Explain What Is Meant by Hard Determinism

Explain What Is Meant by Hard Determinism

  • Submitted By: loztrat
  • Date Submitted: 09/21/2009 10:01 AM
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 406
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Explain what is meant by Hard Determinism

Hard Determinism is the theory that everything we do is determined by antecedent causes and therefore we do not have free will as everything we do is a result of other causes and not our own choice. Hard determinism proposes that people have no choices over what they do as even when they feel there is no external cause when they make choices, everything they choose is determined by other factors or causes that have come before.

When considering what hard determinism is you can look at the idea of Laplace’s demon. Laplace's demon is a hypothetical "demon" thought up in 1814 by Pierre-Simon Laplace such that if it knew the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe then it could use Newton's laws to reveal the entire course of cosmic events, past and future. This demonstrates that it is theoretically possible to know everything that will happen and therefore supports the idea of Hard Determinism. Laplace said that ‘We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future,’ which shows he believed strongly in causal determinism.

John Locke stated in his ‘Essay concerning Human Understanding’ that even though ‘we think we are free to do X and not Y, we are not’. He supports determinism as he argues that without realising it we are making a decision based on other causes, so we do have free will or the power to make our own decisions.

Behaviourism can be used to support determinism as psychological studies have shown that behavior is predictable and controllable. B. Watson said that all ethical decisions and behaviour is controlled by prior causes. This idea is shown with ‘Pavlov’s dogs’ where dogs were made to salivate whenever they heard a bell ring after careful conditioning. Pavlov used this to propose that behavior is conditioned rather than free.

Newton’s Third Law ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’ Science...

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