The Student Room Group

a level relgious studies -

Hello, I came up with an answer to this essay question. If someone can mark it and give feedback, that would be much appreciated.

Question: 'Libertarianist views are more convincing than Hard Determinism'. Evaluate this claim (15).

Answer: Libertarianism is the idea that humans are acquired with freewill and thus are able to make their own choices as they have moral responsibility. Freewill refers to humans choosing to act (commission) or not to act (omission) without the influence of an external force acting upon us to lead us to our choice. Hard Determinism, however, is the opposite of Libertarianism in that human beings don't have freewill and there are other causes acting upon them to influence how they live their lives which is based on universal causation and every decision, choice, action, thought or feeling is determined by someone that humans don't have control over. Kant holds the libertarianist view that "ought implies can". This suggests that we know what actions we do so in that sense, we are free and there is a complete reason for the reward and punishment system to exist because surely if we have freewill according to Libertarianism, we should be accountable for our actions and therefore breaking the law would result in someone facing the consequences. Kant also states that if humans aren't given freewill, this limits their chances of reaching 'summum bonum' which relates to moral and rational behaviour. Baruch Spinoza, on the other hand who supports Hard Determinism says our freewill is just an illusion as a result of human beings ignorant of the causes operating on them all the time. Reward and punishment doesn't apply to a hard determinist as humans aren't solely responsible for their actions and so it's not their fault if they break the law as they were predetermined which makes the whole reward and punishment system meaningless. The idea of predestination refers to God planning out a person's life before they are born so even if we think we have freewill, it's just our mind telling us that we do when in reality, God knows which choice or action we are going to take so we have to take that choice regardless of what the outcome may be.

Quantum theory fits in with Libertarianism as "quarks" behave randomly at the base which could relate to how humans possess freewill so are ultimately in control of all their actions. However, it could be argued that there are some groups which won't use this will to the best of their ability; for example, babies and young children as their brains are slowly developing so they can't be judged for breaking the law which Libertarianism uses to hold people to account. Another group that can't be held morally responsible are those with severe mental illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer's and so they can be exempt from the rule which diminishes the libertarian view and these are weaknesses of Libertarianism. Libertarianists also believe that we can't be completely free due to the social and economic influences such as how we were brought up and there being certain laws in place which restrict to what extent to which one is free. In contrast, hard determinism strongly opposes this theory as everything has a prior cause, for instance; the human race would n't exist without a mother. It's almost like we are programmed to behave in a certain way that makes us act like robots, like a train running across tram lines. We might have the notion that we are free but in reality, this is purely by us thinking we can make free, moral choices when it has already been planned out. Therefore, freewill is factually incorrect as everything is determined by physical forces. For example, if a thief steals from an old woman, the thief shouldn't be punished for their actions as they were causally determined according to a hard determinist. Being causally determined refers to the idea of everything in the universe being caused and eliminates the idea of freewill but a libertarianist would say the thief should get punished because they have freewill and so should be morally justified between what is right and what is wrong. Some exemptions to this could be if the thief is known as a kleptomaniac which is someone who doesn't have the ability to resist the urge to steal.

In conclusion, Libertarianism is more convincing with the idea of freewill which Hard Determinism rejects. If we were to take a route down the perspective from a hard determinist, no one would be punished as anything they do would be determined which would be inconsistent with how society functions as reward and punishment is seen as meaningless. This creates an imbalance between freewill and the law because everyone would have "terrifying freedom" which soughts to humans doing what they desire without any deterrent from a Hard Determinist point of view. It would be reasonable to say that due to freewill and how humans are morally responsible, they should be rewarded or punished according to their actions as there is a limit to how much freedom one can have and Libertarianism acknowledges this belief
Reply 1
This would probably get a low or middle B grade.

You don't really explain why Libertarianism is thought to be true.

It's not correct that quantum mechanics fits with Libertarianism. If my actions are the result of quantum randomness, then they can't be the result of free will. So while quantum mecahnics does counter determinism (since it shows not all events are determined) it can't provide a basis for libertarian free will either.

I don't see how people with severe degenerative brain conditions like dementia having less free will is a weakness of libertarianism?

You conclude that libertarianism is correct because if hard determinism were incorrect, we wouldn't be able to justify punishing anyone. This is essentially arguing that you think libertarianism is correct because you don't like the consequences of determinism being correct. That is not a logical argument. You can't say that you aren't convinced by a theory because you don't like what it would mean if it were true.

Also, it's not necessarily true that determinism cannot justify punishment. It depends what theory of punishment you think is correct. Certainly on the retributive theory of punishment, determinism can't justify punishment - but it can justify punishment on the theory that punishment is for the protection of society. That does not require moral responsibility.

However, you are focusing a lot on moral responsibility, when that wasn't in the question.

It's difficult to try to answer the question of whether determinism or libertarianism is more convincing by pointing to the consequences of their views for moral responsibility and punishment. To make that work, you would have to argue that their views on moral responsibility and punishment are a reason to accept or not accept the truth of the theory. Libertarianists like Kant and Sartre try to do that, but you haven't explained how they make that connection. It would be easier to focus on criticisms and defences of hard determinism and libertarianism.
Reply 2
Original post by Joe312
This would probably get a low or middle B grade.

You don't really explain why Libertarianism is thought to be true.

It's not correct that quantum mechanics fits with Libertarianism. If my actions are the result of quantum randomness, then they can't be the result of free will. So while quantum mecahnics does counter determinism (since it shows not all events are determined) it can't provide a basis for libertarian free will either.

I don't see how people with severe degenerative brain conditions like dementia having less free will is a weakness of libertarianism?

You conclude that libertarianism is correct because if hard determinism were incorrect, we wouldn't be able to justify punishing anyone. This is essentially arguing that you think libertarianism is correct because you don't like the consequences of determinism being correct. That is not a logical argument. You can't say that you aren't convinced by a theory because you don't like what it would mean if it were true.

Also, it's not necessarily true that determinism cannot justify punishment. It depends what theory of punishment you think is correct. Certainly on the retributive theory of punishment, determinism can't justify punishment - but it can justify punishment on the theory that punishment is for the protection of society. That does not require moral responsibility.

However, you are focusing a lot on moral responsibility, when that wasn't in the question.

It's difficult to try to answer the question of whether determinism or libertarianism is more convincing by pointing to the consequences of their views for moral responsibility and punishment. To make that work, you would have to argue that their views on moral responsibility and punishment are a reason to accept or not accept the truth of the theory. Libertarianists like Kant and Sartre try to do that, but you haven't explained how they make that connection. It would be easier to focus on criticisms and defences of hard determinism and libertarianism

Thanks for the reply Joe, out of 15 how much would you give this answer?
Reply 3
Original post by zingy1
Thanks for the reply Joe, out of 15 how much would you give this answer?

Around 10
Reply 4
Original post by Joe312
Around 10

Cool, thanks.

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending