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Determinism is the philosophical view that every event that takes place can be explained. In other words every event that occurs, happens as a result of an event or set of events that have occurred before it. (Hoefer, 2005) According to this theory, if determinism is truethen, given the actual past, only one future is possible at any moment in time.
Although determinists follow the same theory of determinism there are two different types of determinists: Hard determinists and Soft determinists.
Both types of determinists share the same belief that everything is determined on a physical level that is, that all events that transpire within nature are determined by events that have happened before it. However they come into conflict when the discussion arises about non – physical determinants.
Hard determinists believe that ones thoughts, decisions and actions are also determined by a set of events before them. The reason for this is that hard determinists view actions in the same category as events. Therefore if every event is caused by actions before it, the one taking the action could not have been able to act any differently. This is a very hard theory for some to comprehend, as they believe that if we do not have free will one is not in control of their actions and do not have a freedom of choice. (Nagel, 1987)
Soft determinist’s although may believe that some decisions are determined they reject the meaning that hard determinists give to the words ‘free will’ and ‘moral responsibility’. Soft determinists believe that when someone states that they have made a free -will choice although they may know the decision is determined they went through the process of knowing that they are doing the choosing, that they had considered all other options and that no-one either externally or internally had corrupted their decision or made them choose a different option.
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Soft determinisms theory also applies to one of the main question that arise when discussing determinism; if determinism is true then what is the point to human action? This question although raises a good point is not the correct way to perceive any determinist view.
As mentioned above soft determinists believe that the word ‘free will’ has been wrongly defined and would respond to this question by stating that there is still point to human action because we still go through the process of making decisions and as long as we stick by the deliberations of making these decisions, we still make a free choice judgement.
A hard determinist would also respond in a very similar manner to that of a soft determinist, by stating that just because one may not be in control of the events or decisions does not mean they have no point to any human action. They are still living their lives and just because everything is already determined does not mean that they still can’t enjoy life to the fullest.
If every one took the concept that there is no point to human action then they would not disrupt the determinants instead of thinking this way would only be included as a determinant which would lead to another determinant such as giving up which in turn would result in not achieving and so on.
When it comes to deciding whether or not one would have to change both their emotional and personal relationship with other people, depends on which determinism one was willing to accept as true.
If one were to accept hard determinism as true, then their relationships with other people both emotionally and personally would be required to change.
As we view the world and the individuals within the world today, we accept people as being in-control and being their own person, someone who could make a decision either way, whether it was right or wrong. In fact by saying that there would be no reason to praise or congratulate somebody for making the right decisions as there would be no such thing as making the right decision. It would be just acknowledged that they had good or bad consequences.
The problem found within the belief of hard determinism is the issue of moral responsibility. If hard determinism were true then this would disrupt our everyday lives and the laws and regulations that we as a global society follow would no longer exist. As hard determinists believe that every physical and non-physical action is already determined and there us no freedom of choice then there is no reason for punishment which also includes prisons and detention centres. They believe instead that one should be treated for there actions similar to that of an illness.
However, if you were take on the concept of soft determinists then you would not need to change you personal and emotional relationships with other people. As soft determinists believe that moral responsibility is more of a social concept, which has social worth in the means of regulating behaviour. (Hoefer, 2005) Since soft determinists belief that that there is freedom of choice and that we make decisions on what we believe to be true and correct, then they also believe that a person has moral responsibility. If somebody went through the process of making a decision on which action to take and inturn makes the wrong decision then soft determinists belief that they should be punished or vice versa. (Edwards & Pap 1965)
As I illustrated in the above essay determinism is the general belief the all events are caused by previous events before them. However there are two types of determinism, which although have although have the same general belief, have some conflicting views in reference to definition of particular phrases especially the phrase ‘free will’. When I addressed the issue of ‘point to human action’ I found that it was an area that both types of determinism agreed on that is ‘If you accept determinism as true there is still a point to human action.‘ A differing issue between a hard determinist and soft determinist came up during the discussion of moral responsibility. If one were to accept hard determinism as true, they would have to change their relationships with other people, as they do not belief one is responsible for their actions. Not only would they be required to change their relationship views but if the population as a whole took determinism as true then we would also have to change or disregard the laws and regulations we follow as a community. On the other hand if one were to take on the belief that soft determinism as true there would be no need to change any relationships with others as an individual or community as they believe that people still have moral responsibility.