A modern view of free will which rejects determinism, accepts libertarianism, and relates to quantum mechanics.
By John Demopoulos
Before one can state whether or not free will exists, it must first be defined. The general discussion in philosophy holds three views with varying stances on the definition and existence of free will. These are determinism, libertarianism, and compatibilism. Determinism states that we have no free will and that all of our actions are determined (implying to define free will as the capability of undetermined action), and libertarianism states that we do have free will and our actions are not determined. Compatibilism differs in its acceptance of free-will’s existence in that it eludes to define free will as ‘the freedom to act according to one’s determined motives ‘, or ‘liberty’ (e.g., during the Holocaust, Nazis stripped the Jews of their free will by suppressing their ‘liberty’), whereas libertarianism implies a more metaphysical definition. Here I will reject determinism and compatibilism, and thus defend libertarianism as my view. I state that free will does in fact exist, defined as a probabilistic, almost “metaphysical thing”.
I believe free will refers to genuine alternate possibilities for beliefs, desires, and actions, rather than merely the antecedent. There are an infinite amount of choices (in a person making a decision), and I believe that we have the ability to choose any of them. Some of these choices, in my view, have a higher probability of being chosen based on the life and past experiences that may influence a person’s decision. For example, one could predict the actions of another with some accuracy by knowing them well (e.g., “I knew you would respond in that way!”) , but this other person could easily pick from an infinite number of less likely choices at any random time. It seems as though this higher probability outcome is what determinists interpret as the determined. Holbach argues that all of our actions are determined, and that they are the product of all of our previous experiences, genetic make-up, etc. I infer, however that: though these experiences undoubtedly influence how a person makes decisions and grows as an individual, they do not dictate an absolutely predictable and determined outcome, but raise the probability of one choice. A determinist might refer to this probability I speak of as “inclination”, but I say that inclinations lead to probabilities. An inclination will result in a higher probability of the choice associated with it. The inclinations of a person exist in the present (as a result of the past), whereas their associated, probabilistic choices do not exist until chosen. So you cannot call something “determined” until the choice has been made. Since making this choice takes place before you can call it determined, it follows that the choice is undetermined. This is what I call free will; though a determinist view will still describe any choice as deterministic, but only once it has been made/exists in time.