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 determinists… 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).
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