Free will vs determinism

I was thinking about the idea of free will vs determinism today. Much of western culture is based on the premise that we have free will and that good and evil exist. This idea is summarised in ‘moral liberty’ – that we can discern what is good and choose to pursue it over our immediate wants and desires.  

Free Will: the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.

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Determinism: the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes regarded as external to the will. Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions.

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Many studies discount the idea of free will and replace it with cause and effect – that our decisions are products of the environment and our genes. Others argue that there is a space between what happens in our lives and our reactions to it; this is where free will exists. There are two ways you can exercise your free will:

  1. For the small things; make a lot of choices
  2. For the big stuff; Decide what you want and then build habits that make those choices easier to follow

In a world that increasingly believes that your environment predetermines every choice you make, exercise your free will and make choices.