Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Free Will and Moral Responsibility - Sijia Hao Philosophy...

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Sijia Hao Philosophy 232 – Section 002 Professor Loeb 29 September 2010 The Fallacy of Choice Consider the following hypothetical event: a middle-aged woman smothers her newborn infant. There may be a multitude of reasons for her action – she may have been exhausted and angry from her first month of childcare and had a momentary lapse in judgment; her mother had done the same to one of her younger siblings, forever ingraining the idea as a solution to her troubles in the back of her subconscious; she suffered from postpartum depression. Regardless of the reasoning, both hard determinists and soft determinists would reason that the mother was causally determined by her heredity, upbringing, and emotions to suffocate her child; they believe that, given her past, the woman had no choice but to kill. The two types of determinism – hard determinism and soft determinism – are both comprised of two core components. A hard determinist combines incompatiblism and determinism, stating that if determinism is true, there is no free will and, therefore, no moral responsibility. Soft determinism joins compatibilism and determinism and claims that there may be possibility for moral responsibility for a causally determined action, depending on the role of coercion of compulsion in the act. Their core difference lies in their belief of the role of moral responsibility; the former states that there is absolutely never moral responsibility taken while the latter claims certain situations may invoke moral responsibility. Despite these contrasting views on moral responsibility, both the hard and soft determinist is determinist to the exact same degree, holding that events occurring before one’s birth begin the causal determination of a
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person’s actions, decisions, and desires. There is no need to trace causation back all the way to Creation or Evolution in either theoretical model because on an individual level, distant prehistoric times have very little influence on people’s lives and decisions. After birth, outside influences still not under a person’s control, such as the laws of nature and social upbringing, further shape the personal will of the individual so that all of his actions cannot but end up being causally determined. The Incompatibilist view supports determinism, stating that, if determinism is true, there is no moral responsibility because determinism is incompatible with free will. Backwardly, because there is no free will or moral responsibility, logic leads to the conclusion that determinism must be true. In the words of Holbach, who endorses determinism and is a Hard
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course ENGLISH 125 taught by Professor Decourcy during the Fall '09 term at University of Michigan.

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Free Will and Moral Responsibility - Sijia Hao Philosophy...

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