Western democracy is built around a tripartite trust: trust in the people to hold government to account and to set the general direction of policy, but also trust in politicians to make specific decisions, and in institutions to provide safeguards against rash or tyrannical actions. What we are seeing all over the western world are the last two pillars being torn down, leaving all trust resting on the people.
The idea that unconscious biological forces drive our beliefs and actions would seem to pose a real threat to our free will. We like to think that we make choices on the basis of our own conscious deliberations. But isn’t all that thinking things over irrelevant if our final decision was already written in our genetic code? And doesn’t the whole edifice of personal responsibility collapse if we accept that “my genes made me do it”?
Small thoughts about big subjects; big thoughts about small things; seeds of thought, scatttered to either take root or not; plus short links to longer work. Microphilosophy is the website of the writer Julian Baggini.