Free Will & Determinism Debate

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  • Created on: 12-06-22 12:08
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  • Free Will and Determinism
    • the extent to which we are self-determining and free to choose our thoughts and actions 
      • Determinism suggests external or internal forces drive an individual’s behaviour. This would imply that we could predict behaviour. 
    • the extent to which our behaviour is controlled by internal and external forces
      • free will suggests that a person is capable of self-determinism. In other words, individuals are free to choose and are not directed by internal or external pressures.
    • Hard Determinism
      • says that all human behaviour has a cause so it should be possible to identify and describe these causes. 
      • The assumption is that internal and external forces control everything we think and do and we therefore have very little room to make our own choices
    • Soft Determinism
      • Science has its part to play however soft determinism would say that we still have some freedom in everyday life to make choices
      • William James (philosopher) proposed the idea of soft determinism.
    • Biological Determinism
      • This goes deeper than just the influence of genes on our physical characteristics but also suggests that our behaviours are genetically determined
      • Evidence comes from Hill et al (1999) who found that particular genes (IGF2R) are found in highly intelligent people. 
    • Environmental Determinism
      • that all behaviour is caused by previous experience through classical and operant conditioning
    • Psychic Determinism
      • Freud suggested that human personality was formed from our innate drives and also our early experience. These are therefore internal and external forces
    • Scientific Emphasis on Casual Explanations
      • A fundamental principle of science is that every event in the universe has a cause
        • these causes can be explained by universal laws
      • By understanding cause and formulating laws, scientists can make predictions and potentially control events in the future
    • Free Will
      • P - Adopting a free will approach suggests that people have conscious control over how they think/feel/behave. 
        • E - This is especially important for treatment of mental health as it gives individuals control and responsibility for their recovery.
          • E - In addition people who have an internal locus of control, believing they have a high degree of influence over events and their own behaviour tend to be more mentally healthy. 
            • L - This means that taking a free will approach may have a positive impact on mind and behaviour. 
      • P - Neurological studies of decision making have revealed evidence against free will. 
        • E - Studies by Libet demonstrated that the brain activity that determines the outcome of simple choices may predate our knowledge of having made such a choice. 
          • E - Research found that activity in the brain occurred up to 10 seconds before participants report being consciously aware of making such a decision.  
            • L - This shows that even our most basic experiences of free are decided and determined by our brain before we become aware of them. 
    • Determinism
      • P - Determinism is consistent with the aims of science, this has implications for research and treatments. 
        • E -  Science focusses on investigating causes and making predictions, a deterministic view allows the causes of human behaviour to be identified.
          • E - This means therapies and treatments can be developed if behaviour can be predicted and controlled. 
            • L - This means taking a deterministic view can lead to improvements in patients’ lives and has practical applications.
      • P - A deterministic stance is not consistent with the way in which our legal system operates and has implications for society. 
        • E - In addition taking a deterministic view can be socially sensitive
          • E - If a certain genetic makeup predisposes people to violent criminal behaviour it is not clear whether they can be held responsible for their actions.
            • L - A deterministic view therefore poses issues for the justice system as rehabilitation may seem impossible 
    • OTHER
      • P- A soft-deterministic position may provide a compromise 
        • E -  For example approaches which have a cognitive element such as Social Learning Theory recognise the influence of both free will and determinism.
          • E - For instance, Bandura argued that although environmental factors in learning are key, we are free to choose what when to perform certain behaviour
            • L - This means that a soft-deterministic position is a more balanced approach 


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