Free Will and Determinism

very short summary of free will and determinism

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  • Created on: 23-05-11 09:04
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Free will and determinism.
All our choices are determined we have no free will.
Predestination- god knows everything therefore he knows our future therefore our choices
are already determined. This leads to fatalism that if we cannot change anything we might as
well not do anything but lie in bed all day. However, God could be like on a high mountain
looking down, he can see what is going to happen without affecting your choice, he knows
what your choice will be but it is still free.
Psychological ­ all choices are psychologically determined, our choices are actually neurons
firing, and moods are the chemical balance in the brain. The choices we make are
determined by our brain state and that by the brain state before and that by the brain state
before etc. so our choices are determined long before we make them. However, this seems
far too simple to explain the complexities of character and we have such a range of one
feeling e.g. how can activity in the brain in one place show all different types of love.
Marx ­ social and economic determinism. Marx thought that all movement were not a result
of choice but of the economic conditions in society.
Objections to determinism ­ by trying to get you to accept determinism, determinists are
disproving determinism. Was Hitler's choices determined, if they were he has no fault, moral
We are completely free.
Determinism is an affront to human dignity.
We are governed by first order desires (I want this) and second order desires (reflection on
first order desires).
Nature has causes human nature has reasons.
Events tell us what has happened, actions tell us why.
Causes exist in the physical world, reasons justify actions.
Objection ­ feeling free is not strong enough to claim that we are free, e.g. someone with
OCD may feel they are making choices when compelled to do something. If our actions are
truly free they are random is this freedom?
Compatiblism/ soft determinism
Determinism and free will are not incompatible.
1st version, free will is merely if my choice was different my action would be different , even
if my choice is determined.
2nd version cause is irrelevant to actions, only relevant to events, actions are free or
constrained. If we would blame someone for their actions it was free.
Objections ­the definition of free will is too weak, should be the ability to change your
choices. There is no difference between free and constrained actions as they are caused and
uncaused, it is the wrong way round seeing freedom in praise and blame.


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