Compare and Contrast Essay on Free Will vs. Determinism

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1425 Words
Date:  2022-04-07


Human behavior can be defined using two philosophical theories which include free will and determinism. Free will is the human ability to control the choices they make despite having external factors that affect their behavior. On the other hand, determinism is the behavioral theory which argues that human beings have no choice in the actions that they take. Human behavior is predetermined by external factors, and they have no moral obligation to change what has been destined for them. The determinist approach argues that human behavior can be predictable because no has control over their actions. On the contrary, free will approach argues that everyone should be held responsible for their actions since nature provides them with the choices on what to do. Therefore any consequences should be attributed to one's preferences. Ultimately, hard determinism overweighs other theories on human behavior, things happen out of the past events, and no one has control over them.

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Free will is an argument that humans have choices to make in life. Whatever consequences they suffer from is a result of one's actions. This is an argument based on religion where they believe a supreme power gave human beings the ability to determine their destinies in life. On the same note, some psychologist and philosophers argue that despite the external factors controlling human behavior one can do what they want. In the same manner, libertarianism is the freedom of humanity to make morally informed decisions which are not predetermined. However, libertarianism agrees that morals are influenced by external factors. Finally, some argue that free will depends on the nature in which people exist in. The decision that they take depends on the situations that they find themselves in; therefore everyone should be judged on the choices that they make.

Libertarianism claims that human beings have the power and freedom to do according to their will. The theory claims that human actions are not caused but influenced by situations. The concept of free will under libertarians argues that God only limits the events that occur but human beings have the power and will to make their own choices. It is this concept that says that God judges people according to their actions. It rules out the possibility of a predetermined destiny that has been installed for any one. Ultimately, philosophers under this theory agree that human responsibility lies within oneself and not any previous event.

On the contrary, determinism is the theory that human actions are influenced by external factors. People have no control over their actions, that is to say, that they have no ethical obligation on what they do. There are both psychological and biological explanations for determinism. The psychological reason argues that human behavior is controlled by the environmental factors. The external factors such as the environment in which someone was brought up would affect his future conduct. On the other hand, the biological argument of determinism is that the gene that people possess is the reason for the practice of humanity. Biologists argue that internal factors affect the actions of people. Determinism contends that no has control over what they do. It is not someone's fault or choice to act ethically as morally (Riley). Finally, determinism claims that human behavior and moral ethics is determined by the past events. Determinism can either be classified into hard and soft determinism.

Hard determinism is the belief that a person has no choice in what they do in life, their decisions are entirely predetermined, and no one is responsible for their actions what so ever. This theory argues that free will is just an illusion that does not exist in human nature. Hard determinism originates from the scientific law of nature that everything that happens has an explanation. Scientific laws try to prove the causes of behavior and reason for certain things to happen. However, hard determinism relies on previous events that determine future action. In this theory, there is no room for human free will. Philosophically, moral obligation does not exist; no one is supposed to determine the moral ethics I the world since every action has been predetermined. If this is true, then the law of does not hold because however much it is implemented there are those who are predestined to be lawbreakers. However, the theory has shortcomings since not everything happens can be attributed to a cause.

On the other hand, soft determinism accommodates both ideas of free will and determinism. Philosophers have argued that despite things happening out of human choice, there are external factors that control the free will. There is always a limitation on length at which free will can go. The theory claims that there is cause to free will of human actions. These causes are either internal or external. The internal causes affect the voluntary free will to do things people wants. It also argues that free will is just a misconception that people have out of ignorance. The causes that affect action, form and appear as if the person has a choice out of it due to ignorance of the real situation people find themselves in. for example a person might they have an option to stay in a dark closed or not. The person making the choice to stay inside may think that they have options just because they have chosen to stay inside without knowing the room has been locked. In the event they choose not stay inside then, it dawns to them that their action to stay inside had already been predetermined. Soft determinism claims that human responsibility to their actions is guided by external and internal factors that they cannot control (McLeod).

Does a person act according to their desires or their wishes? Would this be described as freewill? Wishes and desires can be described as internal causes for human actions. This rules out the possibility of moral responsibility. On the argument that one's moral responsibility is determined by personal choices cannot hold. People act according to their personality and environment surrounding them. Let's say, two people in different environments, if they find themselves on similar situations how likely will they choose the same action? Everyone is likely to choose on an action that will conform to their environment that they exist in. these two people will think that they had the free will to choose but this is not the case. Their environment was the cause for their choices. It rules out the argument of free will on human actions. The environment and personality are both external and internal causes of human actions respectively.

Moral duty is an ethical concept in which people are faced with the choice of duty or desire. Does it mean that it is a personal choice to a duty rather than a desire? Choices have causes or else why does someone choose to do something? Is it out of free will or there is something pushing them to do so? There is no evidence that exists that someone makes actions out of free will. The arguments on free will claim that everyone has the power to take an action. However, that power is limited when one is given two options to choose from. The nature at which a person exists guides their choices which are an argument in support of hard determinism. Finally the limitation in choices to free will makes it look like a person has a freedom to do according to their while in real sense it is an ignorance of other existing options.


All in all, free will and determinism are two concepts in human behavior that are contrary to each other. Arguments on both concepts arise on what influences human behavior. Free will argues that human actions are out of personal choices while determinism claims that actions are caused by previous events that control human behavior. On the same note, determinism theory argues people are not responsible for their actions. as above discussed each concept has its own down falls, however as much as there is free will, it seems that there causes for what happens. Every action that human beings take is controlled by an event or a situation that guides their choices. In conclusion, hard determinism is the explanation for human behavior since it proves why things happen the way they do.

Works Cited

Riley Jim. Free will and determinism. Religious studies, (2015) Tutor2u: Accessed on 19/3/2018 from

Saul McLeod. Freewill and Determinism. Simply phsychology (2013): Accessed on 19/3/2018 from

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