Libertarianism: Free Will and Inner Acts

Topics: Free will, Determinism, Choice Pages: 3 (1162 words) Published: March 25, 2001
For centuries philosophers have debated over the presence of free will. As a result of these often-heated arguments, many factions have evolved, the two most prominent being the schools of Libertarianism and of Determinism. Within these two schools of thought lies another debate, that of compatibilism, or whether or not the two believes can co-exist. In his essay, Has the Self "Free Will"?, C.A. Campbell, a staunch non-compatiblist and libertarian, attempts to explain the Libertarian argument.

To achieve this, Campbell first sets out the two pre-suppositions necessary to the Libertarian argument. Firstly, he defines which kind of freedom he is discussing when he speaks of free will. Campbell characterizes "the freedom at issue" as one that predominantly concerns a person's inner acts and decisions (377). A person's observable acts are important only as they show an inner "life of choice"(377). Therefore the moral freedom assumed is that freedom which concerns inner acts. The second, and more complicated, of Campbell's requirements is to define what constitutes a "free act." There are two parts to this definition. The first necessitates "that the act must be one of which the person judged can be regarded as the sole author" (378). This point raises the question of how one can determine authorship. For certainly "the raw material of impulses and capacities that constitute [one's] hereditary endowment" cannot be determined by the individual and surely have an impact on his inner acts (378). Further, the individual cannot control "the material and social environment in which he is destined to live" and these factors must influence his inner acts as well (378). Campbell allows that, while these aspects do have an impact on one's inner acts, people in general "make allowances" for them, and still feel morally responsible for one's self (378). In other words, one recognizes the effects of hereditary and environment on his inner acts, but acknowledges...
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