Libertarianism, Free Will And Determinism Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Libertarianism, Free Will And Determinism Deck (55):

What is the commonly held view in society?

We should be morally responsible for actions that we freely perform. We can only attribute moral blame or praise to actions that are freely undertaken


Give an example of ignorance?

If a general in a war sends his troops into a valley that he believes to be safe, he is not morally blameworthy if there is a secret ambush that kills all his troops, assuming he could not have known what was going to happen. If, on the other hand, he had sent them to their deaths knowingly, or without making appropriate checks, then he would be morally blameworthy. Negligence is immoral


How can someone not be in control of his or her actions and are they blameworthy?

Because of drugs, alcohol or some other disorientating influence- such as emotional trauma or a psychological condition- then that person is not entirely morally responsible for his or her actions.


Why is someone's intention important?

Intention has some bearing on moral culpability. Criminals who intend to commit their crimes are punished more heavily than those who commit unplanned crimes.


What did Kant say?

"Ought" implies "can". Moral actions are freely undertaken actions


What did Kant believe?

Humans are free to make rational choices. Without freedom, the possibility of making moral choices is denied. This ability to freely rationalise, or reason, is what sets humans apart from other animals that lack this capability. If people are not free, the possibility of making moral choices is denied.


How do our genes curtail our freedom?

Early stage of understanding on the impact genetic combinations have on predispositions. The extent to how much these govern our behaviour is not clear- you may have enough willpower to restrain yourself. Predisposition does not necessarily lead to action


What could our volition/ self restraint be down to?

Might be to do with genetics but also might be down to religious or ethical beliefs, or psychological or emotional capacities- inner strengths that enable us to live in a more authentic way which is closer to our principles. Some people are more risk averse


What did Skinner argue?

The discussion about moral behaviour did not take into account what science is telling us. He was critical of attempts to control people by changing attitudes or building a sense of moral responsibility. They do not show the understanding of the impact that the environment has on human behaviour. Skinner thought that people were fooled by an unscientific old fashioned view of human beings that we are in control of our actions and can reason the right thing to do. He argued that environment was full of factors which exercised degrees of control over human beings. If Skinner is right, then our ideas about freedom and morality and also punishment are challenged


What's a social contract?

An arrangement by which the individual gains benefits from being part of a group, at the cost of some limitations or restrictions on how the individual behaves. Freedoms and rights are given up in the interest of social order. Within the social contract tensions can emerge over how much diversity is allowed


What is libertarianism?

We are free and morally responsible for our actions. They believe that we are not compelled to act by forces outside our moral consciousness. Moral actions are mot chance or random events, but result from the values and character of the moral agent.
If i am brought up among criminals i may be predisposed to think that stealing is acceptable, but moral perception can present the idea that it is wrong. Some people give in to temptation while others hold out.


What did John Stuart Mill argue?

Concerned that the individual should not be crushed by the will of the many in society or by the state. He was just as concerned that the views of the mob would crush the diversity of individual people as he was that the state would control what they did


What did mill say?

'The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself'


What did Mill say about identity?

My identity is as much a feature of my own choices as it is something given at birth. Human personality is an expression of free will and human beings cannot develop if they cannot exercise their will.


What did libertarians say about freedom?

Moral responsibility requires freedom. They suggest we have a sense of self determination or freedom to act. Freedom is an important, perhaps defining, feature of what it means to be a human person, what it means to be a moral self


Why are libertarians incompatibilists?

They maintain that free will is incompatible with determinism


What did Plato say that supports libertarianism?

"Your destiny shall not be allotted to you, but you shall choose it for yourselves"


How do libertarians distinguish between a persons formed character/personality and their moral self?

Personality is governed by causal laws, which are capable of scientific explanation and prediction. The personality one has is formed by hereditary and environment and limits the choices one has, thus making us more likely to choose certain kinds of actions and not others. A youth who is brought up surrounded by violence and crime is more likely to decide on a career of violence and crime but this is not inevitable. If the youth is aware of the significance of their actions it is possible that their moral self will counteract the tendencies of their personality and cause them to do something morally right.


What is the moral self?

An ethical concept, which comes into operation when we decide what to do in situations of our moral choice. Most often this involves deciding between self interest and duty. This is what distinguishes humans from animals.


How/why is conscience important to libertarianism?

I should not be forced or required to do something that I genuinely believe is wrong. I may hold the view that all killing is wrong and if so i should not be required to fight a war for a country. People who hold conscience to be important see it as a central feature of human dignity. The erosion of conscience, by social pressure or direct state coercion, makes people less human because it limits our free moral decision making


What do libertarians say and conscience and the majority?

It might be argued that an individual conscience should heed to the greater will of the people, as reflected by the state. This view however, gives value only to the weight of the majority. There is a sense that when a human is forced to act against their will, a crime is done against against all human beings, not simply the individual. Eg it may have been in the majority interests of Nazi Germany to eliminate Jews but such acts are still wrong


What does the bible say about conscience?

There are accounts of how sinful acts left the sinner with a profound sense of sin in the heart.
In the New Testament, St Paul mentions conscience many times. He describes it as an awareness of what is good and bad, and observes that it can be weak and mistaken


What does Rabbinic literature say about conscience?

Discusses the existence of both evil and good inclinations. Good inclinations are supported by the Torah and reason


What does Islam say about conscience?

Islam means surrendering to the will of Allah, so any idea of an individual internal moral authority is alien to Islam


What did St Augustine say about conscience?

A tool for observing the law of god within human hearts. God gives us conscience to determine his law, which is laid down. St Augustine identified it as the voice of God speaking to us


What are the criticisms of libertarianism?

Determinists maintain that decision making is an illusion and surely to some extent it is as our personality is determined by other factors and so will our decisions


What supports libertarianism?

Plenty of people from violent backgrounds have gone on to be good people


What did Aquinas say about conscience?

He thought that people tended towards the good and away from evil. Aquinas thought that the reason people sometimes did evil deeds was because they had made a mistake. They had pursued an apparent good and not a real good- their consciences were mistaken


What did the Roman Catholic Church say about conscience?

Adopted Aquinas' understanding that not following conscience was always wrong. It is a deep sense of right and wrong from God, although He also taught us that conscience can never motivate you to do something that goes against what is morally right. Aquinas believed that consciences should be informed, as ignorance can lead conscience astray.
However, there is a disagreement about what to do when your informed conscience goes against the established teachings of the church. In principle, this should be impossible, but many Catholics have difficulty in accepting certain aspects of the Church's sexual teachings. Some research suggests the teaching on the use of artificial contraception is widely ignored


What is the Jamie Bulger case study and what would libertarians argue?

John Venables and Robert Thompson were two boys aged 10 and 11 who tortured and murdered 3 year old Jaimie Bulger. They made the decision as free agents to carry out the murder, knowing it was morally wrong. It was a pre meditated crime which makes them more aware and morally responsible. Their environment and upbringing had nothing to do with it, they knew right from wrong and chose wrong


What is hard determinism?

We are not free and cannot be held morally responsible for our actions. Everything has a prior cause, universal causation


How does Ted Hondrich define hard determinism?

"Our actions are not more than effects of other equally necessitated events." All actions have a prior cause. Humans are not free to act. Our actions are determined by a complex set of prior cases.


What causes our actions?

Gene combinations may have a powerful influence on how we respond. Our socio-economic backgrounds, religio-cultural backgrounds and experience of life may affect us in such a way that our behaviour is determined rather than free. In 2002 scientists found evidence that a particular gene predisposed children towards bad behaviour and they concluded that children who were abused and had the gene were more likely to go on to abuse others


What is the case of Clarence Darrow?

An American attorney who defended two boys who murdered a 14 year old boy called Bobby Franks. The two murdered were rich and very intelligent, and had planned a perfect crime to illustrate their superiority over society. They were facing the death penalty but Darrow brought their sentence down to life imprisonment because they were the products of their upbringing


What was Milgram's study and how does it support determinism?

Experiment with electric shock on obedience to authority. He argues that the experiments demonstrated that ordinary people would do evil things if asked to do so by an authority figure. This lends weight to the determinism argument that our moral freedom is illusory and open to manipulation by external factors


What is the Mary Bell case and how does it support determinism?

Mary Bell aged 11 was convicted of the murder of two toddlers. Her mother was a prostitute who specialed in sado-masochism, which Mary was forced to listen to. She was abused by her mother and her mothers clients. Determinists would argue that she was not responsible for her violent actions, knowing only violence.


What is soft determinism?

The middle ground. Hold that only some aspects of human beings are determined, therefore we are morally responsible for our actions. They argue that determinism doesn't rule out free will. They believe that certain elements of determinism and free will are compatible. For them, freedom to act is acting voluntarily and not out of coercion. An act is free unless compelled by another person. This midway position suggests that some of our actions are conditioned, while others have so complex a collection of causes they may properly be described as freely decided or willed.


What did Hume believe?

Free acts are not uncalled. Instead they are caused by our choices and our choices are determined by our beliefs, desires and our personalities. Our decisions are made as a part of a process that had a causal chain of events and so are determined.


How are soft determinists criticised?

Hard determinists criticise them for failing to realise the extent to high human freedom is limited, and by libertarians for failing to realise the true extent of human freedom. Libertarians will argue that what sort determinists call free choice is not free choice buy something else. However, soft determinists think that libertarians do not fully understand the significance of human psychology and that free choices cannot be undetermined causes


What can be used to argue soft determinism?

Gandhi fasting for India was caused by his education, upbringing and Hindu faith but also because he had the free will to decide


What is the traditional Judeo-Christian view of free will?

Human beings are free, autonomous agents, responsible for their actions. In Genesis Eve practises her free will by choosing to eat the forbidden fruit. They are held responsible for their actions by God, who punishes them.


What is the alternative Christian view of free will?

Held by some Protestant churches. This is the view that God has already decided who will be saved and who will not. This idea is predestination which originates in St Paul's letter to the Romans.


What's a quote from John Calvin about predestination?

God "ordains eternal life for some and eternal damnation for others"


What does predestination suggest?

The idea that God decides who recites she salvation and who does not at creation suggests humans do nor have free will in regard to their moral and religious behaviour. This idea has significance in the debate about whether they are saved by God's grace alone.


What did Aquinas argue about predestination?

Since the fall of man, man was stained by original sin. Human nature has been impaired by human sin and is in need of redemption. While this does not prevent free moral action, it suggests a weakening in the moral fabric of humanity that needs to be repaired through restoration that only God can bring


What does Islam say about free will?

Within Islam there is a strong sense that what happens occurs because it is god's will that it should be. Nothing can happen without it being in accordance with God's will. This seems closer to the deterministic view that all actions have causes, but it is not quite. God does not force every drop of rain to fall, even though rain falls in accordance with His will. However, in Islam there is a clear idea that a human being has a duty to act as God's regent on earth, to make appropriate moral decisions


What does Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism say about free will?

The role of causality has particular assassinations around the doctrine of Karma. Human actions cause effects that are felt in the next life. Freedom may be limited by the consequences of previous actions in previous lives.


How free are human actions and choices?

We operate on a working theory that we choose what to do. We are thinking, evaluating human beings with the power to act. It is a central characteristic and capacity of what it means to be a human being. However, how we think about moral choices, the ideas, beliefs and values which we have adopted or been brought up with, all come to bear. When faced with a choice to do something I want to do but think may be bad, the ways of thinking which have been engrained in me will put pressure on my will. I may be predisposed to behave in certain ways which i am not even conscious of. We may be much less free than we think.


What analogy did John Locke use to explain the illusion of free will?

The idea of a sleeping man who is moved into a locked room. He wakes up and chooses not to leave the room, even though he could walk out if he wanted. In fact, the door is locked and he cant leave. We may believe we have free will and we may feel that's we can choose any number of options, when in truth our moral choices are determined by factors beyond our control


Can you have true libertarianism?

An extreme extension of libertarianism is that a human being should be completely free to act and the presence of others impairs that freedom. If i have to take account of anyone else or obey anyone else when deciding what to do, then my liberty is curtailed. However, even in isolation it is arguable that we not treat our actions as if they had no moral consequences. Libertarianism has always deployed the harm principle to curtail human action. If there were absolutely no constraints on anyone no one couple be free because of what others do.
It does not advocate anarchy, just argues the value of the individual


Does libertarianism require no influences to be truly free?

It seems impossible to imagine that there are no influences on us.
If by true freedom we mean we act completely disconnectedly from anything else, any other experiences or thought system, any other perceptions or beliefs, then we are not truly free. However, this is not the kind of freedom libertarianism advocates


What are the strengths of libertarianism and free will?

Recognises moral responsibility and this also encourages people to seek behaviour that is constructive and meaningful to society
It explains the moral diversity of our world given the fact that different people will make different decisions
The belief in free will justifies reward and punishment sanctions and 'makes sense' of things, justifying the parameters of our societies and legal systems


What are the weaknesses of libertarianism and free will?

Libertarianism does not recognise the finding of science that everything is determined and interconnected
Libertarianism does not allow for conditioning of behaviour when scientific experiments demonstrates that this occurs
Libertarianism cannot explain why actions and behaviours are chaotic if uncaused libertarianism has the problem that there is conflict when one person's liberty opposes the freedom of another person, meaning that no one can be said to have true liberty


What are the strengths of determinism?

Moral responsibility is recognised in soft determinism
It is in accordance with what we know from behavioural science, psychology and genetics


What are the weaknesses of determinism?

Too inflexible a system to be true and is not always in accordance with what we actually experience
Determinism cannot explain human nature and behaviour effectively enough
Determinism denies all moral responsibility and this would be devastating for society