free will problem

Problem arising from the apparent inconsistency between causal determinism in nature and the human power or capacity to choose among alternatives or act freely in certain situations, thus independently of natural, social, or divine compulsions.

Its significance derives from the fact that free will is generally considered a necessary presupposition of moral responsibility, while determinism has (at least until the advent of quantum mechanics) been regarded a necessary presupposition of natural science. Arguments for free will are based on the subjective experience of freedom, on sentiments of guilt, on revealed religion, and on the supposition of responsibility for personal actions that underlies the concepts of law, reward, punishment, and incentive. In theology, the existence of free will must be reconciled with God's foreknowledge, with divine omniscience and goodness (in allowing humans to choose badly), and with divine grace, which allegedly is necessary for any meritorious act.

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Universalium. 2010.

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