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Free will

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. In philosophy, the constraint of dominant concern has been nomological determinism, the notion that the past and the present dictate the future entirely and necessarily, that every occurrence results inevitably from prior events. However, many others define free will without reference to determinism, and posit that freedom from other types of constraints is more relevant, such as physical constraints (e.g. chains or imprisonment), social constraints (e.g. threat of punishment or censure), or mental constraints (e.g. compulsions or phobias, neurological disorders, or genetic predispositions).

Those who define free will as freedom from determinism are called incompatibilists, as they hold determinism to be incompatible with free will. The two main incompatibilist positions are metaphysical libertarianism, the claim that determinism is false and thus free will is at least possible; and hard determinism, the claim that determinism is true and thus free will is not possible. Hard incompatibilism furthermore posits that indeterminism is likewise incompatible with free will, and thus either way free will is not possible. Those who define free will otherwise, without reference to determinism, are called compatibilists, because they hold determinism to be compatible with free will; some hold even that determinism is necessary for free will, arguing that choice involves preference for one course of action over another, a process that requires some sense of how choices will turn out.[1][2] Such compatibilists thus consider the debate between libertarians and hard determinists over the truth of determinism as a false dilemma.[3] Different compatibilists offer different definitions of free will taking different types of constraints to be relevant to the issue. The principle of free will has religious, legal, ethical, and scientific implications. For example, in the religious realm, free will implies that individual will and choices can coexist with an omnipotent divinity. In the law, it affects considerations of punishment and rehabilitation. In ethics, it may hold implications for whether individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. In science, neuroscientific findings regarding free will may suggest different ways of predicting human behavior. Incompatibilism is the position that free will and determinism are logically incompatible, and that the major question regarding whether or not people have free will is thus whether or not their actions are determined. "Hard determinists", such as Martin Luther and d'Holbach, are those incompatibilists who accept determinism and reject free will. "Metaphysical libertarians", such as Thomas Reid, Peter van Inwagen, and Robert Kane, are those incompatibilists who accept free will and deny determinism, holding the view that some form of indeterminism is true.[12] Another view is that of hard incompatibilists, which state that free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism.[13] Traditional arguments for incompatibilism are based on an "intuition pump": if a person is like other mechanical things that are determined in their behavior such as a wind-up toy, a billiard ball, a puppet, or a robot, then people must not have free will.[12][14] This argument has been rejected by compatibilists such as Daniel Dennett on the grounds that, even if humans have something in common with these things, it remains possible and plausible that we are different from such objects in important ways.[15] Another argument for incompatibilism is that of the "causal chain." Incompatibilism is key to the idealist theory of free will. Most incompatibilists reject the idea that freedom of action consists simply in "voluntary" behavior. They insist, rather, that free will means that man must be the "ultimate" or "originating" cause of his actions. He must be causa sui, in the traditional phrase. Being responsible for one's choices is the first cause of those choices, where first cause means that there is no antecedent cause of that cause. The argument, then, is that if man has free will, then man is the ultimate cause of his actions. If determinism is true, then all of man's choices are caused by events and facts outside his control. So, if everything man does is caused by events and facts outside his control, then he cannot be the ultimate cause of his actions. Therefore, he cannot have free will.[16][17][18] This argument has also been challenged by various compatibilist philosophers.[19][20] A third argument for incompatibilism was formulated by Carl Ginet in the 1960s and has received much attention in the modern literature. The simplified argument runs along these lines: if determinism is true, then we have no control over the events of the past that determined our present state and no control over the laws of nature. Since we can have no control over these matters, we also can have no control over the consequences of them. Since our present choices and acts, under determinism, are the necessary consequences of the past and the laws of nature, then we have no control over them and, hence, no free will. This is called the consequence argument.[21][22] Peter van Inwagen remarks that C.D. Broad had a version of the consequence argument as early as the 1930s.[23] The difficulty of this argument for some compatibilists lies in the fact that it entails the impossibility that one could have chosen other than one has. For example, if Jane is a compatibilist and she has just sat down on the sofa, then she is committed to the claim that she could have remained standing, if she had so desired. But it follows from the consequence argument that, if Jane had remained standing, she would have either generated a contradiction, violated the laws of nature or changed the past. Hence, compatibilists are committed to the existence of "incredible abilities", according to Ginet and van Inwagen. One response to this argument is that it equivocates on the notions of abilities and necessities, or that the free will evoked to make any given choice is really an illusion and the choice had been made all along, oblivious to its "decider".[22] David Lewis suggests that compatibilists are only committed to the ability to do something otherwise if different circumstances had actually obtained in the pas

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