Slides in this set
We can all make choices, about when to get up in the morning or if we
are to go and ride our bike and to an extent we seem to be totally free to
do what we want.
However, can we always choose to do something? Or is there anything
we don't have freedom to do?
Some philosophers believed that our ability to make free choices is an
illusion they believe we are not free at all.
Determinism says that that there are laws that exist outside of our
control that cause the things that happen.
There are many factors that might assist in determining our actions:-
Psychology Genetics y
Determinism challenges the common believe that we are morally responsible
for our actions and thus carry them out freely and deliberately. Freedom of
choice is an illusion. People cannot be blamed or punished realistically. Every
choice we make has been predetermined by the situation before it, and so on.
Hard determinism = is the believe that people do not have any free will and that
their ethical actions have prior causes.
Libertarianism = is the belief that determinism is wrong and we are free to make
ethical decisions and so are responsible for them.
Soft determinism = is the belief that free will is compatible with determinism, as
some aspects of our nature are determined but our ability to make ethical
decisions is not determined.
Religious determinism = is the belief that God determines who will be saved and
who will not so out actions are irrelevant. (predestination)
Are there laws outside of our control that cause things to happen? Scientific laws,
previous events?…read more
They have the strict position that all our actions have prior causes.
We are neither free nor responsible.
John Hospers was a modern determinist who says that there is always something
which compels us both externally and internally which makes us believe we have
Clarence Darrow took a similar position when in 1924 he defended two young
men Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb on a charge of murdering a young boy
Bobby Franks. Their perfect crime went wrong and Darrow defended for their
death penalty to be commuted because they were genetically and
environmentally determined as well as influenced from reading Nietzsche. He was
successful in his case.
Hard Determinism relies heavily on Sir Isaac Newton's physics, according to which
the universe is governed by immutable laws of nature such as motion and
The world is seen as a mechanism dominated by the law of predictable cause and
HARD DETERMINISM CONTINUED
Ted Honderich also came to the conclusion that since everything is physically
determined, there is not even any `self' within us that is the origin of our actions.
There is no room for moral blame and no point in punishment just for the sake of
All things that happen in the world had to happen, very pessimistic view of life.
Hard Determinists say moral choice is just an illusion we simply think we have
free will but this is not the case. John Locke used an analogy of a man locked in a
room whilst he was asleep. On awakening he decided he will stay in the room,
unaware that the room is locked. In reality, he cannot get out of the room, but he
believes he has freely chosen to remain in the room.
David Hume, who was actually a soft determinist himself, contributed to
philosophical determinism by commenting that we can observe patterns in the
physical world that can also be found in the decisions we make. Thus our decisions
are causally determined.…read more
If God is omniscient and omnipotent then we cannot have free will and our
actions must be pre-determined by him. How can humans be free and
autonomous if God is omniscient? He must know our decisions so we are simply
fulfilling a pre-determined plan.
The doctrine of predestination was formed by such theologians as Augustine of
Hippo and John Calvin, and is based on the idea that God determines whatever
happens in history.
St Paul = believed God chooses who will be saved.
St Augustine = Human will is so corrupt that no one is capable of performing a
good action without God. Only those elected by God can achieve salvation.
John Calvin = There is nothing anyone can do to change their destiny. According
to Calvin, there is no free will.
Logically then, if we have no control over our actions, we have no responsibility
for them.…read more