Hard Determinism Notes OCR Religious Ethics

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Hard Determinism

  • The belief that people do not have free will, all moral actions have prior causes. This means that no one can be held morally responsible.
  • Clarence Darrow - defended two men charged with murder by claiming it was down to their upbringing and ancestry so they were not morally responsible.
  • All theories of determinism are influenced by Isaac Newton's physics, according to which the whole universe is governed by immutable laws of nature. The world is dominated by the idea of cause and effect.
  • Behaviourism shows hard determinism, in that all actions are learned through the processes of operant conditioning e.g. Pavlov's Dogs and Skinner's Box. 
  • Darwin and Dawkins - emotions such as guilt, anger and love all have a biological basis. Our morals are a product


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