What is the relationship between determinism, freewill and responsibility?  

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Determinism is the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will. Free will is the doctrine that we all have the ability to make our own choices in life. Responsibility means we all have to be responsible for what we do. 

Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and can't be held morally responsible for their actions. If you take this a step farther, you can say that no matter what we do, there is nothing wrong with it. We won't have to face an consequences for the choices we make. This is what philosophers were trying to say about determinism. Free will is another theory. Some people believe that we were given the ability to make our own choices. Philosophers have also said that with free will, we don't have to take responsibility for our actions. Free will and determinism, as philosophers have said, leave us with the thinking that we can do whatever we want. With responsibility this doctrine is that no matter what choices we make, there is always a consequence with our actions. If you look at history, you will see that no matter what philosophers have said, there has always been some sort of responsibility for a persons actions. 

Determinism, free will and responsibility all have something to do with behavior. Human behavior has been the subject of many studies. Theories abound in what responsibility we have as human beings. If determinism is correct, then we have the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it, and we don't have to think about how our actions affect anyone else. Free will, on the other hand, means we can make our own choices, but as human beings, for the most part we try to make good choices for ourselves and others. Responsibility means, that no matter what we choose to do we all have to be responsible for each other. In a way, the relationship between all three, shows the importance of how we as people think and treat each other.

ellypirocacos eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The relationship between free will, determinism and responsibility is negotiable in a moral and metaphysical context. Morality is a framework of negotiation which presupposes the deliberative participation amongst rational self-conscious beings. This already presumes that we acknowledge ourselves as somehow responsible for our comportment to the world amongst others. Unreflective beings may have a "morality" but they do not take up deliberative discourse regarding the meaning and/or proper comportment of their lives in the world amongst or with others. This implies that either (i) we have free will to determine the fate of our lives and must assume responsibility for our choices or (ii) we may or may not have free will to determine the fate of our lives but we are burdened with the desire or need to meaningfully invest and understand the forces at work that do define our fate. In the case that there is no free will, moral responsibility will be difficult to defend and this will put a strain on the judicial system of rewards and punishments.

Metaphysically the negotiation table is concerned with the dynamic forces at work in the world which impinge or entirely determine our place in the world. This would be to say that both extrinsic and intrinsic events are causally determined, so that as human beings both our physical or material behaviour in the world is determined by preceding events, and nonphysical mental events are also causally determined. It is hard determinism that makes this point. Soft determinism argues that some things are determined but not all things and finally indeterminism claims that nothing is caused.

rachellopez | Student

The proper definition of determinism is "the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will." This means that everything happens for a reason, but not because of our personal actions. 

The definition of free will is "the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion." This means that your own actions will affect every event in your life.

The definition of responsibility is "the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone." This means that you have an obligation to make certain choices or decisions for you or someone else.

These 3 terms all deal with an individuals choices, actions, and behavior; however, each say that your behavior will cause different results. Determinism says your behavior has no control over events, free will says your behavior does have control, and responsibility says that your behavior, whether it is your own choice or not, affects you and other people.