1. Baron d'Holbach's and Hospers' Views on Free Will
According to d’Holbach, matter exists by itself, being the reason of all – it is its own reason. All material bodies are composed of atoms. D’Holbach gave a "classic" definition of matter: matter is, everything in the objective reality that is, in any way, affecting our senses, causing sensation.
Based on his concept of necessity, d’Holbach believed that human activity is subjected to strict necessity, and, therefore, there is no free will.
So, man is a part of nature; but in nature, there may be only natural cause and effect. Therefore, it is meaningless to talk about the soul, separated from the body. In the same way, it is senseless to speak of human freedom. D’Holbach says that the actions of men are never free – they always are the inevitable consequences of temperament and acquired ideas, right or false notions of happiness. In short, their point of view is based on education, examples, and standard experiences. So, a person cannot be free; any step is controlled by real or perceived benefits. Therefore, it is as if d’Holbach asks: "Can I make myself do not wish anything appearing welcome to me? How can I prevent the subject from having qualities that attract me?"
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Finally, d’Holbach says that we think that we are free simply because we are not able to trace the chain of causes and effects by which our decisions are determined, as it is complicated for us to understand them.
We can say that everyone can choose whether to move or not to move his hand. But d’Holbach says that whatever we decide we want to do, it would be just to prove that we have free will, so the action is not free.
Hospers’ ideas are close to the ideas of d’Holbach. From Hospers’ statements follows that responsibility and freedom are interrelated and interdependent phenomena and concepts. Where is no freedom - there is no responsibility. But, it is clear that the mere fact of relation between responsibility and freedom of will is not the end of the essence of responsibility.
2. Taylor’s, Stace’s and Holmstrom’s Views.
When it is said that an action depends on me, it means that I am free to perform it or not. This presupposes that there is no hindrance that prevents person from doing it and no restraint that forces person to do it. If this concerns freedom, then it is similar with determinism.
According to Taylor, philosophers are often making too much of this similarity to support a view called by him as soft determinism. It involves the next three theses:
1. Human behavior is determined.
2. Voluntary behavior can be free to the point that it is not externally forced or impeded.
3. Such behavior is caused by acts of will, decisions, and desires of the agent.
But Taylor does not agree with soft determinists; he puts such question: considering some situation, could person have acted otherwise? Yes, if person’s volitions had been otherwise. But could they have been otherwise if, by determinism, they were determined by previous conditions, which could have been different if there had been other conditions. But, by determinism, these conditions could not actually have been different. So, none of person’s actions could have been different. Consequently, person cannot be responsible for own actions. This point is supported by the illustration of the “ingenious physiologist”, who can instill volitions. This fits the definition of a free agent, who is a mere marionette of the physiologist by soft determinists.
Taylor further goes on to confirm his theory of agency to define libertarian standpoint.
Taylor’s theory of agency states that all events have causes, but changes or actions can have beginnings. A free action is incited by the agent itself. He describes an agent as a human, who can be the first cause of action in a causal sequence.
Holmstrom represents soft determinism with, so to say, added thought on the sources of the acts’ causes. An action is supposed to be free only to the level that the agent controls the beliefs and desires. Control is often like a matter of a degree. It is apparent in example with the heroin addict, who is not free, and the smoker, who is, because heroin addiction is not controlled by addict, and addiction of the smoker can be.
Stace says that punishment can only have a place if we believe that human behaviors are caused. If acting always under obligation, how can a person be responsible for the actions? Consequently, he cannot be punished for actions he could not help doing.
A person is not exempt from being punished, because knowing of his character persuaded us of how he would act.
3. Hobbes’ and Locke’s Views
The notion ‘state of nature’ was used in political philosophy by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. This is an image of the human being before the society. Locke and Hobbes have tried to depict the man as he was before the social life.
Hobbes considers the state as a result of the contract between the people that put an end to the natural pre-state of "war of all against all." Hobbes adheres to the principle of the original people equality, recognizing that each person is entitled to his share of social benefits. Individual citizens have voluntarily limited their rights and freedom in favor of the state, which task is ensuring peace and security. Hobbes advocated united centralized authority. Absolute monarchy, which he preferred to other forms of government, was, in his opinion, the best way to ensure the interests of citizens and other benefits associated with a public life. Defending the need to subordinate the church to the state, he thought it necessary to preserve religion as an instrument of state power to control people. Ethics of Hobbes comes from the sensuous "human nature". Hobbes believed that the basis of morality is "state of nature" - the desire for self-preservation. Moral obligation to its content coincides with the civil obligations arising from the social contract.
John Locke after Hobbes considers the state as a product of mutual agreement of the people, but to the fore raises not so legal criteria of human behavior in society as moral. Locke is one of the founders of the theory of jural state. His view differs from Hobbes’ as he was a follower of democratic traditions, in the political and legal thought. The civil state of society arises on a voluntary association of people and sacrifice of part of their rights. John Locke, for the first time in the history, suggested the division of powers into legislative, executive, and federative. The purpose of the state is preservation of liberty and property of citizens.
The state of nature by Locke is a state of freedom and equality. Freedom is not a source of war (the natural state of man is peace), as well as a man is an intelligent social being. The state of nature implies: the right to take charge of himself, the right to defend himself, the right for private property. Gradually, in the state of nature, there appears a private property. The reason for its appearance is labor.
4. Mill’s and Rawls’ Views.
What, does Mill ask, is the only purpose for forcing others to do what they do not want? What two freedoms, does he ask, are especially important to the right kind of the society? What are the two principles of justice arrived at by Rawls, and why does he think these principles would be acceptable to all rational beings? What does he mean by "reflective equilibrium"?
According to Mill, people (individuals and groups) may interfere with the actions of the individual for the sake of self-preservation, i.e., the power of society over the capable, intelligent individual is legitimate only in relation to those of his actions, which relate to other people. In human life, there is the sphere of individual freedom, which has direct relevance only to itself.
The only thing that any person of a civilized community is forced to do, even he/she does not want to, is not to allow any harm or violence over others.
Mill was a strong freedom believer, especially what concerns the freedom of speech and thought. He defended freedom on two bases. First, he disputes, society’s function would be maximized if each person has free right to make his or her own choices. Second, Mill believed that for development of each person as a whole, person freedom was required.
The following are two principles of justice that Rawls proposed:
“1) Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all.
2) Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both:
(a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and
(b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity” (Rawls, 1971, p. 203).
Along with these principles, Rawls proposes the requirement on priority: (2) must be satisfied after (1), and (2a) after (2b).
The central place of Rawls's theory belongs to the method of the reflective equilibrium. The first point is our moral convictions. There are definite things, which we strongly believe. One of the most moral sentiments about justice is the utter injustice of slavery and racism. We do not have to prove that slavery is wrong. It is wrong for us, and we try to find principles of justice, which include this attitude. It is an intuitive way of providing justification for our strongest moral judgments. The end result is the reflective equilibrium, which implies that our judgment is in agreement with our general principles.