Freedom and Determinism: Are Human Beings Free?
Is freedom an idea which is available to us in modern society, and in general history? Or is it that freedom is an illusion which no man could possibly possess? If freedom is illusory, then it leaves the question as to why it is an ideal so sought after in mankind. The problem of freedoms is at the core of meta-ethical reflection, as it is the possibility of moral behaviour. Hence, if freedom is a myth – a curtain laid across the stage, or Universe – then so is morality.
Assuming that freedom is a legitimate ideal, which plays a significant role in the play of life, then there are two types of freedom to consider; these are: negative freedom (freedom from constraint or coercion), and positive freedom (freedom for inclusion). Negative freedom is essentially about not stopping an individual from doing what they want, regardless of the consideration of other’s liberty. Positive freedom, however, is the participation of what is genuinely good for an individual, while considering the freedom of others.
In contemporary society, people are often skewed towards negative freedom, often due to the conception that the Government is stripping society of freedom. Yet, as stated in my statement regarding Government conspiracies, the general idea of a Government is to maintain civility and equality at the expense of negative freedom. Leviathan by Hobbes reinforces this fundamental, albeit generalised, ideology.
Things which are naturally granted to ourselves which we do not determine, but determine us. Such things include:
-Family of origin;
-Access to (and quality of) education;
-Actions of others;
I personally believe that I have free will, and my entire life isn’t determine by another force or nature. However, I am compatibalist in the sense that I understand facticity. Often in life we have to “play the cards we’re given”, and, as such, not everything is determined by our independent free will.
The Libertarian Thesis
In the absence of physical coercion etc.; human beings have free-will or agent: their decisions and actions are their own. The case of the Libertarian Thesis essentially boils down to the experience of deliberation, making Libertarianism incompatible with determinism.
Libertarianists rebut the argument of determinism by claiming that “I could have done otherwise had I so chosen.” For example, a Libertarianist, in defence of their belief, could say that a Determinist chose their belief in becoming a Determinist. As well as this, one could claim that just because X caused Y, it does not necessarily mean that X is the cause of Y.