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Determinism and Free will.

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Philosophy outcome 2 Gregor Leishman 1x The debate between Determinism and Free will has long been discussed, but while debating both of these subjects there must be an understanding as to what both mean, unfortunately the meaning of both are not as straight forward as first thought. The idea that we always could do otherwise than we do is often thought to conflict with the view that every event is caused and that human actions cannot be excluded. Resolutions of this conflict have normally been viewed mainly in the light of how they affect moral responsibility. With moral responsibility, constraints are already being placed upon a person. This is because morals have already been determined for that person, through their family, upbringing and the society in which they reside. This leads on to how responsible are we for our actions. Which again is dependant on how voluntary our actions are, for example, how voluntary is someone's action when placed under the threat of death or the threat of death of a loved one? Are their actions voluntary? Aristotle would have said as "One can always resist or ignore threats", but in our society this would have been viewed as an action but not a voluntary action. It is in connection with moral responsibility that the free will determinism debate has traditionally arisen. ...read more.


This is because responsibility is linked to free will which the hard determinists believe is never present in a person's decision making. Following on from this, it is easy to see why hard determinists think that people should not be blamed or punished for their actions, as the person was never responsible. Although this does not mean they don't not believe that no action should be taken against these bad actions. The hard determinists think that treatment is the answer and not punishment. Society should try to change the factors that cause the person to act. The person's psychology should be changed in some way so that their decisions and actions will not be unacceptable to society. In turn this will not make the person more responsible, but it will eliminate the burden on other people, of the other person's bad actions. Soft determinism is the ideal that people are responsible for their actions and decisions even though these are causally determined by antecedent factors. Soft determinists believe that for a person to be responsible for their actions, that person only needs to decide whether to do it or not. For example, if a person decides to, in a normal way, not to get out of bed in the morning and go to lectures, that person is responsible for the decision that they have made. ...read more.


Although determinism and free will can be seen to be ever present in human living, I a practical and liveable sense they both seem compatible. With determinism it is true that an event is caused by antecedent conditions, but if this was applied to everything then we as human beings would be nothing more than robots, with no responsibility, plus the fact that although our bodies are made of atoms, which we have no control over, these atoms do not control us as thinking beings. Free will on the other hand does give us a choice in what we do but, this does not mean we are truly free to do whatever we wish, as we know there are consequences to all our actions, which in a true sense means we are never truly free to do anything we choose as we are responsible for our actions. But free will in this case says that if something is done out of character, then it is not done out of free will, but spontaneity is one of the things that makes us human and not just predictable objects. It is true to say that our futures can be determined from our up brining and background. So we are left with the choice to either accept our determined futures or choose to make the choices open to us and change the determined future. ...read more.

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