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Would free will encourage or discourage responsibility?

  1. Sep 23, 2004 #1
    The dilemma is that we might either be free, meaning ethically unrestrained, or free, meaning universally conscientious. What determines the outcome between the two?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2004 #2

    Some people divide freedom into freedom from and freedom to, freedom from oppression for example, and freedom to speak. Note that in either case the old Chinese adage applies, "Running away is also running towards." Freedom and responsibility outside of the concept of contraints are both meaningless.

    Likewise, constraints outside of the concept of freedom are meaningless. The two are relative concepts like up and down, and which is which in any given situation is relative as well. What determines the outcome between conscientiousness and amorality is just perspective.
  4. Sep 23, 2004 #3

    You have proved yourself again a great resource for PF. What, then, is an absolute concept - relativity? Otherwise, does relativity have an opposite, or perhaps a complement?
  5. Sep 23, 2004 #4


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    I think you have the issue precisely backwards: having freewill means you have to consider the ethics of your choices in order to make the right choices. Not having freewill means its up to fate to decide the outcome, so your choices have no ethical consequences.

    I think you may be under the impression that "freedom" and "freewill" are the same thing. They are two utterly dis-similar concepts.
  6. Sep 23, 2004 #5
    Is the frog really a handsome prince, just another frog, or somehow both? I cannot say. All I can do is point out what is observable, for the moment at least it is a frog as far as I can tell.

    Words/concepts only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a given context. Personally, I have no use for kissing frogs. :rofl:
  7. Sep 23, 2004 #6
    The greater the freedom, the greater the responsibility. If we have no free will, we have no responsibility for our actions or their consequences. If we are completely free to do as we will, ethical or not then we are solely and completely responsible for our actions and must pay the consequences for those action.

    A good, honest person has no need for ethics, morals or laws for he/she will do only what his/her nature leads him/her to do, good.

    A bad (evil), dishonest person will only do what his/her nature leads him/her to do, that which benefits him/her, regardless of morals or ethics.

    So of what use are morals and ethics other than to give philosophers something to talk about?
  8. Sep 24, 2004 #7
    The moment I become perfectly humble I want the whole world to know.

    Virtue is not a destination, it is a journey, and its own reward.
  9. Sep 24, 2004 #8
    One of the points that I would like to make or was trying to make is that we humans have been around for something like 10,000 years and have been making rules, laws, taboos, morales, ethics, statutes, and regulations as well as customs and accepted procedures all of this time. We have still to get it right and make it work.
    There is no set of laws or morals that is universal to all of mankind or to all cultures or societies for all time. 10,000 year of morals and ethics and we still kill steal and abuse each other.
    This tells me that it ain't the laws its the people. Human nature being what it is, is the problem and it is what has to change. All of the morals and ethic, laws and commandments in the world do no good unless it is the people that change.

    No body picked up on it, or at least did not comment on it, that my first post somewhat limits true free will if we are compelled or even impelled to act as our natures direct. Can we freely choose to be good and honest or bad and dishonest? How much is nature and how much is nurture? Then how much does growth, maturity, wisdom and spirituality have to do with this, if any, and our choices? Can we as a species lift ourselves up by our bootstraps to become truly civilized and humane as well as human? I like to think so, I hope so; but, sometimes I despair, for myself, as well as for mankind.

    I know, Loren, that I have not answered any questions; but, asked even more and made the issue even more clouded. To what extent do we really have free will? To that extent, we are responsible for our actions, morals and ethics. To point out another of Wuli's paradoxes, as we grow toward wisdom, maturity and goodness the less free will we have, want or need and the less important are morals and ethics. This goes hand in hand with a previous thread of yours about social responsibilities and commitments being the bane of Buddhist.

    I see the light; but, right now I am far too busy trying to make out and negotiate the tunnel to worry about the light at the end.
  10. Sep 24, 2004 #9
    Referring to russ_waters' dichotomy between free will and freedom, does free will constrain us to be more responsive to our environment, thus limiting somewhat our freedom therein? Is free will inherent to an advancing society, while freedom is something more likely to be achieved by such a society?

    Royce et al., can a beneficial system of morals grow naturally from freedom or free will? Are (un)ethical societies restricted to humans, or are all ethics ideals unattainable to biology? (Thanks for remembering my [misdirected] post on Buddhism.)

    I see most of us entering the ring of society every day afresh, fight until dusk with our hearts for what we believe is right, then incorporate through our dreams new interpersonal truths. This we strive until our heartfelt principles respond with their last pulse.
  11. Sep 26, 2004 #10
    Peace and freewill to All:

    Everyone has total freedom and freewill and morality is absolute. Morality is humility and unselfishness and the sin against morality is pride and selfishness. The greatest sin against pride is to think that we are God or that we can make anything we want our God, money, power, sex…

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you covers the whole topic of selfishness. Everyone knows the difference and no one is bound by the knowing.

    You always have the choice and there is a price tag for every choice. No one can enslave you if you choose not to be enslaved. It may cost you your life and the lives of your loved ones but you still make the choice.

    Freewill is our greatest gift from God. God has taken every step to ensure that there is nothing that will force us to even believe in Him.
    In my opinion this is the best proof that there is a God. Who but a God would give everyone total freedom. I know of no one on this earth that is not trying to take away total freewill, from some one, in one form or another.

    We don’t need 50,000 laws if we just tried to live by the two great laws.
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