Freedom Is an Illusion

Topics: Free will, Causality, Determinism Pages: 4 (1510 words) Published: January 9, 2007
‘Freedom is an Illusion' – Discuss
Freedom is a concept that is held in high regard and cherished by the majority of people. We use this freedom every day to make choices concerning our actions and reactions to situations that we find ourselves in, whether that be the choice of what to eat, or more serious choices such as whether to abort an unwanted baby. Actions and decisions can be prevented or changed by circumstances beyond the control of the person, but by this point it is generally the case that a decision or choice has already been made by the person concerning the course of action that they were going to take. Determinists would argue a different perspective. Determinism is the belief that free will does not exist and that choices and decisions are made externally to us, by controlling gods or by fate. It is the belief that there is no such thing as freedom of choice in any situation, that we never have any say in what we do, and we are in fact like machines in that we are told what to do by something external to us. Everything in this world has a cause, and each of those causes in turn also had a cause, and this chain can be followed back to show a long, linear causal chain. (See Fig.1, below). This would indicate that we cannot possibly be free in terms of our actions, because we have no control over the chain of events that lead to an action. This would mean that each time we apparently make a choice, we are not really doing so because every action is caused by the actions and circumstances that preceded it. For free will to exist, surely we would have to be making choices in every situation and we would never be bound by fate? If this is true then it cannot be the case that both theories are correct. Most philosophers due to the scientific, a-posteriori evidence in its support generally accept determinism, or incompatibilism, as it can also be known, in its pure form. Science shows it to be true, as can be demonstrated by a family tree. Here each...

Bibliography: S. Blackburn, Ethics ; A Very Short Introduction, New York, Oxford University Press 2001
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