See also: freewill

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From Middle English fre will, fre wil, fre wille.

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Noun edit

free will (uncountable)

  1. Voluntary choice; (the power of) unforced, uncoerced choice.
    He did not say it of his own free will, but because his captors coerced him.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 12, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book II, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], →OCLC:
      I say therefore, there is no likelyhood, we should imagine, the beasts doe the very same things by a naturall inclination and forced genuitie, which we doe of our owne freewil and industrie.
    • c. 1606–1607, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene vi]:
      Good my Lord, / To come thus was I not constrain'd, but did it / On my free-will.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Ezra 7:13:
      I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby:
      I am impelled to this course by no one, but follow it of my own free-will.
    • 1965, Harry S. Truman, 2:02 from the start, in MP2002-442 Former President Truman Discusses Problems Faced During the Potsdam Conference[1], Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives Identifier: 595162:
      We were faced with a great many problems at Potsdam. The most troublesome one was the refugee problem. They were coming- German refugees were coming from Czechoslovakia and then from Poland into Germany. And Stalin said they weren't coming. We explained to him that they were coming, and they were coming from the countries which he occupied. And then he said they were coming of their own free will and accord. Well, if they came of their own free will- he was just lying about it because they were not coming of their own free will. The same kind of free will affected my grandmother when the Federals ran off with her farm and the goods and things on it, and forced her to move off the farm. These people were forced to move and the Russians were doing it.
  2. (philosophy) The ability to choose one's actions and make choices that are not predetermined by predestination, fate, etc.
    Some people deny that humans have free will, and argue that every thought and action is preordained by God.
    • 1869, Emmanuel Swedenborg, translated by R Norman Foster, The True Christian Religion:
      What is free will but the power of volition and action, and of thought and speech, to all appearance as of one's self?
    • 2012 January 12, “Free will and politics”, in The Economist:
      The new challenge to free will comes from a different direction: neuroscience's discovery that people's brains are a collection of diversely oriented modules, and that our understanding of our own intentionality is to a great degree a legitimating fiction which one module in the left hemisphere of the brain retroactively imposes over the decisions different modules make.

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