Those who subscribe to compatibilism hold that determinism is attuned to free will. compatibilists support this view by arguing that a person who is deprived of his/her free will, for example by being murdered or raped, he/she lacks free will because the attackers disallows him/her choice through their actions, and not because of determination of the future by the past.
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According to Compatibilists, determinism is immaterial and lack of domination of one’s desires by an external force together with ones desires being the sole influence of their will is what matters after all (Hume 85). Compatibilist does require one to subscribe to any form of free will concept, though they do not support the fact that determinism is incompatible with free will (Hobbes 56). This paper discusses compatibilism, with particular focus on its no choice principle.
Inwagen provides that determinism is the true thesis, and says that the way things happen determines a distinctive future. In his opinion, a single alternative of the future that comes about depending on a given moment is a possible persistence of the current situation. In other words, determinism can be understood to be the thesis that only a single persistence of the current situation is in tandem with the laws of nature.
Determinism can be commonly associated with the thesis that lacks free will, which actually causes a lot of misunderstanding. Many people support that compatibilism is not true simply because, they hold an initial conception that determinism and free will are not compatible. Through consequence argument, Van Inwagen supports this conclusion. In regard to this argument, Inwagen uses the no choice principle which according to Perry, Bratman, and Martin states that:
Suppose that p and that no one has (or ever had) any choice about whether p, and suppose that the following conditional (if-then) statement is true and no one has (or ever had) any choice about whether it is true: if p, then q. It follows from these two suppositions that q and that no one has (or ever had) any choice about whether q (156).
As van Inwagen argues that this principle is naturally reasonable “how could I have a choice about something that is an inevitable consequence of something I have no choice about?” (Hobes 56).
With the assumption of two other reasonable principles, it can be demonstrated that determinism is not compatible with free will; that is, if this principle holds some truth in it. Van Inwagen’s additional principles hold that choice about something is nonexistent in us.
The first principles states that we do not possess choice of the happenings which took place in remote past. The second principle holds that we do not have any choice in regard to what the laws of nature relates to. Summing up the two principles, an incompatibility of free will together with determinism can be constructed. (Perry, Bratman, and Martin 156)
To illustrate the consequence argument, we can assume ‘DINOSAUR’ to represent the situation of the universe during the remotest past when dinosaurs existed on earth. In addition, ‘DECISION’ can be used to represent the decision not to sing a particular song 10 times starting now. The no choice statement provides that if a person lacks choice in relation to p, and also lacks choice in relation to whether if p, then q, then there is no choice in relation to q.
Again, there exists no choice upon the happenings that took place in the remote past. Lastly, what the laws of the nature represent cannot be made choice upon. In relation to determinism, the state of the universe at a particular time and the laws of the nature establish a distinctive future. In essence, the laws establish that if DINOSAUR is the situation, then the DECISION hold the same situation. This can be demonstrated in Table 1 below.
|No Choice Principle:|
|If no choice exists in regard to p, and also no choice in relation to whether if p, then q, then there lacks choice in relation to q. →||There is no choice in relation to DECISION.|
|The events that took place in the remote past cannot be decided upon.→||There is no choice about DINOSAUR. →||There is no choice about DECISION.|
|There is no choice regarding the implication of the laws →||There is no choice about: If DINOSAUR, then DECISION. →||There is no choice about DECISION.|
|The state of the universe at a particular time plus the laws of nature establish a distinctive future. → |
Specifically, the laws establish that if DINOSAUR is the situation, then that is DECISION.
|There is no choice about: If DINOSAUR, then DECISION. →||There is no choice about DECISION.|
In view of the above discussion, I would strongly declare incompatibilism to be better because I support the fact that we have free will because determinism does not support full influence in making of choices and decisions. After all, there exists a fundamental indeterministic component that makes people strongly and eventually accountable for themselves and their actions.
It is mostly questionable that we can be excluded from determinism, though if we can, we cannot be morally accountable to our actions (Perry, Bratman, and Martin 156). In my view, I recommend that we should reorganize some of our beliefs and practices related to moral accountability since we are not free in the way such beliefs and practices require.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan: Of the liberty of subjects. London: Penguin Books, 1968. Print.
Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature SECTION VIII: Of liberty and necessity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1740. Print.
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Perry, John, Michael Bratman, and John Martin. Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary. Oxford: Oxford university press, 2009. Print.