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Free Will Versus Determinism Essay

1308 words - 5 pages

"To be or not to be, this is the question" . In this famous and well known statement Shakespeare opens an enormous number of questions and reflections about life. Through many years ordinary people and remarkable philosophers have debated about this quandary. So many dilemmas have been raised around this issue such as: what is the meaning for "to be", weather the life is real or merely a dream, to be existent or not, and so on. Maybe the most arguable of them is the conflict between freedom and determinism. Among many works surround this theme there are two essays that worth to be mentioned here. The first one is "Does Determinism Eliminate Responsibility?" by W. T. Stace. The second one is "What Means This Freedom?" by John Hospers.Stacy believes that there are many mistakes around free will and determinism. First of all, he points a lack of morality as consequence of lack of free will. He believes that there cannot be morality without free will. Furthermore, he thinks that many professors and philosophers, that deny free will, make their choices when it comes to real life, as he says "For when it comes to doing anything practical, even of the most trivial kind, they invariably behave as if they and others were free" . He follows his analysis point that to define free will as indeterminism is wrong. Along with he draws his own definition for the problem, in his words "Acts freely done are those whose immediate causes are psychological states in the agent. Acts not freely done are those whose immediate causes are states of affairs external to the agent" . To illustrate what he means he uses some examples such as that when Gandhi didn't eat for a week he did it by his free will, psychological state, because he wanted India free from England. On the other hand, if someone is lost in a desert he/she cannot eat because there is no food around, state of affairs external agent. By doing this he divides actions in two huge groups one is internal decision, free will, and the other one is external decision, where there is no choice. In short, he believes that for certain situations there are free choices and for others the decision is already taken, this way he justify that there is a moral responsibility for actions.On the other hand, Hospers brings another viewpoint to the dilemma. After his exposition of the problem he discusses five of the most common argument for free will and determinism. First one is the argument that what determines responsibility is the presence or absence of premeditation. In his view this is not valid because many actions are unthinking or impulsive, so there is no premeditation. Second, comes the one that someone is not responsible unless the action can be defended with reason. For Hospers this is not applicable once it is easier to rationalize a behavior and unconscious motives will be obscurely hidden. Following, he presents the criterion of responsibility that it is result of unconscious forces. This principal is contested...

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