Causal Ditermism In The Movie Groundhog Day

2347 words - 10 pages

What does it mean to have free will when one cannot choose the environment in which they live in? Because the environment in which one lives in shapes their beliefs and practices, how is it they are morally responsible for their actions and decisions when they are not in control of the environment they live in? Causal determinism is a belief that everything that happens is completely caused by whatever happened before it. Furthermore determinism implies if the conditions under which one made a choice were precisely the same, one could not have done otherwise (Kamber). While it is difficult to argue against causal determinism there is still freedom to reflect on possible alternatives before acting. Though, the question is not whether one can choose to do what they want (to follow their desire) but whether one is free enough to be held accountable for their decisions even though one can judge the importance of these desires and their place among other reasons for action (Horton www.oocities.org/emilische/free-will.doc). In the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors experiences the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over again. At first Phil uses this to his advantage until he discovers he is forced to stay in the same place with the same people who do the same thing every day. While Phil Connors lives in an identical situation every day and therefore a deterministic setting, does Phil have free will and is he morally responsible for his actions? According to compatibilists Harry Frankfurt, Susan Wolf, and John Martin Fischer in certain events where one “could not do otherwise” one could still have free will and moral responsibility over their actions. With the example of Phil Connors and the ideas of compatibilists Harry Frankfurt, Susan Wolf, and John Martin Fischer show that determinism is compatible with free will and moral responsibility.
While determinists’ view that everything that happens is causally produced by what happened before it, this cannot be proven for humans due to the impossibility of “recreating” situations in order to produce the “same” outcome. For example, before writing this paper I purchased a coffee from the Starbucks in the Library Café. A determinist would say there must be a reason why I purchased the coffee possibly because I was tired or I needed some caffeine to stay up late, therefore if the same conditions were met again I would still buy the coffee as I have already done. Determinists believe if the same conditions were met, I could not do otherwise but buy the coffee. While it is possible that if the same conditions were met I would buy the coffee this cannot be tested for conditions cannot be recreated. Tomorrow, I might have the exact same day as I had today but the same conditions were not met because humans are never the same from one moment to the next. While writing this paper, I am changing as a person. But, for example, if time travel were real and I was able to forget I time traveled and essentially relive...

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