May 15, 2012

Social Constructs and the Natural Order Part 3: Free Will, Choice, and Self Determinism Within Social Constructs

This is the third in a series of planned philosophical essays and therefore will not make sense if you have not read the first one.

Social Constructs and The Natural Order

Table of Contents
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Evolution and Survival of Systems
Part 3: Free Will, Choice, and Self Determinism Within Social Constructs
Part 4: The Role of Science and Religion
Part 5: Social Constructions Involving Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Part 6: Social Constructions Involving Gender and Sexuality
Part 7: Thoughts on Creating more Ethical Systems

If there was ever a more hoary concept than free will, I have yet to come across it. Basically, we all like to think of ourselves as entitities capable of determining our own destiny. We call ourselves "self made men" and arrogantly assume that could possibly be true on any level.

Of course, it should be important to note to define what free will is. Free will, for the purpose of this series, shall be defined as, "the ability to freely choose between two (or more) options, with those two (or more) options leading to significantly different outcomes."

To sum up me feelings on the matter, I do not believe in free will and ultimately that all "choice is an illusion".

In regards to social constructs this is important for several reasons. One, while "free will" is technically not a social construct in of itself, it is a false belief that is used to justify a lot of really problematic social constructs. For example, libertarianism not only requires a society of entirely rational individuals to function (good luck with that) it also requires that they are all capable of acting according to the principles of free will.

Furthermore, in our current society, conditions such as poverty and homelessness is not seen as the ultimate consequence of imbalanced and bigoted power structures, but the consequences of the choices of the individuals who are poor and homeless.

Than there is the reality that "choice" is seen as an empowering concept in of itself. By making consumers believe that they have "chosen" a particular brand (rather than having been skillfully manipulated by advertising) companies are able make costumers feel good about a given purchase. By selling the concept of free will to consumers, "choice" becomes another tool in a companies sales tool kit. Modern capitalism, like libertarianism, relies on the belief of it's proponents in free will in order to function.

I don't have much more to say than that I'll be exploring this more in the last part, Thoughts on Creating More Ethical Systems.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.