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Difference between free will and determinism

Updated on November 11, 2010

free will vs. determinism


The question of free will vs. determinism has been debated for a long time. Some people believe humans have the capability to use free will. For many theists, free will is a gift from God. They believe that if people did not have free will then they are not morally responsible for their actions. However others argue that human’s actions are due to determinism, so if humans follow the course of natural law, it is hard to believe that actions are freely chosen. Except then the question occurs, why anything should be debated if everything is based on determinism. 

Free will is the ability to make free choices that are unconstrained from outer situations or by fate or divine will.  The notion of free will has religious, ethical and scientific interferences. For example in the religious sense, free will entails that it does one does not assert its power over individual will and choices. In ethics, it has problems about whether one can be held morally responsible for their actions. Free will has been an ongoing argument as philosophers disagree with the term free will. An example would be, if a family lives in Dusseldorf they choose whether to support Fortuna football team or not. However this afflicts with the fact that if everyone supports Fortuna then it is common for them to also support the team based on peer pressure.

Determinism has a variety of meanings; casual determinism is the theory that future events are somewhat based on the events from our past. Local determinism which is the theory that all plans are either wrong or right. Theological determinism, this is the theory that god determines what we will do. And finally biological determinism is the idea that all of humans behaviors, beliefs and desires are set by our genetics. For example homosexuality vs. heterosexuality or racism vs. patriotism; this is generally based on past recollections of what family is telling you or what you pick up throughout life. It is not something that suddenly happens; it progresses through time based on past experiences.                                                       

There is also another type of determinism which is slightly more realistic this is called Soft determinism is looks at it slightly differently, it argues that people’s behavior is inhibited by the environment, but only to a certain extent. It also means that there is a small part of free will in all behavior shown by humans; however it can also be controlled by outside forces.


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      charpmann 6 years ago

      please i need more about free will and determinism i'm not satisfied with just this one.thanks.