We’ve had plenty of posts regarding free-will on this blog, but this is a topic which is very detail/word oriented, which takes time to explore. This post is primarily addressed to the compatibilist position (that free-will and determinism can coexist).
I want to clarify what I mean when I say that we do not have free-will. This appears as a non-sensical statement to many. This may happen because it is a non-sensical statement depending on which view of free-will you choose to adopt at a given time.
A major confusion is whether being free to do as we “will” is the only necessary factor for free-will to emerge. Compatibilist point out that we are free to do as we will, because we only wish to do what is in fact willed.
Schopenhauer expressed this conundrum as such: We are free to do as we will, but not to will what we will.
So yes, we are free to do as we will, in a sense. The only issue is that this kind of “freedom of will” is not the kind of freedom that is most commonly debated or dare I say, cared about. As Sam Harris put it, we as individuals think of ourselves as the thinkers of our own thoughts. We think ourselves as the authors of our decisions.
We are puppets, and nature and environment make up our strings. A puppet is free to do as it’s strings command, but the real question people are asking, is if there is anything more to this puppet than it’s strings. As of now, we have no reason to suspect so.