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Do We Have Free Will?

The concept of free will is one mind boggling conundrum. Do we control and determine events as they happen in our lives? Or are we just sailing ships, without sailors, wandering in the sea of life? Do we have free will, what Hill refers to as the freedom of humans to choose their behavior, in that they are essentially self determining (29)? Or do we not? We examine Skinners arguments.

            Intellectuals like Skinner argue that free will is nothing more than an illusion, that people’s behavior is function of the outcomes of their actions, where the chance of repetition of the same action is directly proportional to the how good the outcome is.  

            In terms of behaviorism, Skinner’s rejection of the concept of free will is right, but to an extent. The fact that society has an influence on our lives cannot be simply ignored. A common and more accessible example is the geographical distribution of faith, which implies that one is most probably to be of the faith of the majority in one’s geographical region of birth. But on the other hand, as one’s cognition develops, starts to be self reliant, creating room for free will.

            As ones cognition develops, learns to question everything and hence frees himself from the influence of the society and the environment. It appears that there is free will. But the mental capacity is increased through reading of materials written by other people.

As a conclusion, it is the source of influence that shifts from the environment to intellectual materials. Hence, like Skinner, there cannot be free will. All our behavior is derived, with or without our knowledge, from factors that are outside of us.


Hill, Grahame, and Grahame Hill. A Level Psychology Through Diagrams. Oxford: Oxford

 University Press, 2001. Print.