Philosophers have developed many different theories to explain the existence and behavior of “free will.” This classical debate has created two main family trees of theories, with multiple layers and overlapping. It all begins with Determinist and Indeterminist theories. Simply put, determinists believe that our choices are determined by circumstance, and that the freedom to make our own decisions does not exist. Indeterminists, for example Libertarians, believe that we are free to make our own choices; these choices are not determined by other factors, like prior events. In class, we began the discussion of free will, and the competing arguments of Determinists and Indeterminists, with the works of Roderick Chisholm, a libertarian who made the distinction between agent and event causation, and B.F. Skinner, famous behaviorist and determinist.
Libertarians believe that humans are free to make their decisions without other factors and pressures to force their decision. They build off of Descartes’ mind/body dualism,using this separation to explain how human freedom is separated from the physical world, where physical factors may force one to make certain choices. Chisholm believed free will was acting on a decision, without being caused to act. This included one’s beliefs and desires, which he believed did not force a person to make one decision over another. Before Chisholm, many indeterminists’ arguments were not as sound as their counterparts’, the determinists, in regards to the many issues relying on dualism presents to their argument. In response, Chisholm believed in agent-causal libertarianism. In this subgroup, human beings are seen as “responsible agents,” when someone makes a decision, like to shot a man, they split ...
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...n we are faced with the ability to do otherwise; when we must consciously make a decision to act, can we be held responsible. This is free will. Humans are not merely acting just from outside forces, like Skinner believes; nor are actions completely free of any cause, being completely random like Chisholm says. While Wolf tries to separate causation of our decisions by “deepness” of mind, I think the split second decisions between alternate choices is what makes up our free will. Life id a series of causes and effects, yes, but there is also no way to predict human behavior every time. There are so many factors affecting our decisions everyday, and in a addition there is room for an individual to make their own choices, influenced by nothing but their own beliefs and perceptions. This is why I most agree with A.J. Ayer’s theory of morally responsible compatibilitism.
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