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Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism

Philosophy is one of the most ancient sciences in the world. It was created by people as an attempt to explain the course of world development on the whole, and the events that happen to every particular person in his or her life. There are also numerous schools of philosophy that tend to explain the similar phenomena in different ways. One of the most important issues in philosophy is the question of determinism/indeterminism as the explanation of people’s actions and their consequences. Hard determinism, soft determinism and libertarianism are the three aspects of this issue, and this paper will focus on their contrasting and comparative analysis.

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To begin with, hard determinism is the ultimate form of determinism which defends the point of view that all events in present are caused by the past: “A hard determinist believes that the past completely determines the future.” (Rauhut, p. 88) Free will thus is viewed as an illusion as people are unable to direct their activities in the necessary ways. They only think that they make decisions, but in reality an occasion is determined to happen irrespective of people’s attitude to it (Rauhut, p. 89). In this respect, an illness of a person can be an example of hard determinism as a person can not change the fact of illness which is the result of certain past activities.

On the other hand, soft determinism is the milder branch of determinism which admits the existence and actual operation of the free will in human beings: “We are free and responsible for our actions as long as these actions are caused in the right way.” (Rauhut, p. 88) Soft determinism admits that all the events are caused but the free will of a person is viewed as the force causing them (Rauhut, p. 90). Soft determinism is divided into traditional compatibilism and deep-self compatibilism with the difference between them being the free will as a moving force of action in the former, and the authentic desires of people in the latter (Rauhut, p. 91). Soft determinism seems a vague concept trying to cover both determinist and indeterminist views, which does not add to its credibility.

Finally, libertarianism is the opposite of determinism and a concept close to indeterminism. The major point of libertarianism is the role of agent attributed to the human being: “A libertarian insists that human beings are agents and that agents have special causal powers. They can initiate (cause) events on their own account and are therefore free to shape the future.” (Rauhut, p. 106) Thus, the main difference between the hard and soft determinism and libertarianism is that the latter admits that people can form they’re future irrespective of their past actions. To put it simply, one can change what he or she has done wrong by their free will and decisiveness.

The question of determinism/indeterminism as the explanations of people’s actions and their consequences is one of the most important issues in philosophy. Hard determinism rejects the role of a person in shaping future; soft determinism admits such a role to some extent conditioned by free will or authentic desires, while libertarianism views people as the only agents of their actions who are free to shape their future. Thus, libertarianism is the most credible concept among the three considered as it admits the paramount role of a person in shaping his or her future actions and the future life on the whole.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 19). Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/determinism-in-philosophy-hard-determinism-soft-determinism-libertarianism/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 19). Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism. https://studycorgi.com/determinism-in-philosophy-hard-determinism-soft-determinism-libertarianism/

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"Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism." StudyCorgi, 19 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/determinism-in-philosophy-hard-determinism-soft-determinism-libertarianism/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism." November 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/determinism-in-philosophy-hard-determinism-soft-determinism-libertarianism/.


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StudyCorgi. "Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism." November 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/determinism-in-philosophy-hard-determinism-soft-determinism-libertarianism/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism." November 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/determinism-in-philosophy-hard-determinism-soft-determinism-libertarianism/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Determinism in Philosophy: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Libertarianism'. 19 November.

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