Determinism

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Determinism, as defined by Peter van Inwagen in his reading “The Powers of Rational Beings,” is that at “every moment that the way things are then determines a unique future.” So, what exactly does this mean? What van Inwagen is saying is that there is only one outcome for every situation, even if it seems like there could be a variety of outcomes. It may seem like a certain event leads to many different paths, but in reality, that is not the case. The path that is chosen by the individual was already pre-determined, even if the individual thinks that he/she made the decision his or herself. Van Inwagen believes that determinism is related with the physical laws of the universe. This is because he believes that the laws of the universe were pre-determined. It was already determined that every event in history would have happened. For example, let us say that I just graduated from high school. There are many different paths I could take after, which would determine my future. My first option, or path, could be to attend a top university. Another path I could take is to go out and find a job right away; perhaps I could go work at a restaurant as a waitress. Or maybe, I could go to a training facility and learn how to become a mechanic. Under determinism’s definition, it is only an illusion that I have these different choices to pick from for my future. Instead, the path I ended up choosing was already determined. A good way to understand van Inwagen’s argument is by taking a look at the pictures that were provided on page 255. The fork with all of the lines connected to it illustrates the fact that I believe I am free to choose any one of the paths for my future- going to school, getting a job, or going into training. The second illustration shows van Inwagen’s viewpoint of determinism. All of the different paths seem like they are connected to the stem, but in reality, only one path truly connects. This represents the fact that there is only one path to take,...
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