Are We The Cause Of Our Decisions?
Free will: the ability or discretion to choose Discretion: freedom to act or judge on one’s own
It seems clear that what each one of us decides to do is determined by something. Some people, including some scientists, believe it is our brain that determines what we decide to do. Some people, including some scientists, believe it is a certain God that determines what we decide to do. Others believe it is our genes, our environment, our mind and/or human consciousness. I don’t think there is scientifically accepted agreement on any of these beliefs as fact or truth.
So what or who determines what you decide to do? Your brain? Your God? Your genes? The environment? Your mind/ consciousness? Something else? What is your belief about what or who determines what you decide to do? Can you decide what it is?
A lot is being written today, and has been written for centuries, about free will. Does it exist? Is it an illusion? This blog does not attempt to answer these questions. It asks other questions about human agency. Do humans possess the means to determine their behavior? Are humans responsible for what they believe? What are the reasons for humans to behave responsibly? What is a wise decision making strategy?
I have been writing about wise decision making strategies since my doctoral dissertation in 1964. So have many others, wiser than me. And several have received Nobel Prizes for their writing. If there is no freedom to choose, no free will, no freedom to act or judge on one’s own, there is no need to write or read about decision making strategies.
Since we don’t actually know for certain if free will exists, and we don’t totally understand the workings of the mind or human consciousness, and belief in God is defined as faith, and we aren’t totally clear what actually determines what we decide to do, we are left to our own personal human resources —unless you believe your behavior is determined by some other resource.
I am reminded of the following quote from my College Board decision making curriculum for high school students in 1773.
A person’s ability to choose, as well as his right to choose, is the essence of freedom. How well he learns the skills involved in the process of choosing well determines his power of self determination, his freedom of choice. Paul Woodring, 1957
If our ability and our right to make decisions is the essence of freedom, and the process of choosing determines our power of self-determination — none of this is possible without the ability, the right and the freedom to choose. And if this doesn’t exist, a lot of us have been wasting our time writing about wise decision making strategies.