Critically Assess the Claim That People Are Free to Make Moral Decisions

Topics: Free will, Determinism, Jean-Paul Sartre Pages: 3 (956 words) Published: October 12, 2012
3) Critically assess the claim that people are free to make moral decisions (35) Libertarians support the view that people have free will and so we are free to make moral decisions. For a Libertarian, the key evidence for this is the act of decision making in our daily lives. Hume states that “experience is what we see to be true”, each human being experiences the feeling of being free to make a decision. If experiencing any other action constitutes it to be true, then why not the same for free will? Libertarians argue that we have awareness of the choices we make; we can choose to do anything that we are capable of. Though we are influenced by our environment and experiences, ultimately we can make our own decisions, nothing is inevitable or determined. Libertarians hold the belief of a moral self; humans want to want to do things. For example, a smoker may think it would be a good idea to give up smoking, but their addiction is too strong for them to think it possible or in any way likely; they want to want to give up smoking. Humans are unique in this way and it is this which is called the moral self. Libertarians are dualists believing that the human mind is separate from the physical world. It is because of this that our reason and autonomy, our moral self, can transcend over other causal determinants. Kant argues that by applying reason to decisions we can escape any authority from cause and effect or desires and emotions, we are the agents of our own decisions. Libertarians believe in a forking path of choices rather than the straight road of determinism. Existentialism greatly supports free will, the idea that we are responsible in ourselves for our moral behaviour and it is our choices and actions that give us purpose. “It is only in our decisions that we are important.” Jean-Paul Sartre was a great believer in this: that everything depends on the individual and the meaning he gives to his life. He argued that all physical objects have an essence that...
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