Tag Archives: moral responsibility

Conversations with Yang, Part I: How we accept/reject our unchosen existence

It’s funny how any extended conversation with my friend Yang gets me thinking about everything a little harder.

We got to talking about free will and birth.  Our birth is not our choice.  Or so it seems.  This is an issue of great importance to me, because it problematizes human existence itself.  It threatens to annul all notion of free will:  If even our birth wasn’t our choice, do we have any choice at all? As you can see, it makes for a rather bleak human condition.

Her:  What’s the point of thinking about it if that’s just the way it is and nothing can be done to change it?

Me:  Well, for one, i enjoy thinking about it, and trying to understand this unsolvable problem can help to fuel other philosophical projects which could contribute something real and practical to society.

Even more importantly, the way in which we decide to accept or reject this truth could have great implications on our actions.  In other words, this is a question of moral responsibility.

In my post on Peter Singer’s contribution to The Stone, i couldn’t decide whether having children is ethical, since i couldn’t reconcile birth with free will, while at the same time, my tendency to innately believe that nature is usually “right” restrained me from jumping to the conclusion that it is flat-out wrong to procreate.

But here’s another question to consider:  Our birth aside, on what grounds do we accept or reject our unchosen existence, and if we accept it, how do we cope with it?

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