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Free Will Vs Morality

This page brings together the responses to the question 'What are the current view points on "Free Will" ?' that relate to morality.

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  1. Determinism vs Free Will: Hobbes and Hume believed in compatiblism. This states that even if determinism is true moral responsibility can still exist. Moral responsibility needs only voluntariness. i.e. it must come from within and not be forced upon you by someone or something outside. It doesnít matter if your genes and upbringing created your personality, itís still your personality and you are responsible for it.

  2. I disagree with comment 2 and agree with Kant in that free will and determinism are incompatible. Moral responsibility requires more than voluntariness. A free choice must also be originated by the person. i.e. that it is not FORCED by anything that has gone before, like your upbringing.

  3. Do I have a choice? of good or bad? I know to steal is wrong. I am hungry. I feel guilt. I steal the apple to eat. Tomorrow I feel guilt. I am hungry I do not steal the apple to eat. The following day I am hungry I feel guilt and steal the apple to eat. I am having thoughts of good and evil and acting differently on different days. Can I weigh good and bad? am I free to act bad or good? Can I act bad knowing good is right? am I choosing? am I morally responsible for my actions? Can I be conscious of acting bad and good before I act? Can I think of two choices before I act? How can you know if I act one way, that I had no choice? Can you assume I had no choice because you believe other factors undeterminable by you cause me to act? How do you know that I had no choice? Rhetorically speaking of course.

  4. Not taking comment 11 rhetorically and believing in free will and the existence of absolute moral values: Yes. Yes. Yes, that is how you can have thoughts of good and evil and act differently on different days. Yes. No, no one consciously, or at least subconsciously, believes that what they are about to do is an unjustifiable and evil act according to the moral system they believe in. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, obviously. You can't. Assume no, believe yes. I don't.

  5. From Comment 12 "No, no one consciously, or at least subconsciously, believes that what they are about to do is an unjustifiable and evil act according to the moral system they believe in." I think you are wrong here. "subconsciously" and "to the moral system they believe in" ? Can you know this 'subconscious' assuming it exists? I don't have that kind of knowing. does this moral system change every second? Are you saying you don't believe I can commit an act which I know is not justifiable in my own moral standards? I am convinced I am capable of planning and committing an evil act...knowing that it is absolutely wrong. As and example I may kill an illicit lover because she might expose me. I know it is morally wrong, I just do not wish to suffer the consequences of her actions. I have absolutely no doubt of the wrongness of this act, I just act selfishly, avoiding embarrassing myself in front of the world and I kill her? Is there any way I do not know this is morally wrong? I believe I am fully capable of knowing that murder does not weigh more heavily than the embarrassment or trouble I may be in. I believe I can act intentionally wrong, and plain selfishly....fully against my moral standards.

  6. By a personal moral standard I mean the morals with which one judges oneself and with possible variations others. Is the death penalty justifiable? or white lies? for example. These may change from day to day but not second to second. Speaking from my experience about acts that I now believe to be morally wrong (according to my personal moral system) I remember justifying them to myself before I did them. Not speaking personally now, excuses used in these contexts are "What they don't know won't hurt them", "It's not about them it's about me" In the above case you might think that your illicit lover's life is worth less than your good reputation. Some people justify stealing because they need the money to live and the victims are insured. My point is that people do not believe that what they are about to do is morally wrong in their eyes. Everyone believes that in their special case they are justified.

  7. Re: Comment 18. Surely an omnipotent God could have set up the world with free will in it? If he did then you do have a choice and you are morally responsible.

  8. Actually, an omnipotent God can't do everything. For instance, he can't send someone to both heaven and hell. Perhaps he can't create freewill. 

  9. If my actions/thoughts are not caused then they are random. Either way I cannot be held responsible.   

  10. Several people have said that if their actions are the accumulation of outside factors (e.g. genes, upbringing, chemicals) then they cannot be blamed.  These people appear to see themselves as separate from this accumulation of outside factors, as mere observers. This is not true, they are identical with the accumulation. If the accumulation commits a crime, then they have committed a crime, it is irrelevant if they were predetermined to do it.

  11. Comment 10 surely goes against our system of justice. You should not blame a car for breaking sharply if the car was forced to by someone pushing the pedal. Likewise you should not blame someone for committing a predetermined crime.

  12. Re. comment 11: To continue your analogy. Just as you should take a car to the garage to fine tune the breaking system you should send someone who commits a crime to prison to fine tune them. If someone is a danger to society they should be locked up whether they have freewill over their actions or not (this is what we do with dangerous lunatics.)

  13. Re comment 8: An omnipotent God has to be able to do everything by definition. In this example, he has chosen to create a system whereby certain rules of physics are followed.

  14. Re comment 13: I'd like to know what definition of omnipotence the author of comment 13 is thinking of. Is it "be able to do anything", in which case can God create a circle with four corners? Is it " be able to do anything not logically inconsistent", in which case can God sin? Commit suicide? Is it "be able to do anything which is not incompatible with his nature", in which case, does the definition of omnipotence vary from being to being? Can humans be declared omnipotent without being able to fly unaided? [The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a comprehensive, and confusing,  essay on omnipotence. For a simpler but one-sided essay try Joe Lau's. - Webmaster]

  15. Re [12]. Yes, but you would then try to repair the car, not 'punish' it. Therefore one should aim to reform criminals, and no element of retribution should enter the equation.

  16. Surely putting them in prison is retribution in itself.

  17. Some mentally deficient criminals are spared from prison time and are instead sent elsewhere under the grounds that since they could not control or understand their actions, they should not be liable for the consequences. I think that if there is no free will, this privilege should be extended to all people. Disband prisons. How is it fair to punish someone for an action over which he or she had no control?

 

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The Ontological Argument | Index