Thoughts on Free Will, part 5
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Thoughts on Free Will, part 5

Does having a “soul” endow humans with free will? This is a difficult question to address, in part because the exact nature of the “soul” is unclear. Is it a physical entity? If that is that case, we run into the problem, which I discussed earlier. Having free will means that one could have acted differently if one had chosen to act differently. How can a physical soul, which presumably should abide by the laws of physics as physical entities normally do, have had the ability to choose differently from the way it had chosen?

Is the soul a nonphysical entity? Many people envision the soul as such, which likely relates to the idea that the soul exists after the body dies and decomposes. A difficulty with this theory, as it relates to the question of free will, is that it is unclear how a nonphysical entity (the soul) can force a physical entity (the human body) to do something. This is the “ghost in the machine” problem that critics have leveled against Descartes’ mind-body dualism.

Yet, people tend to cling to the notion of free will, in part because they feel free to make their own decisions. Next, I will discuss why I think this commonplace notion should be taken seriously, even if it is difficult to identify the mechanism by which we might have free will.

Go on to: Thoughts on Free Will, part 6
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