What is Voluntary Action? – with Peter Jaworski

Are all of our actions voluntary? Peter Jaworski, associate teaching professor at Georgetown University, discusses to what extent the government should have control over our actions. Dr. Jaworski’s video is part of a series with IHS and Big Think on the core concepts of classical liberalism.

When classical liberals discuss voluntary action, they are talking about peaceful interpersonal relationships. Dr. Jaworski explains that whether or not we have free will is often subject to debate.

Dr. Peter Jaworski

We should maximize, or at least try to have as much as possible, voluntary interactions with people. That applies to government, just as surely as it applies to what we do with our friends and our neighbors.

–Dr. Peter Jaworski

Dr. Jaworski highlights Australia, Norway, Canada, and other countries with exceptional economic freedom. These countries not only have great economic freedom, but also better overall health and self-reported happiness scores. Greater civil liberties and room for voluntary action can lead to positive societal outcomes.

A particularly controversial topic among classical liberals, Dr. Jaworski says, is to what extent the government can limit who can immigrate and who can leave.

Just as we don’t have the right to tell our neighbors that they can’t move to another house, or that they can’t move from one state to another, or one province to another, so too does the government fail to have the right to prevent people from coming here, if they so choose.

–Dr. Peter Jaworski

On a personal note, Dr. Jaworski details his own experience leaving communist Poland and immigrating to Canada. While his family preferred to stay in Poland, his parents wanted to move to a free country with better opportunities for their children.  

“I feel kinship with people who are stuck in situations, through no fault of their own, that they want to get out of—not just for their own sake, but for their family’s sake,” Dr. Jaworski says.

This video is one in a series about the core concepts of classical liberalism. Additional articles, videos, and content on this topic and others can be found on the Institute for Humane Studies blog.

See more posts: Big ThinkCore ConceptsIHS NewsVideo 

You Might Also Like