FIVE “FREE WILL” ABILITIES YOU DON’T HAVE!
- The ability to have, of your own accord, done otherwise: If everything has a cause, you could not have done otherwise than what that causality dictates. If some events do not have a cause, those events could never have been “of your own accord”. There is no third possibility.
- The ability to choose between more than one (really) possible option, in which that choice is “up to you”: If everything has a cause, only one option is ever a real possibility, all others were just a part of the process that lead to you deciding on the only one possibility. If some events do not have a cause, such an event could push another option into possibility, but such a push could never be “up to you”.
- The ability to choose outside of what your brain states dictate: Non-conscious brain states dictate conscious brain states which in turn dictate the next non-conscious state. As an animal who has evolved, you currently cannot escape the causal machinery of your biological brain – it’s the processor of all of your thoughts and decisions.
- The ability to be a first cause of your decisions: Some people think that it is they who are the first cause of their decisions. This, however, is an impossibility. The person you are was derived through causal means that extend to before you were even born. For something to be a first cause, that thing needs to be an uncaused event that pops into existence, and that means even an uncaused event couldn’t be something that you caused.
- The ability to not be entirely constrained by a combination of your genetics and environment: Every feeling, thought, and decision you make is an output of your genetic biological structure and your environmental conditioning. If, however, you think there is some supernatural soul as well, that soul and environment it exists in would just be another comparable causal constraint that you had no say in.
SO WHY SHOULD YOU CARE THAT WE DON’T HAVE THESE ABILITIES? There are many philosophical, political, sociological, and psychological topics that need to adjust with the understanding that we don’t have these abilities. The understanding that we lack this type of “free will” is extremely important to these topics and toward our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.