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Libertarianism as a Human Reality

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Libertarianism is a set of philosophies that maintain liberty and free will as its core belief. ‘Libertarians believe that strict determinism and freedom are incompatible; and that Freedom seems to require some form of indeterminism.’ Libertarianism emphasizes freedom of choice for people and asserts that personal choices are what causes secondary events to occur. It also upholds personal responsibility to persons and their choices. Free will is intertwined with emotions such as pride, guilt, righteousness, and sin. Concepts like persuasion, consideration, selection and desire are products of free will; having the ability to consider and therefore select from a variety of options is the concept of libertarianism in human reality.

For a libertarian, it is his reality that he chose his partner because of attraction, desire, or love, amongst other feelings and values. It was his choice and he could’ve chosen differently -thus producing a different relationship, different children, and a different lifestyle. This is the reality for many people who every day, choose what they will have for lunch even if the choice is dependent upon factors such as calories or whether its gluten-free. It is still a choice. Libertarianism states that free will is the basis of life. It is what determines everything around everyone – choices.

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As a contrast, determinism is the belief that everything – from what you had for lunch to who you will marry – is already predetermined. It states that all choices are illusionary and although people have feelings of desire, thoughts of choosing, and innate debates on what would be best, the choice has already been made and what will be, will be. This belief strikes down the concept of free-will as a façade, and determines that free-love, free-thought, and autonomy are all false perceptions. ‘The truth of determinism would mean that we don’t originate our actions in a significant way and our actions are not ultimately controlled by us. In other words, we lack the ability for self-determination.

Reality is defined as the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent as opposed to that which is merely imaginary. When taking this definition into consideration, you may compare something like your iPhone with the imaginary “phone”, (or hand pressed to the side of their face) your toddler uses while babbling to their imaginary friend. It is almost impossible to think that while you were online comparing Apple versus Android specs, deliberating as to which phone would suit your needs best, that these thoughts were not reality; and your choice of the iPhone, after much consideration, was not a choice at all, but an imaginary option that didn’t actually exist. Hard determinism makes all these difficult thoughts a concept of alternative reality.

David Hume, a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher of the 18th century, and a classical compatibilist, argues that free will and determinism would ‘have so little in connection with motives, inclinations and circumstances, that one does not follow with a certain degree of uniformity from the other’. In regards to how moral and ethical responsibility are bound to persons he wrote, “Actions are, by their very nature, temporary and perishing; and where they proceed not from some cause in the character and disposition of the person who performed them, they can neither redound to his honor, if good; nor infamy, if evil.” Could it be argued that libertarianism and determinism are not only compatible, but dependent upon one another?

There are limits to libertarianism and its core concept of free-will in the form of genetics, society, culture, and experiences. Libertarianism still argues that regardless of constraints such as upbringing, culture, and society, people are able to rise above and make decisions based off of personal desire for the action or the outcome. As an example, to be LBGT in certain countries is seen as immoral, illegal, and undesirable. There are many people who migrate to the U.K., Brazil and America, where sexual orientation is a free choice, in order to be free from the overbearing political involvement concerning sexual orientation. Is it not free-will that is being exercised once the exampled person considers then decides to move across the world? Nothing about the cause of the consideration being prompted (sexual orientation), or the decision (to migrate), or the outcome (to be free to express sexual orientation), seems like it would be the predetermined course of action for this person’s life being that they’re from a society that heavily opposes these thoughts and actions. If free-will is not the driving factor of common situations like this one, the question is, what is?

In conclusion, my view is that libertarianism and determinism are interconnected, and each are existent and necessary. Determinism is a human reality, because several factors shape and somewhat determine our thought processes, decisions, and desires. On the other hand, free will is what allows us to reshape and redefine our paths. Free will is what allows predetermined poor people to work their way to success, and it is what could make predetermined wealthy people lose it all. Free will is an everyday human reality with the impermanent constraints of determinism.

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