Free will encompasses the idea that individuals have the power and right to determine their own course of action in life. Moral responsibility is an important concept related to how people use their free will and must take personal responsibility for their actions. Consequences of any risks taken, must be assumed without passing the blame onto others, including the government.
Promoting free will and moral responsibility
In a free society, people should be allowed to eat, drink, smoke, consume drugs, and any other activity they desire, without government interference, so long as no one else has their rights infringed upon in the process. This use of free will results in a responsibilization of society, where people are free and happy, but fully accept the consequences of their actions.
Extreme sports have risks, and insurance is usually taken out to cover the potential costs of being rescued in the event of an emergency. In the same way, people who smoke or abuse substances can be expected to pay more towards their healthcare costs in relation to resulting health conditions.
Decriminalization of drug use and other victimless crimes would create a huge savings in public expenditure, due to reduced prison, policing, and related court costs. Despite any possible increases in other crime and health costs, the overall position would be cost effective compared to criminalization.
Choice should be for the individual to make, not the government. Self-determination can motivate entrepreneurialism and promote sound financial decisions, through the increased involvement that responsibility for choices brings to people’s lives.
Another aspect of moral responsibility relates to someone being held morally responsible, despite them being under no legal responsibility. Consequences to actions can follow regardless, for example, the resulting social implications arising from voicing controversial opinions. Such legitimate consequences can be enough in themselves to inhibit many people from committing such actions, without any need for laws to be in place.
Issues of government interference
When the government starts to legislate on moral issues, personal responsibility and freedoms are reduced, negatively impacting on free will and moral responsibility. Areas where many governments have introduced such legislation include: free speech, blasphemy, religion, LGBTQ+ issues, business hours, prostitution, and substance use, among others.
This government interference seriously restricts individual liberty. It is not appropriate for governments to determine what is, or is not, morally acceptable in a free society, and instead should allow people to make their own judgements on these matters. This leads to an overreliance on the government as the moral arbiter in all matters, gradually diminishing personal responsibility.
Legislation and criminalization result in significant investment of taxpayers’ money in the police force, legal system, courts, and prisons, for the incarceration of individuals convicted of non-violent, often victimless crimes.
No role should exist for government in individual life choices.
Why free will and moral responsibility is important to SFL
At Students For Liberty, we believe that promoting individual free will and moral responsibility is an important step towards building a freer world. Personal decisions, which do not adversely affect others, should be taken at an individual’s own risk and the individual should accept any consequences of their own actions. Such behavior increases both personal freedom and accountability.