Free will and determinism

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  • Free will and determinism:
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  • Free will is the idea that we are self-determining. The notion of free will suggests human beings are free to choose their thoughts and actions There are biological and environmental influences on our behaviour - but free will implies we can reject them. This is the view of the humanistic approach. 
  • Hard and Soft determinism: Hard determinism (fatalism) - all human action has a cause - it should be possible to identify these causes. This is compatible with the aims of science which assume that what we do is dictated by internal or external forces that we can't control. Soft determinism: all human action has a cuase but people have conscious mental control over behaviour. James thought scientists should explain the determining forces acting upon us, but we still have freedom to make choices. 
  • Biological determinism = control from physiological genetic and hormonal processes. The biological apprach: Physiological processes are not under conscious control, (e.g. influence of automatic nervous system on anxiety). genetic factors may determine many behaviours and characteristics (e.g. mental disorders). Hormones may determine behaviour 9e.g. the role of testpsterone in aggressive behaviour). 
  • Environmental determinism = we are determined by conditioning. the behaviourist approach popularised the ideas of environmental determinism - Skinner said free will is 'an illusion' and argued all behaviour is the result of conditioning. Our experience of 'choice' is just the sum total of reinforcement continguencies that have acted upon us throughout our lives. We might think we areacting independently, but our behaviour has been shaped by environmental events and agents of socialisation (parents, teachers, institutions, etc). 
  • Psychic determinism = we are directed by inconscious conflicts. Like Skinner, Freud thought free will is an illusion but placed emphasis on biologcal drives and intincts underpinning psychological responses rather than conditioning. freud's psychic determinism sees behaviour as determined and directed by unconscious conflicts repressed in childhood. For example, even a seemingly random 'slip of the…

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