Biases and Beliefs: Free-will

This is the first post of a series that I am calling biases and beliefs. Each post in this series will look at one of my beliefs that I believe will affect how I analyze convocation. Consider each of these beliefs as a different lens through which I view convo (thanks biblical worldview for that analogy).

The first of these posts is on the topic of free-will. Free-will means that when an individual makes a decision or takes an action, that is because a person chose to do so. The primary counter-belief to free-will is determinism. Determinists believe that an individuals actions are not chosen by that individual, but instead predetermined by another phenomena. That determining phenomena can be anything from God to the physics of the universe depending on the worldview, however the result is the same: one does not determine their own actions. Some people hold to a middle-ground: Compatibilism. Compatibilists hold that we can have both free-will and predetermined actions at the same time, however arguments for this typically require redefining free-will so that it can be compatible with determinism.

Personally, I hold to an extreme form of free-will. I believe that in every situation and circumstances, man acts of his own free-will. From the mundane choice of what to watch on Netflix to the monumental choice of what to study at college, all of these decisions are made freely by the individual. This belief in free-will was popularized by the early existentialists, who referred to it as absolute freedom. With this extreme level of freedom and self-determination comes absolute responsibility. If one freely makes an action, then they are responsible for the consequences of those actions. As such, I believe in absolute freedom and absolute responsibility.

This is not to say that the circumstances surrounding an action or decision are irrelevant. The situation in which we make a decision provides context for our decision both to the one making the decision and to outsider observers.

This belief has had and will have a large impact on how I analyze and absorb convocation.This is largely because my belief in free-will is a foundational belief which affects all of my other views and beliefs. As such, positions which limit or deny human free-will are some of the first views that I will point out and criticize.

I hope you enjoyed this first post in this series. If you are interested in further reading on absolute freedom, I suggest at the existentialist cafe by Sarah Bakewell. The book is a biography of the existentialist movement and the philosophical development of the idea of absolute freedom.

One thought on “Biases and Beliefs: Free-will

  1. Pingback: Convocation 9/11/2017: Ed Hindson, Theodicy, and the nature of tragedy | Conversations about Convocation

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