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Free Will: Do Humans Have Total Control Over Their Lives?

2514 words - 10 pages

Early in history, man believed that his decisions, choices and actions were dominated by the unchangeable destiny and fate. The Ancient Greeks believed that gods were the ones who guided every step of their life. Destiny could not be avoided and should be followed. Nowadays, in the 21st century, this notion of destiny has completely faded away. When we arrive in this world, the first principle of life that we learn is that free will surrounds our being; we are autonomous human beings and therefore we are responsible for our own actions whether these are right or wrong; if wrong, we are obliged to accept the consequences that flow from our own decisions.
A human being is considered as a legal model which “accepts the philosophical postulate that individuals have free will and are able to make rational and self-interested choices… [It] accords individuals the status of autonomous moral agents who, because they have axiomatic freedom of choice, can fairly be held accountable and punishable for the rational choices… they make”
The notion of free will is inevitably connected with autonomy; and autonomy is an important value which is related to responsibility. However, one of the most important questions that is debated for years is whether we are actually free to make our own choices and accept responsibility for them or whether this is just a myth. In other words, whether someone else is indirectly having control over our lives and has the power to brainwash people to believe that they are actually autonomous.
“Free will” is often described as the capacity of a rational person to choose to act in a certain way amongst other alternatives; this is one of the greatest and most important values in a liberal society and it must be respected. For example, Andrew Ashworth argues that autonomy is a vital principle in criminal law: “that each individual should be treated as responsible for his or her own behavior” and that “individuals in general have the capacity and sufficient free will to make meaningful choices” . He goes on to suggest that “the principle of autonomy assigns great importance to liberty and individual rights in any discussion of what the state ought to do in a given situation” .;
Accordingly, autonomy must be respected and this respect requires that an individual should be held responsible for his own actions and choices that represent his autonomous life and not for those that are not part of his autonomous life. The fact that an individual is able to realize plans and develop a character is a provision of his life being autonomous. It also provides that an agent can be properly held accountable for his choices. Thus, the theme of choice is central to responsibility. An agent who cannot choose cannot be regarded as an autonomous agent.
The basic and central idea of responsibility, as expressed by Victor Tadros is that “an agent is responsible for an action only insofar as that action reflects in the appropriate way on...

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