Free Will Vs. Determinism Essay

2766 words - 11 pages

I. Determinism Before one can properly evaluate the entire debate that enshrouds the Free Will/Determinism, each term must have a meaning, but before we explore the meaning of each term, we must give a general definition. Determinism is, "Everything that happens is caused to happen. (Clifford Williams. "Free Will and Determinism: A Dialogue" pg 3). This is the position that Daniel, a character in Williams? dialogue, chooses to believe and defend. David Hume goes a little deeper and explains in his essay, "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding of Liberty and Necessity," that determinism is this: "It is universally allowed, that matter, in all its operations, is actuated by a necessary force, and that every natural effect is so precisely determined by the energy of its cause, that no other effect in such particular circumstances could possibly have resulted from it" Pg. 54). No matter how deep you decide to delve into the definition, it is still the same. The idea behind determinism is that everything has a caused and has happened because of that cause. If the circumstances were repeated exactly the same, there could be no other outcome. For a determinist, life is nothing but cause and effect.In Williams dialogue, Daniel, who represents the deterministic ideology, gives one main argument. He states that there is an enormous number of events which science has found causes for, including events involving human behavior. This gives us good reason to believe all events are caused. If the lights in the building suddenly go out, there is a reason for it, we may not know what the reason is, but the is a cause for the failure in the lights. While this seems like a sound argument, Frederick, the free will defender, has a legitimate problem with this reasoning.Frederick claims that science has observed and found causes for only a small portion of events. There is no record that started at the beginning of time, and most of what we know we have observed in the last few hundred years. To base an argument on this evidence is absurd. We know very little in light of the entire span of human history. Because of this, we should not infer that everything has a cause. That is as if looking at one lawn of grass that is yellow and dead, and concluding from that, that all grass is yellow. This sounds simply absurd, but, according to Frederick, is exactly what is happening. But, let?s put this argument into perspective.Daniel?s response was to clear up where the reasonable bounds of induction truly exist. If one were to drop one hundred objects of all shapes, sizes, and weights, and found that they all fell to the ground, then it would be safe to induce that all objects will fall to the ground. Accordingly, science has "dropped" thousands of events, and found that they all had causes. So, according to Daniel, it is not only sane to assume, but actually should be inferred that all things are caused. The only response to this is that we still have not seen enough to...

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