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Sample Essay on the Problem of Free Will and Determinism

Free Will and Determinism

The Problem of free will is one that has been debated for centuries. According to some people, their belief is that humans have the capacity for free will; the ability to choose their actions without being coerced to follow a particular channel by either the influence of others or by natural laws. For most theists, free will is regarded as a special gift from God. The notion of human free will is also an important premise for a lot of what happens in human society- especially when it comes to our legal apparatus.

Other people on the other hand, argue that if the universe itself is deterministic in nature, then human actions must also be deterministic. Hence, modern determinism tends to be an extension of modern science. If human actions simply follow the course of natural law, then it is difficult to hold that those actions can be chosen freely. The advocates for determinism run into some sort of contradiction, however, when they try to argue their point with those who propose free will. If it’s true that nothing is chosen freely, then those who believe in the existence of free will do not do so by choice. As a result of this, it would make no difference trying to convince anyone of anything if all events are determined.

Image 2When debating between the problem of free will and determinism, it is important to note that both terms tend to be defined in such a way as to explicitly exclude the other. The philosophical position of compatibility argues that these concepts do not need to be defined in such a mutually exclusive manner. In fact, both free will and determinism can be compatible.

For the theist, the problem of free will and determinism is slightly different. Instead of wondering if natural laws mean that human actions are all determined, the theist must also ask whether o not their god has in advance, determined all events in the universe, including their own. If so, that will mean that their ultimate fate will be determined. This position was adopted most completely and explicitly by John Calvin, a Reform theologian. He argued that some people are pre-destined to be saved and some are predestined to be damned, and there is absolutely nothing that any person can possibly do about it.

On conclusion, it should be noted that if determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. However, it is not up to us what took place before we were born, neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Besides, if no one is morally responsible for any state of affairs, then there is no such thing as moral responsibility. It should be noted that pure determinism and free will approach does not seem appropriate when studying human behavior. Even though people do have a choice, their behavior is always subject to some sort of biological or environmental pressure.

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