please help immmmm soooooooooo stuck
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What are the strengths and weaknesses of determinism watch
- Thread Starter
- 29-11-2011 18:09
- 06-12-2011 20:53
I have no idea if you mean Hard or Soft Determinism (and yes, you do have to specify in the exam!) so I've given you both with some libertarianism for good measure. Hope it helps, Clareicles x
Hard Determinism has a number of profound consequences. It puts into doubt our hopes for the future and how we consider the morality of others. Determinism means that we’re mistaken to praise some people for doing good and blame others for doing wrong. In addition, if our actions are determined then we can’t deliberate rationally. The idea that we make choices ourselves and that we decide what to do is illusory. The whole notion of moral responsibility is called into question. Murderers murder because they have the wrong genes, poor upbringing, poor parents or poor teachers. This impacts on notions of punishment. It seems wrong to punish people for acting immorally if they aren’t responsible for their actions.
o Hard determinism means we cannot blame or praise people for their action so if hard determinism were true then people would not be morally responsible and so would not deserve blame for even the most cold-blooded and calmly performed evil actions.
o All choices we make are just illusions – they are determined
o Hard determinism therefore rejects the idea of punishment as retribution, but it does not reject any other views about the justification of punishment; for example, deterrence, self-defence or moral education.
o Classical physics is indeed deterministic but modern quantum physics is not deterministic and so it makes no sense to worry about determinism in the 21st century. Modern physics maintains that the most basic laws of nature are not deterministic but probabilistic.
o If determinism is true then all the horrible things which happen in the world had to happen – this is rather pessimistic!!
Soft determinists are criticised by hard determinists for failing to realise the extent to which human freedom is limited, and by libertarians for failing to realise the true extent of human freedom. Soft determinism offers an agreeable account of moral freedom. However, a line has to be drawn between that which is determined and that which is open to choice. Soft determinists have to agree on precisely what is and what is not a determining factor. The complexities of genetics, physics and psychology make such a line difficult to draw.
o Soft determinism agrees that moral responsibility is important in our society but that it is not reasonable to hold a person responsible for actions caused by his emotions, beliefs, desires and decisions if he has no choice about having them
o It is, however, hard for the soft determinist to decide what exactly is determined and what can be freely chosen. The complex nature of people and the roles of physics, genetics and psychology make deciding what exactly is, or is not, a determining factor very hard.
o Soft determinism also allows for creativity in our choices – so not all our choices are the result of existing desires and habits.
Libertarianism doesn’t explain human action yet surely our actions are caused by something? Libertarians attribute our moral judgement to an objective source, unaffected by environment or upbringing but this is questionable. Just as it is difficult to show how one thing causes another, it’s difficult to show that there are no causes beyond our control. Libertarianism doesn’t seem to account for human motive, which is caused by something.
o Libertarianism recognises that people have a sense of decision-making, a sense of freedom, a sense of deliberating over their choices in life.
o Personal responsibility underpins our whole system of ethics and law.
o David Hume pointed out that it is an assumption that every event has a cause. It is our way of interpreting the events, not a feature of the events themselves.
o Libertarians insist that free will is the un-coerced power to choose – but how does a person decide what to do? What criteria does he use to make a decision? What about his past experiences, emotions, beliefs and values?