DETERMINISM VS. FREE WILL An ancient philosophical conundrum DETERMINISM = The theory that every event, including every human action, is governed by natural laws. Technically, determinism is the belief that a determinate set of conditions can only produce one possible outcome given fixed laws of nature. Many believe this rules out HUMAN FREEDOM. DETERMINISM IS DIFFERENT FROM FATALISM вЂў FATALISTS claim that there is nothing that we can do to affect our lives in any significant way. For example, I cannot in any way affect whether I am going to have a fatal accident tomorrow. вЂў DETERMINISTS allow that human actions can make a difference. вЂў Fatalism often takes the form of RELIGIOUS PREDESTINATION If determinism is true it would seem that: вЂў We are no more free than robots. вЂў There is no reason to praise or blame anyone. вЂў It is wrong to punish criminals--because they вЂњcanвЂ™t help itвЂќ. 3 DIFFERENT POSITIONS ON DETERMINISM: 1. Human beings have free will because determinism is FALSE (вЂ�libertarianismвЂ™). 2. Human beings do NOT have free will because determinism is TRUE (вЂ�hard determinismвЂ™). 3. Even though determinism is TRUE, human beings DO have free will (вЂ�soft determinismвЂ™). Libertarianism вЂў Free will requires a gap in universal causality. вЂў The self initiates actions but when acting freely is not itself caused to do so. вЂў Human decision making thus occupies a special place outside of the natural order. NOTE: This is not the same as вЂ�libertarianismвЂ™ in political philosophy. Objections to libertarianism вЂў The self would have to be non-physical, yet capable of causing events. Does this make sense? вЂў Even if it makes sense, what is the evidence for it? How to be a soft determinist вЂў A free act is just a VOLUNTARY act. It issues from what the agent WANTS, unconstrained psychologically or physically. вЂў Acts can be вЂ�freeвЂ™ in this sense but still determined by natural laws. Determinism is not a problem for those who take this view. If hard determinism is trueвЂ¦ вЂў MORAL RESPONSIBILITY is undermined. (вЂ�OughtвЂ™ implies вЂ�canвЂ™.) Do praise, blame or punishment make sense without moral responsibility? вЂў Is RATIONALITY undermined? Can our acts have reasons as well as causes?