Over the years the problem of free will versus determinism has been a phenomena to philosophers for many years. It has been a huge issue, because without the presence of free will there cannot be morality, no wrong or right, no good or evil. Everyone’s behavior would be determined before hand and people would have no creativity or choice. Everything one does on a daily basis in one’s life somehow involves the process of decision making or choice selection, whether it be mental or physical. From the moment one wakes up to the second one sleeps, decisions and choices are being made. There are some decisions that one makes that are extremely obvious to oneself because of the need of reflecting on the choices before choosing. But most of the decisions one makes throughout the day are made with little thought. Furthermore, many people are mostly unaware that they are making decisions because of preference and habituation. Before continuing further, the terms free will, and determinism must be defined. Free will is the idea that an individual is free to make decisions that are unhindered by external forces. Whereas determinism states that the conditions of a specific moment are the result of from the previous conditions of previous moments. The position that this paper encourages is that of hard determinism.
The general hard determinist believes that no human action is free. Paul Holbach was a hard determinist philosopher who wrote an article called “The illusion of Free Will”. In it he explained how everything one does is caused by things that is beyond one’s control. Generally speaking , people are motivated to pursue pleasure and avoid pain, but people cannot help what gives them pain or pleasure. No matter what one does, the endless chain of causes and effects leads one’s doing is inevitable. An important example that Holbach used was the poisoned water. It demonstrated that whatever one does they do it for a reason, and that these reasons are simple changes that the brain makes which determines what one chooses to do. Since one cannot control the changes in the brain that causes one to choose what one chooses, then that would mean that no one cannot control their own actions.
Hard determinism also gives a more rational perspective of humans and their choices. It focuses on the causes instead of the instant causes for one’s actions. Also the implications of being determined are taken more seriously, and it does not make one responsible for the decisions one makes because they are beyond the individual’s control. Furthermore, hard determinism tries to take into fact of how people feel that they are free when they really are not. Halbach believed that the main cause of why people think that they make their own decisions is because they are ignorant to the cause and effect chain that determines their behaviors. The motives and causes are just too complex for people to understand them. People do not also naturally question where the causes behind their choices come from, which gives humans the idea of having free will.
Moreover, hard determinism has many advantages to it. It could be helpful in courts of law and in the legal system, that is when it would be most convincing . A person who maybe standing on trial may use hard determinism as a defense by stating that the individual’s actions were caused by events that occurred in the past which were ultimately beyond the person’s control. If hard determinism is successfully persuasive in court, then it should be accepted that both free will and determinism are incompatible.
However hard determinism does have its flaws. While soft determinism views that humans are unique, because they possess free will; hard determinism refutes humans that important component that makes humans distinctly different form animals. Humans are also no more free than robots. In addition, it would be wrong to punish a criminal, because they just could not help it; and that would ultimately lead to an unstable society filled with mayhem and troubles. Ultimately hard determinism argues that humans may feel free but it is nothing but a mere illusion, and some people would argue against this and believe that it is free of choice. Continuing on the pros of the hard determinist view, libertarianism brought up many new points to the argument. Libertarianism was about the idea that humans are all free and that free will is not compatible with determinism. Libertarians argue that because one can easily create one’s choices it gives one libertarian free will, and that one’s choices in the future are undetermined. Furthermore libertarianism has far too many problems and disadvantages. The first disadvantage is that there is scientific data and empirical evidence that proves that humans are psychologically and scientifically determined,(this discovery was made by Skinner, who was also a hard determinist). It is through classical conditioning that human behavior is a response to the stimuli an individual is in or exposed to. Thus, one’s decisions are caused the external environment around that certain individual which accounts for one’s choice. Eventually, once the psychological evidence is shown, such as operant conditioning and scientific determinism, it becomes a challenge to see how humans are not determined, and that leaves little room for the libertarian perspective to prosper. One other argument against the libertarian perspective of free will and determinism is the explanation that everything has a cause. Where in the natural free word everything that exists is caused by something; and equivalently one’s choices has to have causes and determinism. However a hard determinist philosopher by the name of T. Honderich who wrote an article called “A defense of Hard Determinism”, disagreed with the libertarian view. He believed that the human mind must be determined, and that the mind should not be separate from the rest of the body, as it has been demonstrated that the mind highly dependent on physical brain activity. Finally, the criticism above has shown that libertarianism is unconvincing and has many poke able holes, as libertarians believe that the mind is in charge of making one’s decisions. Ultimately, there are many perspectives that are related to the question of free will being either compatible with determinism or it being incompatible with determinism. From the evidence presented within this paper, hard determinism is the most consistent theory to follow when it comes to the question of free will and determinism. This is because a choice that is not under one’s control must be determined by something else; and that certain something according to Holbach is either an external or internal force that drives every human being to make certain decisions. Even though it is hard to accept, Holbach explains that humans must accept it because it is the truth. Humans are not free to choose their actions.