Does freedom require responsibility?

I think that within the conceptual framework of a will, we have partial freedom and also partial responsibility.

But while freedom alludes to the actual process of doing, responsibility is more of an afterthought or an attribution given after ‘action', as it is a matter of analyzing to what extent specific operating forces were liable for certain things happening the way they did.

Freedom is an interpretation of the subject interacting with its external environment, of the forces influencing a sequence of events, concerned more with what and who the underlying powers in a situation were.

Hence action can be interpreted, depending on its context, to have been caused by ‘freedom', but the giving of responsibility to action is another multitude or interpretive layer.

For instance, assuming my freedom to eat chocolate, am I responsible for this action? I eat (with partial ‘freedom'-this becomes a more complex issue if we see subjects as lacking in free will and generally driven by instincts and inclinations), before analyzing that the chocolate bar being exactly where it was, me learning what chocolate is at some point in my life, my mood, my appetite, and so many other factors help dissolve ‘full responsibility' over my action.

So freedom doesn't require responsibility, as attributing degrees of responsibility comes after the act of partial ‘freedom' (the interpretation of the act as free arguably comes after the act itself too) thus both constitute different layers of interpretations.


Freedom and responsibility complement each other. No way around that.

At the risk of sounding Sartrean, I am of firm belief that we're all thrown to be engaged in action, like it or not. Part of what made Sartre's Being and Nothingness an outstanding piece of philosophical work is how well it highlights the inevitability of action. Even if we choose to do nothing, we're choosing to do something. There's no negativity in the realm of action and living - whatever you do is projected outwards, beyond your own control, and possibly bring results and consequences beyond rational calculations.

I'm sure you've come across many shows that feature an otherwise antagonist or anti-hero that claimed to have not intended to commit a wrongdoing. Although the viewer may be led to sympathise with the party's cause, what's done is done. Whatever repercussions and friendly fires that are done are inevitably accounted into the act committed. There's no way to shrug off one's responsibility for action by protesting that it isn't of intention - that's simply the basic nature of action. Once it's out there, it's out there naked.


On the other hand, as an easier picture, you could also say that freedom couldn't exist without responsibility. One's choice to act supposes one's freedom to choose. One's freedom to choose entails the choice of actions, because I can't just choose within my mind and take that as an exhibition of freedom, just as how freedom of speech is always embodied in actual free speech. The choice of actions leads to a decision of responsibilities. I choose a particular set of actions because I am aware of what it entails, and I acknowledge that I am the one choosing this set of actions in order to get to what is entailed.

Some would lament over this unduly baggage, while others find it liberating. As a student in the heritage of phenomenology, where action plays a decisive role, it's just a matter of fact to be explored and investigated. It's something that we shouldn't give too much weight to, unless we can do something about it. Freedom, responsibility, decision, possibilities, the Other - they're all part of the Pandora's box that have haunted the greatest thinkers in history, and will continue to even when the supposed problem of consciousness is solved.

In summary, freedom entails choice. Choice entails action. Action entails responsibility. Like it or not, responsibility will trail within your shadows wherever you move, even as you rest. Even cliched parenting advice have some merits to them...


Require responsibility if the freedom you seek does not bring harm to others, and if your intention is to use your freedom for the betterment of you and your closed circle, be prepared to be responsible or own the devastation or harm your freedom brings to others..


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