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I've heard there are people in philosophy called "action theorists" who think

I've heard there are people in philosophy called "action theorists" who think that action is always the product of one's own beliefs and desires. This view of action seems to call into question our free will. I know that I don't choose my desires and it really doesn't seem like I choose my beliefs either (e.g. I can't just choose to disbelieve that the earth revolves around the sun). So, if action is just the product of beliefs and desires, and I can't choose those, what room is left for me to choose my actions?

This is a case of dividing questions. Whether our actions are ultimately free or not, we perform actions. I'm performing one right now: I'm responding to your question. You performed an action when you asked your question. There are various issues about just what sorts of things count as actions, how actions are related to intentions, whether a reason for acting also counts as a cause of the action and so on. These questions come up whether or not there's such a thing as free will.

Whether I choose my actions in some ultibuck-stopping sense, I do choose them in various proximate senses. Going to the food co-op for lunch is an action; so is going to the sandwich shop instead. I might pick the co-op because I know they're serving vegan tacos today, and I like the way they make those. Most of us make choices like that every day, even if those choices are ultimately determined in a way that means the actions aren't really free.

If you'd like to get a better sense of what the philosophical study of action amounts to, you might have a look at this article from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This is a case of dividing questions. Whether our actions are ultimately free or not, we perform actions. I'm performing one right now: I'm responding to your question. You performed an action when you asked your question. There are various issues about just what sorts of things count as actions, how actions are related to intentions, whether a reason for acting also counts as a cause of the action and so on. These questions come up whether or not there's such a thing as free will. Whether I choose my actions in some ultibuck-stopping sense, I do choose them in various proximate senses. Going to the food co-op for lunch is an action; so is going to the sandwich shop instead. I might pick the co-op because I know they're serving vegan tacos today, and I like the way they make those. Most of us make choices like that every day, even if those choices are ultimately determined in a way that means the actions aren't really free. If you'd like to get a better sense of what the philosophical study of...

Free Will vs. (and) Determinism

Free Will vs. (and) Determinism I have been having a tireless debate with a friend about freewill and determinism. We have researched and regurgitated some of other people's arguments but it seems that our arguments never confront one another's. My description of the argument will be biased (I believe in determinism - kind of). I believe there are four possibilities 1. we have a determined future: We have our brain, biology, environment, and they interact in a specific way. What can possible change that? 2. at some level, particles move completely randomly, so our future isn't necessarily set, not because of free will, but because of those pesky little particles. 3. God asserts his will, but with rationality: our future is set, because a rational God is destined to make the same decisions (that argument might be incomplete, but we don't care about this one anyway. 4. God acts randomly, same outcome as 2, but because of a chaotic God. For arguments sake, we stick only to number 1 - we have a...

My first thought is that your four alternatives don't carve the territory up adequately.

Let's agree: either our futures are determined or they aren't. The way you've set up the debate, you've assumed that if determinism is true, we don't have free will. But that leaves out an important position: compatibilism. According to compatibilists, we can have free will even if determinism is true. This view has a long line of distinguished defenders, including Hume, A. J. Ayer and Daniel Dennett.

Before we go further, let's set aside the possibility that we do what we do because God makes it so. The point isn't to take a stand on a theological issue. It's just that if there's a God who makes us do what we do, it seems natural to say that God is the agent. There's room to argue, but for simpicity's sake, we'll assume that the sort of determinism (or non-determinism) at issue is natural.

Compatibilism comes in many varieties, but the basic idea is this: you're free if you can do what you want to do. Suppose I decided that I wanted to leave my desk and get a drink of water. What would happen? The plausible answer is that I'd do just that: I'd get up from my desk and get a drink. Furthermore, that hypothetical (counterfactual, to be more precise) seems true whatever your views on the laws of nature and the initial conditions. I'm free to get a drink of water because if I decided to do so, I actually would. Likewise, if I decided to sit here and finish this note first, I'd do that. So it seems that I really can do whichever of these I choose, whatever the physics of the world may be.

Now compatibilism isn't beyond objection. But once it's on the table, you see that the issue of free will doesn't simply amount to a question of whether determinism is true.

There's a parallel point about "randomness." It's often argued that if our "actions" are the outcome of random processes, then they aren't really actions and so aren't really free. But that's only relevant if indeterminism amounts to mere randomness. Believers in libertarian free will won't simply accept that. Many of them would say that free actions are authored by the self in a way that isn't reducible to the workings of laws of nature. Furthermore, even if this smacks too much of some sort of non-naturalist view of the self, there's at least one important libertarian who is content to make do with physical randomness. Robert Kane has a detailed defense of the idea that actions can be free even if deciding what to do is rooted in physical indeterminism.

So: some philosophers argue that free will is compatible with determinism, and some philosophers argue that free will is also compatible with indeterminism. In fact, there are philosophers who believe that free will is compatible with both.

Following the issue here would make this note far too long for this forum, but let me close with a thought about why you might want to take these compatibilist views seriously. There are straightforward ways in which we're sometimes not free. Some have to do with external coercion, and some have to do with our decision-making mechanism getting gummed up or tricked. It's also straightforward that much of this is a matter of more or less. We can decide more effectively when we're rested and not rushed than we can if we're tired and under pressure. Decisions made while sober are generally better examples of free choice than decisions made when drunk. In short, our usual view is that sometimes we're able to decide freely, sometimes we're not, and there's room for "more or less." We seem to be able to make nuanced distinctions about free choice. But if we insist that none of this makes sense until we settle Big Questions about the universe, everything is up for grabs in a most peculiar way. Do we really need to know about fundamental physics to know that in the senses we usually care about, we're sometimes able to decide freely? Keep in mind: physicists don't actually agree about whether the world is deterministic and they may never agree. Is the question of whether we can make free choices really a hostage to the outcome of such abstruse debates?

Some people think it is, but I'm suspicious. Life -- including our subtle ways of thinking about our choices and actions -- will most likely carry on as usual whatever the physicists decide about determinism. What matters to us when it comes to the questions of freedom and choice that actually face us seems far away from debate about whether the best understanding of the quantum world is deterministic or indeterministic. Even if there's some sense of "free choice" that isn't compatible with determinism in physics (or indeterminism, for that matter), it's not the only sense, and it's not obvious it's the one we should care about.

My first thought is that your four alternatives don't carve the territory up adequately. Let's agree: either our futures are determined or they aren't. The way you've set up the debate, you've assumed that if determinism is true, we don't have free will. But that leaves out an important position: compatibilism . According to compatibilists, we can have free will even if determinism is true. This view has a long line of distinguished defenders, including Hume, A. J. Ayer and Daniel Dennett. Before we go further, let's set aside the possibility that we do what we do because God makes it so. The point isn't to take a stand on a theological issue. It's just that if there's a God who makes us do what we do, it seems natural to say that God is the agent. There's room to argue, but for simpicity's sake, we'll assume that the sort of determinism (or non-determinism) at issue is natural. Compatibilism comes in many varieties, but the basic idea is this: you're free if you can do what you want to do....

Do philosophers who believe in a naturalistic and deterministic world and assert

Do philosophers who believe in a naturalistic and deterministic world and assert a compatabilist theory of free will believe that people who do very wrong things should be punished as an expression of retribution or to make the person realize how bad they are? (Rather than the use of punishment as discouragement) I find it fascinating and deeply disturbing that philosophers would want to punish people who are perfectly innocent according to a incompatibilist ethical system.

On the substance of your question, it may well be that different philosophers will respond differently, though I'd guess that naturalist/determinist/compatibilist more often goes with a view of punishment as having broadly utilitarian goals rather than retributivist ones. But I was struck by your last sentence: you find it disturbing that compatibilists would be willing to punish people whom incompatibilists see as innocent. Isn't this really just a way of siding with the incompatibilists? Compatibilists argue at length that we can be morally responsible even if determinism is true. Indeed, some compatibilists have argued (Hobart is a famous example from many decades ago) that we can't be responsible unless determinism is true. If compatibilists can make their case, then their point of view is only superficially disturbing. The apparently disturbing character, they would argue, is an illusion borne of misunderstanding what's required for moral responsibility. The compatibilist, in other words, thinks there's a strong case that these "innocents" aren't really innocent. Whether they have the better case is, of course, a matter of debate. But they do have arguments to offer.

On the substance of your question, it may well be that different philosophers will respond differently, though I'd guess that naturalist/determinist/compatibilist more often goes with a view of punishment as having broadly utilitarian goals rather than retributivist ones. But I was struck by your last sentence: you find it disturbing that compatibilists would be willing to punish people whom incompatibilists see as innocent. Isn't this really just a way of siding with the incompatibilists? Compatibilists argue at length that we can be morally responsible even if determinism is true. Indeed, some compatibilists have argued (Hobart is a famous example from many decades ago) that we can't be responsible unless determinism is true. If compatibilists can make their case, then their point of view is only superficially disturbing. The apparently disturbing character, they would argue, is an illusion borne of misunderstanding what's required for moral responsibility. The compatibilist, in other words, thinks...

Is religion the true enemy of freedom in a democratic society since it teaches

Is religion the true enemy of freedom in a democratic society since it teaches us that we have to think a certain way or is science since it teaches us that nobody is truly free but a product of deterministic forces?

Or another mode of reply: First suppose that science DOES suggest determinism. How would anything be different in our lives? Wouldn't democratic processes work precisely the same way as they have been? (After all, our behavior has been deterministic all along, so why would discovering/proving/merely believing that it is deterministic change anything?) Or since 'freedom' seems to be the larger concern for you, again, what would be different? All the cases where we've held people responsible for their behaviors, we still would hold them, wouldn't we? we'd still lock up bad people, teach our children to be good, etc.... So it isn't clear to me why scientific results would threaten anything, really. Ditto for religion: if we think religions are in the business of generating true claims about the world, then, where they succeed, we should be happy to endorse their claims (assuming we want the truth). Whichever dogmatic religions you're thinking of ARE dogmatic because they believe they have the truth which, I suppose, isn't necessarily a bad thing. Of course, greater humility about knowledge is probably more appropriate -- but then very little stops most people from believing their religious beliefs along WITH the humility of recognizing they may be wrong -- so it isn't religion itself which 'suppresses freedom (of thought)', but dogmatic bossy people (some of whom are religious, but many of whom are not) ....

hope that's useful! ...

ap

How about neither? Let's start with religion, about which only a few words. Some forms of religion are dogmatic and deeply invested in doubtful beliefs, but it's a mistake to think all religion is like that, contrary to the persistent insistence of some apologists for atheism. And "science" writ large hasn't settled whether everything is a product of deterministic forces, let alone about what that would imply if it were true. On the first point: it's open to serious doubt whether quantum processes are deterministic. And it's simply not true that the macro-world would be sealed off from all quantum indeterminism. More important, it's simply not settled that determinism has the dire implications you suppose it has. Most philosophers, I'd guess, accept some version of compatibilism, according to which physical determinism and human freedom can coexist. A bit of searching around this website will find various discussions. Here's one that might be helpful. Of course, it might be that the...

Some people have argued that because people's choices are often influenced by

Some people have argued that because people's choices are often influenced by factors that are not relevant to rational decision making, people do not have free will. For instance, people are much more willing to register as an organ donor on their driver's liscenses if this is presented as the default option ("check this box to be an organ donor" vs "check this box to opt out of being an organ donor"). Does a person need to be rational in order to have free will?

I'd like to suggest that it's not an all-or-none affair, but yes: rationality is part of free will. One way to think about it is to ask what kind of "free will" would be worth caring about. A will that's not able to respond to reasons is one I wouldn't want to have, and any sense in which it would be "free" seems to me to be pretty Pickwickian.

This point doesn't settle the question of how free will and determinism are related. Robert Kane's version of libertarianism, for instance, doesn't call up any obvious conflict between free will and reason. That's partly because reason doesn't always dictate a single course of action. It would be reasonable of me to work on my administrative duties for the rest of the afternoon, and also reasonable to spend the time on research. But it wouldn't be reasonable to tear off my britches and run naked into the street, and I don't think the fact that this would be beyond me (absent a very good reason) to mean I don't have free will.

So yes: little glitches in our reason do represent limitations on our "free will" (a phrase, by the way, that I think could use a holiday.) But reason needn't be perfect for us to be reasonably free.

I'd like to suggest that it's not an all-or-none affair, but yes: rationality is part of free will. One way to think about it is to ask what kind of "free will" would be worth caring about. A will that's not able to respond to reasons is one I wouldn't want to have, and any sense in which it would be "free" seems to me to be pretty Pickwickian. This point doesn't settle the question of how free will and determinism are related. Robert Kane's version of libertarianism, for instance, doesn't call up any obvious conflict between free will and reason. That's partly because reason doesn't always dictate a single course of action. It would be reasonable of me to work on my administrative duties for the rest of the afternoon, and also reasonable to spend the time on research. But it wouldn't be reasonable to tear off my britches and run naked into the street, and I don't think the fact that this would be beyond me (absent a very good reason) to mean I don't have free will. So yes: little glitches in our...

Is the question of whether homosexuality is "a choice" at all morally relevant?

Is the question of whether homosexuality is "a choice" at all morally relevant? Does it bear, e.g., on whether homosexual lifestyles are morally permissible, or whether gay marriage should be allowed? Many people seem to think so, including many of those who support gays and lesbians.

Just one footnote to Sean. If homosexuality is a choice, it's not, as Richard Mohr once pointed out, like the choice of what sort of ice cream you're going to buy. Here's a thought experiment to try. Think of someone you find sexually attractive. Now try to choose not to have that response. Part two: think of someone you don't find sexually attractive. Now try to choose to be attracted to them. Step three: repeat steps one and two for broad categories of people where you find you have pretty stable patterns of attraction. If you are anything like me, you'll find that the attempt to choose doesn't get you anywhere.

Just how we end up being sexually attracted to the people we're attracted to is not easy to say. What seems pretty clear is that it's not in any ordinary sense a choice,

Of course, having predilections is one thing; that may not be a choice. Acting on them is another; that usually is a choice. If a case could be made that it's wrong for homosexual people to act on their attractions, then the fact that their orientation is not a matter of choice wouldn't simply excuse them. In fact, however, the arguments I've seen are pathetically bad. A bit more carefully, there are of course lots of situations that call for not acting on our attractions. But that said, the idea that there's some special problem about homosexual attraction is a lot harder to defend than some people seem to have thought.

Just one footnote to Sean. If homosexuality is a choice, it's not, as Richard Mohr once pointed out, like the choice of what sort of ice cream you're going to buy. Here's a thought experiment to try. Think of someone you find sexually attractive. Now try to choose not to have that response. Part two: think of someone you don't find sexually attractive. Now try to choose to be attracted to them. Step three: repeat steps one and two for broad categories of people where you find you have pretty stable patterns of attraction. If you are anything like me, you'll find that the attempt to choose doesn't get you anywhere. Just how we end up being sexually attracted to the people we're attracted to is not easy to say. What seems pretty clear is that it's not in any ordinary sense a choice, Of course, having predilections is one thing; that may not be a choice. Acting on them is another; that usually is a choice. If a case could be made that it's wrong for homosexual people to act on their...

I want to believe that our actions are products of our own will who can choose

I want to believe that our actions are products of our own will who can choose to do right or wrong but I find this very difficult to believe for a simple philosophical reason. Given the principle that something can not come about by nothing it seems like an absolute and indubitable certainty that the total state of affairs in the universe at any one given moment in time would completely determine the state of affairs at another moment in time. The only thing that keeps me from believing this is my suspicion that my mind is playing a metaphysical trick on me and my hope in religious and spiritual possibilities. Is there some flaw to this reasoning that I can not see? Are there any good arguments that refutes the intuitive position that a non-deterministic universe is an absurdity? I suppose that you could argue that certain areas of science such a quantum mechanics refute the idea of a deterministic universe but such scientific theories don't have the simple persuasiveness of the above mentioned thesis.

Persuasiveness is pretty clearly a relative matter here! After having spent a few decades thinking about quantum theory, I don't find myself much bothered by the idea of indeterminism. Even if I front that "something can't come from nothing" it's a long way from there to the conclusion that all events are governed by deterministic laws. And in any case, when it comes to questions about how the universe really works, I'm not inclined to take my mere hunches and intuitions too seriously. In particular, it's hard to see why I would five my intuitions about nature priority over the painstaking theoretical and experimental work of the sciences. The world has surprised us many times before. I'd bet that it will continue to do so.

Persuasiveness is pretty clearly a relative matter here! After having spent a few decades thinking about quantum theory, I don't find myself much bothered by the idea of indeterminism. Even if I front that "something can't come from nothing" it's a long way from there to the conclusion that all events are governed by deterministic laws. And in any case, when it comes to questions about how the universe really works, I'm not inclined to take my mere hunches and intuitions too seriously. In particular, it's hard to see why I would five my intuitions about nature priority over the painstaking theoretical and experimental work of the sciences. The world has surprised us many times before. I'd bet that it will continue to do so.

What is emotional suffering?

What is emotional suffering? I know that I feel that I suffer, but in what sense am I suffering? I cannot place anywhere, the source of emotional suffering in any causal terms from the external world. The external world can bring me physical pain through physical action, but it seems absurd to think that external objects can also cause emotional pain. Does this mean that emotional suffering is generated from within me? Am I the cause of my own suffering? If so, does this mean that one can choose not to suffer?

Saying just what emotional suffering amounts to wouldn't be easy, but there may be no need. Even if we find it hard to spell out what it is, all of us know emotional suffering from the inside. Some emotional suffering may be internally generated -- endogenous, as it's sometimes put -- but whether or not we understand the mechanisms, it's clear that things in the outer world can cause emotional pain. When you think about it, this isn't really so strange. Our emotional states are deeply dependent on the states of our brains, and our brains, after all, are physical things, in interaction with other physical things. We simply accept this for perception: our perceptual experiences are caused by the interaction between things in the outer world and our perceptual systems, including (not least!) our brains.

The details of how all this works are best left to the scientific experts, but for example, if I see someone I care about being hurt, and if I can do nothing about it, feeling distressed would seem the most natural thing in the world. That's a garden-variety example of things in the outer world causing emotional suffering. It would be odd in a case like this to say that you are the cause of your own suffering.

All the same, it's plausible that sometimes we do have some control over our suffering. Most of us tend to tell ourselves stories about what's happening to us, and sometimes those stories are not really very plausible. We may, for example, tell ourselves that a friend who didn't say "Hello" must have stopped liking us. In fact, our friend may simply have been preoccupied. To some extent, we can learn to notice when we are over-interpreting and reacting out of bad cognitive habits. This sort of pausing -- stepping back -- can sometimes lower our level of distress. Cognitive behavioral therapy calls such unproductive reactions "automatic thoughts," and seems to be able to help people by helping them learn to recognize when they are reacting that way. Buddhist approaches to emotional suffering have something of the same flavor.

So in short -- the fact that outer events can cause emotional distress isn't really any more puzzling than the more general fact that the mental is intimately related to the physical. Sometimes some of our emotional distress arises from the ways we react to things, and we sometimes have some degree of control over those reactions. However, this hardly means that we can simply "cure" all our emotional pain by ourselves, and worrying about whether we are "responsible" for our suffering may well not be very productive.

Saying just what emotional suffering amounts to wouldn't be easy, but there may be no need. Even if we find it hard to spell out what it is , all of us know emotional suffering from the inside. Some emotional suffering may be internally generated -- endogenous, as it's sometimes put -- but whether or not we understand the mechanisms, it's clear that things in the outer world can cause emotional pain. When you think about it, this isn't really so strange. Our emotional states are deeply dependent on the states of our brains, and our brains, after all, are physical things, in interaction with other physical things. We simply accept this for perception: our perceptual experiences are caused by the interaction between things in the outer world and our perceptual systems, including (not least!) our brains. The details of how all this works are best left to the scientific experts, but for example, if I see someone I care about being hurt, and if I can do nothing about it, feeling distressed would seem...

Asked "do you believe in the faith you follow through choice?" I would expect

Asked "do you believe in the faith you follow through choice?" I would expect most respondents would answer "yes", yet this is clearly not the case and is largely true only for people who have converted from one faith to another. A child growing up in Belfast with Protestant parents, Protestant grand-parents and Protestant great-grand-parents is going to be Protestant. A child growing up in Italy is 90% certain to be Catholic, a child born and raised in N.E. Thailand is 97% certain to be Buddhist etc etc. Where does the choice come in? Surely for anyone who doesn't question belief in God, the God they follow is down not to choice but to geography - does this not make a mockery of belief?

Interestingly, one of the more well-known statements of your premise -- that belief in most cases is a matter of accidents of birth and circumstance -- was offered by a well-known defender of religion, the British philosopher John Hick. But we'll get to that.

Most people don't think very hard about their religious beliefs. And when we get to the level of specifics (that Jesus was God incarnate, that the Koran was delivered to Mohammed by an Angel, that the Amida Buddha built the Western Paradise...), it's guaranteed that most people are wrong, because there are no majority beliefs at this level of detail. But what to make of this is harder to say.

After all, something like both of these points (beliefs held by custom and habit and no majority view in any case) may be true for political beliefs, and for views on certain controversial ethical matters. It's likely true even for certain sorts of scientific beliefs, and ceretainly for various broad background "philosophical" or "metaphysical" commitments. So the first point is that it may be a bit harder than it seems to single religion out. But there are a couple of other points.

Even if my commitment to liberal democray, or libertarianism, or communism or socialism or whatnot isn't well-thought-out, it doesn't follow that such commitments are rotten by nature. After all, some people hold their views thoughtfully. And this goes for religious views as much as for any other sort. But we can add that there are many ways of holding religious beliefs. There are plenty of believers who realize that they really don't know a lot about ultimate things. The specifics of their traditions give them ways of conducting their religious lives, and that could be valuable for a variety of reasons, not all of which have to do with getting the details right. Hick, by the way, thinks that religious views are partial attempts to grasp a reality that we can't fully grasp, but that many religious traditions can put people in touch with ultimate reality, even if the believer's account of the matter is confused. (Compare: I don't need to understand the active ingredients in the medicine I've been given for it to do its job.)

All this is consistent with thinking that there's far too much thoughtless religion in the world, and that fair bit of evil that can be traced to unthinking but zealous acceptance of bad dogma. For all that, however, the fact remains: it's not quite as easy as it seems to dismiss religious belief by the sort of argument you offer.

Interestingly, one of the more well-known statements of your premise -- that belief in most cases is a matter of accidents of birth and circumstance -- was offered by a well-known defender of religion, the British philosopher John Hick. But we'll get to that. Most people don't think very hard about their religious beliefs. And when we get to the level of specifics (that Jesus was God incarnate, that the Koran was delivered to Mohammed by an Angel, that the Amida Buddha built the Western Paradise...), it's guaranteed that most people are wrong, because there are no majority beliefs at this level of detail. But what to make of this is harder to say. After all, something like both of these points (beliefs held by custom and habit and no majority view in any case) may be true for political beliefs, and for views on certain controversial ethical matters. It's likely true even for certain sorts of scientific beliefs, and ceretainly for various broad background "philosophical" or "metaphysical"...

I do not believe that true freedom can actually exist within any society that is

I do not believe that true freedom can actually exist within any society that is governed by any form of laws or rules. To me, freedom is to be completely without restraint of any kind, be it legal, social, theological, or whatever. As long as there exists any sort of list of things that are not to be done, said, or thought, and these rules are actively upheld by empowered individuals and/or groups, I do not think that anyone within such a society is truly free. I would like to know if anyone agrees or disagrees and why.

Consider this little argument:

A society with laws against killing is a society where true freedom doesn't exist.
A society where true freedom doesn't exist is undesirable.
Therefore, a society with laws against killing is undesirable.

The argument is superficially valid, but it rests on an equivocation. The first premise is plausible if "true" is read as "unlimited" or "unbridled." But if "true" means something like "ideal," then the premise seems false. On the other hand, the second premise is plausible if "true" is read as "ideal," but seems false if "true" simply means "unbridled."

Indeed: if "true freedom" means "unbridled freedom," then most (all?) societies don't have "true freedom." But that's a mere tautology. Using the word "true" here doesn't give us any reason to think that a society with "true" freedom (in effect, a "society" with no laws at all) would be a good thing. It's hard to see what's desirable about a society where goons and thugs can go around offing people with impunity. It's hard to see what would be good about letting such people have their way.

So in short: if we read "true freedom" in one way, no one could disagree with what you say, but that's only because what you say is, as it were, true by definition. But if we read "true freedom" as incorporating a judgment about what's good or desirable, then most people will disagree for the most obvious of reasons: except for the very strong and very ruthless, living in a society like that would be like living in hell. And -- paradoxically or not -- it would be living in a society where meaningful freedom would be minimal for most of us, since so many of us would be at the mercy of the thugs and the goons.

Consider this little argument: A society with laws against killing is a society where true freedom doesn't exist. A society where true freedom doesn't exist is undesirable. Therefore, a society with laws against killing is undesirable. The argument is superficially valid, but it rests on an equivocation. The first premise is plausible if "true" is read as "unlimited" or "unbridled." But if "true" means something like "ideal," then the premise seems false. On the other hand, the second premise is plausible if "true" is read as "ideal," but seems false if "true" simply means "unbridled." Indeed: if "true freedom" means "unbridled freedom," then most (all?) societies don't have "true freedom." But that's a mere tautology. Using the word "true" here doesn't give us any reason to think that a society with "true" freedom (in effect, a "society" with no laws at all) would be a good thing. It's hard to see what's desirable about a society where goons and thugs can go around offing people with...