Freewill and Determinism

Topics: Free will, Determinism, Causality Pages: 4 (1500 words) Published: March 5, 2013
Discuss the apparent incompatibility between freewill and determinism. Is there a satisfactory soft determinist account of freedom? If so, what is it? If not, what is the best such account and what objections does it face?

The incompatibility between freewill and determinism lies in our contradictory beliefs in both freedom and science. We, as human beings, all believe that we have freewill as we can freely choose our human actions, which cannot be predicted. For example, although I chose to eat bread for my breakfast every morning before today, it does not mean that I must eat bread today as I can still choose to eat congee as my breakfast. My behavior is chosen out of my freewill. Because of our belief in freewill, we talk about morally responsibility. If our actions are not free, then we would not have to be morally responsible for our actions. The notion of freewill is necessary as the concept of moral responsibility is based on freewill. On the other hand, we also believe in science which successfully uses different causes to explain the law of nature. We believe in the Newton’s theory of gravitation that uses the concept of gravity to explain the falling movement of apples from a tree. Science tries to use causes to explain everything in the universe, including human behavior in the natural world and therefore human actions are predictable. Determinism suggests that every event has a cause, which refers to an earlier event that makes a later event happen. As we believe in science and causes explanation, it is reasonable for us to believe in determinism as well. Determinism suggests that though sometimes we cannot detect all the causes of our human actions, causes are really there and therefore, human actions are caused by earlier events. For example, Event: I chose to eat McDonald’s.

Earlier event (cause to 1): I felt hungry.
Earlier event (cause to 2): I saw a McDonald’s advertisement. Earlier event (cause to 3): I turned on the television…...
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