Katie Russell – The capitalist’s conundrum
We all seem to think that we are responsible for our own actions and that we have unique identities. This is particularly clear at our uni, where every other person is wearing trousers they bought on their ‘gap yah’ whilst skateboarding to Urban Outfitters. When we look at these people who are trying to be ‘different’, we realise that they are pretty alike.
But, it’s not just the Holland Hall/Monday-Night-Moz-fanatics that are sheep-like. Essentially, we all are. I know that sounds pretty crazy and you’re probably thinking “that’s a load of rubbish – I’m responsible for my own actions!” But, in one way or another, we are all shaped by the world we live in, and we simply have no control over that.
Money is a big factor in why we don’t have free will. Whether we like it or not, we live in a capitalist society, where we are programmed to want the newest Mac lipsticks, a wardrobe full of Victoria’s Secret, and a night full of one-too-many shots of Grey Goose vodka. We are all alike in that we are driven by the desire to earn and spend money.
But, money isn’t the only impediment on our free will – our family background also greatly influences our actions. Let’s just say that your parents are Tories. From growing up hearing them ramble on about the ‘immigration problem’ and praising Thatcher’s legacy, you may find that you absorb their views. Or you may go in the opposite direction and become a staunch Labour supporter. By either absorbing your family’s opinions or acting out against them, perhaps you show a lack of autonomy.
But, even though free will doesn’t exist, that doesn’t mean that you are a robot who can’t enjoy life. By all means, splash out at Urban Outfitters, and do what makes you happy!
Leo Thorncastle – Inevitably, we’re all determined
Freewill just sounds nice, doesn’t it?
But, as with all things, philosophy comes to ruin it, with the all too convincing position of ‘determinism’. Essentially, we all know that science works on laws of causes and necessary effects. Drop a brick? It’ll fall to the ground. These are the principles that the universe works upon.
And people, unfortunately enough, are part of this universe. We exist in a chain of causal effects, stretching back to the beginning of everything, each cause always leading to the same, necessary, outcome. The processes involved in thinking have a physical form in the brain; all physical things have this chain of causality, thus, all thoughts, and choices, are dictated by causes.
So, when you decide to have the next Jägerbomb, you could never have decided not to – all the causes could only lead to that effect. Your parents were always fine with drinking, you’ve been out a few hours and worry you’re sobering up, everyone else is still out, Jägerbombs are cheap, you don’t have much money because you got fired, and so on. All people exist as a collection of reasons.
So far, so unsettling. But, it gets worse. If, then, we have no control over our actions, how can anyone ever be blamed for anything? People don’t have choice, so there is no intention for the crime.
Is it fair to punish, then? Should you punish people for how they are, even if it’s not their fault? Should you punish them in order to cause them to act better in future? The position forces people to be treated for what they are, not why they are that way. It’s brutally unfair. And, it’s the only choice we have.
Victor Costa Orpinell – Freedom and determinism aren’t contradictory
Everyday, we make thousands of decisions and most of them completely enable the course of our lives. From when we wake up to when we go to sleep, we decide how to dress, where to go or what to eat, among many others daily tasks, even if almost all of them are done subconsciously.
But, where do all these decisions come from? The real nature of decision-making lies in its outstanding capacity of automatic reaction. Even then, is it a whimsical result of free will or is it just an inevitable product of predetermination? The ensemble of our experiences determines our sense of identity and our social behaviour, as we embody and reflect everything we live.
As stated by the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Victor Frankl, “Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment”. Every new step has its particular reason of being and it encourages learning through life. The main point of the philosophical concept of free will resides on how are you facing and challenging life.
Nowadays, Capitalism fosters free will as a reliable benchmark to go as far as we want, when in fact we just go as far as we can. In this regard, freewill is a delusion that integrates the success of marketing, innovation or entrepreneurship as well as it rejects assuming responsibilities because of corruption or exploitation of workers.
As a brief conclusion, I would like to say that even if the process of decision-making is completely conditioned by the previous experienced, we still have the chance with critical thought to decide what is the change we want to see in our society. Life is unpredictable but freely self-determined by your crucial experiences.
Featured image: en.wikipedia.org