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16 January, 2012 Hard Determinism What does determinism mean? Looking at the contrasting philosophies of hard determinism and libertarianismWould you like to be controlled like a puppet by a puppeteer?In what ways do you believe that you are controlled or that your choices are already determined?Is it morally wrong not to be able to make free choices?
TERM• Hard determinism The teaching that denies that humanity has freewill and believes that all actions have a prior cause. It removes moral responsibility for actions.What is your reaction to this teaching?
Ted Honderich• ‘... All our choices, decisions, intentions, other mental events and our actions are no more than effects of other equally necessitated events.’What does this quote mean?What are it’s implications? HowCould it affect our society?
Is it murder?• Psychological determinists believe that they have made some progress in isolating physiological abnormalities in the brain that may cause people to murder without having made a choice to do so. Could it have been ‘determined’ that these people would murder because of a genetic defect?What do you think? Why?
• Hard determinism is the view that all choices are determined by other events or actions prior to the choice.So, did you ‘decide’ to do A level ethics or was it a choice determined by other events and actions going right back to your birth? If so, what could those events and actions be?
Isaac Newton 1643-1727 • Newton said that all physical beings and things are governed by a series of unchangeable natural laws such as gravity or motion. These laws assist in forming the basis for the cause and effect that fills the discussion of hard determinism. • Hard determinists are very strict and rigid in their beliefs. If everything is determined, and we are not free at all to act in any different way, then we cannot be held morally responsible for our actions, as we didn’t choose to perform or commit these actions.
John Hospers• Modern hard determinists claim that• there is always something within us that urges us to make a choice that we believe was a result of our free will. We aren’t always aware of any ‘urging’ in our choice making, however, we have all probably made choices and not remembered why and how we have made them.
• Does Prince William’s life prove hard determinism is fact? Why ? Why not?
• If a human child were raised by wolves in the wild, how would the child make decisions? Would they be based on genetic determinism or on upbringing? Could the child choose to not be a wolf or human child?
LIBERTARIANISM – HUMAN CONDITION AND MORAL SELFTo understand how important freewill is to the human condition.
REVIEW• Determinism says that:• Our personality is causally determined• We are physically determined• Therefore our actions and our emotions are causally determined.
Libertarianism (incompatibilism)• This theory claims that we are morally responsible for all our actions and are free to make choices.I don’t complete my homework. Whose fault is it?I steal a pen from the teacher. Whose fault is it?I get drunk on a flight home from holiday. Whose fault is it?Why?
LIBERTARIANISM• Libertarianism makes a distinction between a persons formed personal character and their moral self.• Personality is an empirical concept.• Governed by causal laws.• The personality one has formed limits actions, influences choices and may make us accustomed to certain actions, e.g. Darrow• But it is not definitive.
Personality and Moral Self• In less than fifty words, describe your own personality.• What determines your personality? Personality Moral self
Personality Moral selfEmpirical concept Ethical conceptGoverned by causal laws Operates when we decide what to do it situations of moral choiceCapable of scientific explanation and Involved deciding between self-prediction interest and dutyKnown through observation of Can be undeterminedbehaviour and psychoanalysisLimits our choices – makes us more Can subdue inclinations oflikely to choose certain kinds of upbringingactions. E.g. youth accustomed toviolence is more likely to decide on a Can do something that satisfiescareer of violence BUT not moral dutyinevitable. Youth might be aware ofsignificance of his actions. Theirmoral self might counteract. Theycould become a policeman as aresult of their upbringing
THE MORAL SELF• It is possible that the youths moral self will counteract the tendencies of his personality.• The moral self is therefore, an ethical concept rather than an empirical concept.• It is operative when we make choices.• Most commonly this is in operation when we talk about making a decision between self-interest and duty.• In the example of stealing / not stealing the moral self is able to make a causally undetermined choice.
THE MORAL SELF• Through an effort of will the moral self overcomes the pressures of personality and becomes morally responsible for what they do.• It is this capacity which distinguishes men from animals, the former are capable of moral choice, whist the latter are not.• What does this idea not cover?
THE PERSONALITY AND THE MORAL SELF• Political libertarianism investigates the relationship between the state and the individual.• We are free and morally responsible for our actions. JS Mill – On Liberty Contains an outspoken defence of free speech. Individuals should not be crushed by the will of the many in society. The individual should be heard at all times and they are the most important. the freedom of the individual is primary. Individuality is part of what being human is. It is part of the human condition and allows the person to develop fully and in order to do this they must have free speech and freedom of action. (within reason) Our freedom to act marks both our moral capacity but also our personality. Who I am is defined by the choices I have made in the past. Freedom is important because it is an important part of what it means to be a moral self.
MILL QUOTES • In this age the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. JS Mill • If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person that he, if he had theOn Liberty power, would be justified in silencing mankind. • The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it. • The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concerns the interests of no person but himself. • The only purpose of which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to other members. • The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited, he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.
Tasks• What are the differences between libertarianism and hard determinism? Critically evaluate each view..using quotes, examples and opinion.• ‘We do not possess any genuine freedom to act ethically’. Discuss 10 marks