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Human Freedom

April 20th, 2021
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Humans are Responsible for their Actions

In philosophy, the question of responsibility for actions and freedom of choice is considered extremely old. According to Plato, it is inferior in sharpness perhaps only to disputes about God. The doctrine of the freedom of choice raises a great number of difficult metaphysical and religious questions. It means that God’s power is not absolute in the world. Allowing a person to choose between several possibilities, God creates a situation in which His knowledge and capabilities are limited. The area of human choice is located outside the sphere of divine knowledge and action. If God knew in advance about the choice of people, a person being forced to act in accordance with this knowledge would be deprived of freedom of choice. Thus, it is considered a classic conflict of religious and philosophical freedom of human choice and the divine omniscience. In the past, it was believed that every human action was predetermined by God and fate. However, everything changed with time, and a belief that only people are responsible for their actions became highly widespread. The concept of free will and responsibility of the person was studied by numerous philosophies, and it is possible to assume that a man is responsible for all the choices and actions committed that form the whole life of the person.

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In the most general sense, freedom is the availability of various options and choices for the outcome of events (Murtagh, 2013). The lack of choice or the outcome of the scenario is equivalent to the absence of freedom. Freedom is one of the forms of manifestation of the chance directed by free will or stochastic law (Martinich, 2015). In this sense, the concept of freedom is opposite to the notion of necessity. In ethics, this concept is associated with the presence of persons’ free will (Caruso, 2012). It imposes responsibility on people and considers words and deeds as merit. The act is considered to be moral only if it is made of free will (Caruso, 2012). Besides, it is psychologically incorrect to believe that the choice is accompanied by a sense of freedom. On the contrary, free choice frequently becomes the agony of choice, and the sense of relief on the choice committed means the limitation of freedom in fact. In this sense, ethics is aimed at understanding freedom and associated responsibility.

The notion of freedom and human responsibility has a long history. In the history of the concept of freedom, the notion of creative freedom was gradually replaced by the concept of freedom from constraints and obstacles such as coercion, causality, and fate. In ancient philosophy represented by Plato and Socrates, it is primarily about freedom in fate (Dilman, 2013). Aristotle and Epicurus stated the existence of freedom from political despotism while Epicurus the calamities of human existence (Dilman, 2013). In the Middle Ages, freedom was meant the form of sin and the curse of the Church (Dilman, 2013). Therefore, there was discord between morally required human freedom and omnipotence of God required by religion. During the Renaissance and onwards, freedom was the unobstructed deployment of the human person (Dilman, 2013). Since the Enlightenment, the concept of freedom arose borrowed from liberalism and philosophy of natural law suppressed by the scientific view that recognized the dominance of the all-powerful natural causality and regularity (Dilman, 2013). German religion and philosophy starting from Meister, including Kant, Leibniz, Schiller, and Goethe, as well as German idealism of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, raised the question of freedom as the issue of the postulate of the moral and creative correspondence of the essence and development (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2013). Marxism perceived freedom as fiction (Vilhauer, 2013). According to this belief, a person acts and thinks in agreement with the motives and the environment (Vilhauer, 2013). Moreover, economic relations and class struggle play the main role in the environment. Karl Marx defined freedom as a perceived need (Vilhauer, 2013). According to Heidegger’s existentialism, the basic state of being in fear, which means the possibility of non-existence (Shabo, 2013). Fear frees a person from all the conventions of reality and, thus, enables them to achieve a certain degree of freedom (Rescher, 2009). It is also possible to choose himself/herself in the inevitable entrust of responsibility. In accordance with the existentialism of Jaspers, a person is free to overcome the existence of the world in the choice of himself/herself and reach the transcendence of Comprehensive (Rescher, 2009). Thus, throughout history, various philosophers and scientists had different attitudes to human freedom.

Free being means the possibility to exercise good or evil will. Good will has the certainty of unconditional and divine. It is limited to the unconscious stubbornness of a simple definition of being and true being. According to the existentialism of Sartre, freedom is not the property of a person but the substance (Balaguer, 2014). A person cannot be different from his/her freedom, and freedom cannot be different from manifestations. Being free, a person is able to project himself/herself on a freely chosen goal, and this goal will determine who a man is (Miller, 2015). The things appear because of a lack of differentiation and are organized into a situation that ends the person and to which he/she belongs (Lloyd, 2012). Therefore, a man is always worthy of what happens to him/her, and there is no reason to justify it.

Free will is the concept that means the possibility of smooth inner human self-determination in the fulfillment of certain goals and personal objectives. In the history of theological and philosophical thought, the concept of free will was associated with human sanity, responsibility for actions, the execution of the duty, and awareness of the destination (Griffith, 2013). The strong-willed qualities of the person are determined partly genetically and partly created by the environment that is part of the structure of the identity.

A problem of free will is closely linked with issues of moral responsibility and, thus, it arises in front of many people. The author Nicholas Rescher states that responsibility represents self-regulation of human activities and a rate of social and moral maturity of the person (2014). It implies the existence of a sense of duty and conscience as well as the ability to exercise self-control and self-management. Conscience acts as a controller of all human actions (Coates, 2013). The choice of the decision made by the person means that he/she is ready to accept the full responsibility even for something not foreseen (Vilhauer, 2009). The inevitability of the risk to commit something wrong implies the existence of courage in the man required at all stages of the activity during decision-making, in the course of its implementation, and, especially, in cases of failure (Timpe, Griffith & Levy, 2016). Consequently, freedom is not only connected with necessity and responsibility but also with the human ability to make the right choice, courage, and a large number of other factors.

Some people do not agree with the fact that a person is responsible for all actions and emphasize the fact that freedom of choice is impossible without predetermination. In the book The Source-code of Existence, it is noted that predetermination suggests that events are foreordained throughout eternity (Morose, 2011, p. 75). In the phenomenal world, there are no absolute assessments. Everything has its destiny. Everything at this stage of evolution has a spark of consciousness (Rescher, 2014). In fact, fate is only a starting point leading to new ways. All people are going to meet their fate. The more a person moves along the path, the more he/she opens that each destination has its metaphysical side (Geisler, 2010). Far beyond the physical body and the physical world, there is mysterious Something that leads people. Despite this fact, it can be perfectly combined with the freedom of choice that should be understood not as something absolute but rather as something relative. In the book The Mind of Consciousness, it is stated that predetermination is flexible (Morose, 2011, p. 337). Therefore, it can be combined with free will. As a part of the great meta-historical progress on the path of evolution, people can create their history and are responsible for what they create and do.

People of all cultures at all times faced with the problem of two approaches to life whether everything is predetermined or it is possible to change the course of things in some way with the help of the will, desires, dangers, and errors. All known cultures asked this question (Morose, 2011). Initially, people believed that everything was predetermined by gods. Nonetheless, with the development of philosophical thought, philosophies started believing in the concept of free will implying that everything depends on human desires and people are responsible for their actions. A problem of free will is considered central in philosophy. It is important to note that only a person is responsible for committed actions. All actions and decisions made by the person provoke the next step in his/her life and, therefore, every choice is crucial. However, the existence of fate should not be underestimated as it can be combined with the concept of free will.

 

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