Do we have freedom of choice or are our choices predetermined?

I believe the answer is, both are true. Freedom of choice means freedom with regard to choice, but the options we have to choose from are predetermined. Freedom of choice is really “multiple choice” or “multiple options (to choose from)”.

Choices and options mutually arise. Choices give way to more options but they also render other options unavailable. That’s the nature of “choice” — sacrifice.

All choices have their future options and consequently their future choices embedded. Even “consequence” is a superficial label for both 1. features of choice and 2. options that arise with and give way to choice.

If you chose a door on a game show and won $50, whereas another door had a brand new car, you chose the $50 over the car, though you didn’t know what was behind either door. The door was merely symbolic for (not separate from) what was behind it. If you chose letter A on a multiple choice test, you did so knowing what option A was but in so doing, you chose the correct or incorrect answer. “Options”, “choices” and “consequences” are all named features of a seamless truth.

“Freedom of choice” isn’t freedom in general; it’s “freedom” inside the context of specific options that we often aren’t “free” to choose. Sometimes we know what the options are. Sometimes we know what the (immediate) consequences are. Sometimes we see the “options” but don’t perceive them as options for us. Sometimes we have no clue about what options exist. Regardless, the choices we exercise within these options are (technically) “free”. “Technically” also, we have to rethink who is making these choices (i.e. what is “I”) and come to grips with where these options come from.

You (“I”) are the offspring of your parents, they are the offspring of theirs and so on. They made choices and begat options and obstacles. Both us and our environment (our environment being those options and obstacles) are merely the intermingling of the choices of our ancestors (collectively). Today’s choices determine tomorrow’s options and obstacles, and the choices we (the seemingly separate “I”s are) free to make with regard to them.

If we accept all of this — that all there is is options and the choices we make among them; if we accept that “I” who make these choices am not defined by the physical manifestation identified with through the period of birth to death; rather we are a continuation of ever transforming personages — then we must accept that we (collectively) determine the options we (individually) choose from and that we all: the right-minded, informed individual; the uninformed; the mentally impaired; children; those forced and those coerced; all have “freedom of choice”.

However, we must also acknowledge that how person’s options are determined varies (even if they appear similar) and likewise, how persons perceive their options varies. Consequently, how persons make their choices will be contingent on the trajectory that got them to that place with those options and their perception.

Freedom, with regard to choice, is something quite different to the ideals of which the word “free(dom)” (when by itself) speaks.

… but this is just my opinion. ~ Ervin Welsh