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Essay on Free Will and Determinism Essay

Explain what freedom and physical determinism are and why they seem to conflict. How would you resolve this conflict? Give reasons for your answer. Physical determinism is believing in the fact that every event has a cause. (Theodore Sider, pg 113) And that a chain reaction of such would cause an inevitable event to occur. E. g. The invasion of Poland by Hitler in 1939. (Theodore Sider, pg 115) Freedom is the belief that you are able to act on your own free will irrespective of what event has occured, that a decision you make is entirely of your own volition.

It is the belief that our life is not predetermined and we are able to influence our future. FROM A SCIENTIFIC POINT OF VIEW, THE DECISIONS WE MAKE AND HOW WE BEHAVE ARE STUDYABLE, EXPLAINABLE AND IF GIVEN ENOUGH TIME, PREDICTABLE AND CONTROLLABLE. (THEODORE SIDER, PG 114) THIS WOULD INDICATE WHEN THE ‘WHY’ WE DO WHAT WE DO IS DISCOVERED, WE CAN FULLY DETERMINE WHAT A PERSON WOULD DO IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT, THUS LEADING TO THE DETERIORATION OF FREEDOM FOR THAT PERSON.

There are 3 ways to resolve this conflict, of which the first is to reject the belief of freedom in what is called hard determinism. (Theodore Sider, pg 117) A complete rejection of freedom would demean any meaning of living so I will not consider it. THE OPPOSITE OF THIS IS THE LIBERTARIAN, WHICH BELIEVES THAT PEOPLE ARE EXCLUDED FROM DETERMINISM AS THE SCIENCE IS UNABLE TO COMPLETELY STUDY , OR RATHER, MAKE SENSE OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND PREDICT WHAT A HUMAN CAN DO.

(THEODORE SIDER, PG 119) I FEEL THIS IS BECAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY IN OBTAINING THE ABSURD AMOUNT OF INFORMATION AND FACTORS THAT WILL ALLOW FOR THE PREDICTION OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR. The problem with the libertarian’s explaination is the lack of definition for the word freedom, as rejecting determinism would mean actions of a person would be uncaused, and therefore random. (Theodore Sider, pg 119) Thus an idea called agent causation is found, such that you only act freely when your action is not caused in the mechanistic way but is caused by you of your own free will.

This does not work as the the realm of physics has to be rejected in order for the libertarian to fully resolve this conflict. THE LAST AND MOST VIABLE METHOD TO RESOLVE THIS CONFLICT IS CALLED SOFT DETERMINISM (THEODORE SIDER, PG 125) SOFT DETERMINISM STATES THAT A FREE ACTION IS ONE THAT IS CAUSED BY THE PERSON’S BELIEF AND DESIRES, PROVIDED THAT THOSE BELIEFS AND DESIRES FLOW FROM ‘WHO THE PERSON IS’. (THEODORE SIDER, PG 130) IT IS A THEORY THAT ACTIONS ARE CAUSED BY ONES BELIEFS AND DESIRES. THE FIRST-ORDER DESIRE ARE DESIRES TO DO THINGS.

WHERE A SECOND-DESIRE IS A DESIRE TO HAVE A FIRST-ORDER DESIRE. WHEN THE FIRST-ORDER DESIRE IS CAUSED BY THE SECOND-ORDER DESIRE, THEN IT IS SAID TO BE FLOWING FROM ‘WHO THE PERSON IS’. (THEODORE SIDER, PG 131) A person goes to school for education because he believes that it is the best alternative he has as opposed to starting to work without an education. This is a case where a first-order desire comes from a second-order desire, which then implies the action of going to school comes from the self.

A PERSON AFFLICTED WITH A COMPULSION TO HOARD, ALTHOUGH HE MIGHT DESIRE TO NOT DO SO, HIS ACTIONS OF HOARDING IS SAID TO BE DONE WITHOUT FREE WILL. FROM THIS STEMS FIRST AND SECOND ORDER OF DESIRE, WHERE HIS SECOND ORDER OF DESIRE IS NOT TO HOARD, AND HIS FIRST ORDER OF DESIRE IS TO HOARD, THIS CONTRADICTS AND HIS ACTIONS ARE SAID TO BE NOT OF FLOWING FROM THE SELF. REFERENCES Sider, T. (2005). Free will and determinism. In E. Conee, & T, Sider (Eds. ), Riddles of existence: A guided tour of metaphysics (pp. 112-133). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


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