“Without real freedom there would be no ethical decisions to make,” Discuss.

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"Without real freedom there would be no ethical decisions to make," Discuss. In making ethical decisions you are exercising an ability to make moral judgements and take moral responsibility. How does freedom tie in with this? Does an action have to be undertaken freely for you to be morally responsible for it? If an action is taken intentionally and consciously then surely he who took the action is responsible for the consequences of the action. So long as action was taken as a choice between various other actions and was a deliberate choice then the agent is accountable for the choice he made. If we can describe the action as being either right or wrong or good or bad then we assume that the agent took these factors into account when choosing to act. This shows that he had the capacity for deliberate choice, and acted freely towards his intentions. It was because he acted freely that he became responsible for the act and because he chose to act in that way when he was faced with a number of other choices he accepted his own free will as an autonomous moral agent. If an action is performed unintentionally or against will, then surely the agent is not responsible for the consequences? He did not have the freedom to decide and was unable to choose his actions and so, a difference is specified between voluntary actions and involuntary actions. Voluntary actions are those done through the initiative of the agent out of free will and choice, whereas involuntary actions are carried out through coercion or taken without knowing the consequences of the act i.e.


set and what we feel we decide is irrelevant to anything that actually happens, Johns Locke's locked room scenario[3][3] is an example of this. The man decides but ultimately his decision is inconsequential. We appear to have decisions to make we can claim no responsibility for. If an ethical choice is one that carries moral consequence it will require moral deliberation and carry some form of moral responsibility. Determinism removes this moral responsibility and so removes ethical decisions. If a freedom which makes human free-will relevant doesn't exist, making ethical choices is impossible. Imcompatibilists realise that determinism creates a situation where free will is obsolete and see an incompatibility between hard determinism and moral responsibility. Because of this, they would argue that universal causation is not necessarily relevant to human actions. They do not deny any influence to the human mind that could have an effect on the way in which one might act, but they claim that there is still a large aspect of freedom of choice involved. John Locke's scenario can argue as well for this idea as it can for the concept of determinism which it was intended. In the situation the outcome is set by means of the door being locked, but the human is still able make the choice between option A or B whether he is able to act on it or not. The arguments Libertarianists give for the existence of human free will are largely based on the defined different between ones personality/psychological self and ones moral self.


If this is the case then the question uses simple tortology to suggest that, what we say is the ability to make ethical decisions (freedom), is needed to make ethical decisions, and without it we can't. _______________________ [6][1] J.L.Mackie Ethics Inventing Right and Wrong (Penguin 1977) Page208 [7][2] The theory of universal causation. [8][3] Locked room scenario- A sleeping man is placed in a room with a locked door. When he wake he consciously decide to remain in the room and make no attempt to leave, not knowing that The door is locked. It is a decision made by him and he could have decided to try and leave. In reality he has no choice, he only believes he has a choice because he is ignorant to the truth-This scenario fails to cover the fact that the mans decision to stay was merely convenient and if he had actually decided to leave the chain of events, if only mentally, would have been different. The hard determinist view point would surely be that his decision to stay in the room would be pre determined by previous events and the fact that the door was locked would be irrelevant. [9][4] Theories based on Freudian ideas suggest that "behaviour is wholly determined by the unconscious parts of our minds". The conscious part of our mind has very little to do with the way we operate and essentially we are not in control. This would be a strong argument for determinism but there is little evidence to suggest it should be the case and at present is obsolete. ((Quote from J.L.

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