Free Will Filters

Does free will exist? I don't claim to have the answer to this question. What I offer instead are three useful filters to view free will in your daily life.

Filter #1: Behave as if you have free will

If you try and act as if free will doesn't exist, it is easy to move down a path of nihilism. ex. "I don't have a choice, so I'll just do whatever compels me because nothing matters." This mindset is not the path to a moral or meaningful life.

Instead, behave as if free will does exist. Behave like you have a choice in your actions, goals, relationships, and routines. Believe you can actively make your situation better by making better decisions.

Filter #2: Advise friends and loved ones as if they have free will

When friends or loved ones need advice, treat them as free-acting individuals capable of making decisions that can change their circumstances. Give input that inspires action, instead of helplessness. Let them know that beneficial changes can lead to lasting improvements in their lives.

Filter #3: Treat strangers as if they don’t have free will

For strangers and acquaintances, treat them as if free will does not exist. Assume that they are a product of their circumstances, and are not acting freely based on their own choices. If someone is rude, flippant, or dishonest, do not react with anger or surprise. Instead, empathize with them, rather than judge them. Seek to understand their point of view, rather than to change it.


These filters are not objective truth, but a helpful thought exercise for making decisions and for helping others.

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