Philosophy comparing libertarianism, compatibilism, and determinism

2334 Words Nov 10th, 2013 10 Pages
Comparing Determinism, Compatibilism, and Libertarianism
Patrick C Smith
Ivy Tech Community College

The question that the textbook poses at the very beginning of chapter four is, “Are you Free” (Chaffee, 2013, p. 172)? Most people would look at this question as pretty cut and dry and would answer a resounding yes. Philosophically speaking, it is not that easy of an answer. You have to be willing to look at the question with an open mind, and ask yourself if the choices you make are truly free or if they are governed by forces outside of your control. In the following paper I intend to compare and contrast the three major philosophical viewpoints regarding this question, and come to a
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One of the strongest weaknesses of determinism is that it doesn’t account for the human experience. It doesn’t account for the randomness that is life. Determinism is taking the easy way out, and not holding yourself accountable for your actions. This is what makes determinism a dangerous prospect to society. If we aren’t responsible for our actions and they are already predetermined, why try and teach morality? If human actions are predictable as determinists believe then why doesn’t society practice prepunishment, or,”a punishing of people who, it is believed, are going to commit a crime, before the crime is committed (Smilansky, 2007)? While I believe that we are influenced by our environment, I don’t believe we have to become a product of it.
Compatibilism, or “soft determinism,” is an alternate version of determinism that allows for some “free will.” Compatibilist, like determinist, believe that all events, including human actions, are caused. Where compatibilist differ is that they believe that we can consider human actions “free” if they are the result of internal motivations, and not from external influences or constraints. Compatibilist maintain that we can distinguish between actions that are compelled by external constraints and those that are not (Chaffee, 2013, p. 174). People’s choices are free if they are not prevented from acting on their unimpeded natural desires, even if those natural desires may be determined by factors in

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