I strongly believe that W. T. Stace is correct while arguing for the view of soft determinism, also known as compatibilism. Stace believes in compatibilism, which states that determinism is true, but free will still does exist. He puts both views together by studying the definition of free will. Stace asks, “How can anyone be punished or rewarded for his or her actions if they have no control over their actions? ” That statement seemed extremely convincing to me because both d’Holbach and Chisholm supported one side of the argument.
d’Holbach and Chisholm argued that we are either strictly determined by the laws of nature and physics or that we are not determined, rather being we have the power to do as we choose. Stace on the other hand, put both positions together and made them work together. He explained that the laws of nature and physics do have an impact on our choices, but we do have the ability to choose what we want to choose when making a decision.
Outside forces may push on our decision, but we are the ones responsible for choosing what we want to choose. He persuasively defends his view of soft determinism by explaining the definition of free will. He states, “In order for one to define free will, one must look into how the phrase is commonly used. ” The way a philosopher interprets free will is different than the way a common person will do so.
Stace defines free acts as acts that are directly caused by a person’s internal thoughts or desires coming directly from the person. Not free acts are those that have outside forces pushing a person to do something a certain way such as a threat or harm. This was very different from what other philosophers have stated in the past. By providing examples of free will, Stace points out that free will clearly does exist. It wouldn’t make sense for free will not to exist since it is compatible with determinism.
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