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Posts Tagged ‘Free will

The Synergy of Libertarianism and Sociology

with 5 comments

Modern Type & Sociology Books

On a libertarian group on Facebook, someone asked if the teachings of sociology were in opposition to the ideals of libertarianism and free will, where sociology teaches us we base our actions on the input from those around us, and that all our choices are influenced by social interactions and social contexts, and went to ask how libertarians felt about this sociological knowledge.

I felt compelled to answer, and I thought I could supply the same answer here.

Whether or not social interaction and society around us influences us and ultimately limits or shifts our values and effectively guides our choices is pretty much a given. People are social animals.

However, that does not contradict the libertarian ethos of individual rights and personal freedom, and a belief in free will. I hold the non-aggression-principle high, because it’s moral and just. I hold private property rights high, because it’s moral and just. I hold the respect for my fellow Men high, because it’s moral and just. I expect people to respect me, my choices, my personal freedoms and property, because it’s moral and just.

My values and choices beyond this can easily be affected by others, because that’s part of what I am. But that does not belittle my own free will. If anything it underlines its strength. If we defined by our humanity would not have complete authority of our selves as individuals, then we would not have the option of breaking free of evil influences if that was all that surrounded us. We must have the opportunity to choose our influences and social contexts, or else we most certainly would perish. Because of this, the fact that we are influenced by those around us and those who brought us up proves to me the strength of our own free will.

What of the poor souls who were surrounded by nothing but lies, but still could see the deceptions that had been fed to them? They are numerous throughout history, and we have much to thank them for. They gave us the Age of Enlightenment, they gave us liberty and capitalism, and once and for all proved that we can choose a free life. Somewhere along the way we may have lost it, but the words of liberty spread across the world like never before and will never be forgotten. If people had no individual preferences or ability to choose for themselves, then such ideas could not spread.

So to sum it up: We are influenced by others, because we’re social animals – and that’s the study of sociology, but we have reason and free will which enable us to choose among those influences, because we’re human – and that’s the study of philosophy.

I know all too well that the field of sociology is made up by collectivist thinkers; marxists, socialists, social democrat-leaning liberals and statists. There is a religious belief in the good of authoritarian rule – as long as it is the rule for good. The way I see it, all the social injustice and problems of society that sociologists do well in identifying and try to fight against are attributed to state authority and a lack of respect for freedom and private property. They wish to use the same authority to do good, and blatantly ignore the fact that you cannot do good with evil. A belief in the system of government authority over economic and social questions will doom us into never finding the right answer, and that is the bane of sociologists today.

There does exist a call for a field of sociology that develops a different understanding of the State, that can be based in the libertarian and objectivist philosophies. The problems of society are the symptoms of the disease of government, and the best sociologists are the ones who make the proper diagnosis.

Written by Morten Rolland

April 14, 2011 at 11:55 am