According to the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, free will is:
the conventional name of a topic that is best discussed without reference to the will. Its central questions are ‘What is it to act (or choose) freely?’ and ‘What is it to be morally responsible for one’s actions (or choices)...According to compatibilists, freedom is compatible with determinism because freedom is essentially just a matter of not being constrained or hindered in certain ways when one acts or chooses. Thus, normal adult human beings in normal circumstances are able to act and choose freely. No one is holding a gun to their heads. They are not drugged, or in chains, or subject to a psychological compulsion. They are therefore wholly free to choose and act even if their whole physical and psychological make-up is entirely determined by things for which they are in no way ultimately responsible – starting with their genetic inheritance and early upbringing.
The passage quoted above asks some intriguing questions, makes important points and interesting arguments about free will. The questions it poses is “what is it to act (or choose) freely?” A free mind, the ability to choose and act freely are difficult questions indeed, because there are certain criteria that have to be met for people to choose freely. Ideally, people would need to live in a free society, with free institutions, a free functioning media, the freedom to speak and think independently and so on. There are other factors too, for example state educational institutions and the church. The individual who follows faith and not reason is free to make that choice, but after the choice is made for whatever misguided reason, it is clear that person’s choices and decisions are not entirely free. Religious texts and the church dictate to them. If you ask a Christian about their views on the Bible, it would be like asking a misogynist’s views on Feminism. Therefore, the person who follows faith over reason can never be free to make choices. They therefore do not have free will.
Take state education, the linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, says, “Education is a system of imposed ignorance”. State education is a indoctrinal system, its aim is to indoctrinate people and prohibit them from thinking freely. It attempts to turn the student into a patriot, a nationalist, subjecting them to misinformation, using subtle pieces of propaganda. This prevents people from thinking independently and freely; even the schoolteacher is trapped in this indoctrinal system. A “criteria” is created on what children MUST be taught, with no say, and no independence. The child will grow up making irrational arguments, they are part of a mysterious, mythical world where only fictitious fantasies exist; they are not living in the real world, they are therefore unfree to think independently, they indeed have no free will.
The media in no society is free, its main function is to control the population and it does a good job of it. If millions of people believe the press is free, when it is not, how can these people have free will? Just by reading these nonsense gossip magazines, it is reducing people’s capacity to think, and this is something a great deal of people are unaware of. Newspapers form people’s opinions and in time become illiberal, more right wing or whatever. The racist in modern society is often told it is wrong to hold such contemptible views, the homophobic is told the same, and it prohibits free thought. The Marxist, the Anarchist, the libertarian are rare. Why is this? That is a very simple question to answer. What news channels contain the views of Anarchists and Marxists, what newspapers do, and how often are these views expressed in the mass media? The mass media reading public have no free will whatsoever.
I come back to the original question “what is it to act (or chooses) freely?” People have choices, that is true, what they do not have is the freedom to choose freely, there are so many external factors involved. “Normal adult human beings in normal circumstances are able to act and choose freely”. That is not the case at all; people have no real freedom in state capitalist societies. People in these societies are turned into mindless machines in the workplace. It prevents us from thinking freely, and with being subject to popular culture, that in itself makes us unfree; people of all ages, all creeds, all religions, all from different classes indulge in “movies” and “entertainment”, listen to popular music, watch spectator sports and so on. Such things are demoralising to the brain. People say they have the freewill to choose, indeed, do they? These same people form addictions, they become drug addicts, alcoholics, and they become obese because they have a desire to eat saturated fats and so on. Therefore, people are able to choose and act freely when these external factors are removed.
Some people will not be satisfied I have answered all the questions sufficiently: “what is it to act (or choose) freely”. What is needed is the following: advertising, at least what is known as advertising ought not to exist, for all advertising is based on deceit, coercing people into buying items they do not really want. The media ought to be free also, and not owned by conglomerates but owned and controlled by the public. Popular culture should be abolished outright, so should all these crude celebrity magazines, education should be taught independently, and not using brainwashing methods. Until this fair minimum is achieved, men and women will not be able to act or chooses freely.
The second question I would like to look at is “what is it to be morally responsible for one’s actions (or choices)?” Well, this is an interesting question. Take the sun-god worshipper as an example, what is their morality? Their morality is written down in a book, this morality is forced down their throat, so to speak, yet it is not their morality either. They are taught to think like slaves, not independently. The morals they preach are not their own morals, it is almost they had a frontal lobe lobotomy; part of the reason why individuals function this this way is because it comes from years of brainwashing. Charlie Manson and David Koresh are two shining examples of cult leaders who got their befuddled members to commit unspeakable acts. At the time, these people thought it was “right” and “moral” thing to do. These people, I do not believe, are responsible for their own actions, in any other circumstance, say the group believe in evil pixies, giant bunny rabbits floating in the clouds, jelly monsters hovering over the trees. If people say such things they would be deemed mad but religious fanaticism is perfectly acceptable.
But taking such people out of the equation, young children and those suffering from prolonged mental illnesses, we should say these people are not responsible for their own actions, but again, this is about free will, how can you be morally responsible for your own actions? The Israeli Defence Forces have a moral responsibility, yet it does not stop them from torturing, raping and murdering Arabs, yet we all agree it is immoral to do such things. It is true though they are morally responsible. Even if they were given direct orders to go into a Palestinian school and murder every child, they would still be morally responsible. Nevertheless, to some degree, we are all brainwashed to think, act or behave a certain way but at the same time, we still have that moral responsibility. The problem I am now having is connecting the two, it is untrue I feel people do not have free will but a great many people should be able to make moral judgements.
Indeed, very few people would, if surrounded by everybody holding a particular view, would not hold their own. They would conform to society’s ills. The MP for whatever political party he or she represents has no real free will, because they must think as their party demands. Winston Smith is a good example of this. You could literally go through all sections of society, eliminate vast amounts of people, and certainly say these people do not have free will, because they are dead! Those of us that do genuinely have free will should cherish it because it really is a gift.
However, many in the workplace do not have free will because they are contaminated by society, their mindless thoughts and opinions soon spread like a virus, and where do they get their distorted information and views? They get it of the television and from newspapers and public figures who tell epic lies right throughout the mass media. Their thoughts are not clear but capitalist society has destroyed them, it is these people who often watch things they dislike, form addictions and have no way of stopping, they partake in subcultural activities because all their friends replicate this and if they did not they would be eliminated and disregarded by their friends and society generally. Free will is not possible in the modern world.
10th January 2013