Type: Exploratory
Pages: 4 | Words: 1113
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Determinism is the philosophical doctrine that claims all behaviour results from preceding events or natural causes. Determinism claims all events occurrences and traits occur due to fixed and definite conditions which could be the past present or laws of nature.

Determinism is divide into various parts that includes logical determinism, physical determinism and religious determinism among others. Logical determinism argues a statement about the future event is happening is either true or false. This means that the future is already determined and we cannot change it. More simply logical determinism is the view that what is going to happen is unavoidable. Determinists believe that outcomes occur due to fate. This makes it difficult to assign the moral responsibility of persons.

Determinism and Free Will

This topic is interesting because there is difficulty reconciling determinism and freewill. One may think that where determinism exists there is no free will and vice versa. This practically means that if determinism exists then there is no moral responsibility or free will. However, there is room for the coexistence of both free will and determinism where both are applied partially.

The possibility that tomorrow’s happenings are true or false today is unrealistic. There are actions that one may carry out today that may have a bearing in future. Logical determinism argues that what is supposed to happen tomorrow is bound to happen and this is either true or false today

Most actions that people carry out have an expected outcome. The expected outcome regarding these actions occurs more often than not. This shows that there is an aspect of free will in carrying out today’s actions which will result in the expected outcome.

It is necessary that people own up to their mistakes and not just pin them on fate. People should be responsible for their own actions and behaviour. The moral aspect of life then would be eliminated if there was no free will. Free will is a situation whereby one has two choices to make and is not coerced into doing so. For people to practise morality there has to be the freedom of choice. If I am living in a predetermined world then there is room for nothing. This means there is nothing I can do today to change the future which of course is not true.

However, I do agree on a few aspects of determinism such as epistemic determinism which argues that foreknowledge is incompatible with free will. This simply explains that it is hard to relate events that depend entirely on freewill to foreknowledge.

This is because the fact that one knows what is to happen in the future eliminates the chance that the event is unlikely to occur. Determinism suggests that human free will is an illusion and does not have any bearing on the future because the future was already predetermined.

I also agree that some things are already predetermined such as the genetic makeup of a person. An individual can do nothing within his capability to change his genetic makeup. One does not have the capacity to choose his genetic makeup. If a person is suffering from a genetically related disease such as mongolism then there is nothing that can be done about it.

However, the knowledge about our genetic makeup may enable us to choose a few things that may enable us to live a better life. This may include avoiding risky behaviour that may exacerbate the prevailing condition.

Determinism has also been expressed in religion through the Calvinistic doctrine whereby it is believed that whoever is destined for the hell he/she will definitely go there. There is a counter doctrine to this which explains that God is a co-creator with humans and that humans choose their destiny.

Theology determinism has further been explained through the omnipresence of God and His foreknowledge. However religious free will is expressed through belief. One can choose to believe or not to, hence expressing his freedom of choice.

Causal determinism claims that the past facts together with laws of nature entail all the future facts. This is relevant to the aspect of free will whereby one has to choose to carry out an event depending on the past events and the history of events that had occurred previously. The difficulty between free will and determinism is essentially a problem of reconciling free actions and determinism.

The arguments on all sides regarding determinism have strong cases. However, the element of free will exists and is fundamental in living our day-to-day lives. People have a right to make choices and are also responsible for the consequences of their actions.

What is the point of telling a man do this or don’t do that if all his choices are determined? If the truth of determinism is assumed, can we consistently ascribe moral responsibility to the human agent?

David Hume explains that the occurrence of an event does not primarily lie on the predetermined causes such that the causes are more important than the outcome. The necessary occurrence of an effect given its causal circumstance for it is a matter of ‘unconditionalness’.

Three Approaches to Determinism

Generally, there are three approaches to determinism these are hard determinism, soft determinism and the indeterminism, hard determinism embraces the basic principles of absolute determinism. A hard determinist sees no freedom in an action if it must occur. A hard determinist argues that humans are no different from other things and follow what was determined even before they were born. Free will, feelings and motivation occur due to antecedent conditions

Soft determinism also referred to as compatibilism, Soft determinist uphold both the elements of free will and determinism. The soft determinist believes an act is free if it is voluntary and determined if it is not. Majority of people believe in the theory of soft determinism. The indeterminist does not agree with the hard determinist or the soft determinist he believes both are wrong because they embrace the presence of determinism.

The indeterminist believes that nothing is determined forehand. The actions that we do and the events that occur today will determine the future.


It is clear that determinism really does exist in some instances such as in the case of theological determinism, causal determinism, biological determinism and epistemic determinism. Logical determinism is the greatest threat to free will because it hardly gives room to freedom and argues that everything is predetermined.

The Determinism theory does point to examples in the current days such as those relating to the biology of humans with regard to genetics and sex determination. Indeed there are some things that we don’t have control of but it is important to note that we still have an element of free will in our day-to-day lives. Determinism exists but it does not rule out the element of free will.

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