Examples Of Philosophical Determinism Essay

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines philosophical determinism as “the belief that all events are caused by things that happened before them and that people have no real ability to make choices or control what happens; a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws; a belief in predestination, the quality or state of being determined” (1). Does this mean that whatever action we make is a choice that doesn’t belong to us, but is rather a result of complex events that surround us?

Do people have a right to justify some of their actions, and can be excused due to an idea that they do not act voluntarily? Arthur Schopenhauer explained that thought very simple. “A man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills” (2). Here is a basic example to illustrate what Schopenhauer is trying to tell us. When a child is born, it is like a clean sheet of paper. It doesn’t know the world, its rules and norms; the child has only natural instincts. Slowly, adults, parents or guardians, introduce the child to the world they live in.

They teach what, in their opinion, is right and what is wrong, and do not give any chance to the child to choose what it wants up until he or she becomes of legal age. The child has no choice and has to exist in the given world with certain laws of living. Further on, a mass media, globalization, and a social culture manipulate the child’s ability to choose and push it deeper into a whirlpool of global desires that require particular actions. For example, it is not surprising that nowadays the majority of people want to gain both financial prosperity and a high status in life because of social media and people like Kardashian sisters.

That creates a chain of goals, desires, and actions. At some point, I agree with determinists that, unfortunately, we are predisposed to certain lifestyles and are not responsible for the choices we make. The world around us just lures us in with its huge variety of pleasurable services, luxury items, and adventures, and people become some sort of slaves of the system. At the same time, Viktor E. Frankl believes that “a man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining.

Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment” (3). It simply means that an individual still eedom of choice in any given conditions. For instance, we can isolate ourselves and stay home or we can make many friends while travelling the world; we can be poor or work hard to become rich; we can be law-abiding citizens or break the law and become criminals. Some children have parents with different kinds of addictions. However, it doesn’t mean that all those children will always follow their parents’ footsteps.

In spite of their predispositions, they may or may not become drug addicts. Moreover, some intelligent, energetic, and successful parents have children who are lazy, useless or have low IQs. I agree with determinists that some features of our characters have been given to us, and they influence our behavior to a great extent, but there is always something else that forces us into action or inaction, and that trigger is our will. Frankl’s statement explains why determinists can consider that punishing criminals is permissible and does not violate the “principle of justice”.

The “principle of justice” itself is a law of the society we live in. In today’s world, every individual is born with various scenarios of what his or her life may become, and an individual starts to choose what he wants and needs for his/her scenario. It is like in a buffet, go and take what you want, but follow the rules. Nobody is allowed to steal from another plate, or kill in order to take somebody else’s plate, or take somebody’s plate by means of unlawful schemes and manipulation. People are still very unpredictable creatures. There are no strict laws that can predict human behavior without mistakes, like in math or physics.

That is why people are responsible for the choices they make and can be punished for them. However, some individuals really do not understand their actions and are not able to control themselves. They have huge difficulty explaining the logics of their actions. It becomes obvious that such people have some sort of mental disorder. thus can’t be punished for their actions. The presence of such individuals among other people creates danger to the society. They have to be isolated and placed in special psychiatric facilities for medical help.

I personally think that every theory has the right for existence, even if it’s not completely perfect. Every idea gives some food for thought and analysis. Determinism is very interesting, as well as being a very complicated topic. I think, determinists fail to prove one hundred percent that “everything is predictable, including the process of making decisions, and that a decision does not occur as a first cause but rather as a result of the predetermined criteria for a specific decision to be made having been met. “(4) Still, there is a lot of truth in their point of view.

Even though, scientists have made many sensational discoveries about the human body and brain, they are still far from knowing everything. Determinists can only try to explain some human behavior, but fail to establish correlation between cause and event. I won’t be surprised that one day scientists will be able to explain why some individuals become criminals, and will be able to prove that an individual with some genes is programmed to kill, steal, or abuse, and is therefore not responsible for his or her actions. As it hasn’t happened yet, the “principle of justice” must be applied to all individuals who break the law.