Are you free? Chapter 4 starts with this very simple question period it seems like it should be a pretty simple answer, because when many of us read this the first answer that I know comes to my mind is yes, I am free. I have the privilege to be born into a country where I am free to choose who I married, I am able to choose what career I want to work, Where I want to attend college, how many kids I want to have, who I want to vote for, what I want to wear, I am free to speak my mind and I am free to practice the religion that I choose for myself. My First Amendment rights as a United States Citizen state The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. It prohibits any laws that establish a national religion, impede the free exercise of religion, abridge the freedom of speech, infringe upon the freedom of the press, interfere with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibit citizens from petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Do having these rights truly make us free? Philosophically, this is not that easy of an answer. The marionette puppet shown on page 157 of our book brings me to question another view of freedom. Are we really truly free to make the choices we do or is there someone or something else in the background making these choices for us?
In this paper I plan to compare and contrast the concepts of determinism, capitalism, and libertarianism. I will explain the strengths and weaknesses of each of these positions and inform my audience of which of these concepts I believe is most likely to be correct and why I believe this to be true.
Determinism is the view that every event including human action is brought about by previous events in accordance with universal casual laws that govern the world. And that human freedom is an illusion. Hard determinists believe that every behavior can be traced to a cause. Some popular explanations of human behavior that show the deterministic view are
HUMAN NATURE People are born with certain basic instincts that influence in determine how they behave. (p.159) What this means is there is no possibility of free choice because our actions necessarily follow from our inborn nature, and we cannot be other than we are. Whether we do good or ill in life is really beyond our control, and we cannot alter our fundamental character. (Chaffee, 2013, p.159)
THE ENVIONMENT people are shaped by their environment conditioned by their experiences to be the kind of people they are (p.160) An example of this is a person that was taught to be kind and help others as opposed to another person that was raised and taught to turn a blind eye when someone needed help. According to determinists neither of these people are responsible for their actions because they didnt choose their environment and were molded by forces beyond their control (Chafee, 2013 p 160).
PSYCHOLOGICAL FORCES People are governed by psychological forces, many of them unconscious that caused him to think, feel, an act in certain ways. (p.160) So when the coach sexually abused children on his teams, he was not actually choosing this reprehensible course of action; He was impelled by psychological forces over which he had no control. In this view, behavior results from psychological motivations, often repressed, that form the basic structure personality. Feelings of freedom are illusory (Chaffee,2013 p. 160)
SOCIAL DYNAMICS – People are social creatures who are greatly influenced by the people around them. (p.160) The need to conform to the prevailing norms, to be accepted by peer groups, to please those who are close to them, to obey those in positions of authority – these and other social needs determine people’s behavior and define who they are as individuals. (Chaffee, 2013, p.160)
Compatibilism is the view that all events including human action are caused. However, we can consider human actions free if they are the result of internal motivations and not the product of external influences or constraints. (Chaffee, 2013, p.160) Some examples of compatibilism are
Libertarians Believe that people are able to make genuinely free choices by exercising their free will (Chaffee, 2013 p. 197?) They believe that we are fully responsible for our actions with no excuses to be made. Libertarian see the individual as a basic unit of social analysis. American philosopher William James believed the fact that most people live their lives based on the assumption that personal freedom and responsibility are valid concepts is a compelling reason for believing in the reality of the concepts themselves (CHAFFEE, 2013, P. 194.) Our belief in self-improvement, morality, religion, and social improvement are a testament to our belief in free choice. Or without free choice improvement in any of these areas would be for not, because we would be on a predetermined track. James says that there are two ways in which people can view the world.
Now that we have a better understanding of Determinism, compatibilism and libertarianism I will compare the three and discuss what makes them similar to one anothe