Are you “free” to commit…?

A premeditated, wanton murder? Torturing someone? Throwing a child into a bonfire? Refusing to give a few bucks to a homeless person, when you have more than enough for yourself? Beating up someone just for the fun of it? Also, do you know anyone in your family or among your friends who would be able and willing to perform any of these acts?

Think about it for a second. The question is NOT: “are you physically able to do any of these?” Most probably you could (given the means), if you wanted to. But the point is that you are “not free” to do any of these – due you the psychological “barriers” in your mind. You simply do not “want” to do these types of actions. Do you feel that your freedom is curtailed due to your psychological limitations?

The true question: “could you guess why I started this thread?”

Cuz you’re a determinist? An aspiring sadist? God gave man the freedom to do any act he can imagine and Is physically able to do. But He did not give us the right to do so-that right is denied by the conscience He gave us, the laws He’s written in our hearts. We’ve been struggling since the time of Adam with the question of whether or not to obey-with why/how to obey. The original sin-Adam’s option- was one at the most basic level: “I won’t obey”. All other acts of disobedience flow from that first one that obscured or muted the voice of God in us.

I give up. Why did you start this thread?

To make Catholics mad when they are celebrating the birth of their Savior?

I would argue it is barriers to understanding and accepting the love of God that makes people do these awful things. People who commit horrible crimes often talk about them in terms of compulsion - that doesn’t sound like freedom to me.

This smells like an abortion discussion in the making.

You are bored.

Why are these psychological “barriers” and why are you portraying them as such?

Perhaps the reason someone would have for not committing these acts is because they have chosen with a final determination that they will not under any circumstance choose not to commit the acts in question. Simply because a “psychological barrier” exists does not mean the barrier itself was not freely constructed. The nature of the “barrier” would call into question the psychological nature of the one for whom the “barrier” exists.

I could have spent years exploring an issue from every possible moral perspective and come to a well-formed and definitive conclusion that “X is wrong” and that I will never carry out X as a free choice that is now an indefeasible part of my behaviour and which you would describe as a “barrier” that stops my acting to the contrary. Yet, the barrier was a freely constructed and is freely willed on my part.

Your post merely ambiguates on the word “barrier” assuming that every strong moral commitment against certain behaviours must be unfree merely because a moral person would not consider (implying “could not”) acting to the contrary.

Yet, freely made choices can be every bit as “determined” as choices that arise from compulsion, indoctrination or addiction and yet still be free. That is exactly why addictions, compulsions and indoctrination can be overcome, i.e., because agency grounded in freedom of the will can be more powerful and execute against any of these otherwise constraining “barriers.”

Not sure why you started this thread, but the problem with trying to propose a plausible “reason” is that if the correctly assessed reason were the true one but made you look bad in the process, denial would always be open to you. So why even ask except as a challenge to free will proponents in order to imply that someone who could act against their conscience is in some misapprehended way more “free” than someone “constrained” by conscience? Yet, it might be asked, why would such a demonstration of immoral or amoral power even be necessary except to prove an insecurity?

Anyone can reason themselves into justifying their actions.

(I seem to be the only ‘yes’ vote at the moment. :shrug: )

I am not free, my neurons are so arranged that I am incapable of not answering the question thusly.


I am not sorry about it either.

Well it looks like that the “No” votes are getting ahead. :slight_smile: Which is most encouraging. As for myself, I obviously voted “No”, too. It happened that in the grocery store the cashier make an error in my favor, and gave me back an extra 10 bucks. For a second, I contemplated to keep it, but was unable to do so. The reason is simple: “my upbringing prevented me to become dishonest”. Maybe in your opinion, I simply obeyed the God-given built-in moral commands – it does not matter.

The point is that there are many things we are unable to perform, and we still retain our freedom! The reason I started this thread is to prove that the inability to perform certain actions does not deprive us of our “precious” free will. If God would have implanted an impenetrable “barrier” to make us psychologically unable to perform murders, tortures and the like, we would still retain enough freedom to be moral agents.

The conclusion is that the oft-repeated “free will” defense (in the case of “problem of evil”) is unacceptable and irrational.

Thank you, for proving my point. :slight_smile:

The conclusion is that the oft-repeated “free will” defense (in the case of “problem of evil”) is unacceptable and irrational.

Are you saying that because we have lines of behavior beyond which we cannot see ourselves going that the idea that evil exists because we have free will is invalid?

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