Five Philosophers on Free Will: Plato, Hobbes, Hume, Leibniz, and Hegel


Over the past 2500 years, the concept of free will has been debated by some of the most brilliant minds in ancient and modern history. This paper discusses landmark theories by five well-known philosophers. There are several definitions of free-will. Sometimes, it is described as an innate characteristic possessed by human beings. In juxtaposition, causal determinism states that free will is limited or does not exist. Philosophical arguments are presented by: Plato, Hobbes, Hume, Leibniz, and Hegel. Plato offers a dual theory offering limited support for free will. Leibnitz includes theological tenets to make the case for predetermined outcomes. Hobbes and Hume contend that moral beliefs and ethical standards are conditions that support causal determinism. Hegel’s treatise on “freeing of the Will” aligns with Taoist philosophy and links the evolution of the universe to human spiritual development toward self-realization.

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Robert Waxman Ph.D.
The Open Center, FL


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