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Unconsciousness Limits Our Conscious Choices in Everyday Life Essay

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Updated: Mar 20th, 2022

This paper is about choosing between five possible paper topics and the underlying factors which make this decision free from the point of view of theories of free will and abound choice that is predetermined by norms of morality and obligations from the point of view of determinism.

Discussing the situation of deciding between several topics and completing an academic paper, these are the perspectives of a free will for completing or not completing the task, on the one hand, and the causality and prior states which predetermine the necessity of choosing between the topics, on the other hand. From the point of view of free will, a student is free to choose between writing a paper and not writing it at all.

From the point of view of causal determinism, an individual should regard the assignment as one of the events in a chain within a paradigm of taking a particular course and receiving a particular degree, considering the preceding and following events instead of concentrating on a single event of doing the assignment. Causal determinism is the concept that all the events are predetermined or bound by some prior events. The theories of free will assume that individuals can make their choices without any constraints, ignoring the prior events and not taking into account the consequences of decisions.

The philosophical problem of free will is eternal as every day we face numerous situations of decision-making. For instance, today I had a choice among 5 alternative topics for my philosophy paper. Taking into account my previous choice of taking this course, I am already obliged to write a term paper, meeting the deadline and considering the requirements. I understand the consequences of not delivering this work and viewing the assignment in a paradigm of prior and following events I am not free in my actions already.

Therefore, I do not have free will in terms of the theory of David Hume, which has described liberty as “a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will: that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may“(Hume 88). Still, I believe that after evaluation of all the possible consequences and the impact of this choice on the chain of future events, every student is free to choose a topic or choose none, receive a poor mark for the paper and even drop out. David Hume noted that the idea of induction is predetermined by linking the causes and effects of particular actions. Viewing the necessity or no necessity to take a course and receive a degree as a part of his/her self concept, a student is free to make his/her decision.

If determinism is true, we are free in such a way that we are morally responsible for our actions (Honderich 2). As the sense of responsibility and a certain amount of duties, which I have to carry out as a student, motivate me to accomplish this assignment in time and get a credit. Not every kind of moral obligation is sufficient for inducing individuals to take particular actions. A person sets the priorities and evaluates possible consequences of actions, makes appropriate conclusions, and proceeds to actions.

The issues of possible punishment and depreciation of tutors, peers and parents influence motivation and choices. Consequently, our free will is limited by socially accepted values, moral and ethical doctrines, opinions and even stereotypes. Our rational nature takes control over our desires. A student can say that he/she acts by his/her free will and chooses one of the proposed topics for the assignment, but the real motive is a considered judgment in a case of failure. The student’s inner motivation for completing the assignment and choosing one of the topics depends upon the person’s life views and priorities and is a significant element of the student’s self-concept which may allow not submitting the assignment or not.

Though the notions of free will and moral responsibility are closely linked and interrelated, the meaning of the concept of a free act should not be identified with an action for which an actor is morally responsible only. “The significance of free will does not derive exclusively from concerns about moral responsibility” (Ekstrom 8).

Along with moral responsibility, the aspects of personal dignity, satisfaction with life, and self-concept need to be considered for defining the choice of a topic for an academic paper as an act of free will or an event that is predetermined with causality. Broadening the dilemma of choosing between the five topics to the choice between completing a paper and not completing it, a student realizes that he/she is free in this decision and can do what he/she wants for achieving his/her personal life goals and reaching satisfaction with his/her lifestyle.

Taking into account the concepts of causal determinism and free will, every single choice can be viewed from various perspectives. The definition of a particular decision as a free choice or a bound decision depends upon a person’s inner motivation for taking actions or not. Some people have agonizing doubts before making a particular decision and have to reach a consensus between their free will, moral obligations and the fear of possible consequences. The student’s choice of a topic for the assignment can be regarded both as an act of free will and abound choice, depending upon his/her inner motivation for making this decision and the perspective on the whole situation.

Works Cited

Ekstrom, Laura. Free Will: A Philosophical Study. Boulder: Westview Press, 2000. Print.

Honderich, Ted. The Consequences of Determinism: A Theory of Determinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Print.

Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2008. Print.

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