Free will can be seen as freedom "to" and freedom "from". What is it freedom from?

Is free will free of logic?

Is free will free of cause and effect?

What is free will free from?

  • 2
    Free from necessitation Jul 1, 2020 at 11:32
  • 1
    Free will means "to have the freedom to do otherwise or the power of self-determination". Thus freedom of choice between alternatives: different dishes into a restaurant's menu Jul 1, 2020 at 11:33
  • 1
    You may find freedom is not choice useful (3rd para onwards)
    – Rushi
    Jul 1, 2020 at 11:57
  • In practice, "free will" is part of a philosophical framework which rejects responsibility for how you behave towards others, or the way in which the social system conveys privileges to some at the expense of others.
    – Steve
    Jul 2, 2020 at 17:56
  • @CStroud as you are the one saying that "Free will can be seen as freedom "to" and freedom "from"." shouldn't you be the one showing why there are only those two options? Nov 28, 2020 at 22:09

3 Answers 3


Simply put: Free from Determinism. Which is often contrasted with freedom of the will. Determinism is the view that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes.

Deterministic theories arise from diverse and sometimes overlapping etiologies/considerations (eg. religion, behaviorism, physics, chemistry, biology, neurophysiology, etc.). Determinism is most often taken to mean causal determinism, sometimes characterized in physical terms as "cause and effect."

It is the concept that events within a given domain are constrained/bound by one or another form of causality in such a way that any state (of an object or event) is completely determined by prior states.

To appreciate the differing domains potentially at work, it might be helpful to contrast your own “will,” your ability to direct and control your behavior, with that of your pet [say cat or dog], or animal in the wild. Notice how you are inclined to believe that in some respects there is no difference at all (after all, all are biochemical physical entities/objects), and in other respects the difference seems vast. For instance, in apparent differences in ability to check “instinctual” dispositions/incliniations/behaviors.

As an aside, consider the difference between being "caused" as opposed to having "reasons," to do X. Which, to some extent, may be related to what you call "logic," as a possible constraint upon the will. As something the will is "free" from. Not bound by. Humans considered to be both "free" from acting, and free to act, "rationally."

  • It is not settled that physics is deterministic (it would require the Many World's interpretation of QM), yet that has (almost) no bearing on the free will debate. You seem to think libertarian free will is the only kind, which is not correct.
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 2, 2020 at 12:22
  • @CrigCragl, a more credible deterministic physics would be Bohmian mechanics. If physics is not deterministic, then science itself is falsified, since determinism is a tenet of scientific enquiry.
    – Steve
    Jul 2, 2020 at 17:54
  • @ CriglCragl While my understanding of current interps of QM (string theory, many worlds, etc), and the extent to which physics is or is not deterministic is meager, I believe that these issues are not particularly salient to the traditional centuries long agency v necessity, free will/determinism debate. See, for instance plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/#FreeWillProbCausDete and plato.stanford.edu/entries/incompatibilism-theories.
    – gonzo
    Jul 2, 2020 at 18:36
  • @ CriglCragl Moreover, I confess that I've never before heard the term "libertarian free will." Yet another one of my blind spots, I suppose. But please define the term for me and flesh out your otherwise stark critique by describing other "types" of FW. Because my mind is open.
    – gonzo
    Jul 2, 2020 at 18:45
  • @steve: It absolutely isn't. Stochastic processes are absolutely part of science. And non-linear dynamics impose limits on predictability in practice, given the energy & timescales of the universe, even if there are not limits on prediction in principle. I don't honestly understand how you can think determinism is essential to science. Responding to the problem of induction requires admitting that all inductive conclusions are tentative, and subject to future disconfirmation.
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 12, 2020 at 22:03

Free will is literally what it says it is: the ability to exercise will free of constraint. Of course, absolute free will is a bit of a straw-man. We cannot will ourselves to be ten feet tall or to fly to Pluto (though arguably we could exercise will to develop tools that would eventually allow us to do these). But the basic idea is that if we come to a fork in the road, the act of going left or right (or turning around and going home) can be determined purely as an act of will, without coercive constraints or systematic imperatives.

Of course, getting to the state where we are capable of true freedom sometimes takes a lot of work; we need to rid ourselves of a whole lot of patterns, habits and preconceptions to really be free. But that's a different topic.


Free will is the ability (freedom) to choose one's own actions.

Free will is free from the wills of others.

Free will is free from any causal necessity.

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