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Head to Head: Do we have free will?

March 6, 2020

We do have free will

For a very long time, humanity has questioned the course of events that occur around all of us. Whether it be a result of the forces of the universe or the will of a divine deity, many ideas have been proposed to explain the occurrences of the physical universe.
However, I have my own perspective on the matter. As a result of my own observations and ideas about the world around me, I’ve come to the conclusion that all living things capable of rational thought set forth the decision-making process that leads to their own actions. This is also known as the concept of free will.
Now, it’s important to specify what type of free will I subscribe to. According to The Atlantic, best-selling author, Eben Alexander believes in the idea of free will, but he holds the view that human consciousness is not a result of our own brains. Rather, he thinks that our collective minds stem from a universal source and the choices that our consciousnesses make come from this source.
This is not a subset of free will that I personally align with. Much of the evidence and studies that neuroscientists have amassed points to a conclusion of consciousness stemming from our brain and the electrical processes that lie within. Neuroscientist and philosopher Adina Roskies thinks that these studies can still only show that physical factors in the brain are involved before decision making.
That being said, the conversation is then brought to another place: what sort of free will proposition makes any sense to me? Without getting into the confusing nature and complications of quantum mechanics, it needs to be said that I don’t think that any decisions we make have any impact on the physical reality of the universe besides the planet that we currently inhabit. The type of free will that I believe in relates to the physiological level of our minds and bodies.
We have the capacity within us to make any decision that we want to in the present moment. If you’re having a conversation with a friend, you could either continue to have a civil conversation or punch them in the face out of nowhere. Either of these occurrences are possibilities, and you have the decision-making tools necessary to make the decision of what happens.
Not only is the belief in the existence of free will a valid conclusion, but it’s a practical one for human beings to reach. If everyone believed that they have no impact on the timeline of events in the universe, then nothing productive would ever get done. We’d all become depressed, apathetic nihilists lacking a purpose in our own lives.
All evidence that we’ve been able to conjure over the course of study in the field of neuroscience supports the claim that we have free will. We have the ability to think and make decisions, and I have no reason to think anything has any bearing on our actions except for ourselves.

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