University of Toronto
Professor J. Brunning
Free Will and Determinism
Freedom, something that when people asks, everyone can give you different definitions. According to the dictionary, the meaning of freedom is the state of being free or at liberty rather than in a confinement. To me, my own definition of freedom means not to be restraint from other human beings, but to other people, it could be something that are completely different. Some people says that everything we do will have some kind of sufficient causes behind it. If I pull the fire alarm on the hallway, the chances are that all the people in the building can not stay in the building for a good while. And that is, the meaning of determinism. The debates between free will and determinism has been brought up over and over again. This idea has been separated into few different theories, hard determinism and soft determinism. Hard determinism means that the concept of free will and determinism are incompatible ideas. It is basically telling us that free will does not exist. On the other hand, soft determinism means that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, therefore, free will does exists. And finally, libertarianism, a vision of how people should be live their lives as a individual human being. In this essay, I am going to pick one of the three theories to support it. Soft determinism has my vote because it seems more logic.
In the reading of “freedom and Necessity” from A.J Ayer, he gives out two main objections about hard determinism. He started with giving out doubts about whether every event must have a cause or not. In a science point of view, it has been approved that a lot of actions were governing by law. Maybe it is the case that events are follow by the natural laws, but it is reasonable that we think it is not., and this idea may even apply on human actions. But the problem with this following objection is that even if that human actions are not forced to be made causally, it doesn't mean that humans are responsible for their actions. It means if laws do not determine human action causally, it does not follow that humans choose their actions. Ayer's second objection to hard determinism is that the idea of free will is compatible with determinism. The idea of freedom and causality are being compared by the hard determinist. With being compared, the only free actions are those that are not caused. The reason of why is not caused is because everything you do have some kind of caused, it means that there are no free actions. Ayer thinks that freedom shouldn’t be compared with causality. Freedom should compare with constraint, but be careful, even if all constrained actions are caused, it doesn't mean that all the actions that caused are constrained. The reason why it isn't is because the definition of constrained actions is different for Ayer. Constrained actions means that when someone forced another person to do something. For instance: a thief put a knife on my throat and ask me to give him my wallet. But constrained actions can also be when nobody forces you to do something. For instance: i am starving on a dessert not because someone take the food away from me, but there is no food on the dessert. These two different cases can leads us to a different understanding of whether or not people are freely act. According to Ayer's theory, everything happened for a reason just so that behaviour can be explained by the cause. And those are the reasons why Ayer made a statement that free will is compatible with determinism.
On the second reading “the problem of Free will” by Walter T. Stace, she argues that the debate over whether humans have free will or not. He used a typical example of man. If a person think that animals have five legs; he or she looks around and figure that there is no such thing. He would give a definite answer of: no, there is no five leg animal. To figure whether