FREE WILL AND EXTERNAL INFLUENCES ON HUMAN BEHAVIOR
Religion offers one of the best examples of the concept of free will in that those who follow the variety of religions that exist in the world do so based on their own intuition and decision (Zagzebski 2002). Spirituality, therefore, considers the existence of free will as fundamental to the practice of worship because it means that those who worship spiritual beings do so without intimidation or coercion and thus makes them legitimate as deities. On the other hand, in criminal cases where individuals kill or harm others, there are many external factors that compromise the functioning of the mind thus allowing those who are guilty of heinous crimes to walk scot-free or face lesser penalties. An example of this phenomenon is when a mentally unstable man is not charged with murder or when in the case of a love triangle, a man kills another woman who has been sleeping with his wife and thus receives manslaughter charges.
However, the power of free will is evident in the fact that despite external causes which inspire violent thirst, the individual facing such a temptation is ultimately the most significant influential factor as to whether the individual will commit a violent crime. Furthermore, there are scholars who argue that if there is free will, then the individual should not, in any possible way, be influenced by external causes. This viewpoint, incompatibilism, is supported by influential scholars in this area including van Inwagen and Holbach. However, among the host of concepts that attempt to break down the functioning of the human mind and soul regarding the process that dictates human actions includes the concept of libertarianism, also referred to as the classical free will theory which argues that external influences have zero impact on the behavior of human beings and that free will is the only reason why people act in certain ways including committing violent crimes (Pink 2013,pp.
Another viewpoint that is critical to this discussion is the “no-third-way” argument that suggests that all events are the result of prior events because “a cause is always prior to its effect” and that “nothing is the cause of itself”. However, despite arguments against free will, a strong argument for the existence of free will is the fact there is a clear distinction between the actions that are clearly under compulsion including those of an alcoholic or other types of addicts and individuals that are not under compulsion. Despite having free will to decide whether gang violence was appropriate or not, consuming violent content from the media was instrumental in getting the youth to take up guns and commit crimes under the belief that this way of life is right for them (Hirschi 2017).
Moreover, other theories that are worthy of discussion in this context include the classical free will theory that argues that “human actions are not determined”. Under this theory, there are strong arguments to support the existence including the fact that the presence of options is necessary for determining the availability of free will (SIX 2016,p. David Hodgson, for instance, argues that for there to be free will, a variety of options must be available for the individual to choose from before acting. For example, if a set of drinks is set on a table including fruit juice, alcohol and water, and an individual decides to take alcohol, then the existence of free will is validated. Soft determinism is thus the best explanation for what controls human actions.
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