Free Will

  • Padmasiri de SilvaEmail author


The Buddha in asserting the existence of free will took a middle position between theories of determinism and indeterminism. An individual may, to a certain extent, control the dynamic forces of the past and present and also the course of future events. Man has free will (attakāra) and there is provision for personal endeavour and a person is capable of changing himself and the environment. The Buddha was critical of the theists who upheld that the world is a creation of a God; he rejected the materialists who said that death is the ultimate end; he was critical of sceptics who said that concepts of after-life and moral responsibility cannot be proved; he rejected natural determinists who could not make a distinction between good and bad and the Buddha also rejected other theorists like the categorists and relativists. The Buddha was able to debate and explain why he accepted moral responsibility and free will which provided a basis for leading a virtuous life.


  1. Bhikkhu Thānissaro. (1996). The wings to awakening. Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. Barre, MA: Dhammadāna Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Jayatilleke, K. N. (1975). Buddhist attitude to other religions. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Philosophical, Historical and International StudiesMonash UniversitySpringvaleAustralia

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