Furthest Right

Free will and fate


The denial of free will is a curious thing. One almost has to wonder why there would be a question in the first place. I suppose it is because we all have limitations and therefore construe that we are not “free.”

On the other hand, when one overcomes a challenge, we realize we are capable of more than we thought. We are not at the mercy of fate. We are unstoppable and we choose our destiny.

I think that the free will deniers simply take exception to the term “free will.” They would say we are limited by our circumstances. Not everyone can be a professional athlete and there are only so many options. I believe that they would prefer the term “limited will.”

That is fair enough, and strictly speaking, true. You can’t flap your arms and start flying if you wish hard enough. You did not will your birth; you did not will your circumstances. However, this misses the broader point that choice exists.

I suspect that many people know darn well what is meant by free will. It means you can either choose to do something or choose not to do something. If you do X, Y will happen; if you do B, A will happen.

You could just as easily cast a straw man the other way, and liberals do this on a regular basis. You cannot blame me for anything, I have no free will. Criminals? It’s just their genetics, there’s nothing that can be done. We are all helpless, hapless victims of reality. Why leave the house? Why deny myself another candy bar? If I don’t eat food I will die — I’m enslaved by the Culinarchy!

Absolute helplessness goes hand in hand with the demand for absolute freedom. If we are not absolutely free, we take it out on the concept of free will. We feel better about our helplessness now. The denial of free will becomes the alibi and backwards rationalization of our bad decisions and lack of both assertiveness and restraint.

I propose we stop nitpicking the term “free will” and go with it for tradition’s sake. The concept is already too well established to cede ground on this. The bottom line is that free will means choice and capacity for assertiveness or restraint. If you give in on a technicality the rationalizers of helplessness win.

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