Determinism Argumentative Essays Example

Published: 2021-06-29 13:15:04
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Determinism is a word used in philosophy to describe the idea that all events, actions, decisions and forms are a consequence of antecedent or past events that were inevitable. In its extreme philosophical sense, the word determinism describes naturalism, or the idea that everything is natural including our decisions and human behaviors. It is very important to separate the word determinism with pre-determinism, another term that vaguely describes the idea that everything in the universe is predetermined. The concept of determinism has been around for thousands of years albeit taking different terms, among them, necessitarianism, a term that describes the inevitability that an event, action, behavior or state of affairs was to be the way it is. The paragraphs below will present a careful balance of the several sides to the argument on determinism, namely, indeterminism, causal determinism, fatalism and adequate determinism, ("Determinism," n.d.)
Hard line determinism is usually faulted for rigidity. The idea for absolute antecedent events that determine current phenomena is not only impractical on its extreme conceptualization but also ignorant of the part played by prior events to a state of affairs that were decided by individuals caught up in the circle of the events. That is to say that, to adopt determinism in wholeness will be grossly ignoring other reasons for certain events. For example, if a college student decides to drink alcohol on Sunday evening, he may miss a class presentation on Monday due to a hangover caused by the alcohol. In that regard, the concept of determinism fails to hold much water as the decision to drink alcohol was not only conscious but also premeditated. It is worth noting the above example would be a little bit different if the student was an addict, (James 285).
The above example introduces the aspect of compatibilism. Compatibilists adopt determinism in the sense that it applies if one’s free will is one of the events in the succession of actions towards the final state of affairs. Free will refers to the concept of being free to decide on your fate. Note that the decisions might be anchored on the will of God as preordained. It is on this level of reasoning the Taylor asserts; “Behavior that is mine must be behavior that is within my control, but motions that occur from no causes are beyond the control of anyone” (Taylor 299). He then uses an example of his pulse. “This is behavior with which I have nothing to do, behavior that is not within my immediate control, behavior that is not only not free activity, but not even the activity of an agent to begin with; it is nothing but a mechanical reflex” (Taylor 301).
Taylor’s assertion above can be termed as compatilistic in that though he can control a certain part of his behavior; he has no control over his pulse. Taylor resigns to call it a mechanical reflex. Of course such a conclusion does not augur well with nomological determinists as they believe that everything has an inevitable cause. Ignoring the fallacy in the mismatch between Taylor’s argument and the inference for this essay, it is sufficient to note that determinism (in its various forms, including adequate determinism) can be experienced without the knowledge of the person experiencing it.
The subject of determinism intertwines with causality to the level that the terms are interchanged in most day to day conversations. Philosophers have traversed the space between determinism and causality to settle at the middle ground. The situation is necessitated by the fact that, while determinism is impractical in its hard line usage, the complete opposite, indeterminism, is equally misleading. While empirical researches cannot adequately approve determinism, it would careless to state that determinism is an illusion and indeterminism is a fact. That conclusion holds credibility given that indeterminism can only be empirically proved in a single exclusive event. Hence, causality proves to be a middle ground term, otherwise known as adequate determinism.
The above argument can be traced to Bertrand Russell “The law of causation, according to which later events can theoretically be predicted by means of earlier events, has often been held to be a priori, a necessity of thought, and a category without which science would not be possible." (Russell, External World, p.179). It is very important to note the usage of the word causality by Russell. It is does not exactly carry the weight of absolute determinism, but a causality that is adequately deterministic, ("Determinism," n.d.).
The idea of causality is clearly described by the coin flip experiment. When a coin is flipped the result is either a tail or head. While it is clear that the cause is the flip, the result is not pre-determined. Such an experiment fits firmly in the causality theory as opposed to absolute determinism or indeterminism.
As discussed above, the subject of determinism is an open debate question that has dominated philosophical engagements over a long time. It is a debate that appreciates the need to construct conversations around nature, universe and religion. One cannot rule out the argument that antecedent events rule the current state of affairs because that is the back-borne of the determinism theory. All in all, propagating the debate on the lines of causality introduces a very interesting form of determinism; adequate determinism, that can be empirically proven.
Determinism. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Russell, B. (1929). Our knowledge of the external world. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

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