Relevance of Free Will in the Criminal Justice System
Ja’Nea M. Jenkins
North Carolina Central University
According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, free will is the freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention. However, free will is the power of self-determination; one’s ability to choose between courses of action is not completely determined by circumstances. The author personally believes that all human beings have free will; however, this particular issue has become a debate over the years among other authors. Cotton inferred that the criminal law is based on the idea that an individual is responsible for their own actions ...view middle of the document...
Free will is such an important concept in criminal justice because it becomes a factor when sentencing individuals in the court of law. People commit crimes for various reasons and
those reasons lead up to whether or not it was committed by free will or by force. In a Lethbridge Undergraduate Research Journal, the questions asked are: “if we are mechanisms, controlled by our mechanistic brains, then how can we have free will? And if we do not have free will, how can we be held responsible for our own actions? Individuals rely on their mental state for almost everything they do and regardless of free will or not there is an explanation of everything we do (Rhodes, 2008).
A psychiatrist, Daniel Wegner believes that free will is an illusion and it isn’t what it seems. Basically, our feeling of consciousness arising into action is normally two different processes; the action and the feeling of the willing to action (Rhodes, 2008). It’s like a second mind in the back on one’s head telling them to do one thing or another, often called a second instinct. Wegner thinks that our thoughts are not the causes of our actions, but rather both our actions and our thoughts are the result of other underlying unconscious mental processes. Instead of...