Free Will and Determinism - What is it?

What is Determinism?

Determinism is the idea that every event, including human decisions and actions, are the inevitable consequence of forbearing states of affairs.


Determinism includes substructures including:

· Pre-determinism: the past and future were determined at the origin of the universe.

· Determination - events and actions can be adequately determined by an agent’s prior events without being pre-determined.

· Compatibilism & Soft determinism - man is free as long as his will is one of the steps in the causal chain, even if his choices are completely predetermined for physical reasons or preordained by God.

· Fatalism - every event in the future is fated to happen. Not necessarily due to laws or higher powers being involved.



Soft Determinism


Soft Determinism is the theory that human behaviour and actions are wholly determined by causal events, but human free will does exist when defined as the capacity to act according to one's nature.


Of course, the first of about one million questions is how is someones nature formed? Are some people inherently destined to create poor choices, or does human free will mean we are capable and responsible for the choice we make?


When first learning about determinism and free will, I felt that free will’s validity was natural and obvious; it simply felt correct. I now believe that claiming free will or determinism as sole truth is incorrect. It is impossible to deny environmental factors including genetics and culture effect the self, however the question become to what extent?


We witness people becoming inspired and highly motivated, changing their extended mind and their environment. However, one could argue that pursuit is their destiny or is the culmination of biological, environmental and cultural factors. I believe soft-determinism is a rational suggestion to an extremely complex problem, specifically the evolutionary idea proposed by Daniel Dennett. This idea accounts for our predetermined qualities while accepting that we do have a choice in the casual chain of events.


The core idea of free will is that a person is free to choose actions in their life and cannot be limited by predetermined factors. Determinism states that factors out of our control determine our identity and actions. These factors include biological, social and neuro-scientific.

Determinism is directly linked to causality.


But we can have causality without determinism, especially soft causality that follows an event that is not predictable. I believe the infinite amount of variables and high level of scientific, cultural and anthropological knowledge needed to attempt an accurate examination of free will and determinism make accurate claims extremely difficult.


I will post some shorter argument on this topic in coming weeks and examine the bizarre effects of these theories.

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