Location:South East, USA
#3 - Posted: 11/08/2008 22:37
I am not a scholar so I will not act like one. I hope to approach this discussion from the angle of logic (hope that is not a bad word here). If "Free Will" means that you have complete control over your thoughts, decisions, and actions, then I have to say we do not have it. I, for one, can not control the thoughts that sometimes pop into my mind. For example, if someone does something that makes me angry, I think angry thoughts. If someone says or does something that is humorous to me, I think humorous or happy thoughts. I have not sat down and consciously decided what stimuli will or will not trigger either of these. I do, however, have control over how I react to those stimuli. Sometimes it is not appropriate to react to either anger or humor due to location, circumstance etc. I do realize that there are people who are not as in control as others. Some of these, however, do choose to seek counseling. Therefore, I personally define “Free Will” as the ability to decide what I will or will not do in reaction to my thoughts. Call “Free Will” what we may, it still does not relieve one from the responsibility of their actions, barring any "valid" mental disorders. I think HELPTOWRITE is addressing the fact that if this is not true and no one can help what they do in response to their thoughts, then we should do away with laws and regulations for, in that case, it doesn’t matter whether the law exists or not, a person will do what they will do. Also, it is not fair to punish those who are not responsible for their actions, hence we have the, much abused, “not guilty due to insanity” plea. If one is not capable of consciously deciding to not be “entirely shortsightedly selfish all the time”, substitute thievish, murderous, etc. for selfish, a fear of punishment for breaking a code/law against those acts will not be a deterrent. Thus, the time spent writing such codes/laws would be better spent elsewhere. I know that, in spite of having such codes/laws in place we still have our share of these acts committed. However, I suggest that the rate of these acts would increase dramatically were those codes/laws removed entirely. Likewise, I suggest those rates would drop were they enforced the way they should be. I am not suggesting this will stop people from wanting to commit these offenses, but it will help them in deciding it is not worth the risk to do so. Free Will? Limited Free Will? Neither? In any case, are we Free of the responsibility for what we choose to do?