Student or Learner
Here are a few paragraphs of my philosophy essay. I'm sure it's full of grammar mistakes, so feedback on grammar would be nice. However, the main reason why I'm asking for help is on the last paragraph. As you can see, it's a bit too long and I need to somehow split it to two or more smaller paragraphs, but I need help! From what parts should I divide that paragraph?
Thanks a lot in advance! :)“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” This quote is the first article of the universal declaration of human rights, derived from Cyrus the Great’s charter of Human Rights, which has been written in over 2500 years ago. This proves that people cared about their rights and freedom has been important to humans for since a long time ago. However, there have been many arguments about the definition of freedom and its limits. If someone is free to do whatever he wants, then does it mean that he can kill someone else? This is where rules based on morality appear, and bring another question with them. What is morality, and how does it affect one’s freedom? At this point rights come on the stage. Some believe that creatures have rights, but another problem arises here; what are rights and how are they defined? If someone decides not to kill someone else, is he granting the other person right to live? In this essay some beliefs and ideas will be discussed and, based on them, some boundaries on freedom will be presumed.
In order to learn something, you need to understand its meaning first. The word “Freedom” has several meanings, but most of the time it means the power or condition of acting without compulsion, according to Webster's Dictionary. That meaning is true and false simultaneously. If that meaning was true, everyone could do anything they want and it would produce anarchy, thus creating an extreme dystopia and making life miserable for everyone. It could be a 300 million lottery ticket with the chance of traveling the whole world, or the right to vote in Iran. There are different opinions on the meaning of freedom. Some people believe that without humans the concept of freedom wouldn't exist, so it’s just another creation of humans and the world would exist without it as well. Some others think that having freedom is essential for everyone, to a certain extent. According to their belief, your freedom ends where someone else's begins. Either way, many people believe that “freedom” stands for something much greater than just the right of doing whatever you want. The interpretation of Freedom is dependent upon the individual, or the group of individuals, like a country. A sick extreme libertarian would rape his own family for pleasure and call it freedom. A Buddhist would experience the nirvana and get completely free from karmic suffering. To make it short, freedom could be anything. Depending on the culture, religion, and government we’re talking about, freedom might stand for liberty, equality, happiness, security, et cetera.
Obviously, one cannot do anything he wants without considering the consequences first. We are the only rational creatures known so far, and as rational creatures we have the ability to think, define, and accept moralities and rules of conduct. Some very basic moral rules are: do not kill, do not cause pain, do not deprive of freedom, and do not deprive of pleasure. Common sense would agree to obey those moral rules, but there are different beliefs on the definition of what’s good and what’s bad. Utilitarianism agrees that the morally best action is the one that creates the most overall happiness or usefulness. It’s basically doing the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. Utilitarianism limits freedom in a way that we’re not free to do anything that denies other people’s happiness anymore. David Hume is among the utilitarian philosophers. The opposite of Utilitarianism is Deontology, or Kantianism. According to Deontology, humans, as rational creatures, have a duty to do things which are inherently good, or follow a neutrally obligatory rule. Deontologists believe that our intentions or the consequences of our acts are not important. We don’t prevent doing inherently bad things not because they’re bad, but because other humans will imitate us and those acts will lose their usefulness when everyone does them. Deontology limits freedom in a way that we can’t do any action which would be self-defeating. A good example for comparing these two studies is the act of lying. Lying is almost always forbidden in both cases, but the reasons differ. A Rule Utilitarian doesn’t lie because, generally speaking, lying does not produce the greatest happiness of the greatest number. An Act Utilitarian can also make use of the "Do not lie” rule, but he can violate it if it produces greatest happiness of the greatest number. On the other hand, a Deontologist doesn’t lie because if he lies, others would imitate his act of lying, so everyone would lie. If everyone lies, lying loses its functionality and therefore becomes self-defeating.
Thank you so much Gillnetter! :) I have a question. Do we always have to start those doctrine names with capital letters?
I'd be really thankful if you could take a look at the rest too, if you want. :)
There are also two other doctrines which affect freedom. The first one is the freedom of will. According to Free will, every person can decide what to do freely. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re free from what others will do to them. The opposite of free will is Determinism, which is the idea that every action has a definite reaction to a past event, and all actions are causally connected, and all human action is caused entirely by preceding events. Therefore, if someone knows everything about a person, they could predict exactly what that person would do, so that person won’t be able to make decisions freely anymore as his decisions are already worked out. Free will doesn’t restrict freedom, but Determinism limits it in some ways. Determinism says that we’re not free to decide for ourselves. We can still have our own thoughts, but at the end our thoughts will always come to the same conclusion. Determinism also makes moral condemnation or punishment seem inappropriate, as the sinners were not able to control their decisions, thus they couldn’t prevent committing the sin.
There are different stances on the argument of Determinism versus Free Will as well. As an example, Libertarians believe that determinism is wrong, and free will exists. Some philosophers think that these two ideas can be compatible with each other, and free will even requires determinism. People like David Hume, who is the founder of this idea, are called compatibilists. According to Compatibilism, freedom is compatible with determinism in such a way that freedom of will exists, even in Determinism and even when moral responsibility seems inappropriate. Incompatibilist Determinists, on the other hand, tend to think that determinism is at odds with moral responsibility, and therefore free will is a wrong concept.
According to morality and moral rules, we are not free to do anything that violates other people’s rights. What is the meaning of right? What are the human rights, and who or what defines them? A right is a value which can be established strictly by observations on the human condition. According to dictionary, human rights are “fundamental rights which humans have by the fact of being human, and which are neither created nor can be abrogated by any government”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, formulated by the United Nations, is the international list of rights every human being has. Local governments and native rulers of each country might have their own special rights too. Other than the law, there is this idea of moral responsibility which means that people are responsible for their actions. Some might think that people must have freedom of will in order to become morally responsible. As humans are rational creatures, moral sense is a necessary product of their minds. Therefore, humans should not do any action that violates the rights of other humans, or limits their freedom.
To summarize, according to free will, humans are free to do anything they are capable of doing, under certain circumstances depending on what doctrines they believe in. A Utilitarian can do anything, as long as it doesn’t deny other people’s happiness. A deontologist can do anything, as long as the action is not self-defeating. A Libertarian can do anything, as long as he has made a volitional choice violate to do it, and accepts the responsibilities. A Compatibilist Determinist can do anything he wills, but he cannot will what he wills and therefore is not morally responsible. An Incompatibilist Determinist does not have free will, and therefore cannot make his own decisions, although he’s free to do anything he wants corresponding to his decisions. There are many other points of view as well, each limiting freedom in a way and broadening the boundaries in another way. Overall, in this world, laws limit freedom. The laws are here to protect people’s rights, prevent violation, and keep the peace going by fixing equality. These laws are made using morality and rules of conduct, and religions more or less try to convince people to obey the same rules of conduct. Nevertheless, the argument continues as people try to find the exact boundaries of freedom.