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The Problem Of Free Will And Determinism Essay

  • Submitted by: karkarkar
  • on January 19, 2011
  • Category: Miscellaneous
  • Length: 3,565 words

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Below is an essay on "The Problem Of Free Will And Determinism" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

As much as we, as human beings, believe that we have free will, some philosophers would say that we are mistaken. No matter how much we believe that we are free, we are actually (and simply) not. As Spinoza (p.176) has aptly demonstrated, our state may be likened to that of a stone that had just been thrown into the air. The stone thinks (if it had the capacity to think) that it has the freedom to choose where it will land. It could probably think of landing on a soft patch of grass so its fall wouldn’t be so painful. But actually, the stone is just oblivious to the laws that govern its movement, like, say, those in physics concerning projectile motion. If it did land on that patch of grass, it would not be because the stone chose to land there, but because of some combination of physical forces, like the amount of energy with which it was thrown, and perhaps the presence or absence of wind. Maybe a simplistic way of putting it would be: the stone thinks it is free because it does not know any better. Some philosophers would say, human beings are built exactly the same way.
Philosophers that believe that we don’t have free will are called hard determinists. (p. 174) They believe, even in the face of so many points against it, humans don’t have free will because every single thing we do has already been determined for us even before we were born. That doctrine that stipulates that everything has a predetermined cause is called causal determinism. It is because of this that, hard determinists believe, we don’t have free will.
What seems to be the common argument of hard determinists is that we are all bound by physical and natural laws. As in traditional materialism, human beings are, themselves, physical entities subject to these laws. (p. 175) Anything and everything we do is caused by these laws and we simply cannot act otherwise because we are bound by these laws. Everything we do has already been determined by these laws. One cause will result in only one...

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