reading this!

You wrote, "The determinist states: Our decisions are bound to causation, and thus we are not truly free." In the context of free will, what you say describes not determinists in general but only hard determinists, i.e., those determinists who also say that determinism rules out free will. The other kind of determinists -- soft determinists -- accept determinism but say that it doesn't rule out free will and may indeed be essential to acting freely. Unlike hard determinists, soft determinists allow for the combination of determinism, free will, and moral responsibility. You'll find details in this SEP entry.