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Flashcards in Free will and Determinism Deck (226)
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What is necessary if people are to be morally responsible for their actions?

We are only morally responsible for the actions we carry out freely and deliberately- actions that are freely chosen.


What is determinism?

Determinism states that there are laws of nature which govern everything which happens and that all our actions are the result of these scientific laws and every choice we make was determined by the situation before it, and so on. Therefore freedom of choice is an illusion and nobody can be held morally responsible.


Why does determinism make personal responsibility a difficult concept?

It is difficult to hold people morally and legally responsible if we are only responsible for actions we carry out freely.


How does Greek tragedy reflect the view of determinism?

Often it reflects a fatalism view point 'whatever will be will be', where people are the helpless victims of circumstances, necessity and the Fates.


What is predestination?

It is the belief that God has already decided who will be saved and who will not.


Who helped formulated the doctrine of predestination?

Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin.


What is predestination based on?

It is based on the idea that God determines whatever happens in history and that man only has a very limited understanding of God's purposes and his plans.


What is the difficulty with predestination?

The idea is not based on words or particular passages in the Bible but on ideas about revelation, and has to sit side by side with teachings about individual freedom and responsibility.


What does Augustine say about predestination?

He claims that people need the help of God's grace to do good, and this is a free gift from God, regardless of individual merit. Consequently, God alone determines who will receive the grace that assures salvation.


Which churches still follow the pre-destination theory formulated by John Calvin?



What does John Calvin say about predestination?

The belief says that as man is a complete sinner who is incapable of coming to God, and has a sinful free will that is only capable of rejecting God, then predestination must occur or nobody could be saved. God is in total control and people cannot do anything to achieve salvation.


What quote did John Calvin say to highlight that people are not all created with a similar destiny?

'Eternal life is fore-ordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestined to life or death.'


What does predestination suggest about moral responsibility?

It suggests people have no free will as far as their ethical decisions are concerned. God has already made his choice about who will be saved independently of any qualities in the individual- he simply decides who will be saved because he can, and all the rest are left to go their natural way: hell. So people only do good because God made them that way, and put them in a certain environment, whilst the rest are limited by their nature and can only choose to be sinful. Logically then, we are not responsible for our actions.


What does Baruch Spinoza say about Hard determinism?

'In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another causes, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.'


What does Hard Determinism say?

All our actions had prior causes- we are neither free nor responsible.


Why is Hard Determinism incompatible with free will?

It is incompatible with free will and moral responsibility because it claims all our actions are caused by prior causes, so therefore we are not free to act in any other way.


What does Hard Determinism believe about punishment?

It rejects the idea of punishment for retribution, but it does not reject any other views about the justification of punishment; for example deterrence, self-defense, or moral education.


What does John Hospers say about Hard Determinism?

He is a modern Hard Determinist, who says that there is always something which compels us both externally or internally to perform an action that we would think was the result of our own free will. He uses several psychoanalytical examples, and concludes "It is all a matter of luck."


What did Clarence Darrow do?

In 1924, Clarence Darrow successfully defended two young men, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, on a charge of murdering a young boy, Bobby Franks. He plea dd for the death penalty to be commuted to life imprisonment, as the two young murders were the products of their upbringing, their ancestry and their wealth environment.


What did Clarence Darrow say when defending the two men?

'What has this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was not his own mother; he was not his own grandparents. All of this was handed to him. He did not surround himself with governesses and wealth. He did not make himself. And yet he is to be compelled to pay.'


What did Clarence Darrow say about punishment?

'Punishment as punishment is not admissible unless the offender has the free will to select his course.'


What do modern versions of Hard Determinism point to as prior causes?

Our genetic heritage, social conditioning, or subconscious influences. The most extreme modern version of hard determinism is behaviorism.


What did John B. Watson say about psychological behaviorism?

He suggested that behaviour can be predicted and controlled, as people live and act in a determined universe so that all human behaviour, including ethical decisions, is controlled by prior causes, which are in principle knowable.


What did John B. Watson say influenced behaviour?

Heredity and environmental factors. By manipulating the environment people's behaviour can be altered. This idea is called 'conditioning' and is influenced by the work of Ivan Pavlov.


What is operant conditioning?

It is a method of learning that occurs through reward and punishment for behaviour and is typically assigned to B.F. Skinner.


What did B.F. Skinner claim?

He claimed that as behavioural science develops, and pyschologists learn to determine and control human behaviour, it is highly probabale that human behaviour is not free but most likely determined.


Who did Steven Pinker base his ideas of determinism off of?

He looked at the ideas of Darwin, developed recently by Richard Dawkins, that emotions such as guilt, anger, sympathy and love all have a biological basis.


What theory did Steven Pinker develop?

He developed the theory that our moral reasoning is a result of natural selection but he claims that this does not mean the end of moral responsibility. Evolution might, for example, predispose men to violence or to sleeping around, but this does not necessitate or excuse such behavior.


What did Steven Pinker say about our morality?

He said that there is a moral sense innate in us, and so is 'as real for us as if it were decreed by the almighty or written into the cosmos.'


What are all theories of determinism influenced by?

Isaac Newton's physics, according to which the universe is governed by immutable laws of nature such as motion and gravitation. The world is seen as mechanism dominated by the law of predictable cause and effect.