Argumentative Essays Sample: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
“Give me liberty, or give me death!” is a famous phrase by Patrick Henry made in his speech to the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775. This phase or rather a call for action became synonymous with defending a cause one truly believes in; the situation when one is ready to lay his life for it. Contemporary researchers often use the approach initiated by Henry in constructing their arguments or in depicting the arguments presented by others. “Give me liberty, or give me death!” is a convenient way of structuring a debate, when it becomes evident that there is no turning point and that the speaker either wins or looses in his oratory claims.
This paper uses the “Give me liberty, or give me death!” convention in order to build or rather illustrate the construction of the debate around Jonathan Edwards’s argument against Arminianism free will, made by himself.
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During the times of Jonathan Edwards, beyond the question of church membership, lay a larger issue. This preacher represented the whole movement that largely opposed Arminianism and argued in favor of his own position on God, power, and free will. If one takes Arminianism as a belief in the conditional nature of divine grace, a particular attitude becomes crucial to salvation. Nevertheless, the conditional nature of this relationship between divine grace and faith demands that those involved possess free will.
If God alone can produce faith, on the other hand, the argument that divine grace depends on his foreknowledge of the person’s spiritual condition becomes no different in substance from the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace. In either case, salvation follows solely from God’s will.
Thesis statement: This paper, by analyzing Jonathan Edwards’ views of the world and religion presented in his famous work Freedom of the Will, argues that Edwards, although making legitimate claims and constructing coherent arguments, fails to refute Arminianism as the notion estranging free will. This paper is also an example of non plagiarized essays writing.
To refute Arminianism, Edwards had to demonstrate the impossibility of Arminian free will. In addition, both form and content of the Arminian scheme dictate that this demonstration should be essentially rational. In order to argue against the Edwards Arminian position simply on the basis of Scripture, in other words, will not suffice. Instead, his treatment of free will must be fully persuasive in terms of reason as well as doctrine (Daniel, 1994).
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What Edwards has in mind specifically is an analysis of the Arminian position on free will in terms of causation. It should be noted that the study of causation is associated in Enlightenment philosophy with rationality itself. Thus Leibniz considers the cause of a thing equivalent to the reason for its existence (Hoopes, 1990). Given the special significance of causation in Enlightenment philosophy, it should come as no surprise, then, to see Edwards subject the Arminian position on free will to critical scrutiny by means of a causal analysis.
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Building the argument against Arminianism
His method consists of trying to prove that from a causal standpoint the Arminian position on free will leads to irreconcilable contradiction. Since the whole question of free will revolves around what ultimately determines people’s acts, his focus is both appropriate and necessary (Hoopes, 1990). Furthermore, the relationship between free will and causation implies that any causal inconsistency in the Arminian notion of free will should be sufficient to disprove its existence. What Edwards needs to find, then, is the sort of internal contradiction that would make the Arminian position untenable. Accordingly, his principal argument is based on a contradiction he claims to derive from that position. (We offer you a chance to buy non plagiarized essays and buy argumentative essays written by professional writers.
Edwards’s argument consists of a number of steps, all of which are crucial to the desired outcome. Before discussing these in greater detail, it may be useful to identify them in their logical sequence. Below are the steps by which Edwards attempts to refute the Arminian position on free will:
- The will determines all its own free acts. (non plagiarized term papers is the only way to get ahead in life).
- The soul determines all the free acts of the will in the exercise of a power of willing and choosing. (buy own essays if you’re ever in doubt).
- The soul determines its own acts by choosing its own acts.
- If the will determines the will, then choice orders and determines the choice.
- Acts of choice are determined by preceding acts of choice. You’ll learn how to copy and paste without plagiarizing by reading essay samples like this.
- If the will determines all its own free acts, then every free act of choice must be determined by a preceding act of choice, which chooses that act. But if this preceding act of choice or will is also a free act, then by the same principles it, too, must be determined by a preceding act of will, which chooses it. Remember: we provide non plagiarized essays free
- Nevertheless, there must be a first act of will.
- This first act of will must have a cause. We also give non plagiarized research papers and free non plagiarized essays.
- The cause of the first act of will cannot be the will itself, since then the putative first act of the will would no longer actually be its first act.
- The cause of the first act of will must be something other than the will (Edwards, 1997; Fiering, 1981).
On a general level, the strategy behind what Edwards is doing here seems fairly evident. He attempts to demonstrate that the Arminian position leads to a sort of infinite regress, implying a contradiction. His treatment of the regress itself (beginning with (f)), is fairly traditional. The innovative portion of his deduction has to do with showing how the Arminian position renders such a regress unavoidable.
Fallacy in his own arguments?
Yet, some ambiguity is involved in the above reasoning. When Edwards says the will determines all its own free acts, it is not at all clear whether the determination of those acts need necessarily amount to a distinct act. One should also note that Edwards definitely rejects “the will’s determining itself” as a statement of the Arminian position (Edwards, 1997, p. 171). From his standpoint, it commits the impropriety of ascribing actions to the powers of agents rather than to the agents. Such a claim rests on the assumption that the will’s self-determination demands a distinct act. Yet when it is said, for example, that someone determines his or her own conduct, such determination is not usually associated with a separate act. It is simply meant that conduct is not determined by others. Thus by ruling out ‘the will’s determining itself’ as a statement of the Arminian position, Edwards seeks to force a particular reading of (a) that makes determination distinct from the free acts of the will (Miller and Weber, 1981).
By criticizing the Arminian position for ascribing actions to powers of agents rather than agents, however, the author shifts attention away from the process of determination to the agency involved. Thus in a previous passage from Freedom of the Will Edwards (1997) submits that “in all cases, when we speak of the powers or principles of acting, as doing such things, we mean that the agents which have these powers of acting, do them, in the exercise of those powers” (p. 172). From this general observation he concludes: “So when it is said, the will decides or determines, the meaning must be, that the person in the exercise of a power of willing and choosing, or the soul acting voluntarily, determines” (p. 172).
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In Edwards’s premise, the will that determines the will is obviously the same as the will that is being determined-otherwise, the acts being determined would no longer be its own but those of another will. Thus when Edwards affirms that the will determines the will, his meaning can only be that the will determines itself. To be consistent, ‘choice orders and determines the choice’ would then have to be similarly construed so that the choice that determines and the choice that is being determined are one and the same. Consequently, this statement amounts to saying that choice determines itself (Golf, 1998).
Edwards argues that the Arminians objecting to his argument against free will on the grounds that the will can determine its acts or volitions without preceding acts of choice. According to his guess, they might resist the notion that the will determines its acts by any preceding act, or that one act of the will determines another. Instead, Edwards reasons, they might wish to claim “only that the faculty or power of will, or the soul in the use of that power, determines its own volitions; and that it does it without any act going before the act determined” (Edwards, 1997, p. 177).
Part II to follow
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