Free will and determinism

Soft determinism

Soft determinism attempts to combine the opposing theories of libertarianism and hard determinism; it seeks to bring accountability together with the sense that choices are predetermined by prior choices. Soft determinism is sometimes referred to as compatibilism.

They say that freedom to act is doing what you want to do, without any external interference or coercion, and completely voluntarily. They say that out own values, desires and prior choices can determine how we act in certain situations, however these 'causes' of our actions are so complex and numerous they are almost completely random in their effects and may not determine a precise or specific action. So they're determined, yet they are not free because there is no external coercion involved.

If someone is abused as a child, they're less likely to abuse their children because they don't want the same impacts on their child that they had.

"...whether your behaviour si free just depends on how it is caused. Your act is free if it is caused by your own desires, rather than being caused by a mental disease, or or by someone forcing you or tricking you, or the like" James Rachels

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Leibniz: theological determinism

He was a proponent of theological determnism. For him, god determined all things to be reliant and to be caused by each other. If it was determined that we should stand up, then when we stand up God is actually causing us to stand up. I believe that the determnism of God works despire our experience of freeom and choice, and it harmonises to fit in with our choices.                 

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Libertarianism

States that we are free and nothing is controlling us.

This approach arose because some philosophers rejected the idea of determinism as it ruled out any individual moral responsibility and people feel as if they have the freedom to act and be self determined. This approach is also called incompatabilism, because it is incompatibe with determinism.

People can be raised around gang culture and violence yet take a completely different life course because their free will allows them to do so.

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Darrow: Hard determinism

He defended Loeb and Leopold who murdered 14 year old Bobby Franks. The boys were wealthy and of high superiority over society. However, they confessed to their crime under pressure and then went to trial facing the death penalty. Darrow turned to the nature vs nurture argument to claim that the boys weren't responsible for their crime and it was external factors that inflicted them to commit the crime, which then shortened their sentence to life imprisonment. 

Darrow claimed that "nature is as strong as she is pitiless. She walks in her own mysterious ways and we are victims. We have not much to dp with ourselves." By this, Darrow is arguing that the boys were procuts of their upbringing and we are socialised into who we will turn out to be. 

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Hume: Soft determinism

His understanding was that we can choose to do something or we can choose not to do this something. He believed that it was down to the power and determinations of the individual freewill. His ideas were that if Act B is observed to always follow Act A, then it is not correct to say that Act A causes act B. We cannot say this, as it is not determined, it is merely our interpretation of what we have observed. 

"moral responsibility requires determinism"

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Kant: soft determinism

He thought that we are free within our own will to perform unimpeded acts, whilst beleieving that anything that was the object of knowledge was determined. He thought that to look for the causes of our actions outside of knowing and understanding our own will was not rational. Our understanding of the world around us and of our self-awareness says that we must be free. If we claim not to be free then we face a self awareness problem of who orginates our actions?

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John-Paul Sartre: Libertarianism

He believed that 'a choice is said to be free if it is such that it could have been other than what it is.' He also thought that with absolute freedom came unlimited moral responsibility, so if you want complete freedom the consequence of that was to be 100% morally responsible for all actions. One of my ideas was that intrinsically 'man is not free to be not free.' It didn't matter what you chose, as moral resposibility dealt with that, but rather that you were free to choose at all.

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Honderich: Hard determinism

He claims that everything is determined, both internally and externally; he says that we have no choice and no moral responsibility. Whatever we do, we couldn't have done otherwise, we aren't responsible for any actions and shouldn't be held responsible just for the sake of it, only as a deterrent or to protect society from someone who is dangerous. For Honderich, our actions are caused by states of the brain, and even our free will is just an illusion, so it doesn't make sense to combine it with determinism. 

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Hume: Soft determinist

We can choose to do something, or we can choose not to do this something. He believed that this was down to the power and determinations of the individual human will. His ideas were that if act b is observed to always follow act a, then it is not correct to say that act a causes act b We cannot say this, as it is not determined, it is merely our interpretation of what we have observed.

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D'Holbach: Hard determinism

He claimed that determinism was universal, as directed by the Newtonian laws of cause and effect. He claimed that free will was an illusion and suffered from incoherency

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Theological determinism

The ultimate cause of all human actions is God. It may seem incompatible with christianity with the concept of free will in both faith and good deeds. If we do live in a deterministic universe, then heaven and hell are meaningless. However, the Old Testament often makes reference to God hardening the hearts of the wicked. Likewise, in Jesus' ministry explanations are sometimes given to as why his ministry is unsuccesful: "Jesus saud, i praise you father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children" (Matthew 11.25)

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Hard determinism

Hard determinism is the view that all choices are determined by other actions prior to the choice being made. This makes the concept of free will an illusion. Humans may make a choice believing it was made using free will, however every event that went before has led up to this 'apparent' free choice, so therefore it had already been determined. Hard determinists are very strict and rigid in their beliefs. If everything is determined and we are not free at all to act in any different way. then we cannot be held morally responsible for our actions, as we didn't choose to perform or commit these actions. 

Also known as universal causation; the proposition that all events are predictable. Hard determinists look behind the factors of desires, rather than them as the motivation of our actions 

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Kant: soft determinism

He thought that we are free within our own will to perform unimpeded acts, whilst beleieving that anything that was the object of knowledge was determined. He thought that to look for the causes of our actions outside of knowing and understanding our own will was not rational. Our understanding of the world around us and of our self-awareness says that we must be free. If we claim not to be free then we face a self awareness problem of who orginates our actions?

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Locke: Hard determinism

he said that free will didn't make any sense and to a certain extent it was an illusion. He taught that the defining part of voluntary behaviour was that you could pause and reflect before you made a choice, therefore deciding what the concequences of the action would be. He illustrated this with the example of a man sleeping in a locked room. The man wakes up and chooses to remain there, not knowing that he is locked in. The man believes he made a free choice to remain in the room, however in reality he had no choice. Therefore he is determined. 

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Neibuhr: theological determinism

he said that after an event it is easy to say that it was determined due to the series of events that preceeded it. It is a mistake to say that events were determined because they were inevitable. The biblical idea of divine providence over human destiny doesn't remove human freedom, but gives some element of meaning to it. He argued that God honours and respects the freewill that he has given man kind, despite the consequences

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Neibuhr: theological determinism

he said that after an event it is easy to say that it was determined due to the series of events that preceeded it. It is a mistake to say that events were determined because they were inevitable. The biblical idea of divine providence over human destiny doesn't remove human freedom, but gives some element of meaning to it. He argued that God honours and respects the freewill that he has given man kind, despite the consequences

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Calvin: Theological determinism

"The eternal decree of God, by which he determined that he wished to make every man. For he does not create everyone in the same condition, but ordains eternal life for some eternal damnation for others"

Calvin taught that god is omnipotent and omniscient. The idea that God decided who receives salvation and who does not at creation suggests that humans do not have free will in regards to their religious or moral behaviour 

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Psychology 1/2

Behaviourism- this theory suggests that our behaviour can be predicted, as it is based on prior experiences and causes. 

j.b watson said that human behaviour could be controlled because we live in a deterministic universe that doesn't leave anything up to choice. He includes all areas of ethics and moral decision making in this belief because these are all known as determinable in a universe that can be nothing but determined. In the pyschological debate of Nature versus Nurture, Watson is convinced that heredity and environment can be useful tools to change or reinforce forms of behaviour. That is, chance the environment that a drug addict llives in and you can change the addictive behaviour. 

b.f skinner- believed that this approach wasn't the only one that was able to determine us. He saw behaviour as something that could be modified using punishment and reward. His belief was that our actions probably are determined if it is possible for scientists and psychologists to observe and control human behaviour. The primary implication of this is that if our behaviour is determined by our psychological make up, then we cannot be held morally responsible for actions if we couldnt have chosen to act in any other way.

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psychology 2/2

Freud- early years determine our moral development and future actions. His theory was that all actions, moral, non-moral, are caused by repressed memories or feelings that stem back to our childhood. These are what determine our actions. 

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Social conditioning

sowell- social conditioning is 'the idea that the human self is infinitely plastic, allowing humanity to be changed and, ultimately, perfected.' Actions are determined by society, by our upbringing, education, etc. This suggests that our social learning and placement is what determines our actions and we can do nothing else except follow the sociologically determined path 

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Genetics

claims that almost physical and behavioural aspects of humanity are influenced by genetics. evolutionary ideas in psychology suggest that we have evolved in certain ways to survive and part of this is in our genes.

pinker- moral resoning is a result of natural selection, as ideas such as love, jealousy and guilt all have a basis in human biological evolution. he still maintains that humans have moral responsibility, as we have all evolved, yet innate, sense of morality. This is based upon studies into the environment of evolutionary adaptation, where humans first developed the first moral sense. 

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environmental

geography and climate influence individuals more than social conditions do. it suggests that historically our climate contributes to our actions as it affects the behaviour of society. for example, tropical climates supposedly cause laziness and promiscuity and the less regular weather of europe brings about a more determined attitude towards work and working. If this is true, weather and environment affect our actions and potentially determine them. 

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evaluation of determinism

-It is wrong to praise or punish because they didn't choose to do the action; it was determined for them. If this is right, it means that serial killers aren't responsible for their actions, even if they're most evil, thus cannot receive suitable punishment, reductionist, main christian denominations believe we are free to choose to do good or sin, lack of moral consideration - excuse to act immorally, may lead to anorchy/breakdown of law and order. 

Recognises that there are causes to our behaviour 

Recognises that some influences may be out of our control e.g. Genetics

Reinforces christian idea that God has decided who will be saved and who won.

Benedict Spinoza said that freedom is an illusion

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Libertarianism evaluation

-there must be factors beyond our control that we cannot control, yet control us, i.e genetics, psychology, etc.

-freedom can be flawed due to values such as feelings or emotions

-assumes everyone is morally good

-total moral responsibility can be a burden

-free will can interfere with other free will

-not entirely good for religious believers

-can punish/reward appropriately 

 

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evaluation of soft determinism

-it doesn't give specific guidelines as to which things are determined and which aren't. Human decision making can be influenced by so many factors, so which are the deterministic ones and which arent? Soft determinism cant decide which actions are determined as psychology, social conditioning and genetics, which make decision making so much more complex.

-where do free will and determinism meet

-kant called it "a miserable subterfuge" (evasion)

-william james called it "a quagmire of evasion"

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