In philosophy, determinism is roughly the view that all events are set and necessitated by prior events or causes.

Topic 6

In philosophy, determinism is roughly the view that all events are set and necessitated by prior events or causes. So, a ball that is let go under certain conditions (event 1) will necessarily fall to the ground (event 2). The falling of the ball is determined by prior events and certain conditions, one of which is the scientific laws of nature (namely, gravity).

Science tells us that all physical things observable by us are determined in this way by the scientific laws of nature. If a ball having a certain mass and shape, and traveling at a certain velocity, strikes another ball at a particular angle, that second ball is determined to move in only one direction and at only one speed. There is no variation possible.

Human beings are physical beings. We are made of cells that are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, and all of these things have physical properties: mass, etc. Even our brain is a physical thing, having mass, containing neurochemicals which are also physical things. It seems, then, that human beings are also determined by the scientific laws of nature (science) in the way that balls and planets are.

Some think that everything, including all human behavior and thoughts, is determined by the scientific laws of nature. After all, our bodies, our organs, including our brains, and all the chemicals in use, are physical things. All physical things are determined by the scientific laws of nature. Hence, some think that we, too, are totally and utterly determined by the scientific laws of nature.

If all of this is right, it seems that there is no such thing as a free choice or free will, or whatever you want to call it. Your ‘choice’ to take this class was nothing more than the physical state of your brain and body, coupled with stimulation from the external environment. This is no different from the outcome of the second ball after being struck by the first. The ball has no free choice or free will, and it seems that neither are you. The network of causes and effects is just more complex in your case compared to the case with the two balls.

Do you agree with this view? Do you think there is room for freedom of choice? Explain your view and your reasons.

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In philosophy determinism is roughly the view that all events are set and necessitated by prior events or causes.

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