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Answering the Freedom Question

  • Date Submitted: 10/23/2011 08:40 PM
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Answering the freedom question
The notion of freedom has always played a central role in many human interactions. Throughout history, we know people have fought many wars to gain freedom. It also plays a crucial part in our government today. We are free to vote for our next leader. We are held responsible when we commit a crime because of the presupposition that we were free to choose what we did, and we made the wrong decision. A father can make a promise to his daughter to make an event happen in the future, and his ability to make it happen is governed by the choices he makes. We take freedom for granted. However, science has taught us that the physical and biological realms our bodies are part of display well defined causal connections. A meteorologist can predict the weather. A doctor can prescribe us antibiotics when we get sick because she knows the antibiotic will cause the illness to fade. Given the previous facts, the determinist theory states that because we are confined to a physical universe and we are biological beings, our actions must follow the same causal relationships. On the other side of the debate are the indeterminists who argue that although some actions are in fact determined, many are not. They believe that because we are human, our brains have special sets of abilities which distinguish us from other “bodies” (i.e. atoms, animals). Although both the determinist and indeterminist theories can be strong, I believe William James’ answer seems most compelling. For him, there is no determinist theory which can coincide with the lived experience. Most people live their lives with the assumption that personal freedom and moral responsibility exist and their actions follow this belief. But that is not to say all action is free.
Baron d’Holbach is one of the most famous determinists. D’Holbach was a strong advocate of the power of the universe controlling human action. The universe is made up of laws, which according to him are immutable and...


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