Free Choice is Essential to Humanity

In his essay Choice or Chains, written in 1974, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“If choice relates to the values held by individual, thinking, perceptive human beings, no one individual or group of individuals ought to deprive any other person or association of the right to choose, for no one can comprehend the values which make up the being of another person. Each individual is the product of the numerous concepts, mores, customs, experiences, deductions, intuitions and the like which constantly bombard and alter his being. Even if an all-knowing sage could look inside his neighbor’s soul and mind and discern, at a given moment of time, the content stowed within, his wisdom would be outdated the next instant when the subject encountered some new knowledge from within or without, or the effect of a new experience. Thus, no man can possibly garner the wisdom necessary to make a meaningful choice for another being. More saliently, however, no man ought to denigrate the humanness of one or more of his fellows by depriving him of his right to choose in even the smallest particular. Since making choices separates human beings from mere biological inhabitants of the universe, one who dares destroy the right of free choice in another being, by coercion, threats, or fraud, in even the most minute particular, to that extent destroys the essential humanity of his victim for our humanity depends upon our choice-making capacity and our worth as persons depends upon the value of our choices.”

Read the entire essay here,


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