Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Freedom vs. Determinism


John Calvin, 2, 3, Predestination
Isaac Newton, 2
Charles Darwin, 2
Karl Marx, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
(see below for Hegel and Marx)Sigmund Freud, 2
B. F. Skinner, 2

Jean-Paul Sartre, 2, 3

From Thoroux and Krasemann:


Universal Causation:

"[F]or every result, effect, and event that occurs in reality, a cause or causes exist" (61).

Kaplan: Compare superstition, magic.


Theology/Predestination: The author's critique of both predestination and Calvin's views on this matter are weak, to say the least. The "doctrine" is far more flexible than the authors admit (or perhaps know) and they completely overlook the ethical implication of the concept, which after all is the point. As an alternative, I suggest the links to Calvin, Anne Hutchinson, and Antinomianism. Also, look up Gnosticism.

Physical sciences: The extrapolation from Newton's Laws to some kind of hard determinism strikes me as forced. Was Newton the "Greatest exponent of physical determinism" as the authors suggest? This is a dubious misreading of Newton, whose observations regarding nature are not so deterministic as they are mechanistic. This is after all a significant distinction.  Even better, consider mathematical, which seems the simplest and most accurate description of all.

Biological sciences: Darwin. Does freedom have anything to do with natural selection? Should it? Apples and oranges? It seems like a very forced derivation to extrapolate from natural selection a theory of determinism. Different categories of "states of affairs," one might say. Natural selection is not deterministic so much as a process. The outcomes of the process are defined by the principle of fitness and survival, but are these determinants or simply principles?

Historical or cultural determinism: Hegel. History as a metaphysical process of mental realization. What else needs to be said, except the authors' description of Hegel's questionable and inaccurate theory is itself questionable and inaccurate?  

Economic or social determinism: Marx. "Dialectical materialism." Historical science. Determination through an evolutionary economic class struggle.

Notes on Hegel and Marx.

Psychological determinism: Freud. Human beings are determined "by their unconscious minds and by various natural drives that their society's mores and customs required them to repress" (64). Pavlov: Behaviorism: classical conditioning. B.F. Skinner, Behaviorism: operant conditioning.

Determinism: "Same thing as universal causation" (61). Everything has a cause; or there is no such thing as an uncaused event. Compare Hume.

Hard: "If all things are caused, there can be no such thing as freedom or free will" (65).

Soft: "There is universal causation, but . . . some of this causation originates with human beings, thus giving meaning to the phrase 'human freedom'" (66).

Fatalism: "The view that all events are irrevocably fixed and predetermined" (65). Everything that happens lies outside of human control.

Indeterminism: There is choice; people have choices (moral choices) that can affect outcomes. "There is a certain amount of chance in the world--not everything is caused and there is a real pluralism in reality" (66).

Kaplan: A real pluralism in reality? Compare: a real singularity in reality? A real dog bone in a real dish? Compare: A dog bone in a dish. Is the latter formulation not real, or not as real as the former? Compare: There is a really real pluralism in a real reality. Or: There is a really real pluralism in a really real reality. Which is more real, or which has more pluralism?

Arguments for and against determinism from natural and physical scientists, historians, economists, psychologists, and theologians:

Freedom vs. Determinism and Moral Responsibility: Do we accept the authors' "soft determinism" as the outcome of this argument/discussion? (69)

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