The implications of fate and free will

Claudia David, guest columnist

Do humans have free will?

This question has caused quite a bit of controversy and has led to intense conversation amongst philosophers. Many believe we have complete free will, others partial, while some strongly argue against the existence of free will at all. This topic was brought to my attention through a friend and after contemplating the subject, I have reached the conclusion that free will exists up to a point.

I want to bring to your attention where the idea that free will does not exist sprouts from: the philosopher Baruch Spinoza. He was a determinist preaching a philosophy that every human action is the result of earlier causes. He believed humans do not understand how our choices and actions have come to be and strongly urged that spontaneous free action does not exist.

An example would be grabbing a football and throwing it across a field. You see the football move and, through the natural laws of gravity, it continues to be carried along with no control over where it goes itself. Now, if that football were a human, we could see how it would believe that it was moving itself through daily affairs such as walking or running; however, we know that outside forces are letting it glide. Even so, Spinoza did agree that some kind of limited human freedom was possible, where we can control our own choices rather than be controlled by the outside environment.

Here is where I find a fallacy with this philosophy. If we truly have no free will, then where does morality have place in our lives?

I believe we can’t control the outside events but we can choose how we react to the situation. If we dispose of free will and completely disregard morality, then we enter dangerously close to nihilism, which rejects all religious and moral principles and proposes the essence that life is meaningless.

If no one has free will, moral responsibility does not exist. If there is no moral responsibility, blame should not exist. If there are no morals and we can’t control anything, then what exactly is the purpose of life? Without purpose, life is meaningless. And life lacks meaning without free will.

Thus, I believe this is the best reflection of all stated above: Humans are able to make conscious choices, such as what you think and want but the reason behind those conscious choices is out of our control. While humans can do what they like, they are not responsible for vital aspects of their experience, which is the driving force of their decisions.

This concept can be applied to numerous situations, but it is essentially critical to be considered in terms of societal issues. With such conflicts and controversies that pervade our modern-day society, it is important we acknowledge the art of philosophy and apply it to our own lives.