Sunday, February 05, 2006

Debates Over Freedom - Part 1: Introduction

What is the true sense of Freedom? I'd define it as choice of course of action. Not all actions necessarily lead to the desired outcome; this is the beauty of choice, each action has a different set of consequences, and the 'wise' choices are hard to define and\or identify.
Some people argue for Freedom, while some argue against that; Naturally, from an earthly perspective, we are all Free (in the sense of rebellion; contrast with an equally credible opposing argument). No "man-made" law has been able to stop people from unlawful acts; In this sense, its senseless to defend Freedom, since it cannot be abolished in the first place. If you come to think about it, somehow Freedom is self-preserving...

So what debate is held against Freedom? Roughly speaking, many people seek an authoritative party protecting people from themselves; In other words, protecting one person from another. So such party is required to define a set of social norms. Naturally, such norms outlaws several minorities, and yet some widely accepted parties. Consider how conservatives oppose liberals, or how dictators oppose the republicans, and several similar conflicts between major parties.

Human-rights advocates claim that Freedom is a basic human right; As far as I am concerned: Freedom is a human nature, even before admitting it as a human right! (based on the 'Freedom is self-preserving' argument) But let's face it, those human-rights advocates preach not true Freedom, but rather few forms of Freedom: they introduce terms such as: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression; No-one hears them talking about Freedom of Brutality, or the Freedom to be a mass-murder: they claim this is inhumane...

PS: Humans are assumed to exhibit Free Will (which is highly debatable)

In this series:
Debates Over Freedom - Part 1: Introduction
Debates Over Freedom - Part 2: The Dilemma
Debates Over Freedom - Part 3: Darwinistic Freedom
Next: Debates Over Freedom - Part 4: Pipe Dreams


Rania said...

I think I agree with Tololy's opposing argument- complete freedom of will can never be truly accomplished as long as we have consequences. Yet, everyone is completely *responsible* for their choices, and the act of choosing is freedom in a sense, since nothing is predetermined. (Somehow, this leads back to the Freedom is self-preserving argument.)

Advocates of "the right to freedom" seek to diminish those consequences, those setbacks that prevent people from carrying out what they "want" to do and what they "want" to say. But I think that as long as we have Society and absolute foundations, and as long as you "belong" to a country, a class, a culture... there will always be external limitations.

Devil's Mind said...

First of all, tololy's argument made a lot of sense that why i felt its nessary to mention it; i think the difference between the two views lies between different definitions of freedom. (feel free to provide your own definition of freedom to ensure common ground)

Bear with me,
U confused me:
- "since nothing is predetermined" (in this post)
- "I agree with this view of fate." ("Fate is a commonly misunderstood truth" post)
please elaborate on this

In my definition (that u seem to disagree): Person X has a choice, say kill Y or not to kill Y.... since X has the ability to try to kill Y, this means that he has that freedom. This freedom might be prohibited by law, but the death penalty doesnt nessarily mean that X will not kill Y. Real life shows this to be true! X is not likely to kill Y because of consequences, very true, and thats where we start to agree... but i think its we who choose to give up our freedom, and play by the rules.

In other words, consequences define 'wise' choices... but we are not limited to those wise choices....They limit us thats true, but we are the ones to choose to play by the rules.

I think this debate is very similar to the debate of "compatibilism", i quote from wikipedia:
[quote]Compatibilism, also known as "soft determinism" and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. According to Hume, free will should not be understood as an absolute ability to have chosen differently under exactly the same inner and outer circumstances. Rather, it is a hypothetical ability to have chosen differently if one had been differently psychologically disposed by some different beliefs or desires.[/quote]

I leave you with that for now, I got few points to make yet.... but i leave them until i understand your side on the issues i already raised;
hope to hear back...

Anyone else is welcome to join in the debate. Please remmember, the title in itself is called "Debates over freedom", so naturally its purpose is to raise different views... All views will have significant effects over future sequels to this debate.

Rania said...

I'm sorry it took me ages to get back to this comment... I've been away from the whole blogosphere for a few days.
Your reply led me to reading a little about determinism, compatibility, noncompatibility and moral responsibility. I have been in a web of thoughts and I don't think I can take a stand yet.

"Since nothing is predetermined"- it was theological determinism that I meant there. The idea that a god, the stars, the galaxies... etc control what is going to happen, regardless of one's actions. Now I'm not sure about scientific determinism- writing this comment, did I have no other choice at the moment I supposedly "made that decision"? Was it the natural result of the way things were then and the laws of the universe? Do those laws control even human will? I would choose to believe that we make our choices and decisions- this is "freedom"- and because of determinism, we know what those particular actions would lead to. Otherwise, freedom would make no sense. This is where I agreed on the view of fate in your former post- the idea that by being aware of the way things are and how the universe works, one can exercise freedom to control their own fate. I think you put in nicely in a later post (so many things to catch up on!) "...Understanding the mechanics of life so we can get through it, so we can make best use of things in our hands."

"Consequences define 'wise' choices... but we are not limited to those wise choices....They limit us thats true, but we are the ones to choose to play by the rules."
Kind of makes sense... Consequences play an important role in leading us towards a certain choice, but they certainly do not "make" us choose that particular option.

I hope I grasped at least a small part of the concepts correctly.

Devil's Mind said...

I guess we'r on the same line of thought....

"I hope I grasped at least a small part of the concepts correctly."
Oh, yes u did grasp most of it actually :)

"Advocates of "the right to freedom" seek to diminish those consequences, "
This will be discussed more thoroughly in a future sequel, probably (but have not made up my mind yet) in the promised 'Part 2'; Till then, suffice with knowing that i actually encourage such practice...

Also, the importance and origins of the concept of self-preserving property (in my personal way of analysis) will be highlighted in a future post....
Dah!! I have accumulated quiet several concepts pending to be explained in future posts :S
Time will come hopefully :D