something else, etc., etc. This is lawful too. All our choices and
changes, whether conscious, wise, quick, uninformed, emotional,
careful, or otherwise, could clearly be caused by environmental and
mental-emotional factors and, thus, lawfully determined. There is no
Our ideas about freedom are fuzzy in other ways too.
Examples: if you act very impulsively, is that freedom or being a slave
to the whims of the moment? If you prefer to "do what you feel like
doing" without much thought, is that freedom or being unthinking? If
you do not have the decision-making skills or the knowledge to make
wise choices, is that freedom or ignorance? If you are so upset or so in
love that you can't make good judgments, is that freedom or
dominated by your emotions? If you feel compelled to carefully weigh
the pros and cons of several alternative solutions, is that freedom or
compulsivity? The notion of a freely made decision seems unclear.
Williams (1992) contends that we are not really free if we do not know
the truth, if we are living a lie. Examples: if you are facing a solvable
problem but don't know the solution, you are not "free" to exercise
your potential. If you are dominated by an unreasonable emotion, e.g.
dependency, you are not "free" to know the truth about your feelings
and about how to become independent. If you have false views of the
laws governing all behavior (e.g. the role of chance or of God) or false
views of others or groups of others (based on race, religion,
nationality, sex, sexual orientation, being on welfare, etc.), you are
not "free" because you are attempting to live on the basis of a false
reality. If your relationship with your spouse is not as you see it, e.g.
they may not have been faithful, you are living an illusion and not
"free" to see and deal with reality. Other writers even go further and
maintain that freedom involves considering others and "the greatest
good for all," not just selfishly acting in one's own best interest.
In contrast with Williams and the hermeneutic-social
constructionist tradition (insisting that only realistic and moral choices
are "free"), I still believe we humans are often "determined" to do
stupid, mean, immoral things, because these acts are lawful in our
circumstances and from our psychological history. With the wise use of
these same laws, however, I believe we are "free" to become, i.e.
capable of becoming, smart, kind, and moral. You can see that there
are many different notions about the simple-sounding concept of
Regardless of how we define freedom, determinism is still a
tenable notion for describing everything that happens. And, how do we
explain the existence of these laws of behavior (or physics)? Is it
merely "the nature of things?" If so, what a miracle! Is it the work of
God? If so, what a miracle! We don't know why the laws exist, only
that they do.
"Will power" is another poorly understood concept. It is not
calling on some special power or an unexplainable force to enable you
to achieve some desired goal. It is merely an understandable, straight-