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free will and its effect on the individual and society

free will and its effect on the individual and society

It happens hundreds of times a day; we get out of bed either too early or too late, we pick a shirt out of the closet, we decide whether to have breakfast or not. In each case, we conceive ourselves as the pilots of our life, consciously guiding our bodies in purposeful ways.

But what does that have to say about the individual? I’m talking about the psychological part, where the individual develops a mindset where they either have full control of their life or none at all. The truth is we don’t need to know if our choices are independent decisions of our minds because these decisions are influenced or even forced by the environment around us.

The choice a person makes doesn’t affect their life, but the environment influencing that decision does. And according to Wegner, “it is a conceptual truth that for something to count as an instance of conscious will it must both be (1) felt as voluntary, and (2) causally efficient in bringing about a certain effect. Wegner claims that what satisfies (1) can fail to satisfy (2), and vice versa.”(Sekatskaya M.2020,p 79). To put that in perspective, let us say you want to buy a car; now you have two choices whether to buy a Car or not. Either way, it is going to affect your life. For one, If you buy a car, you will no longer need to take a bus to work or parties, But you will spend money on Maintenance and such, you will also have to spend money to get a license, car insurance, and so on. For another, if you don’t buy a car, you won’t take a financial hit. You also won’t need to worry about car accidents, spending money on gas, and so forth. Now, there is a lot to this decision, but it always comes down to the simple questions: Do I need this car? Is it worth it? How much is a bus ticket anyway? And all of these questions’ answers depend on your environment. It depends on whether you have the money to support your decision. It depends on whether your daily needs are far or not. It depends on things that you have no control over at all.

Everyone should focus on how they can do best with what they have, not with what they can have. After all, it is crucial to know how far you can go without having daydreams because you will always be bound by your limit no matter what you choose. And these limits could be the environment you live in, the people surrounding you, or your belongings.

Having bad choices does not mean that you are an awful person but choosing them when you can do otherwise does. For argument’s sake, let us say you went to war, but you have no clue where your enemy is; The general gives the order to burn the city to the ground or kill everyone on site, and if you disobey the given order, you will be held accountable. In this situation, you have no choice that will make you sleep at night, but does that make you an evil person, a patriotic one, or just a human. According to Allen, “PD presents a problem for those who believe in FA because it is evidently at odds with the notions of self-control and being able to do otherwise. In what sense am I making a difference in the world if my actions are the distant effects of things that occurred long before I had any idea of the person I wanted to become? How much control can I be said to have over my doings if I myself am not their ultimate source? If PD is true of me, then it also seems true that none of my actions were/are/will be avoidable. And being avoidable appears to be the necessary property of any free act.”(Allen R. 2013, p3)(FA being free agency and PD being psychological determinism). And he goes on to say that we can’t control our life’s outcome, nor can we control our actions (Allen, 2013).

That is illogical for me because I believe the result of our life does not equal the decisions we make; these two things are very different from each other no matter how we see them. I guess what I’m trying to say is, we might not be able to control the choices presented to us, but we can decide the outcome of those choices by choosing the most comforting path. And by making a decision, we affect other individuals’ lives, creating a snowball of effects.

Free will is a trick of the mind, showing us that we are in control even though we have no control at all, but it doesn’t stop us from choosing different approaches to life or giving new choices to the people around us. My advice is, don’t think about it and live your life as you always do. After all, making choices is all that we have.

For more insights on the subject of free will, and maybe if you’d like to check your knowledge on the topic, I recommend you take a look at the Introduction to Philosophy tests section that is provided by Studydeets website.

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