A Case Study of Soft Determinism
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A Case Study of Soft Determinism
Most often, philosophers attempt to prove their many theories by making use of several examples or analogies. Yet, it is through these clever, everyday platforms that we, the average knowledge-seeking citizen, gain a true understanding of his or her intent. It allows us to incorporate our personal lives into the theory and as a result, further enhances its overall meaning. Therefore, when analyzing the theory of soft determinism, I have chosen to philosophically utilize a personal story with the intent of heightening its defense.
Barbie v. Light Brite
At a very young age, children are presented with various toys with which to assist in their cognitive development. When I was a young girl, Barbie was the hottest toy on the market. Every girl fantasized over her long, blonde hair and her amazing sense of style. Yet, for reasons unknown, my parents led me away from the Barbie hysteria and introduced me to the imaginative world of the “Light Brite”. While other girls were putting together Barbie’s new outfit for the day, I was making my own dreamlike scenes with colored, plastic pegs. Now, do not get me wrong, some of my best friends played with Barbie dolls and are no different from myself. However, the paths that we led after
This crucial point is seemingly significant. It is here where the philosophy of determinism comes into effect.
Barbie v. Soccer
As I grew older, Barbie became more popular and toys such as the Light Brite grew dull. Yet, despite the accessibility of Barbie that surrounded me, I began to take an interest in athletics. I soon found myself joining the local soccer team (even though I was only one of three girls to participate), while my Barbie friends practiced their cheerleading moves. Again, I stress the importance of taking note that although the activities we entertained ourselves with were different, we basically lead our lives today with similar goals and aspirations in mind. I can honestly say, as well, that my parents allowed me to be a very independent child. I had established my own priorities at an early age and was given every feasible opportunity to meet these goals. As a result of that independence, I am now a responsible, methodical individual. The question that must now be confronted is whether or not who I am today was predetermined from the early Light Brite days.
Determinism is stated as, “The theory that all events, including human actions and choices, are, without exception, totally determined”(Feinberg 410). When reflecting upon the story of my childhood and how I have come to develop, the concept of determinism is a very plausible notion. According to a determinist, my choice of activities followed a pattern that was predetermined long before I had conceived them. My actions were merely dictated by antecedent conditions that were beyond my control. Take, for
example, my transition from Light Brite to the sport of soccer. One could easily state that it was simply a coincidence that I played soccer—but is it? Does it not seem more plausible that, in fact, I chose soccer over cheerleading because I never played with Barbie? The answer appears quite obvious when reflecting upon the circumstances in this light. Determinism can also be applied to various aspects in life in which we make decisions.
Although Determinism appears to promote a valid explanation for my actions, it unfortunately has a rather large fallacy behind it. One of the main clauses of determinism is based on the idea that because everything is a result of an antecedent condition, we have no responsibility for our actions. Yet, if one refers back to my story, there is mention of the strong responsibility I feel for my actions as an adult. This sense of conviction towards my actions goes against everything determinism represents. As an independent child, I chose to be liable for my own actions. It was this choice that is the key factor in rendering the complete theory of determinism false and putting forth the concept of free will.
Libertarianism states that a person can, in a rational and responsible way, intervene in the ongoing course of events. If this is believed to be true, then it is very likely that I chose to play soccer and behave the
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Philosophy, Metaphysics, Determinism, Free will, Causality, Philosophy of science, Randomness, Libertarianism, Compatibilism, Incompatibilism, Hard determinism
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