Free Will and Determinism


Determinism says there are laws of nature which govern everything which happens. Every choice we make was determined by the situation before it and this goes back before the situation before it etc.

Hard determinists- Accept determinism, reject freedom and moral responsibility.

Soft determinists/ compatibilists- Reject the view that free will and determinism are incompatible, freedom is not only compatible with determinism, but actually requires it.

Libertarians-  Reject determinism and accept freedom and moral responsibility

Determinism can be seen in versions of Christian predestination. God alone determines who will receive eternal salvation.

- Hard determinists

'In the mind there's no absolute or free will, but the mind is determined to wish this"- (Baruch Spinoza)

All our actions had prior causes, we are neither free nor responsible. Hard determinism is incompatible with free will and moral responsibility. A person is like a machine, if a machine is faulty it needs fixing. A person can't be blamed for violence, violence needs to be fixed.

John Hospers, a modern hard determinist said "there's always something which compels us both internally and externally to perform an action that we would think was the result of our own free will".

Clarence Darrow stood at the same position when he defended two young boys, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb in court after they murdered a young boy. The boys were a product of their upbringing, environment etc. Darrow was successful in his defence. This case makes us question whether criminals are morally responsible for their actions. "Punishment is not punishment unless the offender has


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