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Free Will vs. Determinism Essay

PHI/105 August 2010 Week 1 – Checkpoint 1 Arguments and Logic Free Will VS Determinism Free Will and Determinism are two separate beliefs, contradicting one another. Determinism is the idea that all matter in this known universe is created for a specific purpose; a specific action. Therefore, the behavior of all atoms are governed by their physical law; their purpose. Free Will is simply defined as humans having free will. Humans have the ability to choose their next action, thereby choosing their path to their future.

In the excerpt given these two beliefs are in contradiction with one another and therefore cannot exist. One must believe in a single belief, not both. The arguments given for Determinism is that whatever an atom does, it must do in a given circumstance. By laws of nature and physics, it must behave in a specific manner. Following this argument, an atom must behave in manner “A” when in circumstance “Z”; therefore, if present in circumstance “Z,” the atom must behave in manner “A” in accordance with its physical laws.

A behavior as a result of free will; however, is an event that did not have to happen, thereby contradicting the argument for Determinism. Free Will is an event that is the direct result of my actions because of my choices. Therefore, if an event were to occur as a result of Free Will, this event did not have to happen. For example, let us imagine that I am walking along a path and I choose, of my own free will, to pick up a rock and throw it. I could easily have chosen not to throw the rock; therefore, when I threw the rock, the atoms in my arm did not have to move even if this situation.

Given this example, we will assume that Free Will is the correct belief, thus illustrating that it is not true that an atom must have done what it did, given the situation. If Determinism is true, then my arm would have moved and the rock been thrown, regardless of my choices and actions. The arguments for these beliefs seem logical in the fact that Determinism is relating to science and physics to illustrate the structure and behavior of atoms; the core component to all known matter.

This argument provides a solid base for the Determinism belief, explaining that everything is preordained by its physical properties, and the Free Will is an illusion. Free Will, on the other hand, is given no scientific argument and is more common sense based in its belief. Free Will’s argument is not to illustrate that it is true, but to show that Determinism is not true. While the arguments for both beliefs seem valid, I found there to be more weakness’s is the Determinism’s logic. To say that all matter has a given physical law is correct and that is must behave in its intended manner.

Atoms that compose the chemical makeup of fire will in fact burn you if too close; this is what fire does. The weakness in the Determinism’s argument is saying that because you were burned, the atoms in that fire were designed to burn you. Nature has a set of principles in place. Gravity causes object to fall towards its pull, and the movement of two objects against one another creates heat the form of friction. These events are localized in their behavior, but not preordained. A rock that is thrown will glide through the air and descend towards earth again.

My arm can throw a rock, or remain at my side. The atoms of the rock, make it a rock, but do not make it fly. The atoms in my arm are what bind muscles, bone, and skin, and make it my arm, but they do not make my arm throw the rock. Determinism is true to an extent, as is Free Will. Each of them play a part in our world. If I wish to throw a rock at a window, and not break the glass, my will alone is not enough to make it so. Determinism will then take over and act accordingly to the density of the glass, and the velocity of the rock. Both beliefs exist together, working together.


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