My personal definition of free will is my ability to be the prime mover of all my practical actions.

I am a physical being bounded by my physical and psychological needs, but I can choose and apply as I deem required by my free will.

Now to some it appears these limitations mean we loose our free will, but if I can choose to take my life or to protect it, that is my choice. If another motivation or experience comes along that changes my direction or feelings or viewpoint, I can choose to follow this. If these experiences like taking LSD change my life, over which I have no choice, I did have choice to start the cascade.

It strikes me people want total control on the effects of influences, and this lack of control then means they are determined by things that take their life and direction away from them. This is just the boundary of you reap what you sow, action and reaction, consequences of what you do change everything.

Daily optimism keeps us working forward to meet certain goals, but because we choose to walk this path, it is our free will trade off to achieve this goal. But is a real sense we are slaves to our own biology and requirements, so the impression we can choose is very real, but it is not as open as we would like, though this does not deny it actually exists.

Deteminists say they have no free will, like Sam Harris, yet it appears their lack of free will appears to be different from the free will I am talking about. So do people hold the view of free will, or its apparent action, yet believe it is just an illusion?

It appears that what we are talking about is moral agency, guilt and responsibility for evil actions on the individual and social circumstance. Are we guilty of sin, or just it is inevitable because of who we are?

Sam Harris summary views Free will introduction

  • "my ability to be the prime mover of all my practical actions." - that already is ambiguous definition. What does it mean prime mover? Are you rejecting the fact that your thoughts, and therefore will itself, at least partially, are a product of experience? – rus9384 May 11 '18 at 22:52
  • Actually, this question is asking for opinion and is off-topic for that reason. If it would ask what philosophers have wrote on this topic, it would be suited for this site. – rus9384 May 11 '18 at 22:54
  • I do not know why I choose, but I choose. I choose the filters I apply and what triggers I listen to and what I ignore. Choice appears to be an emotional typing point, not driven by thoughts or experience, but thoughts and experience create emotional contexts which make the choice more or less likely. Abseiling takes effort to overcome fear, lack of trust and a feeling of danger, but I choose to apply this to achieve the objective. How I develop these skills is also a choice built on previous choices. – PeterJens May 11 '18 at 22:59
  • Definitions and lengthy discussions of free will are available from multiple online encyclopedias, is there a question here beyond that? – Conifold May 11 '18 at 23:50

I have identified a minimal definition of free will which is attached to responsibility. Here goes:

Free will, at a minimum, is whatever ability an agent has that makes it responsible for its decisions.

Responsibility entails culpability (for bad decisions) and also praise (for good decisions). I don't see how culpability or praise could be attached to an agent without some form of free will.


Free will is being able to choose AN alternative.

Free will is not being able to choose ANY alternative.

Here's an example: How many numbers can you name?

Would you not say you can't because there are an infinite number?

So here's a new question: How many different choices are available to you right now?

Well it's also infinite number of choices is it not?

And you might say "Yes, but I can't choose to fly like Superman." to which the reply is that physics has nothing to do with free will because if it did then the question would be moot ... I can't will myself to fly like Superman therefore there's no discussion needed (any more than a discussion of 'why isn't superman real'?)

Another opposition to free will is that 'it's the reactions in your brain that effect your choices'.

Well, yes ... can one 'be' without having physicality?

Just because there is 'influence' doesn’t mean you don’t have free will else the argument would be that reality itself precludes free will! ... which would again render the discussion senseless.

My thinking is that consciousness means the capacity to distinguish infinity - that as being is a feedback loop then it's endless recursive.

How can self-consciousness be 'bounded'? ... is there some end to the recursive feedback loop that is the 'schema'? of being?

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