Critically Examine the Claim That Free Will and Determinism Are Incompatible

2069 Words Jan 13th, 2013 9 Pages
Critically examine the claim that free will and determinism are incompatible
One of the main questions that we face is whether or not, we as humans have genuine freedom. Are we free to make our own choices? Do we decide what happens in our lives in the future? Or are our lives set pathways in which we have no say at all? Are all our choices already decided? In other words, do we have free will or are our actions pre-determined, or both? Hard determinists, libertarians and soft determinists all set out to provide answers to these questions, holding different views on whether or not free will and determinism are compatible. Both hard determinists and libertarians believe that free will and determinism are incompatible but hard determinists
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Many believe that the world is largely determined but we can still act freely as our behaviour is not predictable. Thomas Aquinas disagreed with hard determinism as he believed that ‘man chooses freely, not out of necessity’. Although Aquinas and others that criticise hard determinism and disagree with the hard determinist views, would still agree with hard determinists in that free will and determinism are incompatible, but would argue that we have free will but our lives are not determined. This view that free will and determinism are incompatible but it is free will that exists, not determinism, is also supported by libertarians.
Libertarians believe that we are free and are morally responsible for our actions. They believe that the inanimate world is mechanical and is therefore caused and predictable but reject the idea that this extends to humans. Libertarians hold that we are not compelled to act by forces outside our moral consciousness; moral actions instead come from the character and values of the agent. There are factors which may influence someone to act in one way but it is not certain that they will. C.A. Campbell’s notion of freedom states that when you are acting freely, the future is genuinely open to you and you can actually choose one way or another, even with given nature and nurture. Libertarians do not argue for absolute freedom but significant freedom-that it is a
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