Unrestricted Free Agents: Examining Libertarian Free Will

We are exploring different views on free will. In the first post we described a situation where a running back in the NFL has entered free agency. The player has 3 different offers. In this example we have avoided complicating the illustration by avoiding choices where a person is exercising saving faith or committing a sin. We already took a look at how a compatibilist might view this choice. Now we tackle the same scenario from a libertarian free will perspective.

Sam Harris, an atheist and determinist, calls the concept of free will an illusion. In his book Free Will he defines the type of free will that he argues does not exist:

The popular conception of free will seems to rest on two assumptions: (1) that each of us could have behaved differently that we did in the past, and (2) that we are the conscious source of most of our thoughts and actions in the present.

This is a reasonable definition of Libertarian Free Will (LFW). I would only make the second assumption more explicit than what is implied here. That in the present we have the actual ability to choose differently.

The choice according to Libertarian Free Will (unrestricted free agent):

Our running back has been presented with 3 different contract offers from Team A, B, and C. Continue reading

Restricted Free Agents: Examining Compatibilism

We are exploring different views on free will. In the first post we described a situation where a running back in the NFL has entered free agency. He has been presented with 3 different offers. In this example we have avoided complicating the illustration by avoiding choices where a person is exercising saving faith or committing a sin.

Both theists and non-theists wrestle with the concept of determinism. The non-theist determinist ascribes the ultimate cause – the prime mover – to the universe and the physical laws of nature.The latest album Clockwork Angels by the band Rush explores the topic in the song BU2B:

the universe has a plan

we are only human

it’s not ours to understand

Theologians would not agree with the idea that the “universe” has a plan or that we are just “dancing to the music of our DNA” as Richard Dawkins asserts. Continue reading

Restricted or Unrestricted Free Agents (illustrating free will)

Do we have “free will” or are we merely “a planet of playthings dancing on strings with nothing left to chance” as Rush describes in the song “Free Will”.

Discussing the concept of “free will” is always a mind bending topic. Especially given the various views on how it works and whether we really have it.

I like the definition Daniel Whedon gave in his work entitled The Freedom of the Will as a Basis of Human Responsibility and a Divine Government (1864). The freedom of the will is the power of the soul by which it is the conscious author of an intentional act.

There are three major views on “free will”, which I have tried to briefly summarize. Continue reading