Bipartism Free Will Versus Libertarianism/Compatiblism

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The Necessity of Valid Philosophy

Before anyone asserts any defense for libertarian free will as an argument, I would consider this kind of philosophy to be an exaggeration of the nature of free will. I suggest our approach in understanding free agency should change or adapt to a better model rather than adhere to traditional arguments. This is not to say that compatiblism is any better, but they do have a ground for arguing that external factors have a significant impact on a person’s mental orientation. The only issue is their insistence on having free will, but it’s all deterministic which seems odd to dispute. Let me present their flaws and strengths.

The Strengths/Flaws of Each Theory

Volitional Libertarianism

The biggest strength behind this theory is its irrefutable ground for moral responsibility. It also appeals to potentials and chances, which are important factors for understanding our reality, and such is essential for the existence of moral responsibility. The greatest disadvantage for this theory is its expectation for extreme, improbable, and broad agency where such choices aren’t possible in difficult and narrow situations. It appeals to the assertion that anyone under difficult situations and toxic environments should be held strictly accountable when very influenced by these heavy factors. Under this theory, it seems very tempting to overlook one’s tragedy and be devoid of empathy, and strictly retain the wrongdoer fully accountable for his/her deeds. Although, it is necessary to hold them partially responsible, we should not overlook the external impact on the person lest we fail to heal the root of the issue. It is difficult to change morally in a situation full of abuse and detriment. The famous David Bentley Hart also asserts: “Admittedly, I do reject any simple late modern libertarian model of freedom — the idea, that is, that the will is free to the degree that it can spontaneously posit any end for itself whatsoever, without any prior or more general motive or rationale — but that is only because such a model is clearly nonsensical”.

Compatibilist Agency

The strongest appeal of this theory is its axiomatic examples revealed in experience and empirical study. No one with libertarian freedom would be able to succumb to external influences in almost every outcome, but a compatibilist model suggests the limitations of free agency. Although, such a theory cannot also be valid due to its illusory freedom of choice. If external factors only determine the choice of any individual, free agency and moral responsibility become nullified concepts. Also, a deterministic reality removes potentials and probabilities as a whole. One might argue that probabilities are feasible if the situation is repeated intentionally, but in a deterministic reality, the very concept becomes unverifiable and paradoxical in thought. If such situations can be repeated intentionally and hypothetically, then doesn’t this discard a deterministic reality? The biggest weakness to this theory is the incoherence of moral responsibility in a deterministic reality; critical responsibility can only be imputed on someone if they had a (fully or partially free) choice to do otherwise.

Bipartite Willpower (aka Bipartism)

In retrospect, libertarian freedom affirms the axiomatic importance for moral responsibility and compatiblist agency suggests that the impact of external influences should not be ignored. There is a theory that should be suggested which combines the strengths of each view while discarding or shadowing the weaknesses from each theory. The bipartite theory suggests that though they are able to choose potentials and are affected by external factors, they are partially free to choose but also partially impacted by such influences. They formulate a choice in the presence of an external impact; also, despite the external factor, they have some potential and some probability in resisting the influence but not fully unaffected by the experience. Such a choice depends on their values but also on the situation. A dilemma in choice, for example, occurs when two or several contrary values are competing simultaneously due to equal measures of embrace. And the experience, for example, would be a menu of appealing deserts which entices the mind; thus, the will of man cannot be immune to perceived benevolent qualities. The choices of every person is influenced by one’s nature, and by the impacts of an external reality. The will is partially influenced by external factors and by its own self. If the priority of evil is rejected by choice, it must in turn result as an embrace to the value of good. This also works vice versa. So then, no free choice is purely transcendental from any external appeal (e.g. virtue and vice) of reality; the human will inevitably conform to one nature or another. The inner values found within the human will is dependent on the choice of assent for external natures or elementary influences found within reality (i.e. wealth, power, beauty, virtue, vice, exercise, bliss, impulse, rationale).

Also, if libertarian free will were true, there would be no struggle in addiction or temptation. If such a theory were true, then temptation would have no substantial impact, but it would be exempt from being categorized as a moral evil due its futility in impact. If such an action has no detrimental consequence and impact, it cannot be deemed evil. Perhaps the intention would be culpable, but the action itself would be rendered meaningless and neutral. Such an idea is comparable to throwing a rock on an indestructible car. Indeed, the motive by itself might be wrong, but the act alone would be morally neutral. If such a theory were true, our free choice would potentially avoid both virtue and vice as long as it holds to its “feasible” ambition. One might argue that this isn’t how it transpires, but honestly, such a theory is nonsensical regardless in face of empirical study.

In other words, bipartism freedom is a much more successful analysis of reality rather than the extremism of libertarian freedom or soft determinism. It’s fundamentally absurd to suggest that moral responsibility should be imputed to an entity fully controlled by determined outcomes. I would also suggest that there are two forms of freedom: natural and potential. Natural freedom is the volitional faculty under the conditional influence of prudence, complete experiential knowledge, and emotional stability. Potential freedom is the volitional faculty retaining power to choose any alternative outcome, and travel only between two contrary ethical natures.

This discourse might be unconvincing to proponents of each view but the mere assertion of total freedom and immunity from external impact, or the coherence between responsibility and inevitable outcomes are naive theories. While each view has its own compelling strength, each theory also has its own Achilles’ heel. One of the main reasons philosophers dispute without any obvious resolve is due to the failure to understand their absolute truth claims as partially coherent elements of truth. Though I would exclude the total immunity of the will and the perfect inevitability of any external impact on a person/object. The immovable object versus the unstoppable force have both found their end.



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George M. Garcia

George M. Garcia

A writer interested in theology and the supernatural. A Christian with divine experiences and a vast understanding of Scripture.