I will be discussing free will. Free will is one of the most highly debated topics in philosophy and the most common topic picked in this class. There have been many ways to prove and disprove the idea of “free will” but I am going to argue that free will does exist. I will first discuss what I mean by “free will” then, I will be discussing Nagel case and explain why I believe in free will and soft determinism. The word “free” is defined as not being under the control or power of another or able to act and do as one wishes and “will” is referring to the act of choosing.
Free will is considered to be our belief that as individuals we can control our choices and destiny because we are free to think and decide. At first it seems obvious that we have free will like when you think of being able to freely choose to move a body part or choosing between two different things. But according to Nagel, humans develop self-determination as we develop throughout childhood and continue to do so throughout the rest of our life.
Nagel explains that every person’s actions are predetermined and that humans respond in a specific manner based on significant events in ones life, desires, wants, and outside pressures. This is called “determinism” and there are two types of it. One being hard determinism, which believes that determinism, is true and that, as a consequence, no person has free will and soft determinism, which is the belief that both determinism is true and that human beings have free will. Nagel example of choosing between a peach and chocolate cake is a great example that disproves hard determinism.
He explain that’s if hard determinism were true than even while you were making up your mind and deciding on whether to have the cake or peach it already determined which one you would actually choose. Say if you choose the peach. Nagel claim implies that you “couldn’t even choose the cake even though you thought you could”. This also means that the decision between the cake and the peach was determined at birth and with that being said I do not believe in hard determinism.
However, I do not completely disagree with the idea of determinism. I find soft determinism to be compatible with free will because I do believe that our choices are partly determined by our psychological causes, desires, wants, and moral situation. Referring back to Nagel’s example of the peach and cake, I do believe that my choice for choosing a peach was determined by my want for something healthier to snack on rather than a cake but I also believe that I had the complete free will to choose the cake if I had wanted to do so.
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