Free will?


I think that the way that we as humans each have an individual perspective on the world is a fascinating idea. The thought that we are shaped by our DNA or our personal experiences and such affects the way we interact with the world around us and the way in which we view it, whether that be with a rose-tinted lens or if it is a darker shade of grey than the world actually is. Still, it is strange to think that we are simply just our influences and taking our own personal free will out of the equation. It raises an important question, do we have free will. 

Free will can be defined as the capacity for agents to choose between different possible courses of actions unimpeded. It is very hard to prove a concept such as free will, when we do not have access to the subconcious, which is likely where our decisions originate from. Because of this, there is little evidence to support free will, though there are still those that believe in this untestable concept. For example Maslow and Rogers, both humanistic psychologists, believed that we all have free wil. Maslow believed that hte nature of humanity and humans was that we would always be able to reach our full potential or self actualisation. He believed that humans would follow a hierarchy of needs until they reached their full potentials. Maslows hierarchy of needs is one of the key features of humanistic psychology. Still, although he claims to believe in free will, Maslows hierarchy of needs is ironically deterministic as it presents a structure for the way that an individual has to grow, which limits free will. As it does not claim that people have no control but rather that they have limited control.

There is more than one type of determinism. Soft determinism, wherein we have some control over our actions but within certain limits, such as Maslows hierarchy of needs, or within the cognitive approach which says that we are free to think within our cognitive outlines and our personal schemas. Then there is hard determinism that says that all of our actions, behaviours and thoughts are all controlled by factors other than our own free will, factors such as our biology or even our enviroment as we grow up. Each has a unique affect on us but is it fair to make the assumption that this is what decides every decision that we will ever make or even those that we have already made. Our biology certainly has an affect on the way that we look and there is some evidence to suggest that it affects our actions too and our experiences are always going to change the way we think but does that always have to mean that it forces our hand and makes the decision for us? 

Whether or not we have free will is always going to be a point of contention among people. All that matters, though, is that we stay true to who we are.

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