Critically Assess the View That We Are Not Responsible for Our Evil Actions Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:15
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Category: Causality

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Many Philosophers, such as Hoderich and John Calvin, believe that humans do not have free will to act in moral situations and that all moral actions have uncontrollable prior causes. Hard determinists, therefore, follow the belief that humans can not be morally blameworthy for their actions, evil or not, because their actions are predetermined. However, this is a ridiculous stance to take as humans are free to make moral choices, meaning they are entirely responsible for their evil actions.

Many argue that hard determinism is the best approach to take when assessing this hypothesis as once you abandon the outdated notion of freedom; you can create a much better world. B.F. Skinner supports this view by recognising that since people are ultimately the result of their conditions, and will get conditioned by their upbringing and environments anyway, we ought to control peoples upbringing and environments as much as possible to ensure that their conditioning is positive. Skinner argued that such a plan would be more helpful than the current situation, in which peoples conditions is ultimately dependent on to luck. The case of Leopold and Loeb demonstrates this idea perfectly. If you look at the case on the surface, it seems like an act of pure evil, both boys kidnapped Bobby Franks and demanded ransom from his family, when this failed, they murdered him by hitting him over the head with a chisel. Harrow, whom was their lawyer and a follower of hard determinism, argued that they killed [Bobby Franks] because they were made that way.

Because somewhere in the infinite process that go to the making up of the boy or the man something slipped. If one looks into the background of these two boys, evidence refutes this point; both of these boys were from very privileged backgrounds, Leob was actually the son of the vice president. Despite this, Leob was fascinated by detective stories; he read about crimes, he planned them and he eventually committed them. Leopold, on the other hand, who was reading Philosophy at the University of Chicago, became attracted to Friedrich Nitezche and his criticism of moral codes; he believed that those who followed Nitezche were super human and did not have to abide by the moral laws that others did. Darrow argued that Leopolds obsession with crime and Loebs fascination with Nitezhce was a form of rebellion against the well-meaning, but strict and controlling, governess who raised him.

They can not be hold morally responsible for the murder of Bobby Franks because each child takes one shape or another shape depending not upon the boy himself, but on what surrounds him.. However, this is a weak view to take as it suggests that people do not need to feel guilty for their actions; they have no moral responsibility, as their actions are already determined. If people were not morally responsible for their evil actions, then the world by a chaotic place, people could commit evil crimes and blame it upon their surroundings. It is therefore clear that hard determinism is a ridiculous view to take when assessing this hypothesis, as it would lead to utter anarchy and the notion of sin would be undermined.

Many argue that soft determinism is the best approach to take when assessing the question, as it does not rule out free will- the two are compatible and so moral decisions and moral debate remains possible. Followers of soft determinism believe that some of our actions are conditioned, while others have so complex a collection of causes that they may properly be described as freely decided or willed. Hume is the Philosopher who is normally associated with this idea. Hume believed that events are determined because of a casual link between objects. Take for example, in 2012, when the travellers were prevented from flying as a result of ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland. For Hume, this casual link is called the constant union of objects.

For instance, the volcanos eruption prevents you from flying; that is outside of the control of the individual. But the response to that situation produces free will. In relation to murder, one could argue that your upbringing is determined, but the way you respond is a result of free will. This is a differing view to that of Take for instance the case of Mary Bell in 1968 who was convicted of the murder of two toddles. She was subject to an awful upbringing; her mother was a prostitute who specialised in sado- masochism- Mary was forced to listen to her mother perform these acts. A soft- determinist could argue that although Mary was subject to an abusive upbringing, she must hold some moral responsibility for her actions. Although this view seems highly logical, soft determinists have not agreed on precisely what is and what is not a determining factor in human action. This means that contradictions between followers of soft determinists are highly likely.

Many disagree that Libertarianism is the best approach to apply to questions surrounding moral responsibility. They believe that cause and affect is too apparent in the world for us to simply disregard it; it must have an impact on human actions. Take for instance, the idea of murder, if you are brought up in a family in which murder is regarded as a sin, you are less likely to commit such a crime as one understands that murder immoral. This demonstrates the idea of cause and effect perfectly; someone teaches you that murder is immoral; the cause, you understand this and therefore do not do it; the effect. Despite this, one could refute this weakness by arguing that these are just moral rules that coincide with the societal norm, they do not strip us of our free will. Even if we were not brought up with these moral codes, we can still abide by them as we posses free will.

The idea of free will also makes logical sense to us. In our day-to-day lives, we feel as if we posses it; we make daily decisions based upon our feelings, not something that has already been determined. As put by Aquinas, man chooses not of necessity but freely. Peter Van Inwagens also follows this approach, he argues that we can see that we posses free will by the deliberation of two choices of action; if we are able to do both, then we must have it as it ultimately is our choice to do either or. Peter Van Inwagen used an analogy to demonstrate this idea; you are walking along a road with many branches on it, which branch you choose to go down is your decision. Therefore, in relation to moral responsibility, we should all be held responsible for any evil actions committed as they do not come about as a result of chance or random events. Some may be subject to events which could potentially alter their morality, but they are free to choose which path they take.

To conclude, although hard- determinism has some strengths, the fact that it believes that we should not be held morally responsible for actions mean it is useless when looking at questions surrounding moral responsibility. Soft- determinism, on the other hand, is far too vague and would produce many contradictions. Libertarianism is the best approach to take as it makes logical sense; we can see we possess free will and we should therefore be punished if we commit evil actions.

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