In order to evaluate whether determinism leaves room for moral responsibility, I must
first define determinism. In the scope of this essay, I will consider that which is generally viewed
as “hard determinism.” I will then further argue that this rigid view of determinism is too
stringent to be relied upon, and that a more fluid version would allow for the coexistence of both
determinism and free will. Thus, I posit that determinism can be compatible with moral
responsibility, insofar as we use the right type of determinism.
Hard determinism generally posits that if determinism is true, every human action is
pre-determined by conditions that have been set forth before the existence of a specific agent. It
then follows that an agent does not act freely, has no free will, and is therefore never morally
responsible for its actions. Though the logic of this seems feasible, I argue that the consequences
of hard determinism are unacceptable, as all performed actions are not fully pre-determined.
I posit that determinism is only true insofar that actions are influenced by their
pre-determined conditions. Rather than P1 inescapably leading to P2, it is more intuitive that the
consequences of P1 influence an agent to perform a certain action. Further, I posit that there are
an infinite number of possible actions to be taken as a result of P1 as determined by the agent
itself. For example, if I receive a failing grade on a philosophy exam, my resulting action could
encompass any number of things, including breaking down, attacking my professor after class, orBaker 2
jumping off of a bridge. Though these actions are all equally possible, they are not equally likely.
Thus, I posit that all actions alter the probability of subsequent actions, but that they do not
determine them; rather, they are determined by the agent. I can freely choose among any number
of actions, and therefore I can be held morally responsible for attacking my philosophy...