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Cultures of India

When determining why individuals behave as they do, there are two generally accepted theories: free will and determinism. The former is, essentially, the idea that an individual is free to choose between a variety of actions in any given situation; man has the ability and right to choose to behave in the manner he feels is best. He can rely on his understanding of right and wrong, his past experiences, or lessons he has been taught, or he can ignore all of that and do as he chooses. No matter what the choice or what his rationale, his is free to choose as he sees fit. The contrast to this is determind Wism, which posits that for every choice that can be made, there are a host of factors that lead an individual to choose as they do and that no other choice was ever possible. Prior states of being or prior events have led to the current situation and, based on those prior circumstances, there is only one choice that can be made in the present moment. In this way, man does not have free will but instead has his choices dictated to him by the circumstances in which they exist.

When those two ideas are taken together, it is called compatibilism; this line of thinking contends that both free will and determinism can exist simultaneously without being in direct contrast with one another. Compatibilism reflects the idea that man is free to choose as he wishes, but that his existence in a society with clear social norms and expectations forces man to take ownership for his actions. He can take credit if his choice was successful, but he must also take the blame if his choice is in violation of these norms or mores. As long as man is not being forced to make a certain choice, he is free to take all benefits and consequences into consideration and make the choice that he feels is best for the situation he is in.

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