Free will and Determinism

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  • Free will and Determinism
    • Determinism
      • Soft determinism
        • Free will and determinism are compatitble with each other.
        • They say that freedom to act is doing what you want to do, without any external interference or coercion, and completely voluntary.
          • They also say that our own values, desires and prior choices can determine how we will act in certain situations
            • However these ‘causes’ of our actions are so complex and numerous that they are almost completely random in their effects and may not determine a precise or specific action.
              • So they are determined, yet they are also free because there is no external coercion involved.
                • Example: if a man had to deal with the experience of his wife being violently attacked, and then at some later time witnesses another women being violently attacked, he will intervene and stop the attack.
                  • His previous experience has determined that he will intervene to stop the attack, however he still had to make the choice to actually intervene. In this necessitated him to intervene. Therefore to some extent it was determined that he would intervene.
      • Hard determinism
        • All choices are determined by other events or actions prior to the choice
          • Determinists do not believe in free will
        • Human behaviour is governed by laws and is inevitable (has to happen)
        • Universal causation; everything has a cause
        • Casual necessity; in each circumstance only one effect is possible
          • The idea that from a given set of conditions, only one outcome is possible
          • There are laws that govern what we 'have to' do in response to certain situations
    • Freewill
      • Libertarianism
        • States that we are completely free and nothing is determined in any way
        • Cause and effect is not relevant, as determinists suggest, because oral actions are the result of individual character and values being applied to ethical concerns
        • There is no compulsion to act, so every choice is free and therefore we must be responsible for performing or committing  these free acts
        • Sometimes we have to make a decision and we are torn between two different solutions that would both supposedly work
          • We may take time to think the decision through and we may be uncertain but we still choose
            • We may discover that we made the wrong choice but as we chose that course of action, we much by consequence be morally responsible for the action and the choice
    • Locke
      • Locke said the phrase 'freewill' did not make any sense and that to a certain extent it was an illusion
      • He taught that the defining part of voluntary behaviour was that you could pause and reflect  before you made a choice, therefore deciding what the consequence of the action would be
      • Illustration: man sleeping in a locked room and chooses to remain there, not knowing that he is locked in.
        • The man believes he made a free choice to remain in the room, however in reality, he had no choice, therefore he is determined
    • Hume
      • We can choose to do something, or we can choose not to do something
      • If act B is observed to always follow act A, then it isn't correct to say that act A causes act B
        • The act is not determined, it is merely our interpretation of what we have observed
    • Darrow
      • Defended two young men who were accused of the murder of 14 year old Bobby Franks in 1924
        • The two accused, Leopold and Loeb, were rich and intelligent young men who believed that they were superior to the rest of society and could commit the perfect crime
          • The crime didn't go to plan and the two men were caught, brought to trial and faced with the death penalty if convicted
        • He argued that the two murders were the rpoduct of their wealthy upbringing and therefore couldn't be held morally responsible for their actions - they weren't free to choose
        • He succeeded and their sentence was commuted to life imprisonment
    • Predestination
      • Predestination refers to the idea that God knows and decides what happns iin our lives - particularly who is saved and who is not
      • If God is omniscient, it may be difficult for us to posses free will
      • No matter how good we are, we can never change the fact that God has already decided whether we will be saved and go on to heaven, or whether we will not be saved and spend eternity separated from God
        • This teaching originates from St Paul
      • Augustine taught that in order for us to be good, we need God's grace and mercy - only he can choose who will receive these gifts
      • Calvin taught that the man is inherently evil and is not capable of good as his free will chooses to reject God
        • God predestined some to be saved or else nobody would be saved
        • If God decided at creation who would and would not gain salvation, then this means that no one has free will in their ethical or religious actions.
          • If man isn’t free to do this, is it possible for him to be morally responsible and to be rewarded or punished for the actions he performs?
          • It could be possible to suggest that people only do good things because that is what God determined that they would do, and those who do sinful act only perform these because God determined at creation that this is what they would do
    • Honderich
      • Believes everything is determined, both internally and externally
      • There is no choice and therefore, there cannot be moral responsibility
        • No room for moral blame and and no point in punishing someone just for the sake of punishing them
      • Against compatibilism and incompatibilism
    • Religious understanding
      • The claims of predestination say that God has not given humankind free will, however the Bible is very specific in other places that free will has been given to all people.
        • The book of Genesis clearly teaches that Adam and Eve used their free will (God Given) in choosing to eat from The Tree of Knowledge and in no way were compelled to do it.
          • Aquinas stated  that they were free because God created them with free will


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