Monday, September 17

Personal Liability

If we assume that people are a product of their experiences, then the implication is that people aren't inherently good or bad, but instead rather lucky or unlucky, since if the same person was in a different environment or situation, they would effectively be someone else. Hmm. I wonder if that last sentence is as difficult to read as it was to write?

Anyway. If we take this causality to the extreme, then it kinda absolves the individual of any liability - the whole "it's not my fault I think in this way" argument. And if that's the case, then who do we, well, blame for all society's ills?

How about the parents? Well maybe. The thing is that they were also a product of their experiences so the blame slides off them too. Which leaves education, schools, community, governments and more generally, society itself. But that all sounds like a big old cop out.

And besides, where does that leave choice and freewill? Technically, personal choice is always there for all of us: we can either do something or not. But I think that it's reasonable to say that some choices may be difficult for us depending on the person we are and the situation we are in, and for a straightforward example see the thief who finds it easy to steal in order to feed his family, while a stubborn person will stick to his ways even when continually proven wrong.

What is this post trying to say? Well, regardless of who is to blame for the ills of this world, whether individually or collectively, I think that the original assumption at the start of this post implies that everyone has the same potential to do good or bad. And if that is the case, then perhaps providing the positive experiences you've had is preferable to punishing those deemed to have done you wrong?


  1. "I think that the original assumption at the start of this post implies that everyone has the same potential to do good or bad"

    ...I don't believe that. I think everyone has a spectrum of good and bad within them but that it's not the same balance within everyone. Some people are more predisposed to "good" and others more predisposed to "bad". But to what extent we carry out our natural disposition is influenced, although not necessarily determined, by our circumstance, experience and surrounding. It also determined by the individual's will and independece of mind, some people are more easily led than others

  2. I feel like somehow I'm being lectured. The timing is just dead on. Dead on. [First post, congrats. Took me ages...]