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Free Will, Determinism and Moral Responsibility - Term Paper Example

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The paper tells that on one hand, free will can be defined as an ability that an individual harnesses or on the other, free will can be constructed as a possession inherent in a person. The reasoning faculty of humans facilitates and empowers free will. Causal events are attributed to the exercise and natural outcomes of free will. If rational human actions are assumed to arise from free will, then that would mean that free will is contingent on those events. That position leads to the belief that a person acting freely essentially manifests the working of his or her free will. The implications of free will are moral responsibility, legal accountability and self-determinism. Self-determinism is a principle founded on free will and self-influenced decision and action. In religion, the possession and exercise of free will places man in a position to either follow the divine will or go against it. Free will makes man liable for his choices and answerable to an authority. Free will also frees man to a certain extent from passivity of man, seing that he is characterized an active moral agent who can make changes in his life and that of others. Philosopher Thomas Hobbes asserts this theory by stating that all free-willed actions are based or influenced by external factors compelling an individual to act. However, one might dispute this approach because these actions are spurred by two distinct types of freedom: freedom of will and freedom of action. The disparity between freedom of will and freedom of action in the context of causality is underlined by the fact that agents can have free will but no freedom of action.3 For example, if a person wants to go to the store and buy an item at the mall, he or she is free to do so. However, if the said individual is tied fast to a chair or does not have the money to buy anything, these conditions directly hinder his liberty to act on his free will. The individual still has the free will to steal the item or attempt to break free from restraint. According to Hobbes’ theory, external factors such as the person’s pressing necessity for that item or someone else’s request have influenced the individual to come to the decision to go to the mall. In both cases, the individual retains the free will to execute the action, nevertheless agencies outside the individual’s control impacts on the final outcome. The fundamental question here is the leveling of responsibility at an individual for actions arising not from his own free will, but from exterior environmental factors over which he has no control. The simple answer would be these individuals are not responsible for their actions, however unpopular this view may be. If one were to introduce a system of reward and punishment to instigate or control action, then, no one can be praised or blamed owing to the incentive or disincentive. 4 However, an exception to Hobbes’ theory lies in the premise of causal determinism proposed by the British analytic philosopher Galen Strawson. The premise implies that current events are fixed outcomes since events are actuated by a cause and the cause ...Show more
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This philosophic research study delves into the theories of free will, determinism, and moral responsibility and shows the relationships, exceptions and disparities among them, primarily within the frame work of compatibilism and incompatibilism…
Free Will, Determinism and Moral Responsibility
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