Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Obviation of Free Will?

Wow. Here's one radical opinion about the moral basis for wealth. Basically, economist Richard Posner argues that the Randian fantasies of the wealthy are just that. Fantasies.
In short, I do not believe in free will. I think that everything that a person does is caused by something. It is true, and is the basis of belief in free will, that often we are conscious of considering pros and cons in deciding on a course of action; “we” are deciding, rather than having the decision made by something outside “us.” But calculation and decisionmaking are different. Deciding may just mean calculating the balance of utility and disutility; the result of the balance determines the decision. No doubt when a cat pounces on a mouse, it has decided to do so; but the decision was compelled by circumstances—the feline diet, the presence of the mouse, etc. A complete description of the incident would not require positing free will.

If this is right, a brilliant wealthy person like Bill Gates is not “entitled” to his wealth in some moral, Ayn Randian sense.
Luck, chance and randomness (i.e. chaos) are responsible for a far larger part of our personal "destiny" than we might be comfortable in admitting.  Especially if one uses one's position to exert one's will over others.

One must question the moral foundations of capitalism if this is, indeed, the case.

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