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Hard Determinism vs Soft Determinism

Topics: Causality, Determinism, Free will, Compatibilism and incompatibilism, Libertarianism / Pages: 7 (1634 words) / Published: Feb 18th, 2014
Hard Determinism vs Soft Determinism In this paper, I will show that hard determinism is the best explanation for our lack of free will in our daily decisions. Using a love story as an example will help clarify that free will is simply a fallacy and hard determinism is accurate. Steven was a junior accounting student at the very large Penn State University. He was fairly quite and reserved, but had a few close friends that he grew up with. Steven is one of those guys that is not crazy and outgoing, but instead you have to really get to know him before he starts to open up with you. He did not like to go out much and meeting new people was not very enticing to him. Sure, he would like to meet a girl that he could spend the rest of his life with, but he never could find the courage or the right time to talk to someone that may have caught his eye. One day, Steven did not go to his upper level accounting class, which he almost never does. He had woken up two hours after the class had already ended because he slept right through his alarm. It turns out, the day that he happen to miss class was the day that the professor assigned the long accounting project for the semester. This project would take a fairly long time and would be done with a partner, which the professor allowed the students to pick during that class period. Steven had a couple acquaintances in that class that he had worked with before, so he likely would have worked with one of them again. However, one other student also missed the class that day, so the professor paired the two of them up since they were the only students without a partner. Steven received an email later that day stating that he would be working with Kelly for the project this semester. The class had well over fifty people in it and Steven only knew a select handle, but Kelly was not one of them. He was not thrilled to have to spend a semester working with a girl that he had never met before. Steven met up with Kelly a few days later to begin discussing the project. Steven arrived at the library and sat down at a table to start putting ideas together while he waited for Kelly to arrive. A girl walking toward him caught his eye as she was beautiful and Steven was thinking to himself that he wished he would have to courage to talk to a girl like that. Luckily for him, the same beautiful girl walked right up to his table, sat down, and introduced herself as Kelly. They discussed their process for the project for almost an hour before deciding to call it a day. Before they left, they talked for a few more minutes on just a personal level. It turns out that Kelly knew where he was in the library because she recognized since she had sat only two rows behind him in class and had an eye for him since the first accounting class of the semester. Steven also discovered that Kelly had only missed that one class all semester, because she too had slept through her alarm the same morning. If you incorporate soft determinism into the meeting of these two people, it can be easily seen that this action was caused. The meeting and understanding that they both were attracted to each other was the effect of them both enrolling in the same accounting class and both missing class the same day. However, what separates this from hard determinism is the possibility of free acts. Soft determinism would suggest that although things were caused to bring them to that point, they each had the free will of a choice of whether they wanted to pursue getting to know each other more on a personal level or not (Stace pg. 1-2). After their meeting in the library, they both seemed to have felt a connection and decided to go out for dinner that night. Between all the time spent working on the project together, dates, and hanging out together in their spare time, Steven and Kelly became very close and were in a relationship for the remainder of college and ended up getting married two years after graduation. It can be suggested that they both acted on their desires and chose their own free act based on the effects of their internal psychological states caused from the actions that caused them to become partners for the project. However, there are also some problems that come along with the ideas of soft determinism. The ideas of soft determinism seem to attempt to suggest that determinism is a factor, but we also have the freedom to commit free acts. Acts are either determined or free acted on, both cannot be the cause of the action. Hard determinism however, suggest that all things are determined by cause and effect. In this idea, man is suggested to be purely physical, with no psychological factor as in soft determinism. Mental states of man are equal to brain states and all human decisions are governed by cause and effect. If you incorporate these ideas back into the love story, it is very clear to be made aware that all the actions from the beginning to the marriage, where caused and no free acts were in place to make any of the decisions throughout the process. Neither Steven or Kelly freely decided to take that accounting class, instead they were required to since they were accounting majors. Also, since they both rarely missed classes, they certainly did not freely choose to miss class that day. Both of these acts were determined without any free will on their part, which ended up causes them to be partners. Steven and Kelly had no intentions of beginning a relationship and marrying their accounting partner, but instead after a series of cause and effect actions, it was chemically determined, which caused a brain state, which caused a mental state, which ultimately created the decision of them to develop a relationship. The theory of hard determinism does not involve chance, which helps to show that this relationship did not just happen because of chance, but because it was determined chemically. The aspects of these cause and effect scenarios that may seem to be free will at first though are simply just will, which is only a modification of the brain. This will is determined by good and bad and qualities similar chemically in the brain, not be our own controlled decisions as we may think. The decision is based on the impulse from the stronger chemical force from the motive or desire. Different motives and ideas are what modify the brain and impulses, which affect the determined will and the mental and brain states that ultimately create the decision (d’Holbach pg. 1-2). Relating this back to the love story told may be difficult to grasp at first, as many of us may have the feeling that we do make some decisions on our own because we have never thought any further into it that that. The cause and effect of this love story is fairly well defined in that something caused both of these people to attend this University, whether it was financial, geographic, or other reasons. The striving of becoming accounting majors was also the determined effect based on various causes in their life to this point. They were required to take this course and had no control over sleeping through their alarms. This determined act was simply an effect of taking the class and missing it was the cause of meeting each other. The soft determinism theory may agree with some of these points since it is suggested that all actions are caused, but from here it seems that this theory leaves another option open that can change things with a free will choice that did not seem to be present before. With hard determinism, the cause and effect situations continue to take part and the more insightful part of this can be viewed as the chemical determinations for the ultimate relationship between Steven and Kelly, rather than the randomness of free will suggest with soft determinism. If it is hard to get the idea of no free will out of your mind, understand that our desires are still a factor, just not a freely used as it may seem. Our desires are a factor in the modifications of the brain, which ultimately chemically determines our brain and mental states, allowing a decision to be made. It is suggested that most people unconsciously look for and find younger healthy looking people to be more attractive. Data has been collected to help show this and except for one group of people, it is most commonly true (Wolfe, Audio). It has also been discovered by scientist that there is a special collection of chemicals in the brain that are responsible for sparking romance. They are also now finding that there are different chemicals that are incorporated in the development of long lasting relationships (Slater, National Geographic). Having scientific data to back up the chemical aspect of hard determinism makes it hard to disregard it and replace it with free will. Overall, I believe that the love story of Steven and Kelly is supported by the theory of hard determinism. The use of the love story is able to present the major flaws that are related to soft determinism. In conclusion, I believe that man is a physical material thing and hard determinism is the based possible explanation for our lack of free will in our daily decisions.

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