Arguments for Incompatibilism essay

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Description of View

Are Humans Responsible Agents? Why?

Compatibalism (Soft Determinism):

Compatibilism is a theoretical aspect that subscribes to the view that freewill is compatible with determinism. Compatibilists perceive that, every action done by an individual is determined ahead of time. Therefore, this approach normally limits the scope of the individual. It believes in the cause-effect facility where the results of a job are generally predetermined by certain factors. In the situation of human beings, the compatibilists view human beings as having been born with certain qualities that generally determines how they are likely to behave in certain situations. For example, an individual can be perceived to be an inherent murderer. In the event that a situation presents itself to execute, they will do so not because they have chosen or reasoned to do so at the time but because they are predetermined to do so. The individuals cannot do otherwise even with other alternatives being available. ( Pereboom, 2001) They are already conditioned to do so.  This view was championed by Hobbes, Hume and Stoics.



Human beings are not morally responsible for their actions according to this school of thought. For example there is biological determinism. This is because there are certain innate forces that drive them to act the way they do. They are born with certain impetus that directs most of their actions. There can also be theological forces. In this case, there is a transcendent or superior being who controls most of human behavior. Much emphasis is put on the unpredictability of the future. (Strawson, 1998).  The main intention of the soft determinists is to offer hope to the people by leaving human actions to chances.

Incompatibalism (Hard Determinism):

According to hard determinists, the human experiences can be reduced to mechanical experiences (conforms to physicalism or materialism). For instance, when human past experiences are studied, it is possible to predict their future actions. Determinists who reject the concept of freewill argue that for the purpose of maintaining ethical conduct and then a person might embrace what they term as illusions of freewill.



 There is no freewill from this approach point of view. There are certain causal forces that impose the results that we get and that which are recurring in nature. This approach denies moral responsibility of human beings.

Incompatibalism ( Libertarianism):

Libertarianism holds that people are free. The proponents of this school of thought believe in dualism (existence of mind and body as distinct entities). The mind or the human soul has a metaphysical approach to events that surpasses the physical understanding. The individuals have got control of at least some actions that they do. They can therefore be able to choose different actions in different circumstances with regards to the underpinning ethics. People are fully in charge of their actions. The concept is incompatible with determinism. To them, the future is not determined. For example a person can choose to do something or refute without any prior influence. One of the proponents of this approach was Lucretius.




From this view, human beings have the freedom to choose their course of actions. Therefore, they are responsible for what they do. They are directed by impulses which are beyond physical understanding. The mind and the soul of humans are positioned in a way that it can be able to determine the rightness and the wrongness of an event.


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