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Aristotle and Choices

Aristotle uses the term voluntary which seems to correlate more with our modern idea of choice. He understands that actions done in ignorance or from compulsion do not stem from an individual’s choices. For instance, acts of racism are often blamed on ignorance. However lies we tell ourselves cannot properly be termed ignorance. True ignorance might be a situation where someone does not have information that would change the action they take. For instance if one is driving and enters an intersection not knowing that the truck coming the other way has lost his brake power he acts from ignorance. Compulsion offers an interesting qualification. If a man told me he would rape my daughter unless I did some immoral act would I do it? Would it not be my choice to act even in this case? I have the power to act or not act in this case. However, if I were tied up and dragged to a place, I am not choosing to move to that location. There is a point that compulsion takes away choice or makes actions involuntary, but it may not be as we sometimes believe. If we are the agent of action, or we act on our own power to do something that another cannot do or will not do whether we are ignorant or being compelled, we must determine if we actually do have the choice to do the opposite. If we do have the opposite choice we may be assured that our actions are voluntary. It all rests on that power to act being taken from us.
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