Free «Free will» Essay Sample

The concept of free will interested philosophers since ancient times and was influenced greatly by world views and ideologies of a particular historical period. At the beginning of the 21st century, philosophers debate the following question; “Do we have free will or are all of our choices determined by factors outside our conscious control?” Thesis The concept of free will is a part of state ideology but in reality a person has no free choice limited by social, economic and political factors outside our conscious control.

A modern man is limited by social relations and the environment he is a part. Some of the researchers suppose that the free man possesses three representative properties, initiative, respect for law, and mutual regard. The first shows that society has no desire to rob a gifted man of his birthright but, on the other hand, expects to aid him in every way in his struggle for personal development. John Stuart Miller admits that “since all progress is pivoted upon the ultimate, though often reluctant, admission of such a right, we have before us ample evidence of its empirical value” (cited Sober 2008, p. 66). To organize means to arrange in the systematic order of space and time certain factors that naturally belong to the given group. The process is an instrument of logic, a method designed to indicate the adoption of a governing principle together with the events and conditions subsumed under it (Kane, 2005). Every man who takes part in the social relations--conducting a business, teaching in a university, sitting in committee upon important community interests--is directly conscious of his neighbor's reactions to his ideas and is himself in turn influenced by such reactions. The sympathetic response of the group, large or small, to the solution of a definite problem gives evidence of a collective body of opinion, bordering almost on the judgment of a single mind. Still, we must remember that all such unanimity is logical in character; it represents the individual acceptances of a concrete proposal and the union of independent wills in the execution of its terms. “Each step in the organization of free will through habits or institutions means the reconciliation of a new opinion with sentiments already long in vogue” (Watson 2003, p. 43). For this reason, it has all the marks of a genuine psychological synthesis (Pereboom et al 2007).

The state order and government control do not permit free choice and free will to be executed. The capstone of all social relations is found in the state. Realism requires that we recognize this objective fact. Hume (2006) admits that “free will requires determinism” (p. 54).  Man is born within the precincts of a political society as certainly as in the bosom of a family. He learns early that there are well-defined civil obligations. In the modern world, legal organization has assumed proportions staggering to the imaginations of a simpler community. If we study the methods of compulsory registration now in vogue, we shall understand how complicated every form of human intercourse has become (Watson, 2003). The physician must submit to severe examination at the hands of an official body of experts before he can be licensed to practice his profession. Following the ideology of hard determinism, Pierre-Simon Laplace states that the state is endowed with an original and inclusive sovereignty. No theory of political organization can deny this axiom (Sober, 2008).  It means the ability of government to guarantee to its citizens the fulfillment of all those rights which spring from the structural capacities of the personality, such as the preservation of life, the cultivation of the mind, the expression of emotional aptitudes, the acquisition of the necessary material substance. “The one power in all the social complex that can undertake so great a task is the state” (Watson 2003, p. 83). In the very act of assuming corporate jurisdiction, it recognizes other social ends lying beyond its legal scope. If we grant that the state is supreme in the adjudication of vital interests, we may then inquire how its authority is to be made effective. Correlative with the assumption that society is a conscious mind has gone the doctrine that the state is an efficacious will. The theory is supported by an appeal to historic fact, the unlimited monarchy of the Tsars, the federated empire of the Germans, the corporate unity of the Fascist state. The decrees of the state are the potential decrees of every subject of the state; they are not the collective judgments of individual thinkers (Sober, 2008).

Free will cannot exist in modern society because a modern man is ruled and governed by laws and regulations. Following the principles of libertarianism, Richard Taylor and C.A.Campbell express the idea that law must be obeyed without debate or dissent. Apart from the psychological fallacy which we have already examined, there are certain practical difficulties that may not be ignored (Sober, 2008). First, the so-called general will is merely the will of a few aggressive minds superimposed upon the mass of subject wills which play no part in the decision. This is true even in states where the principle of representation is still a traditional axiom (Sober, 2008). Secondly, governments change, change so completely that not a vestige remains of their former character. Soviet Russia is a convincing example at the present moment. Thirdly, the decisions of legislators and judges frequently turn out to be wrong, as impartial statesmen admit. Replying to the contention of the Hume’s school, critics hold that there are not two standards of moral judgment, one for the multitude, the other for the masters. State action and individual action must be appraised by the same code. The Kantian school supports the doctrine that will is essentially force, since will is always embodied in law, either prescriptive or organic, and law is executed by distraint upon the person or goods of the dissenter (Watson, 2003).

In sum, the concept of free will is subjected to state regulations, social norms and outside environment. The relations between the citizen and his state signify the choice by which the diversified interests of society are to be sympathetically coördinated. The answer to the claim is that government provides for the realization of personal ideals in a social situation, and coercion is not an appropriate instrument for reaching that end. Still less effective is the enactment of pertinent statutes.


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