The Truth In Hard Determinism Philosophy Essay

Over the years the problem of free will versus determinism has been a phenomena to philosophers for many years. It has been a huge issue, becau

Freedom is one of the central philosophic categories in characterizing the essence of man and his existence. In the history of philosophic idea this conception got over a long evolution process- from “negative” (meaning freedom from) up to “positive” (freedom for) theory. The philosophy of freedom was the subject of consideration of I. Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, A. Schopenhauer, J.P. Sartre, F.W. Nietzsche, K.T. Jaspers. The range of insights on this notion – starting from the complete negation of the free choice possibility (in the conception of behavior science) up to argumentation escape from freedom in the conditions of modern society – is quite wide.

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It is impossible to underestimate the influence of Hume’s work on world philosophy. David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of the Scottish Enlightenment and Western philosophy.

The opinion of David Hume, presented in the book – “A Treatise of Human Nature” appeals to the modern investigations of freedom. Besides, it is considered to be one of the most important books in the history of philosophy. According to the Book II, Part 3, of the Treatise of Human Nature and in section VIII of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, “Of Liberty and Necessity” Hume sets out his views concerning freedom of the will. The philosopher holds to an opinion of compatibilism, by it he states that all human actions are caused and that all people possess liberty of action. Hume endows humans with the other kind of freedom – freedom of will, which occurs to be very complicated, “impossible to define” notion and gives the following explanation: by the will he means nothing but the inner impression we feel and are conscious of, when we purposefully originate any new motion of our body. One more question worth to be touched is the necessity which makes an essential part of causation, and accordingly liberty by extracting necessity totals the chance. Liberty or chance in its deep understanding are nothing but a demand of determination, and a certain uncertainty we feel in passing or not passing from the idea of one to that of the other. We have a feeling that our actions are mostly regulated by our will and by thinking that our will itself is subject to nothing we make a big mistake, as by denial of will we are provoked to try we feel and it moves easily every way and makes an impression of itself even on that side on which it didn’t settle. The image we persuade ourselves couldn’t have been completed into the thing itself. Despite all our caprices and incorrect actions we may perform, the desire of demonstration our liberty is the sole motive of our actions, we can never free ourselves from the bonds of necessity.

Hume initiates this discussion between the notions of necessity and freedom by proposing that ambiguities in language have kept interlocutors in the disputes over freedom of the will talking past one another. Actually, according to Hume, all mankind, both learned and illiterate, have always shared the same opinion with regard to this subject, and several intelligible definitions would immediately have set the limit to the whole arguing. Hume sets out to clarify what we can best be understood to mean when we talk about liberty and necessity, and to show that so understood, there is no conflict between them. Discussing the necessity, Hume argues that all our actions are first and foremost caused by necessity, and all our operations are caused by a necessary force, in addition to it every natural effect is dictated by the energy of its cause. It is commonly recognized that the actions of people are mostly uniform and the human nature remains the same according to its principles. It closely coincides with the events in the natural world that we draw inferences concerning them. Analyzing our interaction with other people and how we reflect on human activities it seems almost impossible to make our own opinion without recognition of philosophy of necessity. When it refers to liberty of human beings actions, Hume discloses that we shouldn’t believe that actions have so little connection with motives, inclinations, and circumstances that one does not link with the other. Any such view of liberty would set at defiance of common and philosophical ways of thinking about human’s behavior.

Contrariwise, the meaning of liberty is very simple as it is determined by power of acting or not taking actions; according to the determinations of the will; that is, if we choose to remain in the shade, we vice versa; if we choose to move, we also may. Every person who is independent, not a prisoner has this liberty. Hume proves that his opinion on liberty and necessity do not only correspond with each other but also correspond with moral and legal standards. We are too condemning a man for an act caused by a durable trait than a person who behaved under the influence of passing impulsion. And definitely it would be pointless to accuse someone for an action the cause of which lies beyond him or her. Analyzing Hume’s point on liberty I have come to conclusion we can be free only we have a necessity of determination ourselves in this life. We have a liberty to choose of whether to take actions or to keep out. And in such a way we get our determination, our life principles.

It’s worth to take into account the opinion of one more eminent philosopher of that time – Immanuel Kant. The best idea in Kant’s philosophy is directed to the study of freedom concept. The detailed research of freedom is given in his book “Critique of Pure Reason, the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and the Critique of Practical Reason”. Kant believed that morality is directly connected with freedom. According to his dogmas: “To be free is to follow our own rational principles instead of just our desires — to follow our own legislation — to act on maxims that we will to be universal laws.” Resuming all above said to be free is to be moral. In this way freedom and morality are finally the same enigma. His standpoint is opposed to Hume’s view that both natural and moral actions must be regarded as part of a single chain of causes, effects and explanations. As a matter of fact, if they were regarded in such a way, and on the assumption that we accept natural causal laws as global and deterministic, there could be no freedom at all according to Kant’s moral philosophy. Speaking about free will Kant considered that people are able only to accept it. Judging from his principles I have reached a conclusion that we can only be free by in a positive sense as this freedom is controlled by our morality principles. Those principles will never force us to do bidding of our emotions.

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In the historic development of freedom notion the idea of creative freedom is gradually replacing the concept of liberty from obstructions – casualty, fate. There are a number of points on the question of whether freedom exists, namely, whether people possess a power to make a choice, making a selection from several alternatives or when an act of free will is a case of agent-causation: whereby a person generates an event.

The concept of incompatibilism was closely developed by Peter van Inwagen who is an American analytic philosopher and the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. His monograph “An Essay on Free Will” (1983) illustrates the philosophic understanding of incompatibilism about free will and determinism. Van Inwagen’s central evidence for this view says that “If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of those things (including our present acts) are not up to us.” Van Inwagen gave a profound explanation to what he called a mind argument. It is developed by identifying indeterminism with chance and by debating that if an act that happens by chance is not controlled by a man then it couldn’t be completed freely. If free will and determinism co-exist, then someone has a chance to do something not contained in that one possible future that is connected both with the past and the laws of nature – that is the most important argument presented in the “Free Will” monograph by Van Inwagen. Resuming on Inwagen’s conclusions I would like to point out that a person can only be free, “has free will” when he has to choose between two or more mutually incompatible courses of action – such that he can, or is able to, or has it within his power to accomplish. It is proved that free will is closely connected with determinism as quite simply the thesis that the past determines a unique future.

To my mind, freedom is the present ability of choice from a variety of variants and realization of the event outcome. The lack of such choice and choice realization is equal to the absence of freedom. Analyzing the freedom concept I confine myself with liberalistic approach. In my opinion it implies the deficiency of enforcement from the side of other individuals. Freedom is one of kinds of haphazard manifestation, directed by a free will (purposefulness of the will, recognized freedom) or by the stochastic law (unpredictability of an outcome of event, unconscious freedom). In this sense, the concept of liberty is opposed to the notion of necessity. According to moral philosophy, freedom is connected with the availability of person’s free will. The free will imposes an individual with responsibility and imputes his words and actions in a merit. The action is considered ethic if it is conducted by free will, and appears to be a free will’s expression of a person. I am fully concerned that the demand for freedom reveals as a biological response of a human’s organism. This point could be supported by the fact that in the whole field of our history people and classes contested against its oppressors without consideration whether there was any hope or not. Properly speaking, the history of mankind turns to be the history of struggle, history of revolution, starting from the liberation war of Israelites against Egyptian people, from national rebellions against the Roman Empire and up to revolutions in the United States of America, France, Russia, China and so on. The hypothesis about a congenital struggle for freedom impulse of a person is supported with the freedom as a background for evolution of all the human abilities, its physical and mental health and, of course, balance. Freedom is the vital biological factor for the person’s life, which determines the unobstructed development of the organism. I am upholding to the opinion of Erich Fromm, who considered freedom to be the sense of human’s happiness. But if to ponder in the essence of these words, freedom is not a fact, it is surely a process which is impossible without a subject of freedom. If a person does not realize his freedom, he does not possess it. That is why we can be free if we have a choice, an opportunity to realize our choice, when we are independent of the other person’s opinion, when we subject to our personal outputs performing a decision making. We can be free when we live our life the way we want and we do not permit anyone else to take a decision in our stead.

 

se without the presence of free will there cannot be morality, no wrong or right, no good or evil. Everyone’s behavior would be determined before hand and people would have no creativity or choice. Everything one does on a daily basis in one’s life somehow involves the process of decision making or choice selection, whether it be mental or physical. From the moment one wakes up to the second one sleeps, decisions and choices are being made. There are some decisions that one makes that are extremely obvious to oneself because of the need of reflecting on the choices before choosing. But most of the decisions one makes throughout the day are made with little thought. Furthermore, many people are mostly unaware that they are making decisions because of preference and habituation. Before continuing further, the terms free will, and determinism must be defined. Free will is the idea that an individual is free to make decisions that are unhindered by external forces. Whereas determinism states that the conditions of a specific moment are the result of from the previous conditions of previous moments. The position that this paper encourages is that of hard determinism.

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The general hard determinist believes that no human action is free. Paul Holbach was a hard determinist philosopher who wrote an article called “The illusion of Free Will”. In it he explained how everything one does is caused by things that is beyond one’s control. Generally speaking , people are motivated to pursue pleasure and avoid pain, but people cannot help what gives them pain or pleasure. No matter what one does, the endless chain of causes and effects leads one’s doing is inevitable. An important example that Holbach used was the poisoned water. It demonstrated that whatever one does they do it for a reason, and that these reasons are simple changes that the brain makes which determines what one chooses to do. Since one cannot control the changes in the brain that causes one to choose what one chooses, then that would mean that no one cannot control their own actions.

Hard determinism also gives a more rational perspective of humans and their choices. It focuses on the causes instead of the instant causes for one’s actions. Also the implications of being determined are taken more seriously, and it does not make one responsible for the decisions one makes because they are beyond the individual’s control. Furthermore, hard determinism tries to take into fact of how people feel that they are free when they really are not. Halbach believed that the main cause of why people think that they make their own decisions is because they are ignorant to the cause and effect chain that determines their behaviors. The motives and causes are just too complex for people to understand them. People do not also naturally question where the causes behind their choices come from, which gives humans the idea of having free will.

Moreover, hard determinism has many advantages to it. It could be helpful in courts of law and in the legal system, that is when it would be most convincing . A person who maybe standing on trial may use hard determinism as a defense by stating that the individual’s actions were caused by events that occurred in the past which were ultimately beyond the person’s control. If hard determinism is successfully persuasive in court, then it should be accepted that both free will and determinism are incompatible.

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However hard determinism does have its flaws. While soft determinism views that humans are unique, because they possess free will; hard determinism refutes humans that important component that makes humans distinctly different form animals. Humans are also no more free than robots. In addition, it would be wrong to punish a criminal, because they just could not help it; and that would ultimately lead to an unstable society filled with mayhem and troubles. Ultimately hard determinism argues that humans may feel free but it is nothing but a mere illusion, and some people would argue against this and believe that it is free of choice. Continuing on the pros of the hard determinist view, libertarianism brought up many new points to the argument. Libertarianism was about the idea that humans are all free and that free will is not compatible with determinism. Libertarians argue that because one can easily create one’s choices it gives one libertarian free will, and that one’s choices in the future are undetermined. Furthermore libertarianism has far too many problems and disadvantages. The first disadvantage is that there is scientific data and empirical evidence that proves that humans are psychologically and scientifically determined,(this discovery was made by Skinner, who was also a hard determinist). It is through classical conditioning that human behavior is a response to the stimuli an individual is in or exposed to. Thus, one’s decisions are caused the external environment around that certain individual which accounts for one’s choice. Eventually, once the psychological evidence is shown, such as operant conditioning and scientific determinism, it becomes a challenge to see how humans are not determined, and that leaves little room for the libertarian perspective to prosper. One other argument against the libertarian perspective of free will and determinism is the explanation that everything has a cause. Where in the natural free word everything that exists is caused by something; and equivalently one’s choices has to have causes and determinism. However a hard determinist philosopher by the name of T. Honderich who wrote an article called “A defense of Hard Determinism”, disagreed with the libertarian view. He believed that the human mind must be determined, and that the mind should not be separate from the rest of the body, as it has been demonstrated that the mind highly dependent on physical brain activity. Finally, the criticism above has shown that libertarianism is unconvincing and has many poke able holes, as libertarians believe that the mind is in charge of making one’s decisions. Ultimately, there are many perspectives that are related to the question of free will being either compatible with determinism or it being incompatible with determinism. From the evidence presented within this paper, hard determinism is the most consistent theory to follow when it comes to the question of free will and determinism. This is because a choice that is not under one’s control must be determined by something else; and that certain something according to Holbach is either an external or internal force that drives every human being to make certain decisions. Even though it is hard to accept, Holbach explains that humans must accept it because it is the truth. Humans are not free to choose their actions.

 

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