Is choice automatically right? The question is that if a choice is wrong, that may not not mean it is wrong for you.

It is not clear that we really think choice is about being able to choose the right thing. Choice is largely or sometimes totally an end in itself. And it is partly true that if you have to put yourself first in a dog eat dog universe there is part of it where you have no choice. You cannot serve yourself or another equally. To give is to risk yourself being hurt for you are helping a being that is in competition with you on some level even a passive one.

It is common for many today to feel that if you choose something that is enough to make it right. Many complain about how prevalent that position is for they see it as destructive to society.

They say that it overlooks the following:

# We make choices we have good reason to think are bad.

# We make big choices for stupid or flimsy reasons.

# Asking for indiscriminate approval of our choices is just an indication that we are spoiled brats.

# We know deep down that freedom of choice is not everything. If you get your own way all the time you will miss out on the fun of dealing with challenges to your self-determination.

# If choice is just about me and what I choose then it follows that choice has to be protected but that seems to involve sometimes forcing others to give me what I want - eg gender change, abortion for I have to override the idea, "My right to choose x does not mean a provider has to give it to me".

And if right and wrong is merely choice, then what is wrong? Wrong will then be seen as doing what you don't want to do or what is against your will. It follows that there is no such thing as a wrong choice if you do it freely. This is seen as a highly dangerous view.

The view is thought to be behind the campaign for late-term abortions, declaring punishment immoral, allowing a person born male to have female put on the birth certificate, same-sex marriage, the right to suicide etc.

But what if you suggest choice is good even if we do bring about bad consequences? Choice is just choice. It is neither good or evil as choice. It is not good or evil in itself. But a choice will bring about a mixture of bad and good results to one degree or another.

The person cannot be assessed as bad or good based on what they choose. It is the consequences not the person that must be praised or condemned.

It would be objectively wrong to deny a person their choice and that is a bigger wrong than the objective evil of adultery or murder. Religion says that if choice comes first then there is no moral basis for condemning adultery or murder as objectively wrong. There is no basis to judge these actions. But even if there is, preventing a person from committing evil is worse than the evil they do. It is worse in principle if not in the pain it causes.

The Church says that complete freedom is paradoxically not freedom at all. This is nonsense. If complete freedom means less freedom it certainly does not mean having no freedom. This lie is a core doctrine of the faith. Religion by definition denies that there is true self-respect or respect for others in unbridled freedom and bases this on the notion that such freedom is not really freedom.

People say, "There is a way in which your choice or decision is not yours to make. This time we are talking about justice. I may be a policeman and duty bound to stop a murder that is about to take place before my eyes. I know the killer has the power to choose, but I can still tell him it is not his decision to make. Thus I can force my will on him and stop the murder and use force if necessary. If you want to commit the sin of having sex before marriage, if you want to commit the sin of masturbation or heresy or unbelief, the sin is not your decision to make. The person who fails to tell you that loud and clear is enabling disobedience to God. They have no right to be silent and no right to use the excuse that it is your choice."

Suppose you have free will. Suppose God gave you free will to obey him or to disobey him. It follows that you can obey him or disobey him but nobody else must permit you to do this. In fact they should not permit it. They should tell you you should not do it and that you are bad if you don't. They should, if possible, lay out suitable punishment.

But the trouble is that if it is your choice to obey God or not, this refers to the choice being your faculty. It is your power to obey or not. Thus it is no man's business for man did not give you free will.

If there is a God, then you have no right to disobey him. If he says you must obey the policeman then in reality you are obeying God not the policeman.

The atheist perception, even if it is often poorly articulated, is that belief in God logically implies that religion is to be given supreme power provided it is the religion authorised by God to represent him and teach his revelations properly is accurate. This teaching or implication is a worry. It has done untold damage in history.

To have the freedom to obey man or disobey is one thing. We are happy enough with it. It feels natural. But to suppress this and obey God instead is oppressive. God and the removal of freedom go together.


If good does not matter, then we are made in such a way that something has to matter. If we have free will, then the only thing that can matter is the power to choose. Choice matters and morality doesn't for morality is nonsense. We cannot prove to ourselves 100% that we are acting morally. At best we can believe it. We cannot know it. Sometimes your motives for doing something can be hidden from even yourself. So part of us is open to the notion that morality is nonsense. We partly but largely then regard the power to choose as being what matters and not morality. When you believe something you get on a scale. The scale runs in degrees of belief to degrees of unbelief. In that sense to believe is also to not believe.

Some say we choose at least some of our beliefs. What matters most in a person? Their beliefs or their power to choose? Both cannot be equally important because they are separate faculties. The power to act is a fact. We may not be sure if it is really free or not or programmed but acting is still a fact. Beliefs are not facts though they can be and often are right.

Choice good for its own sake?

If taste is good it is good for its own sake. You can and should taste something for the sake of it. You can't say that taste is only good if it is testing to see if food is good for you or somebody. Nobody praises an action just because it was a choice but asks if the choice was about promoting happiness and goodness. So this condemns choosing for its own sake or for the sake of choosing. It condemns you for doing that. So there is something evil in choosing to go to the left just because you can or for touching your nose just because you can. This shows people do not respect free will and free agents as much as they let on. Do not be fooled by those who say that free will gives dignity to human beings.

To say choice alone matters implies the chooser matters not the decision. This seems to say in principle that you should praise the person who tidies your lawn up for you out of kindness as much as you should praise the person who rips it up. The assumption is that choice is choice and should not be limited. Is that a problem for we do limit our own and others choices? But that is not a choice to limit. Choices limit themselves. I choose to eat the last slice of bread. I limit myself for I have eaten the bread and can’t eat it again.


You need to be sovereign over yourself and your choices. Unless you have autonomy, you cannot be accountable for anything and especially not in the moral sense. You need your conscience to be respected by God and others and you need to respect it yourself in order to be truly free and autonomous. This shows that to make a moral decision without thinking it through carefully and as thoroughly as possible is always bad. It is better to make the well-meaning but wrong choice than to make a lazy one. And even more so if it is regarding a very serious matter such as somebody's life.

Presumed consent

Presumed consent is a big discussion point in medical ethics. This issue comes up when somebody dies in a car crash and unless they have said otherwise in life you can use the organs to save lives.

Presumed consent is only possible if you know the person has been correctly informed and made fully aware of what they could choose. So if they fail to actually choose it then in certain circumstances you can presume they would choose.

We see that choice is not everything and yet it is everything. Choice is not about being moral and just and fair. It is not about God if God is a moral being. It belongs to me. Only me. If others judge me that may seem necessary but it does not take the away the fact that the only judge that matters is me.

What if choice is not real?

What if we are like dogs and only act like we choose when we in fact do not?  Are we pre-wired?  The dog thinks it chooses and so do we until we remember that it is directed by instinct and it is not how it seems.  Determinism means your choice is just a response that you think you have made when in fact you are programmed or cannot choose any different so it is not a choice.  Our minds give us a reward for thinking we act freely so our bias is obvious.  Feeling we acted makes us feel good in some way even if what we do is bad.  We are glad to be "free". 

I would insist we have to act like it is so if we feel free even if we are not, then our "choice" is just as much in need of validation and respect from society as if it were really free.

A critic says, "Determinism subverts rationality and reason; no one really thinks; we just act and react to our conditioned states. This nullifies our universal understanding and genuine ability to make rational decisions based on inquiry and personal volition."  But reality programs us so that does not matter.

The argument that our belief in determinism can hardly be relied on if we are prewired to accept it can be dismissed.  We have the same problem if we are prewired to believe in free will.  So we just have to take a position.  You can have free will and still be programmed to believe you have it.  Some beliefs are not chosen.


Morality says that you are innocent until proven guilty.

If I chose to harm, nobody can prove this is immoral for they cannot prove anybody will still be alive next week.  If number 6 comes up every time a dice is thrown, and it has been happening a million years, that shockingly has nothing to do with proving it will be a 6 the next time I throw.  The argument that bad consequences prove your deed to be evil is a fallacy. 

In ethics, you have those who say that only the harmful results show that your deed was bad.  And those who say that your deed is not made bad or good by the results but by the kind of deed it is.  In other words, the character of the act, makes it wrong. Eg, stealing is still held to be evil even if the intention is to feed the poor.  The consequences people would say that human life does not matter if the person is suffering and wants to die.  The other camp will say that the principle, the virtue, matters and it is right to refuse to - lie, curse God, kill, have an abortion - no matter what it costs. 

In any case, both agree that bad results are an indicator that an act was wrong.  Yet as we have seen, this is a fallacy and neither side truly believes in morality.  It is really about using good intentions so that they might gain self-approval and/or approval from others and perhaps a God.

While morality may be bigger than your opinion that may not mean it is totally independent of what you think. Water is totally independent of me but it exists in such a way that makes it matter to bodies and to people.

Moralists have to stomach disagreements about what morality means so it is not up to anybody else to impose their standards of morality on my choice.  Choice for its own sake or without moral considerations is valid. 

Free will as a choice between good and evil is a myth even if it is just because, "I had no evil option but all the options were good but that does not mean what I chose was in any way bad.  It remains good."  You don't need an evil option.  To your mind, having a baby you don't want can be as good (or bad) as having a termination.  Right to choose can be maintained without worrying about morality.  It should be about the fact that only you can choose and it is nobody else's choice to make.  It is immoral for them to try to influence.  Incoherent?  Yes.  Morality is incoherent so choice is choice and all we have.

What if you are sceptical about free will?  Well, many of us use the word choice to mean what happens if nobody outside of you is forcing you. That is enough.  Many use the word differently from the Christians who say what you do is not programmed or set up by physical causes, but is real freedom.  They say you are in the image of God who can just do what he wants and own his action and that is where it comes from.


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