Friday, November 15, 2002

A Couple of Things

Mind Floss mentions determinism v. freedom, and leftist rejection of sociobiology. So, here are a couple of things about freedom.

Without too much difficulty, you can find leftist screeds against the sociobiological theory that men are naturally inclined toward rape. The leftist will say that this is an attempt to excuse rape and therefore reject the science. Baloney, for the obvious reason that morally distasteful results cannot be evidence against a theory. But besides that, consider that the sociobiological theory in question actually has no morally distasteful results. A theory of the origin of someone's urge, by itself, can do nothing to show that the person is not to be blamed for acting on the urge. People are responsible for handling their urges, reasoning about them, and doing as reason bids. There is no escape clause to this principle that says that it depends upon the origin of the urge in question. Where urges come from, be it genetics, upbringing, what have you, is entirely irrelevant to assigning responsibility for action. My tongue is genetically made for chocolate appreciation. But if I steal chocolate, I am blameworthy.

The other thing is this. All events are determined by previous events and natural laws. But you can do whatever you want, so you're free. No one's stopping you. You can go downtown or stay home today. "But it's determined which I will do." Yes, it's determined by your desire. "But my desire is determined." So, what? If you wanted to do otherwise, you could do otherwise. Your sphere of free action does not need to reach to points causally prior to your desires in order to be just that - your sphere of free action. No one's controlling you. You can do what you want.

So, now take the guy who doesn't rape. He might have an urge to rape, but he has a stronger urge not to rape. The rapist, on the other hand, has no such overriding urge, so he rapes. Both do whatever they want. Both have a chance to introspect and determine which they most desire. Both can act contrary to their urge to rape if they so desire. Both are free.