We can be very weak observers to the events that occur in our body.
I start my day by picking up my outfit; it consists of a colorful or a black and white theme. Today I chose the black and white theme, why not a colorful outfit? I wanted to dress vibrantly more than pale today, and I was free to have what I wanted, did I consciously decided the outfit theme? No, the choice was made for me by events in my brain that I was a conscious being cannot influence, could I have chosen the other style, yes but that would also be an impulse of my biological actions.
It takes time to process the information sent from our brain to a specific part of our body for it to do the specified action. The taller you are, the more time it takes to process the information in your body.
Scientific research regarding the time it takes for our consciousness to be aware of our actions states that it`s only mere seconds, but that small amount of time is enough for us to make some decisions.
According to Richard Thaler’s book ‘Nudge’ we have two systems operating our decision making:
The automatic system takes care of most of our behavior for us. It’s fast, unconscious, able to think in parallel (meaning that it can handle many processes at the same time), associative (it bundles things together that seem similar) and it does it all dirt cheap in terms of energy consumption.
The reflective system is almost exactly the opposite. It’s slow, conscious, serial (meaning that only one process can take place at any time), analytic and consumes much energy.
In Psychology, this phenomenon, where some actions seem to happen outside conscious control, whereas we are fully aware of others, has come to be known as Dual Process Theory (DPT). DPT is the foundation of a nudge because it explains what happens when we act unaware. At the same time provides us with tools to either make that action salient to ourselves or change the context, so we choose something better without thinking about it.
Although the reflective system seems superior to the automatic system, it isn’t. The reflective system is too slow and too single-minded to handle even a fraction of the alternatives that face us every day. Luckily we still have the automatic system, and it shines in handling thousands of problems and alternatives for us without even bothering us with the outcomes.
You can test this yourself. Sit down and think back on the day you’ve had and all the unconscious behavior you’ve displayed. You got out of bed in a certain way, brushed your teeth for a specific duration; you chose both the contents and the size of your breakfast very casually. These are among all the little things we usually pay no mind but do day after day, but the consequences of all this personal behavior still play a significant role in your health, wealth, and happiness.
When we say that your automatic behavior can be “wrong,” we mean that it conflicts with the goals and wishes of our reflected long (and sometimes even short) term preferences, often without us being fully aware of this.
However, even if we consist of souls, the argument wouldn’t change, If you don’t know what your soul is going to do next, you are not in control, this is true in all cases where a person might feel or behave in another way than he does. Think of the millions of Christians who’s souls are gay or the student who’s achieving for perfect scores but bored by learning.
The factors of these actions vary from our past experiences to evolutionary instinct behaviors our species acquired over time.
Our mental perception and planning mechanisms need to take into account the delays in afferent, computation. Thus moving objects are “perceived” a bit ahead of their assumed trajectory; the flash (being mostly stationary) is not. Consequently, one perceives a positional disparity between briefly flashed stationary and moving objects, The flash-lag effect designed by Michael Bach portrays it well.
However difficult it is to prove logically or scientifically that we can’t have the notion of free will in our lives, most of us still hold the thought that we have control over our actions, it is more a feeling than an actual thing that we experience in the physical world.
In the philosophical literature, we can find three main approaches to this problem Determinism, Libertarianism, and compatibilism.
Determinism is a metaphysical paradigm that posits that all activity in the universe is both
(i) the effect of [all] prior activity, and
(ii) the only activity that can occur given the prior activity. That is the meaning of saying that everything is “determined” — it is the inexorable consequence of activity that preceded it.
In a deterministic universe, everything that has ever occurred is occurring, and will occur since the universe came into existence cannot possibly occur in any different manner.
Libertarianism is a metaphysical paradigm that rejects Determinism and posits that there are events that are not caused, or not caused deterministically — including human cognition. Libertarianism does not posit that all activity occurs without a cause. For example, Libertarianism recognizes that a golf ball travels from a golf tee to a place on the fairway more than 100 feet away as a result of being struck by a golf club. However, Libertarianism does posit the golfer possessed by Free Will to determine the right settings to strike the golf ball.
Compatibilism is a position that seeks to harmonize Determinism and Libertarianism. Compatibilists believe that the universe is deterministic and that human souls have Free Will.
Both Determinism and Libertarianism oppose the notion of free will.
The compatibilist argues that one is free only when he can overcome his desired actions.
what does it mean to say that ‘rapists and murderers commit the crimes of their own free will.’ If the statement means anything, it is that they could have behaved differently, that they were the conscious agents of their actions. The moment we accept that it wasn’t a wholly conscious and free action, we can catch the side of the reason regarding their choice gripping the problem by its roots leading back to the criminal’s childhood.
We have many competing desires, incompatible goals, and aspirations rule most peoples actions. You want to finish your work, but you’re also inclined to stop so you can play with your kids, you want to quit smoking, but you still crave another cigarette, you want to save money, but you also want to buy a new laptop.
Where is the freedom when these desires take over our actions?
Where is the freedom in satisfaction in your actions and mistakes that you had no prior cause?
This article may be a bit overwhelming to read, but the theory of not having freedom isn’t very unsatisfactory because when accepted, we can manage our problems from their roots, we can accept others because we know that it’s not entirely their fault. However, it’s critical not to give up and let everything run because at that moment time passes you and order wouldn’t be in place.
We use many ways to punish those who did wrong, screaming, grounding, locking them up, etcetera, and I believe some of them are right if the reason behind them is to change the person’s intentions in the future for the greater good. Nonetheless treating someone poorly or punishing them for revenge or only because ‘they were wrong’ could be very useless in the long run, it might even make the situation worse.
Knowing and accepting that our impulses control us makes it much more comfortable at accepting and living in harmony together as a community.
5- FreeWill Book by sam harris
6- Nudge Theory Book by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler