- free will
1. free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.2. Philos. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.
* * *in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. Free will is denied by those who espouse any of various forms of determinism. Arguments for free will are based on the subjective experience of freedom, on sentiments of guilt, on revealed religion, and on the universal 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 omniscience and goodness (in allowing man to choose badly), and with divine grace, which allegedly is necessary for any meritorious act. A prominent feature of modern Existentialism is the concept of a radical, perpetual, and frequently agonizing freedom of choice. Jean-Paul Sartre (Sartre, Jean-Paul), for example, speaks of the individual “condemned to be free” even though his situation may be wholly determined.
* * *