Essay on Causal Ditermism in the Movie Groundhog Day

Essay on Causal Ditermism in the Movie Groundhog Day

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What does it mean to have free will when one cannot choose the environment in which they live in? Because the environment in which one lives in shapes their beliefs and practices, how is it they are morally responsible for their actions and decisions when they are not in control of the environment they live in? Causal determinism is a belief that everything that happens is completely caused by whatever happened before it. Furthermore determinism implies if the conditions under which one made a choice were precisely the same, one could not have done otherwise (Kamber). While it is difficult to argue against causal determinism there is still freedom to reflect on possible alternatives before acting. Though, the question is not whether one can choose to do what they want (to follow their desire) but whether one is free enough to be held accountable for their decisions even though one can judge the importance of these desires and their place among other reasons for action (Horton In the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors experiences the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over again. At first Phil uses this to his advantage until he discovers he is forced to stay in the same place with the same people who do the same thing every day. While Phil Connors lives in an identical situation every day and therefore a deterministic setting, does Phil have free will and is he morally responsible for his actions? According to compatibilists Harry Frankfurt, Susan Wolf, and John Martin Fischer in certain events where one “could not do otherwise” one could still have free will and moral responsibility over their actions. With the example of Phil Connors and the ideas of compatibilists Harry Frankfurt, Susan ...

... middle of paper ... causes the boy to get hurt, is he still morally responsible? Sometimes humans know something is going to happen if no one intervenes. According to Peter Singer, if that something is bad and one can stop it with little to no cost of oneself, then it is reasonable that one ought to stop it and is blameworthy if one fails to stop it if they do not have an adequate excuse. Because Phil knows something bad is going to happen if he does not intervene and he can stop it with no cost to himself, Phil is blameworthy of letting the child fall. Phil still has free will because his desire was to not help the child and yet he is still blameworthy of not saving the child from the fall.
Also John Martin Fischer offers the idea of semicompatibilism, an idea that allows us to confidently attribute moral responsibility to agents even if we are unsure whether determinism is true.

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