…Yet on closer examination, one can recognize a significant difference between laws regulating natural behaviour and those regulating social behaviour. The difference between the natural and social orders lies in the fact that while the former is subject to laws of necessity, the latter is affected by laws of freedom. Things behave in accordance with specific patterns out of sheer necessity; the relation between things are therefore based on the principle of causality, whereby every element of nature interacts with every other element in a cause-and-effect manner. Human behaviour, on the other hand, is determined by free choice. People do not behave out of necessity, but rather a possibility, for they always have (at least in theory) options to choose from. The human will is free, and human action is thus the outcome and result of the free choice of the will. But if human action belongs to the realm of freedom and possibility, it does not necessarily follow that people behave arbitrarily or randomly, at least not from the subjective point of view. Rather human action is always purposive. Whether the objects of the will are significant of trivial, noble or lowly, is irrelevant here; what is central to the notion of purposeful will is the assertion that action without purpose is impossible.
Nor does the freedom of the human action mean that the will is immune to outside pressures, precipitated either by natural causes or human agents. After all, man himself is part of the natural order and has to satisfy the physical needs of his body and protect it against all harm that may be caused by others. The significance of human freedom lies in the fact that external pressures do not act directly on the will in a mechanical or causal manner; but rather indirectly through psychological means. That is, although natural and social forces attempt to influence individual behaviour through reward and coercion, they succeed only insofar as man chooses to succumb to external threats or temptation. Society, for instance, attempts to control social behaviour through the use (or the threat) of force; but the individual may choose not to comply with outside pressures even at the expense of life itself.
In short, human volition belongs not to the realm of necessity but of possibility and freedom; the efficient reason of human volition is not cause but purpose.
But if the human will is capable of choosing its own purposes, practical considerations place limitations on one’s ability to realize purposes. This is because the realization of one’s objectives take place in the actual world where the possibility of encountering circumstances conductive to the realization of these objectives is determined by social conditions. This means that one’s ability to realize his objectives is contingent on his ability to overcome social and natural obstacles. In other words, one’s ability to realize one’s purposes in life, and hence to overcome natural and social barriers, depends on social coordination among individuals who share similar purposes. Yet if the human will is to maintain its freedom and be able to both set goals and realize them, the human being must see to it that the efforts he exerts to achieve his purposes in life will not be frustrated by the wills of other people whose purposes may conflict with his own. This means that the regularities of social interaction are the outcome of the unity of purpose among the members of society, or at least unity of purpose of dominant group. Consequently a scientific study of social regularities requires that analysis be done on two levels, the individual and the communal.
The study of individual action allows us to identify the rules which guide individual action. These are of two types: normative, signifying the intention of actor, and technological, consisting of the various skills the actor is capable of. Communal regularity marks the unity of the normative and technological rules. It follows that causal explanation of social action is possible only when, and insofar as, the uniformity of action is assumed.
Source: The foundation of knowledge, by: Louay Safi