Philosophical Issues: Freedom and Determinism
Category : Articles
Examining the question of what forces direct human decision-making and action.
This paper first defines the philosophical issue of freedom and determinism. It then highlights significant points of debate and controversial issues within this question. It concludes with personal views and thoughts on the debate between freedom versus determinism.
“?Freedom versus determinism.? The key question surrounding those largely conceptual words is this: In viewing human actions and decisions, are our choices predetermined in some way or are they of our own free will? There are two extreme philosophical positions in this debate and many spots in between where enlightened thinkers can, with a perfectly rational argument, “pitch their tent” and camp. The most avid supporters of free will argue that many or all decisions are the result of people simply doing something; making a decision on the spot with intuition and their own natural understanding that we have free choice in our actions. They believe that to attempt to argue that a decision or act is predetermined is failing to recognize that human behavior is unpredictable (Burr and Goldinger 32). Philosophers who believe in free will can point to a variety of experiences and situations that occur in life that support their view. At the other end of the spectrum in this discussion are those who believe in determinism, in the view that human actions are as predictable as any other type of event (Burr and Goldinger 30). The experiences, heredity, desires, and other circumstances that exist before we act make a particular action in any situation inevitable (Nagel 51). A kind of total predictability seems to develop with this strong deterministic belief.”