Libertarianism, Free Will &DeterminismAn AQA Religious Studies: EthicsGuideBy Kirsty Jane Thornton
Free Will• Question of genetics and environment• Is Free Will Curtailed by Volition?• Contracting into Societies• Conflict of Free Wills
Free Will• Question of genetics and environment– Clarence Darrow– Advances in human genetics have raised the possibility that genetic mechanisms can explain various aspects of human behaviour. It has been suggested thatsuch genetic explanations would tend to diminish responsibility for ones actions. Perhaps the genetic approach adds little to our understanding of free will,determinism, and responsibility. Even though human beings are material systems obeying the laws of the physical and biological sciences, their behaviourmay still be unpredictable and essentially undetermined. Moreover, with few exceptions, behaviour influenced by genes is no more deterministic than isbehaviour influenced by the environment. An analysis of the genetic and environmental influences and the complex interactions between them reveals acertain symmetry between genetic and environmental explanations of behaviour. Consequently, any argument concerning the relevance of a genetic excuseto a criminal defence will be equally applicable to an environmental excuse.– Predispositions• “gay gene”• “warrior gene”• Brought up in a religious home or by criminal parents• Influence in friendship groups and what is seen in local area• http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/leoploeb/leopold.htm• http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/leoploeb/darrowclosing.html
Free Will• Is Free Will Curtailed by Volition?– Thomas Hobbes = Yes– Free will means that a person can make a decision, but also act differently ifthey so wished to.– If somebody is constrained and then performs an action because of this, thenthey do in fact have no free will.– For example, in cases of ****.– The victim has no free will, as they are being forced into having ***.– Our free will is also curtailed by our environment, knowledge and values.– We arent just curtailed by external influences, there are also internalinfluences such as past thoughts and memories.– We are also curtailed by possibility.– Just because we want to fly, doesnt mean we can. The laws of nature denythis to us.– Jean Paul Sartre = No– The idea of Free Will is central to us as humans.– Free will is not the elimination of all influencing factors, but our ability to beautonomous and make decisions freely through reason.– It is our ability to make decisions consciously knowing the consequences.
Free Will• Contracting into Societies Social contract is important as it helps create social order and harmony. Order, justice and harmony come about by people agreeing on some basic rules of conduct. However, within the social contract, social tensions can emerge over how much diversity is allowed. IE: there can be conflict of religious beliefs and political opinions.SocialcontractIndividuals of a societygain benefits frombeing part of a group,at the cost of somelimitations orrestrictions on how tobehave.Freedom and rights aregiven up in the interestof social order.Cosmopolitan:Accepting of groups and individualsfrom different cultural, ethnic andreligious backgrounds withinsocietyMono-cultural:Ie: Nazi Socialism – the interests ofthe group are placed far abovethose of the individual andindividuals must be either forced tochange, continued or expelled fromsociety
Free Will• Conflict of Free Wills:– Freedom of one person may come into conflict withthe freedom of another person.– EG: at a crossroad, an ambulance, fire brigade and police reachthe junction at the same time, who has priority?– Individual freedom requires us to think about how conflict ishandled.– We may place our own limits on what we do out of politeness.» Such politeness may express a social value which everyonekeeps.» These social expectations are not to be underestimated.» EG: they may be strong enough to force a gay man to marry awomen for the sake of the family or community.
Libertarianism• Personality and Moral Self• Conscience• Causally Undetermined Choice
Libertarianism• Personality and Moral Self– John Stuart Mill: On Liberty• The views of the mob will crush the diversity if individualpeople– “In this age the mere example of no-conformity, the mere refusalto bend the knee to custom, is itself a service.”• The value of the community and state is provided by th eindividuals within it– “The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of theindividuals composing it.”• People must not harm other people• Human personality is an expression if free will and humanbeings cannot develop if they cannot exercise their will
Libertarianism• Conscience• We should act in a way which fits our principles and beliefs• Central to human dignity – personal integrity– Erosion of conscience by social pressure of state coercion makes people less human because it limits our free moral decisionmaking– Aquinas– “It is the reason making moral judgements or choice values.”» A device for distinguishing right from wrong, rather than inner knowledge– “Synderesis Rule”» People tend towards good and away from evil» The reason sometimes people do evil deeds is due to mistake – pursuing and apparent good and not a real good› Synderesis – right reason awareness of moral principle to do good and avoid evil› Conscientia – distinguishes between right and wrong and makes the moral decision– Butler– Humans influenced by two basic principles: Self-love and Benevolence (love of others)– Conscience directs us away from focusing on the happiness or interest of others and away from focusing on ourselves– More intuitive view on conscience than Aquinas’» Must obey conscience and no consider other options – God given– John Henry Newman– Catholic cardinal– “I toast the Pope, but I toast the conscience first”– Human dignity, humans are judged by it– Freud– Human psyche inspired by powerful desires that had to be satisfied» Ego –accounts for the realities of the world and society that restrict the degree that the desires can be satisfied» Super ego – internalises and reflects anger and disapproval of others– Creates guilty conscience – pre-rational, out come of conflict and aggression– The conscience can limit our freedom as it curtails our behaviour
Libertarianism• Causally Undetermined Choice– When a moral choice is made, there is nooverriding power making the person chose one oranother• We are not compelled to act by forces outside ourmoral consciousness• Moral actions are not chance/random events – theyresult from the character of the moral agent– Accept we are constrained by laws of physics– Autonomous for moral behaviour» Even if predisposed to evil – moral perception can stillpresent the idea as wrong
Determinism• The Principle of Causality• Hard Determinism• Soft Determinism• Internal and External Causation
Determinism• The Principle of Causality– The principle of or relationship between causeand effect• Spinoza– “…men think themselves free on account of this alone, thatthey are conscious of their actins and ignorant of the causes ofthem.”» We are ignorant of the real causes behind our actions
Determinism• Hard Determinism– We are not free and cannot be held morallyresponsible for our actions• “And the first Morning of Creation wrote What the LastDawn of Reckoning shall read.” - Khayyam• “Pear trees cannot bear bananas. The instincts of aspaniel cannot be the instincts of an ostrich. Everythingis planned, connected, limited.” – Voltaire– Newtonian view• all physical objects, living or otherwise must exist inaccordance with natural laws
Determinism• Soft Determinism– Only some aspects of human beings are determined –so we are morally responsible for our actions– Compatibilists – free will and determinism arecompatible• Freedom is acting voluntarily and not out of coercion• Some actions = conditioned / others = complex collection ofcauses – freely decided or willed• You can change aspects that lead to choices being influenced– ie: in the case of phobias• Appreciates the importance of physics, genetics andpsycology
Determinism• Internal and External Causation– Again, genetics and environment– Clarence Darrow case– “Diminished Responsibility”– Someone kills a person who has been abusing them – they are treateddifferently in court to a person who simply murders another, as emotionsare deemed to have affected moral freedom– Milgram Experiment– Ordinary people could be persuaded to carry our cruel tasks by a strongauthority figure» Like for the Nazi experiments:» "Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust hadmutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?"• In other words, "Was there a mutual sense of morality amongthose involved?" Milgrams testing suggested that it could havebeen that the millions of accomplices were merely followingorders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs.
Religious Perspectives• Traditional Judeo-Christian View– Free autonomous agents, responsible for our actions– Genesis: Adam and Eve eat forbidden fruit– “man chooses not of necessity but freely” –Aquinas– Links into conscience– Aquinas suggest the fall leads to a weakness in the moral fabric of humanityand this can only be restored by God• Protestant– Predestination• The view that God has already decided who will be saved and who will not (originatesform St Paul’s letters to the Romans)– “The potter has authority over the clay from the same lump to make onevessel for honour and another for contempt” – Augustine• Determinism threatens why religious people lead good lives – why begood if fate is already determined• Libertarianism – the idea of being bale o do whatever you like, does not fitin with the idea of religious moral codes which restrict our actions