Do We Truly Have Free Will? The Case For Determinism

Do We Truly Have Free Will? The Case For
Determinism

I. Introduction

The
complication of whether or not us as humans have free will or not has made many
different philosophers come up with several theories to attempt to prove
whether or not free will exists. The theory I will be covering throughout this
paper is Determinism. Determinism is based on a complete description of the
causal facts guarantees what will happen next.1 I must first explain
what causality is, causality is a relation that obtains between events2. The true definition of Determinism which is
that all events that happen are based off things that cannot be controlled by
human will. An example of
Determinism is to see what happens when you light a match, given the fact that
the match and the tinderbox are in perfect condition we can assume that the
match will light without a reasonable doubt.3

Determinism
happens more often in our lives in everyday scenarios and we don’t even realize
that it is happening. We use Determinism in events that we can not control the
outcomes of, for example when someone
rolls a set of dice there are so many combinations that we can not control
which side of the dice we will get. If we rolled the dice and we can guarantee
that we will get one side of the dice no matter what which is the causal fact
but we can not control which side of the dice we will in fact get. I will
defend Determinism, I also will further explain how Determinism relates to
human nature and I will show and explain the two main arguments the Distant
Causation Argument (II.A) and the Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument
(II.B). I will also be explaining the objections against Determinism(III), my
own personal evaluation of each of the arguments (IV), and a conclusion that
will summarize all of the information.(V)

II. Arguments for Determinism

A. Distant Causation Argument

An argument that is used to prove
that we do not have free will is the Distant Causation Argument. The Distant Causation argument focuses on the
idea that our behavior is caused by factors such as our genes and early
childhood which are out of our direct control.4 The Distant
Causation Argument is used to prove that free will does not exist because if we
had free will to control everything in our lives we would be able to control
our genes and I would be able to make myself a taller person for example, or I
would be able to change the environment that I grew up in, such as the home or
area that I grew up in. According to the Distant Causation Argument, we are not
able to control events that have directly lead us to being exactly where we are
in this current day, then we have no control of us being at the point we
currently are. This could be anything in your life for example having it be
having a teacher teach you math the incorrect way and then struggling in the
future.

B. Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument

The
other major argument that is use to show that humans do in fact not have free
will is the Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument. This argument focuses on
the claim that it is impossible for us to act other than the way our beliefs
and desires cause us to act.5To further explain this argument you
must understand that people are raised with different beliefs and desires that
they want to see themselves achieve and even pass on to their children. The
example that is easiest to explain is raising your child to believe in the same
religion you do. The argument begins as “Our behavior is caused by our beliefs
and desires” in this example that I am explaining the belief is the religion
whichever it may be, and the desire is to pass those ideals of the religion to
your children. Given the fact that we have these beliefs and desires we are
going to pass down these ideals to our children because we could not have acted
in any other way if we truly had a deep belief in the religion. According to
this argument if we can not act any other way then our action was not free,
proving that no human action is in fact free.

III. Potential Objections to Determinism

A. Objections to Distant Causation Argument

An
argument against Distant Causation is to understand the concept of
responsibility.6If you can imagine a rainstorm causing damage to
crops, you can see that there is more crop damage than the what the storm did
not control. The best way to understand this concept is to see that something
caused the storm then the storm caused the crop damage. One of the arguments
against Distant Causation is that if the causation is transitive which means
that the event that had something happen before that lead to crop damage. The
storm would not technically have the “responsibility” in causing the damage
even though it did. The one who would have the responsibility would be whatever
caused the storm itself.

Another
argument against the Distant Causation argument is moral responsibility. An
example of what it means to have moral responsibility when it relates to
Distant Causation is the story of Patty Hearst.7 Patty Hearst was
kidnapped and brainwashed to rob a bank with her kidnappers. We can not put the
blame on her for robbing the bank, she does not deserve the moral criticism for
robbing the bank because she is not entirely responsible for her actions. The
Distant Causation Argument would make it seem as if Patty had nothing to do
with the bank robbery but it was all in her genes, those who disagree with this
argument would say that that is completely insane.

B. Objections to Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument

To explain the objections to this
argument I will first show the Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise
Argument premises:
“1) If an agent performs some action A then the agent could have done
otherwise (that is, the agent could have performed some action other than A).
2)
People can not perform actions other than the ones they do, in fact, perform.
3)
Agents never act freely.”8
One who does not believe determinism
to be true could argue that a the first premise could be argued against in this
manner: A person could decide to be in a room on his own free will while
speaking to a friend without knowing that the room is locked and continue to
stay in that room until he realizes that the door is locked.9 This situation argues the first premise
because the original person intended to stay in the room talking to his friend
but he did not know that the door was locked therefore leaving him stuck in the
room either way. Which shows he has free will to stay in the room but doesn’t
realize that the door is locked so he is stuck in there. The second premise
argued with a different situation: “Joe can’t tie his shoes because he is
holding two bags of groceries.”10The argument here is that Joe
could easily put down the two bags and tie his shoe, which would defy the
argument “People can’t perform actions other than the ones they do, in fact,
preform

IV. Evaluation

Of
all the different theories involving whether or not free will exists I believe
that Determinism does exist. I believe that every action has a reaction no
matter what the case is and Determinism is the idea that causal facts guarantee
what will happen next. This is why I believe Determinism to be true and shows
proof that actual free will does not exist in human world. The Distant
Causation argument focuses on our behaviors being caused by factors such as
genetics and our early childhood environment while the
Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument focuses on humans having to deal with
the impossibility of acting other than the way our beliefs and desires cause us
to act.

V. Conclusion

Conclusively,
free will is a very complicated subject and who knows if we ever find out the
answer to it? I believe that Determinism is the best way to understand that
free will does not exist because its’ main arguments cover the ideas that I
find most important. Distant Causation which covers genetics and early
childhood, and Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise which covers our beliefs and
desires. Whether or not we have free will we will be able to act based on our
genetics, early childhood ideals, beliefs, and desires, because those are what
truly control our lives.

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