Freedom and Determinism

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  • Created on: 14-05-13 13:33

Sociological argument

1) If you're not in control of the major factors in your life, you're not free

2) You're not in control of the major factors in your life

Conclusion: You're not free

Examples of major factors in your life: Gender, family, nationality, education, year you were born etc.

Freud: Your conscious mind is not very powerful. Your unconscious mind was shaped in your childhood and it is far more powerful. Your unconscious mind decides where you go in life.

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Genetics argument

You're genetically determined to have certain characteristics. Your genetics can also predispose what your life will lead towards.

Examples of genetic conditions: Sex, depression, disease, temprement etc.

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Philosophical determinism

1) Principle of universal causation- things always happen for a reason.

2) A sufficient cause implies a necessary effect.

Domino effect- If the past is fixed then so is the future. Like a set of dominos, knock one over and inevitably they will all fall

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Other arguments

Acausal/ contracausal- a thought just appears and is not based on past actions

Surface-social freedom- being able to do what you want and being free to act and choose as you will.

PROBLEM!- what if what you will is not under control. The problem of originiation

Free will- Being an agent capable of influencing the world . Sources of ones known actions. Actions and choices are up to us. 

"We feel that we're free; that we are the originators of our own actions.

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Freedom and determinism

We need to be free in order to be responsible for our own actions; our practices of praise and blame pressupose that we are free. 

Schopenhauer- This is exactly as if water spoke to itself "I can make high waves, I can rush downhill, I can plunge down foaming and gushing, I can boil away and dissapear, but I am doing none of these things now and am volantairily remaining quiet and clear in the reflective pond. 

Cause and Effect- The past determines the future. Only one way the world can go on. Morality doesn't exist because the mechanics and physics of the universe can only be the way they are. Humans are made of atoms and if all atoms have a certain place they can be, they control your actions

Freud- Phobias are irrational choices which we wouldn't want to make. 

Sartre- Man is responsible for himself and the world. If you choose to believe you have no choice, you have chosen to feel trapped

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Compatablism- Liberty and necessity are compatable. Our desires are controlled but if there is no physical reason why we cannot reach them we are free to choose the path we go down. 

Incompatablism- Free will cannot exist at the same time as determinism

Argument from unpredictablility-

1) If  humans actions were causally determined they would be predictable. 

2) Human actions are unpredictable

Conclusion: Human actions are not causually determined 

PROBLEM!- Predictable by us or by Laplace's deamon? How do we know humans are unpredictable

PROBLEM! - Does determinism imply predictability

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The soul

The soul- We have a soul which is not physical an is not governed by the laws of physics

PROBLEM!- where is the evidence of the sould

PROBLEM!- even if true, our bodies are still determined and therefore so are all our actions: our souls must be causally impotent. 

PROBLEM!- Does the term soul actually explain how freedom is possible.

The universe is amoral

Social freedom- Being able to do what you want- Thomas Hobbes- this is the only type of freedom there is 

Self-mastery- Being in control of yourself. The opposite of this being feral. Self-mastery (rational freedom) is freedom from being feral.

Kant- We are morally responsible "ought implies can" He postulates freedom.

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Quatntum physics

Heinsberg- At the quantum level events are random and indeterministic and so determinism is false

PROBLEM!- if this is true it wouldn't establish freedom only randomness, it would make moral responsibility impossible.

PROBLEM! - Maybe determinim does hold at the macro level

The nature of choice- Our choices are more like selections. We choose by applying values that we cannot choose but we simply recognise. Reasonable choice is constrained by reason and ethics and is therefore narrowly circumstanced.

Paradox- Is choice really like picking a card or a number? Or is it more like selecting the right answer? If our choice is like picking the right answer our choice is circumscribed by our values NOT choice. True freedom limits our options. 

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The argument determinism

The argument- Determinism

1) Everything we do is caused by forces over which we have no control

2) If everything we do is caused by forces over which we have no control, then we have no free will

Conclusion: We have no free will

Responses: 1) Argument is sound and accept conclusion

2) Reject premise 1

3) Reject premise 2 

Argument from experience- 1) If human actions were determined they would be predictable

2)Human actions are unpredictable

Therefore human actions are not causallhy determined

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The argument from Modern science

The argument from modern science

Modern physics says that the most basic laws of nature are not determined but probablistic.

But quatnum factors may not effect newtonian objects and even if they did this would supply only randomness.

If determinism were false it wouldn't dissolve the problem of free will because randomness doesn't imply free will.

Hume- There is no such thing as metaphysical freedom, only social freedom

You are free and morally responsible if and only if they perform an act willingly and deliberatly, if the act flows from their beliefs and desires.

PROBLEM!- libertarian attack- true moral responsibility requires metaphysical freedom. Social freeedom is insufficient. "ought implies can."- Kant

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Modern compatablism

If a person has no alternative they are not morally responsible in any significant sense

If determinism is true then we may be causally responsible but we can never be morally responsible. If this is correct mice and men are equally free.

Modern compatablism- Wolf and Frankfurt say that it's not social freedom but positive liberty that matters and this can be consistant with determinism

A feral child can do as they wish but they are not truely free because they're not constrained by consideration of the rationality and the valuable

To be free is to be constrained. We must have self-mastery. We must have 2nd order desires which are based on moral knowledge and reason. 

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Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins- "The selfish gene"- Our brain has provided us with desires etc which no longer fits evoloution eg contraception. The conscious self may not be freely able to choose although we feel as if it does. Your brain knows that you will move before you do.

Criteria law uses to plead guilty but against free will (pleading insanity)

  • You didnt know that what you were doing was wrong
  • Disease of the mind
  • You didn't know the nature of the act

Dr Robert. I. Simon- The bad man does what the good man dreams

Johnathan Pinkus- Evil is caused by:

  • severe child abuse
  • severe mental illness
  • medical issues eg brain damage
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Materialism- The view that everything is made up of science

The mind could be physical. Physical things and mental things are causally related eg taking a drug can change your mood.

Do minds make you free?

  • Maybe the mind is physical (materialism)
  • Maybe epiphenomenalism is true eg car is being driven but you're just a passenger thinkning you're driving
  • Animals have minds, are they free?
  • consciousness is necesary but not sufficient for freedom 
  • If dualism is true my BODILY ACTIONS are still determined (how can non-physical thoughts affect bodies and behaviour. 
  • The problem of interaction- how can something with no physical properties affect anything physical
  • Are we really in control of our minds (try changing beliefs, IQ, memories etc)
  • Dualism fails to explain freedom.
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Fate- Destiny

  • If it's meant to be it's meant to be 
  • certain things in life are fixed
  • You cannot avoid fate you will always end up running towards it.

Famous examples:

Oedipus- When he was born it was fated that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. He is sent away and when he gets olders he meets a man and kills him- it turns out to be his father. He has 4 children with a woman who actually turned out to be his mother.

Genghis Khan- He knew he would lead a large empire from a young age. 

PROBLEM!- fate is esoteric- not scientific

PROBLEM! - fate is selective- only talk about things like death, war and love.

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Fate compared to determinism

Fate compared to determinism:

  • Determinism is based upon science and logic
  • It applies to everything everywhere 
  • It i exotence:the principle of causation is universally understood
  • The wishes and beliefs of the agents are causally relevant to any effect that may arise

Actions vs Bodily movements:

  • Someone who performs actions is an agent, someone who doesn't is a passenger.
  • Actions are aimed at something, done for a reason
  • Some actions are passive ( eg waiting)
  • Bodily movement are purely physical
  • Agents are judged morally for their actions
  • Actions are goal directed and bodily movements aren't 
  • The same movement can amount to different actions eg waving.
  • Actions can only be explained with reference to social/moral values.
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Language of causation

  • The language of causation is retrospective. 
  • The language of reason is prospective. 
  • The idea that causes alone shape our actions undermines the notion of the agency; for true agency to exist action must be shaped by reasons
  • Actions are good or bad, causes are neutral 
  • Perhaps reasons can be causes.
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