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Free Will vs Determinism Essay

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Ways of Thinking

What is a philosophy and why is it important? Philosophy is a way that can get people to think and ask questions about things. Many philosophers have come up with their own beliefs and ideas. What makes philosophy interesting and great is that anyone can participate in it and that everyday people will use it without even realizing it. Philosophy can be an interesting subject because it is around people asking questions and forming their own ideas which can lead to people either agreeing or disagreeing with it. For example, the words determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism all mean different things and are something that people will have to think about and decide for themselves which they believe is the right one. With these words, there is no right or wrong answer because it is just a matter of opinion and what they believe to be the right choice. After doing some research on all three of them, I believe that libertarianism is the right choice because people have the ability to make their own choices and can have the ability to try and change them.

Determinism is “The view that every event, including human actions, is brought about by previous events in accordance with universal causal laws that govern the world. Human freedom is an illusion.” [Ref:1] Determinism can be important because every event that has happened in the past has had an impact on today’s world. John Chaffe who is an author state “Human nature: People are born with certain basic instincts that influence and determine how they behave.” [Ref:2] The choices that we have made in the past and what we make now can have an impact on us and in the future. A strength of determinism can be the actions that have either been made or are being made because those actions are what have either gotten us here today or where they will take us in the future. [1: John Chaffee, The Philosopher’s Way, New Jersey: Pearson, 2015, p. 159. ] [2: Ibid. p. 159.]

Determinism can have its strengths like the actions that we make but at the same time, it also has some weaknesses. With determinism, everything that has happened in the past has shaped today’s world and there is nothing we can do about it. Bernard Berofsky, who is an author, states “No human behavior is free.” [Ref:3] With determinism things like free will is questioned and some might think that it is not real. “Some people believe that genuine freedom of choice is not always possible because our decisions and actions are determined by factors beyond our control.” [Ref:4] A weakness of determinism can be things like the questions of our free will and that some of the choices that we make can already be determined by things that we couldn’t stop. [3: Bernard Berofsky, Determinism, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1971, p. 4.] [4: Ibid. p. 159.]

Compatibilism is “The view that all events, including human actions, are caused. However, we can consider human actions free if they are the result of internal motivations, not the product of external influences or constraints.” [Ref:5] Unlike Determinism where free will might be questioned, with Compatibilism free will is a thing. Free will is important because it can give a person the right and ability to decide and make their own choices. With Compatibilism their strength would be that they do at least acknowledge something like free will. [5: Ibid. p. 160.]

A weakness for compatibilism would be that “They agree with hard determinists that all events, including human actions, are caused.” [Ref:6] Just like determinism, compatibilism has the idea that the events of the past are what make the current world. The idea of having people’s actions already being determined from the past can definitely be argued. Learning about past events can be important because people can learn from them so that they can try to avoid those mistakes if need be but having those past events already determine what we might do is not necessarily true. People can have the ability to make their own choices and decisions and so with compatibilism, having the idea that the events of the past already determine what we might do, I think is a weakness to it. [6: Ibid. p. 160.]

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Libertarianism is “The view that humans are able to make authentically free choices that are not determined by previous events in accordance with universal laws.” [Ref:7] Unlike determinism, and compatibilism, libertarianism is different. With libertarianism, it is the idea that people have free will and that their actions are not caused by events. “Libertarianism holds that we should each be permitted to choose how our lives will go, so long as we do not violate other’s rights.” [Ref:8] Libertarianism allows for people to do what they want and to be able to make their own choices without the worry that other things might have caused their actions. [7: Ibid. p. 161.] [8: Jason Brennan, Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know, New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 1. ]

While libertarianism does believe in free will, a weakness to it would be the fact that people can make their own choices. If people can make their own choices, then they would be able to do things like robbing a bank or stealing a candy bar or just do whatever they wanted to do. The things that people do can have an effect on other people. Aaron Powell who is an author state “Libertarianism without philosophy is libertarianism without foundation. Without principle. It’s not enough to have reasons for one’s political views.” [Ref:9] Lots of different people have their own opinions and views about things and having free will can give them the ability to do things like this. [9: Aaron R. Powell, Argument for Liberty, Washington D.C., Libertarianism.org Press, 2017, p. 2.]

The thing that makes determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism all similar would be that all of them have to deal with free will. Determinism does not really like the idea of free will, compatibilism acknowledges the idea of free will, and libertarianism accepts the idea of free will. Free will is an important thing for people. For over four and a half billion years humans have continued to make their own choices and have their own opinions which could have an effect on other people. Lots of people have had their own opinions about free will and being in one of the categories like determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism can go to show what they think about free will.

The thing that separates these three would be the ideas that they have. Determinism thinks that the choices that were made in the past determine our present-day and that some of the choices and actions that we make have already been determined and we cannot do anything about it. Compatibilism believes a lot of what determinism believes but the only difference between the two is that compatibilism acknowledges free will while determinism does not really care for it. Libertarianism is the opposite of determinism and believes in free will and that people’s choices are not determined by past events but instead are determined by just the choices that they make. All three of these have different viewpoints on things and people have the ability to decide what they want to believe in and so there would be no right or wrong answer if they were to decide which one they believed in.

Out of the three, I think that libertarianism is the right choice. I believe that everyone has the free will to make their own choices and do their own things. I do not believe that the events of the past have determined who we are today or will be in the future. Even though the things that people will do sometimes might have an impact on others, it is their right to make their own choices and have their own opinions. Having a free will can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the person and what they plan to do.

Determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism are three different ways of beliefs and thinking in philosophy. All of them have their own opinions and beliefs about different things like free will. If people were to choose which they believe to be the right one, there would be no right or wrong answer because it is more of a personal opinion and choice. For example, out of the three, I thought that libertarianism was the best choice for me. Libertarianism believes that people have free will and does not think that events from the past would have an impact on a person’s decisions. Determinism is the complete opposite of libertarianism and thinks that events from the past have already determined us and the choices that we make and that there is nothing that we could do about it. Compatibilism is a lot like determinism and believes in some of the things that they do but the only difference is that they acknowledge free will whereas determinism does not really believe in it. Philosophy can be an interesting subject because it can get people to ask questions and to really think about different things. With philosophy, people can form their own ideas and believe in what they want to believe in, and it can often be hard to try and change someone’s mind if they were dedicated to their beliefs. People have asked questions and formed their own ideas and beliefs since the earth began and it does not look like people are going to stop asking questions and forming their own ideas.

Bibliography

  1. Chaffee, John, The Philosopher’s Way, New Jersey: Pearson, 2015, p. 640.
  2. Berofsky, Bernard, Determinism, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1971, p. 344.
  3. Brennan, Jason, Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know, New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 213.
  4. Powell, Aaron R., Argument for Liberty, Washington D.C., Libertarianism.org Press, 2017, p. 374.

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Free Will vs Determinism Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/free-will-vs-determinism-essay/
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Free Will vs Determinism Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2022 Dec 9]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/free-will-vs-determinism-essay/
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