Libertarianism vs. Determinism: Is Anyone Really in Control of Their Life?
Does it make a difference?
What if everything is predetermined? What if what we experience as free will is nothing more than well-designed programming?
The philosophy of determinism has been around for centuries. It’s a philosophy that challenges our notions of free will and control in life. This philosophy raises many vital questions about the nature of human choice.
From their perspective, it seems like there is no such thing as “free will.” Meaning that my past experiences predetermine all my actions. I am not aware of these past experiences at any given time, but they still determine how I act in the present moment. But who can say whether I am in control over my own life?
Do we have free will or not? That is a question that has been discussed by philosophers and people alike for centuries.
Does it matter? We experience free will; we experience that it’s us who make decisions all the time. I do not experience being controlled by an external force that makes me choose what I eat for breakfast.
I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.
— Stephen Hawking
Libertarianism is a philosophy that believes that we have free will and it’s us who make our choices. I was the one who decided to have cereal for breakfast this morning. I had a lot of alternatives, but it was “I” that chose to eat cereal. Right?
Determinism believes that the past determines the reason I chose what I chose. This means that all my past experiences led me to select cereal for breakfast.
Both philosophies bring up interesting points about what it means to be “free” in life. And who (or if anyone) has to control over our lives.
Which philosophy is right? Are we free to make decisions, or are they based on factors outside our awareness and control?
These questions will likely be argued for many years to come.
Is it significant, though?
I’m not sure what the distinction would be for us if we had a way to know. Imagine that we learn one day that, yes, humans have free will. Our actions are not predetermined by prior causes or divine intervention. What would you do if you knew this was true? Would you plan your life differently now than before? Do you believe you would see yourself in a different light?
What if we flip it around? We concluded that no, free will is an illusion and that we are genuinely predestined to do everything we do in life — the things we enjoy, as well as the things we despise. What we are drawn to, what we wear, and everything else is determined by prior causes, biology, or divine intervention. What would be different for you then? Would you live life differently? Would you be less stressed out about the past and future?
Would either philosophy change anything for us if we were to find this information out one day?
In my everyday life, I experience it’s me who chooses. If I want one thing or another, it’s because it’s something I desire. I’m also aware that my present behavior is influenced by various things, including biology, genetics, past actions, etc. There is no way for me to decide unless I look at everything from my past. Even if I am not aware of it, it is still occurring. I control how I act and what choices I make because it is up to “me.” To a certain degree.
Although we may be influenced by external forces that lie outside our awareness and influence us in subtle ways, every person has a choice when they are presented with an alternative.
It’s all about examining your behavior at any given time and making sure you’re aware enough to choose based on your priorities instead of being led by impulses or other subconscious behaviors.
In practical terms being libertarian works for me. What philosophy do you follow? Are you more libertarian-minded or determinism-oriented? Let me know in the comments below!
Many of the atoms you’re made of, from calcium in your bones to the iron in your blood, were brewed up in the heart of an exploding star billions of years ago.