Free Will vs Determinism

Topics: Psychology, Human behavior, Behavior Pages: 3 (755 words) Published: April 4, 2013
All human behaviour is determined

Defined by scientific psychologists, determinism explains that all human behaviours are causal links from different factors, which in turn makes them predictable and that one has no real control over his/her own actions (Baumeister, 2008).

A prominent forefather of psychology was one of the first to assert this claim using results from his research. Skinner (1984) beliefs that external stimuli and the resultant conditioning is all that govern ones behavior and in which, free will is merely an illusion. Such a claim suggests that environmental influences are the be-all and end-all determinant of human behavior. This drew much contention from other researchers who think he downplayed the potential of genetics and human freedom (Chomsky, 1971; Thorne & Sanders, 2013). Thus, some geneticists believe that an individual’s genetic makeup is instead the single determinant in how one acts and behaves in every aspect. They call it biologism (Velden, 2010). This claim provides the other extreme to what Skinner had suggested. That instead of external events, it is only the intrinsic blueprint of a person that entirely determines his/her behaviour.

Despite the contrast, both claims elicit different factors and seem to adequately cover the grounds of what determines behaviour, either internal or external. Even if we agree that there is no single determinant that can predispose the entirety of a person’s behavior, and concede that environment and genetic both plays a part, it would still suggest that all behaviors are determined and that there is no room for freedom. Is the argument against determinism of all behavior a lost cause?

All is not lost, as studies emerging from neuroscience elucidate evidences of free will residing in the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex (Udell, 2009; de Jong, 2011). Higher-order functions of one’s behaviour which includes planning, reasoning and even lying is attributed to it (Karim et...

References: Baumeister, R. F. (2008). Perspectives on Psychological Science. Free Will in Scientific
Psychology, 3(1), 14-19
Skinner, B. F. (1984). Selection by Consequences. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 7(4),
Chomsky, N. (1971). The New York Review of Books. The Case Against B.F. Skinner
Thorne, B., Sanders, P. (2013). Criticisms and Rebuttals. In, Carl Rogers (3rd ed.)
Velden, M. (2010). Explaining Psychological Process via Biology (biologism). In, Biologism:
The consequence of an Illusion (pp
Udell, M. (2009). Neuroscience, Free Will and Crimincal Justice (pp. 1-14).
de Jong, B
(2009). Cerebral Cortex. The Truth about Lying: Inhibition of the Anterior Prefrontal
Cortex Improves Deceptive Behavior, 20(1), 205-213.
(2006). Cerebral Cortex. Effects of Focal Frontal Lesions on Response Inhibition,
17(4), 826-838.
Passingham, R. E., Bengtsson, S. L., Lau, H. C. (2010). Trends Cogn Sci. Medial Frontal
Cortex: from self-generated action to reflection on one 's own performance, 14(1),
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