Free Will and Determinism

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Free Will and Determinism
Hard determinism ­ we have no free will and are not responsible for our actions.
Soft determinism ­ while our actions are determined, humans do still have some
moral responsibility for their choices
Libertarianism ­ we are completely free to make our own decisions and choices
and should be held accountable for them
Religious determinism ­ our freedom is ultimately affected and determined by God
Determinism refers to the idea that humans have no free will over their actions and
ethical decisions; their actions and choices have been pre-determined. No one
should be held accountable for their actions as it wasn't their decision to commit a
particular act or make a particular decision.
Spinoza said `there is no absolute or free will... the mind is determined to wish this
or that by a cause.'
Fatalism is similar to determinism; it suggests that all of our actions are already
planned out and there is ultimately nothing we can do to change this.
Cicero proposed the idle argument, using illness as an example;
If it is fated for you to recover from this illness, then you will recover whether
you call a doctor or not
Likewise, if you are fated not to recover, you will not do so whether you call a
doctor or not
But either it is fated that you will recover from this illness, or it is fated that you
will not recover
Therefore, it is futile to consult a doctor
Soft determinism (philosophers)
Soft determinists believe the existence of determinism does not rule out free will, and
that the two can work alongside one another, and so are compatible.
Certain determining factors, such as upbringing, may influence someone, but
ultimate decisions are theirs and theirs only.
Hume argues that just because event B consistently follows event A, we cannot
deduce that A causes B ­ this is just our interpretation.
`A person's action is free if, and only if, had the person wanted to do otherwise than
the act, the person would have had the power to do otherwise than the act.'
People have free will if they have the ability to choose an act which isn't their
intended act, and they can perform this act without restraint.

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Kant is a soft determinist; he believes determinism applies to everything which is the
object of knowledge, but does not apply to the individual's free will.…read more

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Psychological determinism/Behaviourism
Also known as behaviourism, a psychological approach to determinism suggests that
all human behaviour are the inevitable outcome of conditioning and establishing
cause and effect. Human behaviour can be predicted through genetic inheritance,
social conditioning and subconscious influences.
Pavlov found that, through classical conditioning, dogs would associate the ring of a
bell with food, and subsequently cause them to salivate.
He started by showing the dogs a bowl of food which they would then salivate at.…read more

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He believes humans are free to choose how to live their lives, but their final
destination is determined by God alone, making him a soft determinist.
Jean Calvin/Calvinism proposes that everyone deserves to be punished, but the
measure of God's goodness is that he saves some people. God's justice is beyond
human comprehension and should not be questioned.
Calvin believes there is no free will, taking a hard determinist approach. He said that
there was nothing anybody could do to change their predetermined destiny.…read more

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Einstein `God does not play dice'; all the evidence points to God being a constant
gambler, who throws the dice on every possible occasion
Evaluation ­ Scientific determinism
Aristotle believes everything has a cause; you can work out the final cause
of everything in the universe, therefore things must be determined
You cannot verify nor falsify Pierre's prediction; this is logically impossible
to do and therefore provides no definitive answers regarding determinism
Many scientific hypotheses are based on assumptions
Law and determinism
Clarence Darrow used…read more

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It allows us to attribute praise and blame; we can punish people like Hitler
and praise people like Mother Theresa for their actions
Just because we feel free, this doesn't mean we actually are; the locked
room analogy by Locke explains this
Scientific libertarianism
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
This suggests that events are random and not necessarily caused. We cannot know
both the location and the movement of subatomic particles at the same time as this
is simply impossible.…read more


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