Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
The ability to choose, think, and act voluntarily. For many philosophers, to believe in free will is to believe that human beings can be the authors of their own actions and to reject the idea that human actions are determined by external conditions or fate. (See determinism, fatalism, and predestination.)
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, for example, speaks of the individual "condemned to be free" even though his situation may be wholly determined.