Uploaded by eddyslash on Feb 19, 2009
by Adeel Salman
I and me... the question of free will versus determinism has long preyed upon the human minds. Sophocles Oedipus Rex stands out as one of them the most stern comaprions of fate versus free will. The debate between free will and determinism stems from the apparent conflict between the universal rule of causality found in nature and the apparent ability of men to choose between multiple courses of action in order to lead to the most desirable outcome. Inorganic matter such as chairs, stones, and planets, blindly follows whatever forces affects it, and non-human organisms act for their survival alone, but human beings seem to be an exception to natures rule by their unique ability to ponder about how to go about their life and which values to live by. Determinists reject the idea that any of these choices are freely chosen however, and claim that a man is no exception to natures law because he and his choices are nothing more than the product of his environment. Decisions, they usually claim, are
simply a product of conflicting environmental influences duking it out. A proper understanding of the nature of volition however, can reconcile the apparent conflict between free will and causality, and soundly reject the position that man is merely a product of his environment.
Determinists claim that the nature of the universe is such that it is governed by certain universal scientific laws, so that each action is caused by a specific prior cause, and human action is no exception. They claim that the human mind is also governed by these rules so that no alternative course of action is possible to humans other than the specific and unique set of prior factors that caused that human action to be made. Thus, human choices are not free because they are determined ahead of time by whatever environmental, social, genetic, biological and any other unknown factors caused such choices to be made. Accordingly, men cannot be held morally responsible for their actions, since they have no more control over the causal chain of events in reality than anyone else.
The determinist would say that whether the human mind operates by random firing of neurons or strict logic is irrelevant: both are governed by specific prior causes, and even if science could show that human choices were caused by random firing of neurons, the choice would...