Free Will and Determinism

  • Created by: KMuir
  • Created on: 16-04-14 10:47

Free Will and Determinism

Hard Determinism= accept determinism and reject freedom and moral responsibility Libertarianism= reject determinism and accept freedom and moral responsibility
Soft Determinism (Compatibilist) = argue that freedom is not only compatible with determinism, but actually requires it.


ü  Every event has a prior cause

ü  Our circumstances are determined for us

ü  Therefore we do not have free will.

Pre destination

God has already decided whether we are saved or not saved so our actions in this life are irrelevant. God determines whatever happens in History, while man has little knowledge of God’s purposes and plans (they are unknowingly created for man by God).
God alone determines who will receive the grace that assures salvation.
According to Calvin, God makes his choice of who is saved independent of any qualities in the individual – he does not look at the person and recognise good or look into the future to see who would follow his ruling. He chooses who he saves for no reason other than because he simply can and those he doesn’t choose are left to go to Hell.

ü  If we have no control over our actions, we have no responsibility for them.

Hard Determinism

ü  All human actions have a prior cause

ü  We do not make free moral choices

ü  We are not morally responsible for our actions

According to Hard determinists all our actions had prior causes and believe we are neither free nor responsible for them. A person is like a machine and if that machine is faulty it needs fixing – similar to when a person is faulty e.g. violent they cannot be blamed for that violence, it needs to be fixed.
John Hospers: something compels us both externally and internally to perform an action that we think was the result of our own free will. “It is all a matter of luck”
 Clarence Darrow: defended two young men who were charged with the murder of a young boy, Bobby Franks. He managed to successfully defend the men and change their death sentence to life imprisonment. He did this by arguing the two young men were the product of their upbringing, their ancestry and their belief that they were above the law due to being spoilt by a wealthy environment. “What has this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was not his own mother…”
John Locke: ‘Locked Door’ sleeping man in a locked room who awakens and decides to stay where he is, not realising the door to the room is locked. The man thinks he has made a free decision, however he has no choice.
Baron d’Holbach: Freedom is an illusion. “Man who thinks himself free, is a fly who imagines he has power to move the universe, while is himself unknowingly carried along by it.”
Ted Honderich: there is no room for moral blame and no point in


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