Free will

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Free will is the concept that it is possible to make choices by an act of will based on independent thought.

  • ... free will can be defined as the unique ability of persons to exercise control over their conduct in a manner necessary for moral responsibility[1]

This would appear to be impossible in a solely naturalistic system in which biochemical processes obey natural laws, not will.

Incompatibilism views free will as being in conflict with the doctrine of determinism, while Compatibilism sees no conflict between the two.

In some denominations of the Christian faith it is believed that humans were created with free will so that they would choose to worship God. Other Christian traditions, such as Calvinism, believe that humans were created without free will, but that God's will determines our actions.

For many, freedom of will is required for a functioning morality; that is, if we were not free we could not be held responsible for our actions, having been incapable of making a moral choice.


Free will and punishment

Some people deny free will but still claim that punishment is necessary to deter harmful behaviour and protect the community. Such people argue that punishment should be the minimum necessary to deter harmful behaviour.[Citation Needed]


  1. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy