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To What Extent Are Human Beings Genuinely Free?

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Introduction

To What Extent Are Human Beings Genuinely Free? To be able to answer this question successfully we must first understand what is meant by the term 'genuinely free.' By this do we mean to have limitless freedom where each choice is our own or rather freedom within certain boundaries? There are of course many different views which consider the extent of our freedom and what being free really means, ranging from ultimate, unlimited freedom to us having absolutely no freedom. If we are to believe that human beings are completely free we are likely to accept the Libertarian view: By liberty, then we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may (David Hume) Libertarianism suggests that we are entirely free to make a morally responsible decision. Libertarianism does consider the fact that some aspects of life are causally determined; however these determined aspects are only affected by the inner self of the moral agent which in itself is uncaused. ...read more.

Middle

If we apply the Libertarianism view, whether the atheist or religious position, to this question then it is simple to understand that human beings would be considered completely free. In direct contrast to this is the view of hard determinists. They believe that all our actions and decisions are predetermined by previous causes: All our choices, decisions, intentions, other mental events, and our actions are no more than effects of other equally necessitated events (Hondereich) For example, choosing what the wear in the morning is effected by certain factors such as society and what is acceptable to wear, the weather, religion, amongst other causes. Scientific evidence for this relates to Isaac Newton's Theory of Relativity that states for every action there is a positive or negative reaction, in a sense this is rather like the hard determinist theory. Our actions result from wants, wishes and motivations, which in turn are caused by specific conditions as mentioned previously. Sigmund Freud stated that the factors such as wants and wishes were the result of psychological conditioning; that our suppressed feelings produced by the human psyche (Id, Ego and Super ego) ...read more.

Conclusion

Ayer) We are making a choice within boundaries which are causally determined. Desires and intentions may determine our personality and values but our actual choice remains free. This is best explained by Internal and External causes. External causes, such as religion are determined whilst Internal causes, your own choice, are free. Therefore, we are still morally responsible for our actions even though determinism is present during our decision making. In this instance, human beings would be considered free to a certain extent yet not entirely. In conclusion, to be capable of answering this question we must have decided upon our own interpretation of what it is to be free. If we are Libertarian we believe in ultimate free will for the entire human race, yet if we are a Hard Determinist then human beings have no freedom as everything is determined by past events, and if we believe in religious Predestination then God has already made the deciding choices in our lives. Therefore, an answer may only be relevant to those whom share the same opinion: Freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be (James Baldwin) ...read more.

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