Are you really responsible for your actions?

Are you really responsible for your actions?


What if everything you did so far, everything you used to feel proud for, everything you blamed yourself for, were not your achievements/faults? May be it was meant to happen that way only and you couldn’t do it otherwise.

These all thoughts make me wonder that am I the one responsible for what happened with me/for what I did or some supernatural power like God is making me do those actions. To talk straight, it is that ‘do we have free will or everything is predetermined?

Let’s take a very simple instance: I ate sandwich this morning for breakfast. Now was it my free will or was I destined to eat sandwich today in breakfast? Most of us will say that of course it was my choice (free will) to have them. But if we ponder deeply on the question that why did I chose to eat sandwich and not other available things like cornflakes, oatmeal etc? One thought could possibly be that it was predetermined for me to eat sandwich today in breakfast.

The belief that all events are caused by past events such that nothing other than what does occur could occur is termed as hard determinism.

And contrary to this belief is the belief of libertarianism, which advances the theory of free will.


We all have experienced such moments in life where we think that this was bound to happen like this only. Like let’s say you are getting late for work because of oversleeping, at that day only you will not be able to find the clothes of your choice which you were planning to wear, or not being able to find your car keys, or a flat car tire, or some delay in the usual time of bus, or excess traffic jam or anything else which helps you in getting more late. At such moments we are forced to believe that this was bound to happen, or it was predetermined.

There’s a famous story in Greek mythology advanced by the hard determinist Boron D’Holbach.  According to ancient Greece, when Oedipus was born a prophecy foretold that he would kill his father and marry his mother. So to avoid this prophecy, Oedipus was abandoned and left in a forest by his parents thinking he would eventually die. But, another couple happen to pass by and heard the crying  baby Oedipus, being childless, the couple adopted and raised him. When he grew up and came to know about this prophecy, he left his family not knowing that he is adopted. He happened to kill a man out of rage, and that man was his biological father, unknowingly fulfilling half of the prophecy and later he ended up marrying the dead man’s widow(his biological mother).

It is believed that this was his fate, that he could not avoid. For the philosophers, the whole point of advancing this story, is that ‘there’s no escape in fate‘.


The libertarians have no such story to advance, the only theory advanced by them is that ‘we feel free that proves that we are free’, though this theory is not acceptable.



Another theory which inspires me is that ‘whatever happened in your past was predetermined but your future depends on your efforts’. It never fails to make me guilt free due to my past and          in-action mode for my future.

If we look at our everyday actions, it looks like it’s our free will. We feel like we did something out of our own choice, it’s almost unacceptable for us to think that everything is predetermined.

I neither believe in ‘hard determinism’ nor ‘free will’, but rather a mix of two. To illustrate this suppose  you are a lawyer, it was destined for you to be a lawyer, but how well you do being a lawyer depends on your efforts.

This was what I think, it will be appreciated if you share with me your opinion on this. Please drop a comment expressing your view on it.


-Believe in yourself and keep smiling

Manasvi Kansal

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