Running head: FREE WILL
FREE WILL 2
Intro to Philosophy
The issue of free will has been philosophized since the time of ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras and Aristotle. The topic is of great interest because it is closely intertwined with the concept of moral responsibility. Philosophers have suggested several theories in an attempt to demystify the issue but even contemporary philosophers have not been successful at this attempt despite their deliberation. This paper discusses the concept of free will with a particular bias to the take of the philosopher Aristotle. The paper also explores the different theories on this topic including determinism, indeterminism compatibilism, and incompatibilism. The paper will give compelling evidence to support Aristotle’s position that free will is possible and it does exist.
Aristotle proposes that actions are a result of a cause and the causal chain traces back to the first cause or the uncaused cause. He proposes four possible causes final cause, formal cause, material cause and the efficient cause. Chance is popularly considered to have been Aristotle’s fifth cause. Aristotle argued convincingly for indeterminism as the most compelling argument for free will. The stance of indeterminism was proposed as a counterargument to determinism. According to determinism, it is impossible for the past or future to turn out any other way than it did or will because it is possible to map out all possible occurrences. Philosophers who argued for determinism claimed that it was possible to predict the future with accuracy by following Newton’s laws of motion. However, more advanced science has proved that this reasoning was flawed because elementary particles do show random motion (Loewer, 2001). Determinism’s claim that there is only one possible course of events, and it is not consistent with free will (Nichols, 2011).
It is important to note that the findings of quantum mechanics do not mean that we should completely disregard the convictions of determinism because they do not address the issue of causal determinism. The indeterminism observed in elementary particles does not mean that human behavior can be explained in the same way. If directly adopted to explain human behavior, the findings of quantum mechanics would mean that human behavior is random and unpredictable and not free and responsible, which is an absurd conclusion to arrive at. Aristotle acknowledges that most human behaviors are predictable on the basis of habit and character. However, this does not mean that the decisions to behave this way are less free because habits and character were freely developed in the past and are effectively changeable in the future.
Aristotle, in his metaphysics, argues in support of the possibility of chance and uncaused causes. Further in the Nicomachean ethics he demonstrates that indeed actions can be voluntary and “up to us” as he puts it. Follow...