We Are Predetirmined As Humans Essay, Research Paper
In Leger Wood?s essay ?Determinism: Free Will Is an Illusion? he argues that humans are determined by some cause for all of our actions. The philosophical controversy of free will versus determination has been argued, discussed, written about and studied so much that it has become over done and monotonous. However, I do agree with Wood that humans are determined by some cause. Explanations for cause may be from evidence of introspective psychology, morals, religious issues, physical science, physiology, behavioral psychology and sociology. In this essay Wood gives us the libertarians?, or free willists?, explanations for free will, refutes them and gives us other evidence that humans are actually determined.
To begin, libertarians and determinists both have strong explanations of their beliefs in introspective psychological evidence. The libertarians say our decisions are ?without a sufficient and adequate natural cause.? They also believe that the human mind is always aware that it is making a decision at each chance it gets. They believe there is proof of these choices by having retrospective feelings of remorse after having made a decision they feel like they could have chosen otherwise. Saying that oneself may choose otherwise is a very big portion of the basis on which libertarians make their thesis. To them, there is a possibility of saying ?I could have done otherwise than what I did.? Also, decisions are decisions no matter how important or trivial they may be. They include imagining other alternative, weighing the alternatives and then the choice of action. Here, one may have two or more equal choices so he must weigh them to decide, according to the libertarians. However, if the choices were equal, then the mind would remain suspended and one would never come to a conclusion.
It is not an inner-force making the decision, but it is by chance or from opposing forces that will eventually make one choice seem better than the other. This is a huge point to the determinists along with several other involving introspective psychology. Including that the feeling of freedom after having made a decision, as libertarians claim to feel, is only a sense of relief after having a great deal of stress, tension and indecision and actually the feeling of freedom is an illusion. Also, it is easier to say that one could choose otherwise in prospect or retrospect. For example, if one were making a decision to stop or go at a green light while there is heavy traffic, it is as if there is no other possibility than to go. This proves that no other choices are a possibility and that outside factors cause one to do a task. Wood says ?The more carefully I scrutinize my decisions, the more clearly do I discern the motives which determine them.? This explains the general idea of introspective psychology to determinists.
Due to one?s morals, the libertarians feel as though we have free will. They believe that one chooses his own morals and to follow along with them is also his choice. The also say that people pass judgment upon others for making certain decisions and people could not be judged if they were forced to make those decisions. Also, they say that determinists cannot judge themselves because that is basically saying that they could have made another choice. Along with the idea of judgment, free-willists believe that people have responsibilities. Without freedom there could be no responsibilities, therefore people are free because we have responsibilities. And being responsible or irresponsible is choice made to each individual.
On the other hand, determinists say that morals give people direction and less freedom. Also, what you do and what you can do has no connection just like one saying, ?Today is Friday, therefore the sky is blue.? There is no logic in that statement because it being Friday and the weather have no connection, just like what you do and what you can do have none. Also, to disagree with the libertarians? arguments about judgment, we believe that what one judges about someone?s actions say nothing about their will because there is no connection there either. Not only are one?s actions pre-determined, so are ones judgments on any actions. Judgments are determined by what society sees as acceptable and blame can be used as negative motivation. For example, if someone knows about another person stealing from a store they are in, the person who knows will say, ?Oh, that is bad.? That judgment of the thief is pre-determined so judgment does not actually make a difference. Also, we determinists argue that freedom and responsibility are not connected and we should not be held accountable for our actions. Wood states, ?If freedom is the complete divorce of the will from antecedent conditions, including my moral character, I cannot then be held accountable for my actions.? We believe this because when one chooses to do the right thing, it has nothing to do with themselves but it is because one?s values, which is an outside factor.
As far as religion goes, the free-willists hold the theme of the book of Genesis dearly. The theme is that man is always held accountable for his actions. The main point is original sin: God created Adam who was free to choose between good and evil. ?Adam yielded to temptation and his original sin has been transmitted to all his descendants,? states Wood. To them, this proves that man has the ability to go against God, just as Adam did and God is not responsible. However, in refutation to Wood?s statement he goes on to say that there is no proof that God makes us free. Adam and Eve could have both been caused to make their decision of evil. As a determinist, I could use the argument that God does not exist, but it is not even necessary because determinism and theology are compatible. To prove that, if they were not compatible, it would be impossible for certain doctrines to tell us of such an idea as predestination of the soul after death.
Free-willists seem to believe that humans are free to do anything because one?s mind says so. They believe that the mind tells us that things happen randomly because there is no other explanation and that there are random scientific for which a cause cannot be proven. An example of this may be the creation of Earth. However, the free-willists beliefs cannot be held up here because there is a cause for everything. And according to Wood, no cause seems random for there is a cause to everything, some we just may not have figured out yet. For certain, in the point of time when this essay was written, it would be quite easy to say that many scientific events could not have been explained. However, now there is much more evidence, which makes science an even better argument than back then. This applies to my example of the creation of Earth. For many years no one could come up with an explanation though there must have been one. Now, we have evidence that subatomic particles were in space at the right place and time to come together to form molecules, which eventually evolved into Earth, as we know it. Not only did we gain evidence of Earth?s creation, we have also gained much more evidence for physical science to make the determinists? argument that everything is caused by something, even stronger.
?The more we know about the physiological and neural processes which go one inside the human organism, even when it reacts to the most complicated of stimuli, the more evident it becomes that there is no break in the continuous chain of causation,? Ledger Wood states in the beginning of the discussion of physiological evidence. This means that basically a stimulus elicits a response; the stimulus being hormones or genes that we were given at birth. These are things we cannot control along with our reflexes to outer stimuli.
Other evidence we have proving that all actions are determined is through behavioral psychology. Wood explains this as the way that our subconscious influences our unconscious minds. Things are happening to us that we are unaware of that influence us to act a certain way. For example, if a person were to sit in a bright and colorfully decorated sunroom all day with the presence of fresh plants they may tend to feel more relaxed while sitting in rush hour traffic while going home. And they will also be less likely to snap at people and get stressed out while in the traffic situation as opposed to a person sitting in a dark office with dull colors doing tedious work all day. Both situations of where the individual spent their day will have a great influence on their reactions because of how the situations affected their subconscious mind. Also, it is possible if someone looks within himself, to discover that there are always motives to decisions that he makes. Often times the motive is simply human nature. In accord with these aspects of behavioral psychology, is the need for explanation to ease the mind. Wood uses an example of a playwright or an author of a book. If someone were to write a play or book showing someone somewhere acting a certain way, but gave no implication of the subject?s motives, the audience would feel incomplete and need an explanation.
And finally Wood discusses the sociological evidence that humans are determined. First he states that the way the masses act influences individuals to act similarly. Standards are also set by society?s approval. For example, it is considered inhumane to beat a child by society and because of this, less people do it and laws are created to prevent it. Also, statistical law predicts what the masses will do, but not what an individual will do. In this case there must not be free will, for if there were, statistical law could not make such predictions. To further explain this, Wood says, ?It is difficult to reconcile the possibility of the laws of groups or mass action with individual free will.?
In conclusion, I believe that Wood makes a strong argument in his essay ?Determinism: Free Will Is an Illusion? that humans are determined in their actions. He not only disproves all possibilities that humans are free willed but also refutes the libertarians in all aspects of evidence. The aspects include introspective psychology, morals, religious issues, physical science, physiology, behavioral psychology and sociology. After having read Wood?s essay I felt as though I had no other choice than to agree with him and believe that humans are always determined.
Works CitedWood, Ledger. ?Determinism: Free Will Is an Illusion.? Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1941. 386-89.