Sure we all have the right to make our own choices, but when it comes to certain aspects of our lives do we really have the free will to make our own decisions? You can choose who you have relationships with, you can pick what you want to eat everyday and you can go to university if you want to. We may have free will in these situations but this is not always the case. Is there such a thing as a ‘free man’? We don’t always have control over our lives, sometimes it’s in the hands of someone else.
Are we free to think and behave however we want? Well in this case the kitten has no choice whether it gets shot or not, its behaviour is determined by the gunman. This factor is outside of the kitten’s control. There are two positions that will argue whether or not we have free will over our thoughts and behaviours. One will say everyone has the free will over these things, the hard deterministic view will say all behaviour and thought is determined by external factors and these factors can be biological, environmental or unconscious. If the hard deterministic view is true then in theory we should be able to predict all behaviour and analyse it. Now is this possible? No because humans are unpredictable and psychologists don’t have a crystal ball. However you can predict the consequences of an individual’s behaviour and you can say how their actions might affect their lives, but you won’t always be correct. There is also another way to view it, using soft determinism. Someone who calls themselves a compatibilist will adopt the soft determinism view, they will accept that subjective experience is important and being able to choose our actions indicates free will. Soft determinism will say we have conscious mental control over our actions, we are not forced. So let’s go back to the kitten, do you think it has control over the situation? Probably not, but it does have the choice to think and behave in whatever way it likes. However its actions will have consequences. In situations like this our subconscious thought processes may take over or even our biological instincts, how much control do we have over that?
I believe we all have free will to some extent but I think it also depends on the external factors around us. So I adopt the soft determinism view. For example an individual may want to go to university, but there could be factors which stop this from happening, such as money, travel or even illness. You could commit a murder and this would be exercising your free will, but you would be put in jail whether you like it or not you have no choice if your proved guilty. We abide by the laws set by the government. Rules and regulations keep society in line but restrict our free will. What would the world be like if we had 100% free will? Right now we don’t have 100% free will and I don’t believe we ever have had it or will have. Even in the animal kingdom the hierarchy places the leader or boss at the top and the workers at the bottom just like bees and their queen they follow their duties and that’s the way civilization works.