Our panel of 90 professional philosophers has responded to

153
 questions about 
Sex
68
 questions about 
Happiness
34
 questions about 
Music
74
 questions about 
Beauty
109
 questions about 
Biology
4
 questions about 
Economics
146
 questions about 
Existence
241
 questions about 
Justice
87
 questions about 
Law
58
 questions about 
Abortion
50
 questions about 
War
385
 questions about 
Religion
275
 questions about 
Knowledge
107
 questions about 
Animals
79
 questions about 
Death
131
 questions about 
Love
206
 questions about 
Science
104
 questions about 
Art
23
 questions about 
History
69
 questions about 
Business
280
 questions about 
Mind
123
 questions about 
Profession
568
 questions about 
Philosophy
96
 questions about 
Time
27
 questions about 
Gender
165
 questions about 
Freedom
115
 questions about 
Children
5
 questions about 
Euthanasia
36
 questions about 
Literature
215
 questions about 
Education
358
 questions about 
Logic
24
 questions about 
Suicide
53
 questions about 
Medicine
1259
 questions about 
Ethics
66
 questions about 
Truth
86
 questions about 
Physics
281
 questions about 
Language
67
 questions about 
Feminism
2
 questions about 
Culture
79
 questions about 
Identity
217
 questions about 
Value
58
 questions about 
Punishment
74
 questions about 
Perception
32
 questions about 
Sport
77
 questions about 
Emotion
43
 questions about 
Color
38
 questions about 
Race
2
 questions about 
Action
31
 questions about 
Space

Question of the Day

I have a strong conviction. It's about free will. I don't think we have it. Here goes: 1. We don't choose our preferences. - I can't say we do, looking into myself and others I've talked to... Which ofcourse makes my basis for this assertion quite limited. So how is it? Do we choose our preferences? 2. We can't make choices outside of our preferences. - Looking into myself and my choices, they're always dictated by my preferences. No matter how banale or how life changing the choice was. I chose as I preferred to choose. (I call it choice even if I don't believe there ever was a choice per se, because there are options at hand, objectively speaking.) Conclusion: We don't have free will. We can't choose any other way than we in fact choose. Does this hold up as it stands? Thanks in advance.

Your comment runs together two things that ought to be kept distinct: (1) Can we choose our preferences? (2) Could we have chosen otherwise than we in fact chose? I'll take them up in turn.

I'm not a psychologist, but I take it as common knowledge that we do have some long-term control over at least some of our preferences. Even if you now prefer Bieber to Beethoven, you can choose a program of listening and study that will fairly reliably end up reversing that preference. But the more important point is this: You needn't have chosen your preferences in order to choose freely in light of them. I prefer Beethoven to Bieber, and on that basis I can choose to listen to an hour of Beethoven's music rather than an hour of Bieber's if given those options. I would be unfree if I couldn't choose according to my preferences. Moreover, in some cases we form strong preferences -- e.g., for one job-offer rather than another -- as a result of careful deliberation, and it would be silly to think "Even though my deliberations resoundingly favor job A over job B, I wish I could choose to prefer B instead."

Whether we can choose our preferences, and whether free will requires our being able to do so, are separate issues from whether we could have chosen differently than we in fact chose. I'm inclined to think that we couldn't have chosen differently than we in fact chose under exactly the same conditions, even though we could have chosen differently had our desires been different from what they in fact were. But the important point is this: The freedom and control that it makes sense for us to want don't require the ability to have chosen otherwise under exactly the same conditions. For discussion and defense of this position, see this SEP entry: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism.