The free will debate has real-world consequences

Free will is political

Debates surrounding free will in analytic philosophy often seem divorced from the realities of everyday life. Yet when applied to the real world it is clear to see that people’s ability to exercise free will varies depending on circumstances far beyond their control. Free will should, therefore, inevitably be seen as a political concept, writes Lewis Waller.


Philosophers have long been caricatured as elbow-patched stuffy professors favouring abstract proofs and logic over the everyday lives of individuals. The Free Will vs Determinism debate is no exception. It's usually framed as a philosophical, psychological or maybe neuroscientific debate; esoteric and divorced from everyday life. But the way we talk about freedom – one of those words that means many different things – has a direct effect on everything from our personal lives to national politics.

In liberal societies, where freedom usually means freedom from interference, in the ph

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