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Free Will And Determinism Essay

2017 words - 9 pages

The problem of free will and determinism is a mystery about what human beings are able to do. The best way to describe it is to think of the alternatives taken into consideration when someone is deciding what to do, as being parts of various “alternative features” (Van-Inwagen). Robert Kane argues for a new version of libertarianism with an indeterminist element. He believes that deeper freedom is not an illusion. Derk Pereboom takes an agnostic approach about causal determinism and sees himself as a hard incompatibilist. I will argue against Kane and for Pereboom, because I believe that Kane struggles to present an argument that is compatible with the latest scientific views of the world.
Robert Kane begins by explaining that there are two types of freedom; surface freedoms and free will. Surface freedoms include being able to choose what movie to watch or what mayoral candidate to vote for during an election, while free will is much deeper and very limited. Kane refers to characters from Walden Two and the fact that they can have anything they desire because they have been conditioned and manipulated into not wanting anything that is not available to them. The characters have maximal surface freedom, but they lack deeper freedom of the will because their desires are created by someone else (Kane). Kane believes that there is something missing from Walden Two and that deeper freedom is not an illusion. He argues that if we are ultimately responsible for being what we are, there must have been various factors, including acts in society and our genetic make-up, that did not completely determine how we acted and that left something for us to be responsible for. Kane also talks about self-forming acts (SFAs), which are “choices or acts in our lifetime by which we made ourselves into the kinds of persons that we are,” (Kane). During times of soul-searching and deciding between choices, one set of competing reasons or motives prevail and we decide on one thing. However, it is always uncertain which choice will be made because indeterminate efforts lead to determinate choices. For example, if you are trying to solve a mathematical problem with a distraction, whether you will solve the mathematical problem is undetermined because of the distraction. However, if you solve the mathematical problem despite the distraction, there is reason to say that not only have you done it, you are also responsible for it. The distraction was an obstacle that was overcome through effort to solve the mathematical problem. This points out that indeterminism functions as an obstacle for success, without ruling out responsibility any more than it necessarily rules out rationality and voluntariness. Kane explains that when deciding between two choices, if one network in the brain activates, the other will be inhibited and the contrary choice will be made. In these circumstances, the choices will not be “inadvertent,” “accidental,” “capricious,” or “merely random,” because...

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