Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 4 Post

But isn't it a necessary presumption of those who advocate political freedom that the individual will is free to choose, and be responsible for those choices?

While it is common for those who advocate political freedom for individuals to assume that the individual’s will is free to choose, it is equally common for that free will to be influenced by society. Societal influence is a real occurrence and is continually changing and shifting as generations grow, learn, and adapt. For example, an individual’s views on weighted topics such as slavery, interracial marriage, gay marriage, abortions, or vaccinations can change depending on the mood of society. Although people have free will it is much more common to find people that side with the majority rather than to stand on their own individual feelings and thoughts. As slavery began to be less popular globally, more people in America picked up the banner for abolition. The same is true for the gay rights movement in America. Twenty- years ago it was taboo to be gay or rumored to be gay, and many people if asked would have outright denounced it. But now that gay relationships and the gay lifestyle is more common and accepted by society, many individuals that more than likely sided against it are willing to side with it. So with the ability to have free will comes the responsibility for the choices that you make. But I still think that most choice is based on society and even when poor decisions are made people will explain it away as “everyone was doing it at the time”. So for example, if an old video surfaced of a popular politician yelling “Nigger” at a student trying to integrate a public school, the politician can shift the blame on society and the way he/she was raised, and they are no longer that person. 


  1. Blame-shifting is a choice, though, even if it's the easy choice... IF we're going to hold individuals and/or "society" responsible for injustice. We have to reject the "I had no choice" defense, if we believe in social progress and personal freedom andresponsibility. So, "I had no easy choice" is no excuse for doing the wrong thing, in a politically-free society of presumptively ( metaphysically ) free individuals.

  2. Anonymous9:30 PM CDT

    I do see what you are saying but I do see as time goes on people doing the wrong thing as in slavery and apposing gay rights they eventually come around. It as if in the old days it was unacceptable for a woman to show above her ankle , but now not so much well depending on the culture I suppose. I believe what is wrong is wrong every man and woman truly knows in their heart slavery is wrong.Now abortion I can see where both sides might have an issue, both in some cases may be right or wrong , I am not sure it depends on many factors. Gay marriage I personally find nothing wrong with it but I can see why people would. I do not believe though people should go to the point of hating one another.

  3. I have noticed, as has many others have, that we humans have a herd mentality. Many people will give up the things they believe in order to fit-in with the majority and join the herd. We all hate to be ostracized. When analyzing moral issues, we like to give the moral corrections but seldom mention the herd mentality in the other direction. Almost the entire country of Germany moved to a new way of thinking and thought it alright to treat Jews as sub-humans (herd mentality).
    I guess the bottom line for all moral issues is this: if there is no God, all things are acceptable and there is no particular way anything ought to be, either good or evil. If we all evolved from a primordial soup and we are nothing more than grown up germs, who has the right to say what ought to be and what ought not to be? One opinion has no more weight than another. If there is a God, however, the entire game changes and majority rule and consensus means nothing. All of a sudden, there are rules from the ultimate rule maker and we are accountable. Each individual must come to their own conclusion on that issue.

    1. "if there is no God, all things are acceptable" - fortunately, atheists (excepting perhaps such literary provocateurs as Nietzsche and Dostoevsky) do not endorse this wild non-sequitur. In fact, it's almost always been religious folk from whom I've heard it.

      "If we all evolved from a primordial soup and we are nothing more than grown up germs" - another wild non-sequitur, I'm afraid. "There is a grandeur" in the evolutionary view of life, whether a divine/creative hand was involved in the process or not. Whether there is a god or not, we possess an evolved critical faculty which we need to use, if we're going to fashion a just society.

    2. Of course atheists do not endorse my “wild non-sequitur.” If they did endorse it, they would no longer be atheists.

      You have introduced me to a new term - “wild non-sequitur.” I had to look it up: a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement. I think what you mean is that with regard to morality, my conclusion that God is required is illogical; I think you believe morality can be established in the absence of God and that it is not logical for anyone to think otherwise.

      I do believe logic is on my side with regard to the issues of morality; neither have I violated any laws of reason. It is logical and reasonable to believe that if there is no overarching authority, all we really have are preferences; therefore, morality, in the interim analysis, is whatever the individual or the consensus of the group wants it to be (preferences). Mill’s idea of a “just society” and Hitler’s idea of a “just society” are not the same. Which idea of a “just society” would be correct (if either) and why would it be correct? Who has the authority to say what a just society looks like? Would a just society be determined by a consensus? Most people would agree that a consensus is not axiomatic truth.

      Mill said, “Whenever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the country emanates from its class interest, and its feelings of class superiority.”

      The authority for morality, in the case Mill describes, is not emanating from a fixed standard, but from the influence of the powerful “ascendant class” and its self-interest. That morality is subject to change any time the power structure changes. Mill also said, “…an opinion on a point of conduct, not supported by reasons, can only count as one person’s preference; and if the reasons, when given, are a mere appeal to similar preferences felt by the other people, it is still only many people’s liking [consensus] instead of one.” I do not appeal to other human beings to support my conclusion, but the atheists appeal to each other to support theirs.

      I’m sure this is not the first time you have encountered the argument I present; and not the first time you have rejected it. Likewise it’s not the first time I’ve encountered your argument. I received a C- in an ethics class a few years ago (when I should have received an A) simply because I would not conform to the idea that true moral standards can be established without God in the equation. Mill had something to say about that, too: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

      We have our opinions on this subject. I respect yours and you are not alone in what you believe. I think it is healthy to debate ideas and opinions. We and others learn from civil debates. It reminds me of Proverbs 18:17: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” It is good that we examine each other’s cases.

      Our opinions are important and should be heard…in my opinion :-).

    3. That's another one, I'm afraid: if atheists affirmed the proposition that without a god all things are permitted, they'd still be atheists... and nihilists to boot. But as I was saying, in my experience it tends to be (some) theists who affirm that proposition, and thus come closer to courting nihilism by making virtue and morality contingent on the existence of an unconfirmed Super-being.

      Yes of course, on this Independence Day eve especially, we must encourage the free expression of all opinions. Thanks for participating in the ongoing conversation. For my part, I'm going to unplug for the holiday. Talk to you later.

  4. George, while Christianity is an individual idea. Has it not prospered from the "herd mentality?"

    1. I've been thinking about your question, Brandon. Its easy to see how Christians and Jews have suffered at the hand of herd rule. The heard killed Jesus. The Jews were expelled from Spain and other places by the herd. Those are easy ones to see. Can you give me some examples of Christians or Jews benefitting from the what the herd does? I'm sure there are some...I just can't think of any.