Do You Fear Being Responsible For Your Choices?
Humanity craves but dreads autonomy. Autonomy consists of making with eyes open the decisions that give shape to one’s life. Walter Kaufman
We crave autonomy but we dread being responsible. We want to control our future by making our own decisions but this seems to be accompanied by a fear of doing so. This common fear was without a name until Walter Kaufman labeled it “decidophia”.
Decidophia causes people to want to avoid responsibility for deciding, or to invent avoidance strategies such as believing the future is predetermined or completely random or out of control or to let other people or fate decide for them.
Does free will exist? Free will is defined: as the power attributed to human beings of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will. If humans don’t have free will, who/what is responsible for their decisions? If humans do have free will, who/what is responsible for their decisions?
What about free choices? Does free decision making exist, unconstrained by external circumstances or some agency? If free means to be free of all constraints, then there is never free will or free choice. The external and internal constraints on personal decision making are many: genes, indoctrination, personal limited experiences, misinformation, religion, cognitive biases, advertizing, paternalism, the “free market”, government laws and intervention, propaganda, etc., etc.
However, I believe the internal constraints may be the most debilitating. The decision making process is in the mind of the decider. The idea of free will, free choice and responsibility exist is in the mind of the beholder. It is in the human mind where accountability is created. The human mind’s subjectivity is almost always constrained by internal circumstances.
Please note: Being responsible decision makers suggests that we should be capable decision makers. This blog is about being responsible decision makers, not how to be capable. Rules for deciding are found everywhere, telling you how you should decide. People love rules and they hate them. We want to be captain of our ship but we also want a pilot’s manual. Herein lies the problem with responsible decision making. It is called “decidophobia”.
Given what we don’t know about free will and free choice, I believe the best option is for each of us to accept some responsibility and act as if what we decide to do is usually our choice. Of course there are other people and other situations that put constraints to our responsibility. But is it wrong (untrue, false, unrealistic, irrational, harmful) to believe that what you decide is your choice, and that you are responsible? If not you, who?
On spaceship earth there are no pilots, only crew. Buckminster Fuller