Even ethical egoism Is absurd If all human beings already have been programmed to act at all runes In their own self- interest. A related problem inherent in determinism is this: What is the point of holding Poe-pile morally responsible? blaming, praising, rewarding, or punishing them? for what they do or fall to do If they cannot help what they do? As you can see, the freedom- versus- determinism controversy has powerful Implications for morality and moral responsibility, and we will explore these implications in greater detail later.
The various arguments and theories supporting determinism go far back In time, but they have become Increasingly compelling as they have extended their reach Into the twenty-HTH and twenty- first centuries. These arguments and theories arise out of all aspects of human endeavor and concern: from religion; from the physical and natural sciences; and from history, economics, and psychology. Let’s examine the arguments for determinism that have arisen from each of these areas.
Religious Determinism? Predestination Religious determinism, or predestination, is derived from the tributes assigned, esp.-socially in the chief Western religions ( Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), to some supernatant-oral being. These attributes are omnipotence ( being all- powerful) and omniscience ( being all- knowing). According to such religions, because such a being created the universe and everything in it, including human beings, it has the power to do anything and knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen.
Because of these attire-tutees, then, everything in the world’s history? past, present, and future? can be seen as being predestined and foreknown. If, for example, this being has decided that I will lead a good life and ” go to heaven,” then I will; if, on the other hand, it has decided I will lead a bad life and ” go to hell,” then I will do that instead. I have absolutely no say over what I or anyone else does because everything has been predestined, programmed, ” predetermined” by an almighty supernatural being.
This theory, for reasons that soon will become evident, is not genre-ally accepted by the three major Western religions, although it has been held to be true by some theologians. The theory of predestination was most I OFF 564), who said that individuals can do nothing to ensure their own salvation. There are several problems with this theory. There is the difficulty, discussed in Chapter 1, of proving the existence of a supernatural being and, even if we could, of proving that it created the world, that it is indeed all- powerful and all- knowing, and, last, that it predestined everything so that it would happen in a certain way.
Even if we take all of the preceding on faith, however, the theory of predestination still presents some real difficulties with regard to the characteristics of the supreme being, the world, and unman beings. First, if the universe and everything in it was created by a supernatural being, then that being must also have created evil, and this constitutes a definite problem for Othello-gains holding to the predestination viewpoint. Most theologians are not willing to assign the responsibility for evil to this being, even though the problem of evils existence, given an all- powerful and all- good supernatural being, is a real moral dilemma. Second, such a being seems to be very strange indeed? especially in view of the emphasis the three major Western elisions place upon salvation? if it predetermines that some humans will be good and some will be bad, and then punishes and rewards them for something over which they have no control! Such a characterization of the supernatant-oral beings relationship with its creatures certainly does not square with the image of an all- merciful, all- Just being that the three religions also accept.
Furthermore, the concept of salvation doesn’t really mean much if it cannot be assumed that human beings are free to choose to do the good rather than the evil act. None of these problems, of euros, actually refutes the theory of religious determinism, but all do indicate why the theory is generally not held, at least in any extreme form, by any of three Western religions. There is no conclusive proof or argument that indicates that this theory is anything but one based upon very weak assumptions indeed.
Scientific Determinism Because the physical and natural sciences depend upon experiments, constancy, and prediction in their search for truth, they must accept universal causation. This has led many scientists to presume further that such causation means that there is absolutely no freedom in the universe at all. Not all scientists accept this extreme point of view, although the strongest arguments and evidence for determinism have arisen in the teen-teeth and twenty- first centuries from the natural and physical sciences, especially as these have affected modern psychology.
The greatest exponent of physical determinism was Sir Isaac Newton ( 1642- 1727). He believed that the entire realm of nature and the universe is governed by natural laws (e. G. , the law of gravity) and that there is, therefore, no such thing as freedom. Because everything observable? even things unobservable to the naked eye, such as atoms and molecules? is physical in nature, everything that occurs to these things and everything they do is caused by one or another physical law or event.
According to Newton, because human beings also are physical in nature, they are subject to physical causes both within and outside them; for them, freedom is simply an illusion. This argument is a very compelling one, for even though, as pointed out in the last chapter, the law of gravity, for example, does not state a certainty but rather a probability, has anyone ever observed any exceptions to what the law states? Despite the attractiveness of the theory of physical hold, there can be no freedom.
Critics of Newton argue that humans are not merely physical but are also mental ( and/ or spiritual) beings, and that because they are more than physical, they are able to ” transcend” physics-cal laws. Furthermore, the discoveries of modern physics, exemplified most pertinently by Werner Heisenberg ( 1901- 1976) quantum theory of physics, have raised serious doubts about Newtonian views of nature and the universe. The door has been left open for the possibility of freedom even for unconscious entities such as atoms and molecules. .
Biological determent’s best exemplified by Charles Darning’s theory of natural selection, which he presented in his most famous work, The Origin of Species. Darwin ( 1809- 1882) believed that various species in nature evolve at different stages in the history of the world and that only the fittest survive. For example, even though some prehistoric animals ( dinosaurs, for example) were extremely large and powerful, their brain capacity and mental ability were so limited that they did not survive, whereas smaller and more intelligent beings, such as humans, did.