Philosophy Examined

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Assignment: Comment on the Following Statements

1)Out of the people edited in Abel or discussed by Palmer, the following are hard determinists… Well, Palmer only discusses two hard determinists: B.F. Skinner, and Sigmund Freud. Out of the texts read in Abel, Abel discusses Skinner and D'Holbach as hard determinists. 2)Hard determinism conflicts with some of our ordinary beliefs and experiences. For example: On the one hand, we are raised to believe that we are free, that we posses freedom of thought and action. If we come to a fork in the road, we can either go left or right, either choice is a free choice. A hard determinist would have us believe that our actions are determined, hence, unfree. If the hard determinists theory were in fact true, then, if we were to come to a fork in the road, what use would it be to choose the right, or the left path? For out decision has already been determined, according to the hard determinist point of view. Frankly, I find the idea of hard determinism utterly ridiculous, and incredibly hard to defend. 3)If hard determinism is true, then people cannot be held responsible for their actions. This statement is true. For if hard determinism is true, then our actions are determined. Meaning that we have no control over our own actions. Therefore, we cannot be held responsible for out actions, because, we are not responsible for them, for they were determined. If this is indeed true, then the worlds judicial systems have been making mistakes for several thousands of years. 4)It is possible to interpret Freud as being committed to hard determinism. It is also possible to interpret Freud as believing in freedom. This statement is making two claims, which may be interpreted differently by different people. Thus needing some explanation. It is true that Freud was committed to hard determinism, for he believed that the majority of a person's actions are motivated through the subconscious mind, the subconscious being a driving force in the decision. Subconscious decisions are not free, for the person is not aware of the force of the subconscious. The second part of the above statement is in a sense, true. Freud, being committed to hard-determinism, could not believe it direct freedom. However, Freud did believe that a person could change, thus gaining some control over their actions, and that in a sense, is freedom (i.e. the case of the woman who kept choosing partners who beat her). 5)Stoicism is the view that one can never be happy.

This statement is false. Stoicism means that one can be happy. As Palmer stated, according to Seneca and Epictetus, it is possible to be totally happy all the time. This is accomplished by accepting ones fate. What Nietzsche called amor fati: love ones fate. 6)Soft determinism conflicts with common sense, since it holds that there is no difference between the amount of freedom exhibited in the actions of a drug addict, and the actions of a war hero or a saint. I hold this statement to be false, based on the "soft-determinism" discussion in chapter six of Palmer. Let me try to dissect my chain of thought into a comprehendible answer. Palmer states with great emphasis that, "we are free to the extent that we are able to do and get what we want." Meaning that we are only free in our context, in our immediate situation. We can make choices, however, the choices that we make exhibit only so much freedom, because our situation may prevent us from doing otherwise. The above statement claims there is no difference between the amount of freedom exhibited by a drug addict and the actions of a war hero or saint. That is ridiculous. A drug addict has a physiological addiction, hence he has limited freedom, and he needs that drug. Whereas, a war hero chose the action that he took to become a hero, he could have run the other way. The same goes for a saint, the saint could have chosen a different life, but he/she didn't. 7)Soft determinism holds that concepts such as...
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