Essay on Free Will

Submitted By agmacfadyen
Words: 3535
Pages: 15

Free will has been a topic that has been widely discussed by many of the worlds greatest minds. Many different people have brought their theories regarding free will while other simply say that it is not possible to discover. For discussion sake we will lay a generalize belief of free will. We can say that free will describes how we are able to control our actions (Ingram). There are different criteria for free will that have been developed as well. They state that the person must of had the option to chose or act differently. (Paper relative freedom).
Some people are more interesting in the “will” component in free will. Will can be described when we perform an action and we experience the feeling of voluntariness while doing said action. When we perform an action willingly or intensionally, this is an sign of conscious will. An illusion of conscious will can be produced by experiencing an action willingly, and the causation of action by the persons mind, which are the same thing.
This is similar to the theory of apparent mental causation. This theory states that we experience will when we interpret our thought as the cause of our own action. What this means is that we experience will without any actual causal connection between our thoughts and actions. The illusion of conscious will may be a by product of the exaggerated link between our actions and thoughts. What if conscious will was not even the connection between our actions and thoughts? According to Wegner (2002), will is the causal analysis of anything, not the link from thought to action. Although it may seem that we are certain that our thoughts cause some actions there is always an alternative cause that could of caused the action. He also tells us that relationships with data regarding our conscious thoughts and actions can also have an influence on our perception of will. Wegner gives a simple explanation for this. If you were asked to multiply five times one in your head, you would more than likely immediately answer five without any needed explanation. This calculation is one that is simple, and you are familiar with so the answer just seamlessly pops into your head. Now, if you were asked to calculate 69 times 45, you may still be able to produce the answer but something is different. This time the answer is not so familiar and may require you to think out some processes in your head causing a extended mental process not seen in the previous situation. You now have become consciously aware of the processes needed to perform this action.
Wegner wanted to go even further and test to see if he could guide people into experiencing a willful action when in reality they had done nothing. The study called, the I spy study, had a centre attraction to the properties of though and action when the thought as the cause of action has more then one interpretation. The study used a pointer similar to an ouija board, and simply determined whether participants felt that they had moved it based on their thoughts when in reality the board was moved by someone else. 51 undergrads completed the study.
Two participants were asked to placed their fingers on the board so they could move it concurrently. When they moved the board, on a screen they could both see a corresponding cursor move. On the screen the cursor moved over a print of an I spy book, containing many tiny objects. While the participants were moving the board they were listening to music and words (primers) that would correspond with images on the screen. They completed trials in cycles where at the end of each cycle the participant would rate how much they intended to make stops on certain objects. Half of the trials had priming words five second before a stop was indicated and half had no priming words before the stop. In these trials someone other than the participant was making the movements and stops.
Regarding this experiment we can make the comparison of what constitutes a good magic trick. A good