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Free Will and Determinism

Determinism and free will underlines some of the critical principles about human nature. In this context, free will involves the capacity of human beings to make informed and free choices. On the other hand, determinism refers to a situation where the made choices are made freely whether caused or influenced by either internal as well as external forces. In order to fully understand these two concepts, various philosophers have come up with their own ideas about what free will and determinism involves and how it affects the human nature. Some of these philosophers include B.F Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and Thomas Hobbes among others.


In his view, B F Skinner sees determinism as a theory that entails the purpose, the necessities and various desires that an individual may have. This acts as the basis upon which a given human behavior can be described. In addition, Skinner addresses the internal related psychological state of an individual as compared with the prevalent external behavior that can be observed. Therefore, the cause of a certain behavior is based on what an individual is able to observe or develop either internally or externally. Determinism is purely caused by the events that may be precedent to a given interest and which may compel one to take a certain will. Therefore, in the philosophical point of view, determinism and free will are dependable metaphysical factors hence depends on various events that may cause one to change his behavior.

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B F Skinner who authored the book Beyond Freedom and Dignity and About Behaviorism related various factors that influence human behaviors and nature (Lewontin, 77). In his writings, he states that behaviors possessed by human beings are generically or environmentally induced. Nevertheless, the existence of these factors does not ignore the fact that human beings have the capacity to make free will in whatever situation. Thus, man instrumentally causes and initiatives a certain code of behavior. Indeed B F Skinner relates man to a knife that is in the hands of a butcher. This implies that the action if generated through the use of the knife. Thus, the action performed is through the use of the instrument (Dennett, 20). Thus, man is like just like that instrument. Notably, human behaviors cannot be uncaused. Every behavior is the resultant of a certain action. Moreover, they cannot be self caused. A certain force has to exist in order for one to engage in a certain action. However, some theistic have a strong belief that God has the responsibility to cause all the human behaviors that are externally induced. Skinner continues to argue that various actions taken by humans are the resultant of the choices we take which may not be based on the previous events. He believes that all actions that are taken in life are usually predetermined and hence influence the choices that we make.

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Sigmund Feud believes that actions that one is likely to take are the result of the personality that one holds as well as personal identity. Thus, in his psychoanalytic theory, he states that whether one is conscious or unconscious, there exist some forces that hold a certain principle. In this case, both the idealistic and rational forces normally control the personal identity of an individual (Lewontin, 89). Therefore, one may develop either an ego or super ego depending on the state of an individual as well as personal conscious. In addition, there are other influences to an individual that especially influences the state of mind. One is likely to develop some desires that are likely to be conflicting and opposing to each other. Some of these influences include Eros and thanatos that normally tend to oppose each other. These two forces sometimes influence death and reproduction of an individual. Sigmund feud continues to assert that behaviors that are possesses by a given set of human beings is mainly driven by other forces such as libido, psyche, taboos governing the society socially as well as the level of sexual energy that one may tend to develops (Dennett, 120). Certain impulses also affect the behavior of an individual and especially those related to sex. This leads to arousement of some desires while the degree of maintaining memories is highly repressed. Therefore, this underlines the major principles that govern psychoanalysis.

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From the analysis above, philosophers such as Sigmund Feud expounds the theory that inherited unconscious, the instincts, urges that may be related to animals, lust among other factors are likely to drive an individual to behave in a certain way and hence one may end up adopting that particular behavior (Hume, 86). Indeed, identity entails all behaviors that are inherited right from the time of birth to the present. This implies that personal identity is hereditary. Thus, nature acts as an important element in analysis of an individual’s behavior contributing to psychoanalytic theory. As the philosophers stipulates, human behaviors is highly affected by the desires, behaviors that are hereditary as well as other related factors to human nature. Although various schools of thought have been established by different scholars, the important factor to put into consideration is that free will and determinism are crucial in analyzing of any human behavior.

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