So is it "free will" if the unencumbered choice is always the same one?
I realize it might seem as if I am setting up a straw man here, but the
question is sincere.
What do the rest of the Rare Birds think?
I had similar thoughts. Even in the most nihilistic noir, the protagonist's decision to do the wrong thing is at the very least a subtle caveat for the reader not to make the same mistake. Even in detective fiction, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, or Perry Mason may step way outside the written laws but always to attain real justice as perceived in the story. In real life, I think relatively few people attempt to gain using truly aggressive methods. This may seem optimistic viewing current headlines, but those making headlines are a very small percentage of the population. When you consider very successful criminals, John Gotti or Nicodemo Scarfo for example, they live very well for a number of years, then are spectacularly convicted and die in prison. That doesn't seem like a very good decision to me. Murdering people and disposing of their bodies has got to be a strain on the mind. In my perception, and I've personally known some people like this, they act
before they've thought through what their actions will inevitably lead to. They have a gambler's nature and take chances that are successful for a longer or shorter period of time. I doubt that most people are like that at all. Many people like to gamble but most stop before they lose the farm. It's important to recognize that gambling is always at the heart of any criminal activity. "What are the odds I can get away with this?" The majority calculate that a simple comfortable life is the safer choice. It seems to me that even those who make a fortune "honestly" if that's even possible, are eventually dragged over the coals by the community and the press.
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