Are we responsible for our own actions?

Are we responsible for our own actions?
monagro
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Posted Feb 8, 2007 - 4:20 PM:
Subject: Are we responsible for our own actions?
Since we are who we are because of a mix between our enviroment thoughout our life and our genes, are we responsible for our own actions? We are not responsible for our genetic code, which would then cause us to act in a certain way, so that we are not responsible for our own actions

Some people say that "we make our own decisions", but do we? Why does manipulation exist if we do? Isn't it more logical, as shown by the 1st paragraph, that our "own decisions" just logically flow from somewhere near the Big Bang?

Is it true that we only think we make our own decisions, because we like to feel important and powerfull, and that changing our life like we want (why do we want something?) therefore fullfills that feeling?

If you do not agree, do you also not agree that if you knew everything about every atom in the universe and were smart enough, that you could predict the future at any given moment? If you agree to this, why not agree to the first paragraph.
Stormy
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Posted Feb 8, 2007 - 9:11 PM:

I believe we are responsible and from a young age. We are shown that if we choose to touch or reach for the stove we will be hurt. We decide to or not to do that. We continue to do those choices all along. While we are born with traits, I believe, they are our traits and even those which may not fair us well are exampled in society as to the consequences for those behaviors.

If we are not responsible for our actions, then we would not need laws, which guide us in the right way to behave in a society. IMHOgrin
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Posted Feb 9, 2007 - 1:37 AM:

hello monagro,

It's true that there are things beyond our control which condition us to act one way or the other, but as beings capable of reflection, we can essentially decide or limit how these conditions affect us.

Every sane individual has the capacity to reflect first before acting. Reflecting gives us the opportunity to evaluate our options. Even if we didn't know exactly how the mental process worked or what the future events will be, its what we choose to do given the information available that defines our accountability.

There are many things that we do which involve choosing one option over another. For instance, what to do with the urge that makes us want to kill somebody. Instead of simply giving in to the urge, we can take a step back and evaluate our options:

1. To kill.
2. Not kill.

No matter how strong the urge, all it can do is compel us to act, it cannot make us do anything.

lorsban
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Posted Feb 9, 2007 - 2:02 AM:

monagro wrote:
We are not responsible for our genetic code, which would then cause us to act in a certain way, so that we are not responsible for our own actions

I think you are forgetting the nature-nurture debate which deals with influences coming from the environment and coming from genes. In fact many studies have found that both are equally influential. Some would argue that environment is much more responsible for the way we are, and some would argue that it is the genes. What is your (empirical) evidence to back up your statements?

Some people say that "we make our own decisions", but do we? Why does manipulation exist if we do?

You are providing the evidence for, and not the refutation for, "making our own decisions", if you say this. Who is doing the manipulation after all, if not the people who have decided to be manipulative.


Is it true that we only think we make our own decisions, because we like to feel important and powerfull, and that changing our life like we want (why do we want something?) therefore fullfills that feeling?

No, it's not true.
Pwrong
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Posted Feb 9, 2007 - 4:06 AM:

Since we are who we are because of a mix between our enviroment thoughout our life and our genes, are we responsible for our own actions? We are not responsible for our genetic code, which would then cause us to act in a certain way, so that we are not responsible for our own actions

I am my life and my genes. To say "it wasn't me, it was my genes and upbringing" is to say "it wasn't me, it was me". If I have some kind of disorder that causes me to kill people, then I am still responsible for the people I kill. Howver, this doesn't mean I can't use an insanity defence or something. There may be treatments that can cure my disorder. If the treatments work, then I'm no longer the same person who killed people, so I can no longer be held responsible.

If you do not agree, do you also not agree that if you knew everything about every atom in the universe and were smart enough, that you could predict the future at any given moment?
It doesn't matter if I agree with it, but physicists have known for decades that it's not true.
monagro
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Posted Feb 9, 2007 - 5:20 PM:

Just replying on previous posts made.

Caldwell wrote:

I think you are forgetting the nature-nurture debate which deals with influences coming from the environment and coming from genes. In fact many studies have found that both are equally influential. Some would argue that environment is much more responsible for the way we are, and some would argue that it is the genes. What is your (empirical) evidence to back up your statements?


You are providing the evidence for, and not the refutation for, "making our own decisions", if you say this. Who is doing the manipulation after all, if not the people who have decided to be manipulative.



No, it's not true.


Since when we are born, we are who we are because of a mix of our genes and our enviroment. Then, as our enviroment changes us, it changes us to someone because of the enviroment we are in. Although we can influence our enviroment, we influence it by acting on a certain way, which we do because of the enviroment we had before & our genes. Therefore, if you continue far enough, you will end up with us being on a certain way, because of our genes and the enviroment we have had thoughout our whole life, since our decisions depend on the enviroment & genes of before. Therefore, our acts are only logical followups from the enviroment we have had during diffrent parts in our life and our genes.

"It doesn't matter if I agree with it, but physicists have known for decades that it's not true. "

Do you have any evidence to back this up (not wikipedia or something untrustworthy as that)? Anybody who knows anything about this subject (e.g. a scientist at CERN I once talked to, both science teachers in my school) agree with me.

"If we are not responsible for our actions, then we would not need laws, which guide us in the right way to behave in a society. IMHOgrin"

This would only be true if we could get the enviroment and genes of everybody to line up in accordance with the law, which is not how it is now. Btw, I would not support a system like that, since it would make us sheep to how our leaders want us to be. This would cause no future resistance to anything they would do. People who have tried this are btw usually dictators (Hitler, Stalin, all tried to get us to act exacly like they said by brainwashing). However, this is just my opinion.

"
There are many things that we do which involve choosing one option over another. For instance, what to do with the urge that makes us want to kill somebody. Instead of simply giving in to the urge, we can take a step back and evaluate our options:

1. To kill.
2. Not kill.

No matter how strong the urge, all it can do is compel us to act, it cannot make us do anything. "

Wouldn't your enviroment & genes mix cause you to take the step back and then cause you to decide one of the two?
Mr.Anonymous
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Posted Feb 9, 2007 - 7:56 PM:

monagro wrote:
We are not responsible for our genetic code, which would then cause us to act in a certain way, so that we are not responsible for our own actions.

While genes influence our behavior, it does not control our decisions.

Example: Someone might have genetic traits that result in an extreme desire for sex over everything else. While that person is more likely to seek sex than to abstain, he or she is still capable of making the decision to abstain.
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Posted Feb 11, 2007 - 12:48 PM:

monagro wrote:
Since we are who we are because of a mix between our enviroment thoughout our life and our genes, are we responsible for our own actions? We are not responsible for our genetic code, which would then cause us to act in a certain way, so that we are not responsible for our own actions

Some people say that "we make our own decisions", but do we? Why does manipulation exist if we do? Isn't it more logical, as shown by the 1st paragraph, that our "own decisions" just logically flow from somewhere near the Big Bang?

Is it true that we only think we make our own decisions, because we like to feel important and powerfull, and that changing our life like we want (why do we want something?) therefore fullfills that feeling?

If you do not agree, do you also not agree that if you knew everything about every atom in the universe and were smart enough, that you could predict the future at any given moment? If you agree to this, why not agree to the first paragraph.


Any act done freely presupposes responsibility of the actor on his action. But freedom has degree, ie it depends on how the truth was arrived at by the intellect of the actor. The will always wills the good but if the intellect presented the truth of a thing incorrectly then something which is not good was willed. In this case, the act is less free, hence the responsiblity is also less in some respect.

Nonetheless, in terms of whether the person is liable for someting (bad) coming from his (less free action) that would now depend of the society's existing standard in determining the degree of culpability.

On the otherhad, in terms of his culpability with respect to God, I don't think he deserves any form of retribution or punishment for his actions, because man being created in the image of likeness of God will always do what is good as long as the intellect discerns the real truth of a thing/act because man's will will never will what is bad. But because of environment and genetical make up we do not have equal opportunity in discerning the real truth.

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