Soft Determinism Essay example

1889 Words 8 Pages
Soft Determinism

Determinism currently takes two related forms: hard determinism and soft determinism [1][1]. Hard determinism claims that the human personality is subject to, and a product of, natural forces. All of our choices can be accounted for by reference to environmental, social, cultural, physiological and hereditary (biological) causes. Our total character is a product of these environmental, social, cultural, physiological and hereditary forces, thus our beliefs, desires, values and habits are all outside of our control. The hard determinist, therefore, claims that our choices are determined by these factors; free will is an illusion because the choices and decisions we make are derived from our character, which is
…show more content…
Freedom, according to the soft determinist needs to require alternative uncompelled choices. Prior causes are necessary because otherwise actions are simply capricious and the agent becomes a victim of chance.

Though soft determinism provides an interesting, more comforting alternative to hard determinism, it may be problematic for two reasons. Firstly, though soft determinism asserts a freedom of choice, it is unclear as to what degree these choices affect the shaping of one’s own personality. One’s personality seems inescapable under both forms of determinism; one is condemned to act with complete reference to it. Under soft determinism, it appears that who or what we are is still rigidly defined. Secondly, soft determinism seems only able to confirm moral freedom and not freedom of the will. According to the hard determinist approach, because our actions are compelled by past causes, we cannot be held morally responsible for those actions. The soft determinist wants to assert that, so long as our choices are derived from our personality and are not compelled by some external factors, we are free to choose from a range of relevant alternatives. This approach of the soft determinist is problematic because, as I have just stated above, we are unclear as to the degree our choices can affect our personality, and since our personality defines which course of action would be most applicable to it, it appears that we are

Related Documents