Free Will vs Determinism Psychology Essay

The determinism concept remains among the far-reaching terms that explain the relationship between human behavior and natural events in the universe. It is one of the areas of concern in the field of psychology in a way it states that the current activities are the result of some prior occurrences.

In this view, there is no new aspect that can come into existence since all happenings depend on a pre-determined sense that the universe holds occurrences emanating from the effects of other activities. Based on this fact, the concept has serious implications on the debate about free will as it considers human freedom as an illusion because the environment plays an important role in influencing decisions and capacity to exercise self-control (Locke 13). As Strawson notes, people behave in a particular manner for the reason that other external factors around them affect their choices and conditioning toward achieving a desirable outcome or reward (27). The determinist view of free will emphasizes the concepts of law, reward, punishment, and sentiments of guilt as the main factors that define the ability of a person to satisfy their needs.According to the determinists, the notion of free will does not exist since people can change their decisions depending on the situations and environment that they operate. For instance, the parents are role models because they always act in a manner to instill some behaviors of their children. It means that minors have no free will to do some acts for their decisions depend on the external factors, such as parents and other beings in the surroundings to a certain degree. In contrast, other philosophers believe that free will depends on the genes, which determine one’s personality regardless of the situation.

The free will increases the human capacity to make independent choices from available alternatives without social, natural, and divine restraints. In philosophical terms, it permits the rational agents to decide on what to do in line with the tenets of moral responsibility in their action. Moreover, free will connects moral responsibility and accomplishments, the autonomy, and dignity. As Locke asserts, many philosophers have tried to distinguish it from freedom as they think that the success of an individual depends on factors that lie wholly beyond human power (33). For instance, the proponents of determinism focus on subjective experience and sentiments of guilt to underline the role of law, reward, punishment, and incentive in undertaking particular actions (Strawson 32). More specifically, the law helps compel the citizen to evaluate their actions morally in order to avoid any potential confrontations with the enforcing agencies in the future; thus, human behavior remains under the stimulus control of fines, penalties, and rewards.

From a biological point of view, the determinists believe that internal, not external forces, are responsible for human choices in such a way the genetic inheritance governs the behavior among different species. For example, a child possesses innate features attaching personality traits to their behavior depending on the hormonal processes (Locke 23). The nervous system plays an essential role in determining one’s actions; hence, the level of arousal rather than the concept of free will is what affects human consciousness. Based on this fact, the determinism principles offer some inconsistent ideas regarding the role of self-control in matters of legal and moral obligations.

The genetic determinism argues that human beings can inherit and pass both physical and psychological elements from one generation to another through natural selection processes. Such a view suggests that evolutionary process helps define cultural characteristics that could considerably affect human behavior, implying that the innate drive can push people to self-actualization and growth. This idea contradicts the notion of free will that allows individuals to account for their actions. According to the humanistic psychologists, this argument dehumanizes the capacity to self-control in dealing with various issues within the environment.

It means that genes can manipulate human progress depending on the genetic composition within a group of species. The scientists cannot predict the development of a child even if they have the knowledge and information regarding their genes for chance influences the growth process (Chisholm 20). For instance, the difference in fruit fly’s wing results from deterministic processes since the environment only supports the organism with the superior innate capacity to survive. The statistical variation in genes and innate capacity implies that these differences are passed from one generation to the next in some in some proportion. For instance, the variance in the student’s ability to pass the examinations occurs due to genetic and environmental influences (Locke 34). In this context, the genetic determinism continues to receive public support for it establishes a scientific relationship between physical traits and one’s genes. In other words, it shows that genes contribute to the human growth; hence, there is no ultimate freedom.

Moreover, the free will principle suggests that individuals display random behaviors and preferences since there are no causality factors to influence such actions. For instance, both Kant and Hegel assert that the intelligent capacity allows a person to foresee the consequences of their actions meaning that choices depend on knowledge of the world. However, the determinist’s view reveals that numerous factors control the desire to achieve the expected result from the alternatives. In this regard, nature and nurture play an essential role in determining the desires; hence, they control the decision-making processes. Causal determinism entails the concept that prior knowledge and experience within a given paradigm determine what types of choices to make based on the situation at hand (Frankfurt 830). In this regard, the determinists believe that everything happens for a reason, implying that the prior events can dictate operations in the universe courtesy of the natural laws.

It is further worth noting that destiny or fate offers a critical contribution to the debate between determinism and free will as it predetermines paths leading to the occurrence of events (Chisholm 34). There is a perception that fate helps establish the future for the concept derives its meaning from a fixed order to the universe. Many psychologists use these two terms interchangeably to offer similar distinct connotation that some courses are beyond the human control for they are destined to occur. People cannot deviate from the natural order, implying that the existence of free will only help to choose the destined outcome to signify destiny.

The humanistic approach assumes that the personal agency helps humans to exercise their free will based on the consequences that such choices may attract. For psychologists, including Rogers and Maslow, freedom is one of the elements that make humans fully functional with the aim to actualize their unique desires implying that they are motivated by factors outside their charge (Caruso 45). The scholars claim that behavior does not wholly depend on external forces because to some extent, human actions are free for they can choose how they wish to behave within a framework.

Based on this fact, Rogers designed a client-centered therapy theory to help exercise freedom. Unlike the humanists, the cognitive psychologists emphasize the importance of free will by focusing on the rationality behind every decision that an individual makes in the path to satisfy various goals. In this regard, strategy and organization remain the key elements that govern and make right decisions in particular situations. For instance, Sigmund Freud argues that the unconscious conditions, such as mental illnesses, can undermine the ideas of free will as it makes people lose control of their emotions, thoughts, and actions in line with the deterministic psychologies regarding human destinies. In other words, circumstances, political ideology, and influence from those around may control the human freedom in making rational alternatives (Caruso 45). In this way, determinism removes free will and dignity on human behavior for the creation of laws, norms, and general standards of behavior tend to underestimate the unique and independent choices among the human beings to define their destiny.

What is more, the deterministic view reduces the human responsibility to control the desired behavior as people might plead not guilty for their behavior, which is pre-determined by the environment. This approach results in various psychological implications, such as discovering laws with the aim to predict events. It also means that a pure deterministic perspective does not offer an appropriate explanation to the concept of free will as it only considers human behavior as a stimulus to internal and external forces.

The behaviorists also make an important contribution to this debate since they strongly advocate for the ideas of determinism by dismissing the notion that motivation and free will are the key determinants to human behavior. In particular, Caruso articulates that the environment helps reinforce both psychological and physical discipline of people and it influences their ability to make independent decisions (47). In this scheme, the author believes that the environmental circumstances can influence a person to commit a crime regardless of the consequences of violating the provisions of the natural law. Nevertheless, he emphasizes that the law-abiding citizens will continue to do so in the future to attract rewards for their courses without any moral mental or moral evaluation (Frankfurt 829). It then implies that human behavior remains under stimulus control, making it difficult for psychologists to predict a person’s behavior for it entails interaction of the complex variables.

In summary, the determinist view focuses on the environment as an essential determinant of human behavior and choices. Determinism raises concerns about the understanding of morality as it reduces accountability for one’s actions because it puts emphasis on the mechanical forces that are beyond control. It also makes the conception of morality an illusion in a way that it defines everything from a pre-determined sense without taking choice and human freedom into consideration.

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Works Cited
Caruso, Gregg. Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will. Lexington Book, 2012.
Chisholm, Roderick. Human Freedom and the Self. Department of Philosophy, University of Kansas, 1964.
Frankfurt, Harry. "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility." The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 66, no. 23, 1969, pp. 829-839.
Locke, Edwin. The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal. BookBaby, 2018.
Strawson, Galen. Freedom and Belief. Clarendon P, 1986.