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philosophy paper - Jonathan Lee Loeb section 002#5 What...

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Jonathan Lee Loeb section 002 #5 What Clarence Darrow argues in his court cases is an example of determinism. He believes that an event is causally determined by previous events: given the previous events and the relevant laws of nature, the later even could not but have occurred. However, this kind of argument holds firm to only certain types of cases where causal events do appear to be binding or restrictive for any other possible outcome to occur. The hard determinist argument is considerably weaker when applied to a person in advantaged background compared to one in a disadvantaged background, making Darrow’s case much more difficult to universally accept. What Darrow argues is that whatever his defendant was accused of, that action could not have but occurred considering the fact that it was caused by all of the events that predetermined it. Thus, the next logical step is to argue that Darrow’s client cannot be responsible for his action because the events that caused the action were beyond his client’s control. That would be characteristic of Clarence Darrow being a hard determinist, that determinism is true, therefore there cannot be any moral responsibility. In the eyes of a jury, they might be more sympathetic towards a criminal in a more “disadvantaged” background, perhaps a poor neighborhood or bad parenthood. They would argue that if that person had been put into a safe neighborhood where there was less pressure to sell drugs or rob stores in Newark, New Jersey, and more emphasis on education and doing the right thing, then perhaps that person would have committed a crime. However, the argument that Darrow makes can still be applied to a person from an advantaged background if the same concrete standard of determinism is used. Darrow does not argue that a certain event or environment will cause the same exact response. Rather, what he says is that
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given the unique set of circumstances that the defendant is in, both environmental and hereditary, the action must have occurred. If for example, a 20 year old Harvard law student Michael chose to leave his 2009 BMW, which was bought by his multi-millionaire parents who also happen to be philanthropists, enters a liquor store and robs it, based on the hard determinist’s argument that law student still cannot be morally responsible. It is the law student’s upbringing that caused him to rob the store. One would argue that since all of those favorable characteristics listed would have most likely caused someone not to steal, then it must have been the person’s own choice to do so, based off of his desires or off sense of morality. However, even those mental choices or products of character or desire must have also been caused by previous events. If this reasoning is constantly applied further and further back past one’s birth, then those events undoubtedly cannot be subject to be used as blame or praise. If the plaintiff then tries to find the flaw in the
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