Altruism, or selflessness, claims to be about recognising and representing and implementing compassion, love and justice and so on. Given that a person whose choices are programmed cannot really do these things altruism requires free will. If a force causes us to act without concern for ourselves then it is not us that is acting and we are not altruists. We are just carried along by a power while we imagine and feel we are free. This goes with ideas such as God giving us free will so we can be good like him.

Egoism would limit free will to be choosing a or b with a and b both being matters of self-interest. It has a different understanding of free will. Egoism denies free will in the altruist sense. It says there is no free will to choose God or be all about love and compassion and justice.

Altruism also requires a strong belief in free will. The stronger your belief in free will the stronger will be your altruism. I mean that the more belief you have in free will the more altruistic your helping the poor is than a person who does exactly the same as you but who has less faith in free will. The more evidence you have for free will the better. But there is unfortunately no evidence for free will at all. Animals feel as free as us but they don't have the power of free will.


We will not use the language of love and compassion and justice for example being objective goods. We will get close to that by calling them values to be taken seriously. That language seems clearer. Relativists are those who say that morality is just preference and opinion which does not explain why they take their rules seriously for now and the opposite is taken seriously next year!


Free will is about you owning and being the cause of your choices. Determinism is the view that you are programmed to be the cause so the other causes are the real cause. One affirms you are free and the other says you are not free. Determinism also says we do not care as long as we feel free.

Free will is really just about what step you are taking not about what you are stepping into. That actually is not much freedom. Freedom does not give you freedom from the truth, from responsibility or consequences so freedom is paradox.

Is freedom an attempt to get away from all that? The answer is yes. But it disappoints for you cannot really get away. Whether you choose to hurt or to harm/to be immoral or moral or choose to be good/moral or bad/immoral you are trying to break free and be truly free. It is about trying to assert yourself. So selflessness is not selflessness but trying to get a sense of control and power by acting so it is not really selflessness to do something for another and seek nothing back for you seek that back. In fact, it is one thing for others to say you are selfless. That is their opinion. They only speak about what they think they see. They could be totally wrong. Indeed they are. But it is another thing for you to say you are selfless - that is self-rewarding. Your selflessness has a reward so it is not selflessness at all. To talk about altruism at all as a good thing implies you know from experience what it is and that it can be done and that you do it. So altruism while claiming to spurn rewards in fact does not. It just replaces missing rewards with this one. The reward is smugness.


A motive is thinking why you should do something. It is different from feeling but not distinct. You have to think about how doing x will make you feel.

I have a motive to do whatever I am doing.

Feelings have an input even if I don't notice.

Therefore my motivation is self-interested because it is mine.

Therefore there is no free will to be an altruist.

This argument is said to be wrong for motive is not always about what I want to do but can be about what I ought to do. So there is a difference between "I want my desires to be satisfied" and "I want my own satisfaction." You can look all day but you will not see the alleged difference. It is playing with words. The argument looks okay if you leave out the motivation to think of your feelings. It is a deception.

Does this difference here have any relevance?  There is a difference between acting on desire, acting on the desire to see something as what ought to be done and going for what ought to be done without any desire to.  There is a difference but it does not matter.  We always desire to do what we do under the circumstances.


The reality is that even if we have free will there is not a lot of good we can do. We cannot cross the sea on foot to that country where children are starting to give them food. How does that impact on us spiritually if you like or psychologically? Does it lead to us being secretly happy about it? Does it make us hard hearted or blind to how we can do more good than we realise? YES! This is one area where it takes little effort to accept what we cannot change!

Duty is the idea that you must do certain actions and be compelled if necessary. It is based on the concept of justice and fairness. Altruists say we have a duty to be altruistic. They want to force certain actions on us. If altruism is so great then it should be freely engaged in. The duty concept denies this freedom so it denies altruism. Duty makes more sense in an egoistic context where you can force a person on pain of jail to refrain from stealing. Altruism embraces suffering. If suffering is that great then the concept of duty is no use for duty threatens suffering on those who shirk their duties.

We see that there is no free will to be altruistic or to make altruism good.

No Copyright