Compare Hard Determinism and Libertarianism Essay Sample

  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 731
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: determinism

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However this theory of environment and genetics alone effecting our actions is contradicted by Libertarianism. In presenting their argument Libertarians often distinguish between a persons formed character or personality and his of hers moral self. Personality, according to libertarianism, is an empirical concept, capable of explanation and prediction and known through observation. The personality formed by genetics and environment limits the choice we have and makes us more likely to

likely to choose certain actions. This would back up the idea stated by hard determinists. However libertarianism goes on to state that however likely an action sated by genetic and environment it is not inevitable, it is possible for the moral self to counteract this.

This then goes against hard determinism because in other words it is saying that even if your circumstance of genetic make up and environment go against you in your personality encouraging you to take certain actions, they can be overridden by the persons moral self. The moral self is therefore not empirical but an ethical concept, this is mostly involved in choosing between duty and self interest. In this respect, says the libertarian, the moral agent overcomes the pressures exerted by personality and becomes morally responsible for the actions, and this is what distinguishes us from animals. Morality is concerned with what people ought and ought not to do, but what hard determinism argues is what if we can’t have done otherwise? If they do not possess freedom of choice they cannot be punished. The challenge between the two then is that determinism speaks of the illusion of freedom and thus the absence of moral blame whereas Libertarianism disagrees.

For hard determinists this idea of personality is completely unsatisfactory. If heredity and environment affect my personality why is my moral attitude not shaped in the same way. The libertarianism assumes the existence of free will in moral choice but has provided no evidence for it. The libertarian reply is made up of 3 separate arguments. The first is an appeal to facts of experience, we all have the experience of being self-determining, this is present is everyday decisions, do I drink coffee or tea? it is common to all. In these we do not feel any difficulty choosing, and people whose choices are sometimes restricted (alcoholic) can still compare these situations with these they have no control, they recognize there limits but have sufficient other experience to believe free will exists.

The second concerns on analysis of the way we make decisions, the act of decision making. We all have different methods varying in length and benefit- but the fact that we all do it shows we all possess free will. The critical idea in this is that for someone to make a decision they must believe they have a real choice. The liberationist concludes then that since we all make decisions we must all believe that was can make choices, that we are free. In this way determinism, which rejects the existence of free will, it itself rejected by the universal experience of decision- making. To this determinists reply that no one disputes that people believe they are free and that this belief is supported by the experience of decision-making; but this is not to say that we actually are free, believing things does not mean that they are true. In the same way, the evidence of decision-making can deceive us into believing that free will exists.

The libertarian’s third argument is designed to meet this objection, and it employs an important philosophical distinction. This is a distinction between two kinds of knowledge and, accordingly, between two kinds of truths which may be known to be true or false. “you cannot simultaneously be in the room and out of it” this statement is said to be necessarily true. This is because they could not possibly be false and because their truth is established independently of sense experience. ” The table is brown” this statement is contingently true because these are verified by sense experiences and because they may conceivably be false. From this we conclude that, in our observation of the world around us, it is impossible to achieve complete knowledge; that, in the world of contingent events, the possible of error always exists.

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