Avicenna's Deterministic Theory of Action and its Implication for a Theory of Justice

Gabriel LaHood


In this essay two issues are critically addressed, namely, the foundation of Avicenna's ethical determinism and its implication for a theory of justice.

As to the first issue, it regards the analysis of Avicenna's deterministic theory notwithstanding his rare but ambiguous use of the free will, suggesting terms such as "will", "voluntary" and "choice". In such a theory, where everything is governed by the laws of pre-established harmony, the ethical evil done by man is viewed in the same way physical evil is, as contingent, minimal, determined by God, and having its proper function within world order and harmony.

As to Avicenna's justification of punishment, one must recognize that Avicenna did not address the issue in its socio-juridical context. Rather, he addressed it from a religious point of view, but the implication for a theory of social justice seems to be obvious: because of universal determinism, including man's actions, all threats and promises (as well as punishment by human civil courts) have a deterrent function.

Objections are raised against this deterministic philosophy to show that it is founded on a misleading argument of order and harmony. More objections are raised to show that Avicenna's conception of justice, based on determinism is inhumane and unsatisfactory.



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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15362/ijbs.v12i0.50

Copyright (c) 2003 G. Lahood