Mar 6, 2019 in Politics

The Concept of Free Will and Determinism

Free will is an important element in the day-to-day lives of human beings. This concept states that persons have the capability to formulate their second order desires and second order volitions, which are key in differentiating them from other types of species. However, the concept of free will is determined by a number of factors key amongst them being the element of determinism. Determinism entails the belief that future occurrences of a particular event are not solely tied to their causative factors. It is a departure from the fundamental element of fatalism, which states that the occurrences are directly influenced by the causing factors, and human beings are powerless to prevent such events from occurring. In undertaking this research, the concept of compatibility will be relied on given that the two concepts of determinism and free will can be reconciled one with the other without contradiction, and thus, the two can be regarded as being compatible although specific objections exist indicating that free will and determinism are incompatible.

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The decision as to take yogurt or pizza presents a case of two competing alternatives. Thus, being a human being that is endowed with the ability to formulate second order desires and volitions, and thus, one would have been in a position to choose yoghurt over pizza and that it would be unreasonable to blame oneself for having a pizza rather than yoghurt. There exist several arguments concerning the ability of human beings to make decisions with regard to the free will and the determinism approach. The occurrence of a future event cannot be foreseen; it would be, therefore, improper to assume that such occurrences will take place no matter what. The choice of the decision that was made to buy pizza rather than yoghurt could not be foreseen; therefore, the selection of pizza does not in any way relate to the specific events that preceded the decision. This is a critical departure from the fatalism approach.

The ability to create second order desires is a key factor that determines and shapes the concept of a person and the free will. The article goes further to highlight the impact of second order desires and second order volitions amongst different creatures. Those creatures that have second order desires, but lack second order volitions can be regarded as persons given that the two elements are different from each other and it is the ability of the human being to differentiate the two. This leads to an interesting group of persons, these are wantons and persons. This is best explained by the experiences of a group of two addicts of narcotic drugs. A person who is an addict has two options that are available to them, either to take the drug or refrain from it. Such a person is, therefore, neutral with regard to their first order desire of taking the drug and the second order volition of refraining from taking the drugs.

The wantons are a complete opposite of the first group of addicts given that they are more concerned with the utility of their first order desires rather than their second order desires. This group of people do not really care which alternative amongst the two prevails. The second order desires of a person do not necessarily manifest the moral obligation of human beings. This is because people do not necessarily evaluate the validity of their second order desires from the standpoint of morality. Also, human beings can be susceptible to looking down on the very serious considerations that are required of them when forming their second order volitions. The importance of these volitions is to enable the persons to formulate a scale of options that will make it possible for them to evaluate the available alternatives with reference to an order of preference.

The concept of a person is shaped by the freedom of the will. A person is defined as either an artificial person or a natural person. Thus, the word person does not connote the singular form of people. The criterion of being a person does not necessarily serve the purpose of differentiating membership of a person to a given species from that of the other species. Frankfurt points out that it is important to note that specific species have a set of attributes that are unique to them. In addition to this, it can be concluded that members of a non-human species can be regarded as persons, but it can be conceptually possible that human species cannot be regarded as persons. The author points out to the fact that the differences that exist between the human species and other species can be determined from the analysis of the structure of a person’s will.

Human beings live in an environment that is highly interconnected and whereby the interrelationships that exist between the different species determine the survival of the species. For instance, human beings depend on the environment for water, food and general well-being. Of importance to note is the unique attribute that human beings have with regards to the possession of the desires of the second order. Human beings have certain pre-defined levels of wants and desires that have to be fulfilled. These may include physiological wants, psychological wants, social needs and the need for self-actualization. Human beings are forced to undertake some actions in order to fulfill their desires. Some are pushed further by certain motives or desires due to their capacity of undertaking reflective self-evaluation. This is achieved through the element of the formation of the desires of the second order also referred to as the second order desires.

Fate plays an important role in shaping the decisions that people make. The idea of knowing that something is going to take place, such as the threat, pain, loss of key data or even bereavement, can be very disturbing. This, therefore, means that the thoughts that someone would have about the occurrence of a given event cannot be avoided. Fate has the impact of creating and instilling fear in the minds of human beings, and the thought that human beings are powerless to prevent the occurrence of certain moments of loss, bereavement, threat to personal security or pain is a hard thought to entertain. This is well evident amongst soldiers. Most of these individuals are affected by such thoughts due to the nature of their service. Sometimes, someone can stop and look back at where they have come from and ask themselves what would have happened in their lives, their destinies and fortunes were to be decided by the occurrences of sheer circumstances.

Determinism is defined as the theory that depicts the correlation between specific occurrences of events and their causes by stating that the events that take place are rendered unavoidable by their causes. This is a critical departure from the theory of fatalism given that the latter states that an event will take place regardless of the causes of such an event. It is, therefore, based on the fact that an event will occur irrespective of any factor. This is a critical thinking way, especially given that in the present environment, the occurrences of day-to-day lives are rendered inevitable as a result of the conditions that are causally related to the events preceding the occurrences. The theories of fatalism and determinist are hard to distinguish, this is due to the minimal philosophical differences that exist between the two theories. The notion that philosophical determinists are not or cannot be fatalists does not adequately depict the differences that exist between the two theories.

People who are fatalists believe that whatever the occurrences that take place are, they are completely unavoidable. They believe that everything is determined by fate, and thus, one is powerless in preventing such an occurrence. From a personal point of view, this is an utter backward way of reasoning. Human beings are endowed with an intelligent mind and skills that can enable them to foresee problems and instigate possible preventive measures. The occurrence of a specific event is somehow related to the causes, but this can be prevented by influencing the causative factors so as to forestall such an adverse occurrence. This in effect affects the thinking about the future, given that fatalists will have no influence on what will take place in the future. Therefore, the way determinists look at their past is the same way that fatalists approach their future. This creates a departure from the human point of view given that the basic human elements of moral responsibility and human wickedness are ignored.

The fatalism thinking is what shapes the law of excluded middle. This in essence means that time has little or no impact in determining if a said event will remain to be true in the eyes of the masses. The preposition that a meaningful statement that is false also equates to the denial that such a statement is true. There exists a middle ground whereby one is neither true nor false. This leads to the classification of personal statements as being either true or false. The future is always uncertain and, therefore, one cannot know in advance what is going to take place in the future. Also, statements that are issued by a person can be classified as either true or false. Such statements are only meant to entail and not to lead to the occurrence of a given event.


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