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My Disagreement With Richard Taylors’ Libertarianism Argument & Theory

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Free will is something taken for granted, or better yet not given any thought. Unless a person has decided to dive head on into philosophy or someone has held a conversation with someone who follows it, most of us would agree we have free will. That we are able to choose our food and actions, but they never dig deeper into variants. After getting thru the chapter, and of course holding on to my same stubborn thoughts, I am convinced that Richard Taylors’ libertarianism argument and theory are bad. They are too many possible loopholes and with more evidence, Determinism just simply makes more sense.

Something Taylor did and I found intriguing, is that in his piece “Defense of free will” the first chapter is depicting Soft determinism and the claims it makes about the theory. He does a form of dissect, analyze and counteract with determinism which was both a nice change and made his own theory easy to follow, as he’s aware more people are swayed with determinism. He explains the intro of his argument with this “My free actions are those unimpeded and unconstrained motions that arise from my own inner desires, choices, and volitions; let us grant this provisionally. But now, whence arise those inner states that determine what my body shall do? Are they within my control or not? Having made my choice or decision and acted upon it, could I have chosen otherwise or not?” I chose this premise as one of the main ones I object to because it’s two topics it covers, bodily movements and the mind with our thoughts and emotions (desires, choices.)

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Saying you have freedom in your body is a longshot from the truth. The body (as long as the person is healthy) is programmed to do a million things at once, with no consciousness of us even knowing what is happening, producing cells, breaking down food, and waking up. Moving your limbs and deciding to walk to the kitchen, get in the car for work, those actions have been reached subconsciously by our minds by the act of a chain of precious events. Responsibility of reaching your job to pay rent, getting up and walking to the kitchen because you’re hungry is not free will, it’s something we have well established in our system and something we can’t argue against. Taylor described as follows “When I will that my arm should move in a certain way, I find it moving in that way, unobstructed and unconstrained.

When I will to speak, my lips and tongue move, unobstructed and unconstrained, in a manner suitable to the formation of the words I choose to utter. Now given that this is a correct description of my behavior, namely, that it consists of the unconstrained and unimpeded motions of my body in response to my own volitions, then it follows that my behavior is free.” Everything Taylor says is in basic terms true, we do move our lips and our unconstrained limbs move to our will, but that’s only since our bones are connected to our nervous system, that with our minds, it’s programmed to move. We can choose when to stop walking or talking, but we have no control of turning on and off our system. Not even diving into detail of involuntary movements like twitching.

Determinism is described as ‘every event is caused or persuaded by a previous event.’ This is something I previously touched on a post, and even after reading some arguments against it I believe it’s what’s right. I don’t believe in free will because I see as if everyone is ‘chained’ to our own ideologies and sense of morality (whether it’s religious, behavioral or just something taught upon us). We don’t get to nitpick music we enjoy, we just listen to whatever we feel sounds good. Same goes to food and in some cases even life styles or religions, we grow older and we decide the kind of lifestyle our parents had themselves we don’t want for ourselves, so we can change to something fitting to our liking, because the events of growing up in those conditions pushed us to seek a difference.

To further defend my position against Taylor’s writing I’ll respond to a question frequently asked to a determinist, which is “If we have no free will, how come we choose our food, clothing, actions”. As previously stated before, all actions or reactions are due to a previous action. I find that specific question ironic, because all stated things are based off subconscious preferences. Food and clothing, we don’t choose which style we prefer, we gravitate to what we find comfortable, right for an occasion, or makes us look best, behind very decision is a factor, there’s no random order. Our actions specially, everything we do and think about is going to be swayed and supported to the idea we think is right, to what files under our attitude, and while change can happen, it must because an event triggered enough emotion for us to see a ‘wrong’.

D’Holbach explains it as follows. “This will is necessarily determined by the qualities, good or bad, agreeable or painful, of the object or the motive that acts upon his senses; or of which the idea remains with him and is resuscitated by his memory. In consequence, he acts necessarily; his action is the result of the impulse he receives either from the motive, from the object, or from the idea, which has modified his brain, or disposed his will. When he does not act according to this impulse, it is because there comes some new cause, some new motive, some new idea, which modifies his brain in a different manner, gives him a new impulse, determines his will in another way”.

If Taylor were to look at my argument against his defense of libertarianism, I believe the first thing he would bring up is the fact that there is free will in movement of limbs, as well as some of my points made could be easily labeled as ‘habits’ with no real cause and effect behind them. I’d try to respond by furthering proving my point that nothing is ‘free’ in the human body as best as I could even though I’m no good in any kind of science. Furthermore, I’d like to end with simply stating that ‘free will’ should be considered nothing more than a mundane phrase, something we can easily go back and refer to when we speak about having the freedom between choosing a restaurant to eat, or what artist you would like to listen to. You will always be compelled and pulled to whatever subconsciously you prefer, but at least the human mind shapes it so that we can ‘act’ like there’s an option. After all, the freedom of holding on to possibilities and options with everyday items is a privilege.

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