Free Will and Human Dignity: A Love Story

What is the value of free will and the ability to make your own choices? Prof. James Otteson recalls a parable his teacher taught him in high school. If you had the ability to make a woman fall in love with you, would you like it? Would you prefer to force someone to love you or to have someone offer to give their love to you freely? Love freely given is so much more valuable. This story illustrates an important moral insight: Respecting people means allowing them to make their own choices, even if you believe the choices they will make are poor. Without the ability to choose for ourselves, we lose a bit of what makes us human. Do you find it frustrating when you are not allowed to make your own decisions? What would you do differently if people or government were not preventing your actions? Do you think you’re better or worse off when your choices are limited or taken from you?



  1. nididpi

    So why sex before marriage for Christian is immoral?  GOD gives us free will, but why should we put code on ourselves? Is it not enough the government has millions codes on us?

  2. Matt Wavle

    Hey, I don’t mock YOUR beliefs or lack thereof.
    In fact I celebrate your freedom to make any choice you see fit, as long as those choices respect the rights of others.
    Your choice to mock my beliefs does NOT appear to be respectful of my liberty.
    All choices, in liberty, are possible.  But be fully aware, choices HAVE consequences.
    I was very much like you in my absolutist way of declaring dogmatically that certain (personally offensive) beliefs of others were wrong…
    Until one day I came to a realization, that I…
    would live, somewhere, forever….
    Choose whatever it is you want to believe (like I used to) OR decide to go on a discovery of the Truth, and accept with an open heart where that leads you.
    The choice is yours, the consequences though, may be eternally out of your control.
  3. Andrei-Claudiu Roibu

    Freedom is the core aspect that defines us as human beings. This, together with the ability to adapt to almost any situation and environment has made us the dominant species in this world. In my opinion, any decision maker or legislator that takes action against his own people or their liberties, is committing a moral crime against the very nature of humanity, and, why not, against it’s Creator. 

    Also, in my home country of Romania, we have a saying: "If you hit the lintel, than you will see the threshold". In other words, you are free to do anything you want to, even make mistakes. Despite this, by being a rational being, after you made those mistakes, you will either set yourself on the right path and avoid making the same things, or you can continue doing what you did, and suffer.
     The choice is yours: God gave you this fundamental right, and also, he gave you the rational ability (aka, a brain) to judge right from wrong, in a subjective manner. 
  4. Ryan Boyd

    I do hope people do not get bogged down in the religious context of the story. The central theme is not religious and something that I accept as an Atheist: people are allowed to choose for themselves. It is when we let people begin choosing for others that we ultimately curtail the innate power that all of us have to make the world as amazing as it could be.

  5. mikeknightofdawn

    Right you are, as most people who espouse determinism are usually seeking to use that as a mantra to justify a ruling elite.

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