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This paper compares and contrasts determinism and free will. The purpose of the analysis is to decide which concept would be preferable in present day society and culture.
It is interesting that down through the centuries the general opinion of many philosophers has been that determinism and free will are incompatible, with no possibility of compromise. As Bernard Berofsky states, "The problem of foreknowledge requires that we suppose the knowledge to exist prior to the event known; for it is only when this condition is satisfied that we become concerned about our freedom. And we have adopted a desideratum for a definition of determinism according to which determinism and freedom must be prima facie incompatible. Divine omniscience disturbs us because we view God as having already observed us doing things that we have not yet
done . . . Ignoring the fact that we are supposed to be defining
determinism in terms of foreknowledge, it is clear that our concern about freedom arises from the assumption that the world
is deterministic not from the fact that there might be a God who knows the true deterministic theory. Hence, I see no point in referring to divine foreknowledge in the definition of determinism. I further contend that our concern about freedom does not arise from the fact that there might be someone, human or divine, who knows the true deterministic theory."1
Essentially, Berofsky argues that foreknowledge and free will are not incompatible.
y, prevails. FREE WILL Free will involves the concept that the universe is not structured in a predetermined pattern. Human beings have the freedom to act as they will with no mechanistic forces at work to guide them in a predetermined direction. The problem of determinism versus free will can be stated as John Thorp phrases it: “In this version the problem first presents itself as a dilemma: either we are free and therefore nature is not deterministic, or nature is deterministic and therefore we are not free.”3 We tend to believe on the one hand that nature is deterministic, and conversely we regard ourselves as free, and most of our morals and legal institutions apparently rely on that idea. The problem with which we are confronted is that freedom could be an illusion, and there is no real empirical way to prove that the universe is deterministic. This brings us to the problem of morals and ethics. when we go from the possibility of moral evil as a correlate of mankind’s personal freedom to its actuality, we confront something that must continue to be inexplicable even when it can be seen to be possible. For we can never arrive at a complete causal analysis of a free act—if we could, it would not be a free act. Th