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Philosophy Examined

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Assignment: Comment on the Following Statements

1) Out of the people edited in Abel or discussed by Palmer, the following are hard deterministsÐ'...

Well, Palmer only discusses two hard determinists: B.F. Skinner, and Sigmund Freud. Out of the texts read in Abel, Abel discusses Skinner and D'Holbach as hard determinists.

2) Hard determinism conflicts with some of our ordinary beliefs and experiences. For example:

On the one hand, we are raised to believe that we are free, that we posses freedom of thought and action. If we come to a fork in the road, we can either go left or right, either choice is a free choice. A hard determinist would have us believe that our actions are determined, hence, unfree. If the hard determinists theory were in fact true, then, if we were to come to a fork in the road, what use would it be to choose the right, or the left path? For out decision has already been determined, according to the hard determinist point of view. Frankly, I find the idea of hard determinism utterly ridiculous, and incredibly hard to defend.

3) If hard determinism is true, then people cannot be held responsible for their actions.

This statement is true. For if hard determinism is true, then our actions are determined. Meaning that we have no control over our own actions. Therefore, we cannot be held responsible for out actions, because, we are not responsible for them, for they were determined. If this is indeed true, then the worlds judicial systems have been making mistakes for several thousands of years.

4) It is possible to interpret Freud as being committed to hard determinism. It is also possible to interpret Freud as believing in freedom.

This statement is making two claims, which may be interpreted differently by different people. Thus needing some explanation. It is true that Freud was committed to hard determinism, for he believed that the majority of a person's actions are motivated through the subconscious mind, the subconscious being a driving force in the decision. Subconscious decisions are not free, for the person is not aware of the force of the subconscious. The second part of the above statement is in a sense, true. Freud, being committed to hard-determinism, could not believe it direct freedom. However, Freud did believe that a person could change, thus gaining some control over their actions, and that in a sense, is freedom (i.e. the case of the woman who kept choosing partners who beat her).

5) Stoicism is the view that one can never be happy.

This statement is false. Stoicism means that one can be happy. As Palmer stated, according to Seneca and Epictetus, it is possible to be totally happy all the time. This is accomplished by accepting ones fate. What Nietzsche called amor fati: love ones fate.

6) Soft determinism conflicts with common sense, since it holds that there is no difference between the amount of freedom exhibited in the actions of a drug addict, and the actions of a war hero or a saint.

I hold this statement to be false, based on the "soft-determinism" discussion in chapter six of Palmer. Let me try to dissect my chain of thought into a comprehendible answer.

Palmer states with great emphasis that, "we are free to the extent that we are able to do and get what we want." Meaning that we are only free in our context, in our immediate situation. We can make choices, however, the choices that we make exhibit only so much freedom, because our situation may prevent us from doing otherwise. The above statement claims there is no difference between the amount of freedom exhibited by a drug addict and the actions of a war hero or saint. That is ridiculous. A drug addict has a physiological addiction, hence he has limited freedom, and he needs that drug. Whereas, a war hero chose the action that he took to become a hero, he could have run the other way. The same goes for a saint, the saint could have chosen a different life, but he/she didn't.

7) Soft determinism holds that concepts such as free will, choice, freedom, dignity, responsibility, are based on confusions and illusions, which need to be discarded.

I hold this to be false. Hard determinists would say that concepts such as free will, choice, free, etc. need to be discarded. Soft determinists encompass the above concepts in a sense, thus they cannot discard them.

8) Our common sense notion of freedom is more robust than soft determinism can allow.

I'd say that this statement is true. Our common sense notion of freedom is normally coincided by ability. As Palmer states in chapter six, "I you ask me if I am free to go to the movies tonight, and I say that I am not, I am implying that I want to, but am not able to." What Palmer wrote, is a prototype of our common sense analysis of physical freedom. Whereas, the soft deterministic view encompasses a much more psychological view of freedom. Take the Stoics for example: they believed in an almost Zen like state of peace, and freedom of mind through amor fati, love ones fate.

9) God's omniscience (changed in class to, "Gods ability to predict all actions") is incompatible with free will.

I hold this statement to be true. We had a discussion about the above statement in class; I will try to dissect it into a comprehendible chain of thought.

If there is a God, and it has the ability to predict all human actions, then God, in a sense, is able to predict the future. And is God is able to predict the future, then what is the point of making free will decisions as humans? If God already knows what is going to happen, then, our actions are, in a sense, pre-determined. Thus eliminating free will. Free will being the ability to make choices and decisions without supernatural forces, or pre-destined actions affecting or driving those choices or decisions.

10) Even if determinism is false on the microscopic level, that is no reason to suppose that indeterminism accommodates our views about freedom.

The above statement is absolutely true. Since determinism and indeterminism are philosophical theories, they cannot be proven to be right or wrong, they can merely be speculated over. For when determinism or indeterminism are finally found to be right or wrong, they will more than likely become a science of a sort.

There are so many different views, or theories about freedom, determinism and indeterminism are only two of them. And determinism has two sub-categories, hard and soft- determinism. Other views are libertarian, which is a



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