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Philosophical Views On Freedom, Self And Moral Responsibility

Freedom, self, and moral responsibility become incompatible according to deterministic views. Different ideologies prevail regarding determinism and free will, while David Hume is a prominent philosopher who recognizes its role in defining human choices and free will. Views of David Hume support the deterministic approach; however, his suggestions represent him as a soft determinist. His ideas of liberty and necessity explain the reasons behind human actions.

In his theory of liberty and necessity, he reveals the role of liberty as a negotiation that leads to certain causes. He mentions, “It is universally allowed, that matter in all its operations, is actuated by a necessary force, and that every natural effect is so precisely determined by the energy of its cause, that no other effect, in such particular circumstances, could have resulted from it.” He promotes the idea of necessities and causation. The idea of causation becomes the same as explained under the deterministic view. He uses induction and causation to explain the reasons for human actions. He considers nature’s laws as immutable and determines the need to prove cause. Necessity defines the force that promotes actions and present cause depending on the circumstances.

Hume supports a deterministic view when he identifies the role of circumstances. According to him, situations play a crucial role in determining actions and behaviours. His view that humans are irresistible to inductive reasoning reflects the role of free will. He confers the view that humans are capable of choosing between different events. His key point that strengthens the deterministic approach states that desires and will cause free actions. According to his ideology, the agent is the entity responsible for leading to certain causes and actions. A necessary action under the present proposition provoked by desires is a free action. He presents the common example of actions that are caused by violence. Determination of will explains the power of action, while he uses hypothetical liberty to further explain the choice. Nagel’s concept of ‘Moral Luck’ explains determinism, and it highlights the role of external and internal causation leading to actions. He states that it is not appropriate to judge people for immoral actions that are not the outcome of their faults. When external factors control the actions of individuals, they don’t hold responsibility for their actions (Feinberg).

Chisholm’s ‘Human Freedom and the Self’ solve the metaphysical problem of human freedom by considering them as responsible agents. The deterministic view is against the ideology of freedom as the belief promotes the idea that every event is the outcome of every other event. The view confers the idea that events and actions have close relevance. The approach conveys the belief that proceeding factors are vital in causing behaviours. The deterministic view follows causal laws and considers them responsible for generating behaviours. Free will reflects the belief that people can make some choices under the assumption that people can choose their actions. The concept of free choice also states that people can choose whether or not to commit a crime. Deterministic theory suggests that circumstances and events promote certain behaviours. Behaviorists are determinists because they focus on identifying the reason behind actions. The view focuses on identifying the role of free will and the responsibility of humans in taking different actions. The theory conveys the belief that the law of regularity is the central force behind the occurrence of events. Following the deterministic view, philosophy states that human desires and choices are also caused. The free action relies on the choice of an individual and will be choosing mechanisms.

Pereboom empathizes with the proposition that we have no free will, and we can live without it. He accepts the reality of causal determinism but also states that humans lack complete free will. This kind of free will requires moral responsibility, allowing humans to make choices. The philosopher affirms the truth of free will that determinism identifies. Lack of moral responsibility and the impact of judgments on human actions also support determinism. He suggests modifying determinism by including moral philosophy, as the absence of moral responsibility does not change values. He represents hard and soft views of determinism to explain free will. To explain the deterministic view, he explains the scenario of murder that a person commits freely. When a person kills someone for personal gain, that is compatible with determinism. In such a situation, desire becomes the reason causing murder. The concept of free will is more dominant when the cause of action is second-order desires. He also recognizes it as a distal cause as the murderer is unable to control his desires, leading to the act of murder. Under such conditions, the control agent becomes weaker, affecting the ability of an individual to control his actions.

Frankfurt, in “Alternative Possibilities and Moral Responsibility”, explains that the moral responsibility of a person occurs when he has other possible options. He presents an opposing view to determinism and considers it incompatible. The principle of alternative possibilities states that a person’s action depends on available choices. People facing odd accounts of free will or moral responsibility can take advantage of opposing stands. A person is morally responsible for his action even when he has not done otherwise. The concept of free will vanishes when a person performs under the influence of coercion of hypnosis. Under such circumstances, he is unable to act morally, but the choice does not free him from moral responsibility. Frankfurt is more concerned with focusing on the moral aspects and ignores the role of circumstances.

Work Cited

Feinberg, Joel. Reason and Responsibility. Wadsworth, 2011.



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