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Free Will and Me

August 4, 2007

I am a believer in free will and choice. This is a bedrock of my philosophy. New studies by those in the behavioral sciences are starting to redefine free will in ways that make me uncomfortable. More behaviors being termed addictions. This changes the debate concerning actions such as gambling, obesity, and video gaming. The Situationist Blog has a post from April that explores the some of the new research into addiction. Biology is identified as playing a larger role than commonly believed. People addicted to gambling show the same brain scan patterns as a person addicted to drugs. The role of choice and free will are reduced in these scenarios.

As a believer of free will and autonomy, this strikes at the very core of my beliefs. What role do society take in handing addiction issues such as gambling or gaming. How much autonomy is a person going to have as these addictions are deemed public health issues like obesity or smoking have been to some extent. Trans fat and smoking bans are gaining in acceptance to protect the population at the expense of the individual. Is it right to do so if many in society do not have a problem with addiction and can easily be recreational gamblers or enjoy an fat laden dessert without excess.

This question is one of the foremost in my mind when I think of what I believe. Where are the limits of free choice and what do we do when we meet them.

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