I just have a few quarrels with some of the things we discussed in class today in regards to determinism. The first of which is just a general claim about determinism. We should acknowledge that there is a distinction between causal determinism and causal necessitarianism. Determinism is the view that the past, along with the laws of nature, determines a unique future. Necessitarianism, on the other hand, is the view that the past, which has necessarily occurred, along with the laws of nature, will necessarily determine a unique future. Doesn’t seem like much of a distinction at first, but the distinction lies in possible worlds. For determinism, possible worlds are imaginable in which things could have been otherwise. This, for instance, is Leibniz’s view. God is the ultimate perfect being, and has the knowledge of an infinite set of possible worlds, and being that God is perfect, God chooses the most perfect possible world with the greatest plethora of life. For Leibniz, God could have chosen otherwise (Although arguably I’m not quite sure if Leibniz’s God really could have). Necessitarianism rejects the possibility of any possible worlds, and the world could not be any different than what it currently is. Many believe that this is Spinoza’s view, insofar that everything necessarily follows from Nature’s power. I'll still refer to both determinism and necessitarianism from here on out as just determinism, since my other quarrels don't require the distinction. This just bugged me is all.
Here’s my second quarrel, we seem to be making a mistake by jumping right into an argument for causal determinism. Determinism is a universal concept about the how world works, and how it has worked since the beginning of time. Jumping into a discussion on determinism without first considering its inception seems intuitively time wasting. All that seems to result from arguing that determinism is false is a response by the determinist who digs farther and farther back in time to come up with different causes for each, seemingly, free willed event we throw at them. To me, it seems that the only constructive argument against determinism, and for the matter for determinism as well, is to examine it at its inception within some theological system. In this sense, the determinist cannot dig farther back without acknowledging the existence of some higher powered influence, whether it be God or Nature. The consequent discussion then seems to rely on attempting to prove some kind of theological system to be true.
And onto my last quarrel. In class we had an example that was raised which examined moral accountability given that determinism is true. If someone murders someone, and determinism is true, then are they responsible that action, given that it couldn’t have been otherwise. One of the responses to this was that we are just as causally determined to apprehend the suspect as the person was to commit murder. Both the murder and the apprehension were determined. We were then presented with the question as to whether or not it is morally right to apprehend the murderer. Here’s my line of thought. In a deterministic system, as in any system which involves morality, there are morally responsible and morally irresponsible people. Even though, if free will does not exist, we cannot say that what the murderer did was wrong because he didn’t have a choice, we still, as morally responsible people, have an obligation to do whatever we can to prevent morally irresponsible people from committing immoral acts. In this way, morality is very important in a deterministic system, because those who are determined to cross morality, such as we have crossed morality in our ethics courses and other experiences, will become morally responsible people (hopefully). Thus, even though we may not be able to say that a person is entirely responsible for their actions, we can still influence people to become morally responsible through our actions, legislation, and education.