Essay on The Central Conflict Behind Free Will

Essay on The Central Conflict Behind Free Will

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Thesis: The central conflict behind free will is determining whether or not it humans have the freedom of

Summary: In chapter eight of Problems from Philosophy, author James Rachels explores the topic of free will. He begins the chapter by discussing a crime that consisted of two teenage boys murdering a boy simply to prove that they were capable of committing such an act. The lawyer of these two boys was a man named Clarence Darrow, who held the belief that crimes did not exist. In other words, he felt that people should not be faulted upon what they cannot control. He then described the childhood of one of the murderers by stating that did not receive adequate attention and affection. Darrow also described one of them as having an antisocial personality disorder. He utilized these points to shape his argument that people should not be blamed for the things they cannot control in their lives. Rachels then introduces the philosophical belief of determinism by including Aristotle’s ideas. Aristotle was concerned that this theory would imply that humans do not have free will. This idea transitions to the problem of fatalism. If the future is already determined, people cannot control their own destiny. Through a religious point of view, God knows the fate of our own lives which means we do not have the ability to change them. James Rachels mentions a famous mathematician by the name of Pierre-Simon Laplace. He believed that we could predict the future of the universe if we knew everything about its current state. The author asserts that another underlying cause of behavior is neurological events in the brain. A scientist by the name of Jose Delgado conducted experiments with various animals to prove that certain behaviors are caus...


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... factors in his life that he had no control over. For one, he did not grow up with loving parents that cared for him. In fact, his father, who had mental problems, was not in included in his life. His mother who is my aunt also has psychological issues including bipolar. Unfortunately, this must have had a negative impact on his childhood, causing him to fall under negative influences and gangs. Another way I have thought about free will is reflecting on my own future. I always wonder how my life would be different under different circumstances and if I really had control of my own fate. I also wondered about many ways I could become my ideal self if I had different genetics and was raised in an environment that shaped me to become an extroverted person. The point being is that these subjects have allowed me to think further about how free will is under our control.

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