Determinism vs Free Will: Crash Course Philosophy #24

Crash Course Philosophy is brought to you
by Squarespace. Squarespace: share your passion with the world. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that
you love your father. By which I mean, you want him to be alive. And let’s also assume that you don’t have any attachments to your mother that you might describe as… romantic. Well, guess who thought felt the same way about his parents? Oedipus. According to ancient Greek legend, when Oedipus
was born, a prophecy foretold that he would kill his
father and marry his mother. So his father left baby Oedipus in the wilderness,
assuming he would die, and the prophecy would then not come true. But instead, the abandoned baby was discovered
and raised by another family. As an adult, Oedipus learned of the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. So, not knowing he was adopted, he left his adoptive parents in order to avoid fulfilling that prophecy, figuring that if he wasn’t near them, it
couldn’t come true. Lo and behold, as he was trying to flee his fate, Oedipus killed a stranger in a fit of rage, who turned out to be the father he had never
met. He then proceeded to marry the dead man’s
widow, who was actually his mother, though he didn’t
know it. Needless to say, this is a fate that, needless to say, any of us would like to avoid. But for philosophers, the whole point of the story of Oedipus is: there is no escaping fate. [Theme Music] Are we free? I mean, on the one hand, most of us have the
clear sense that we are. We feel free. We feel like we make all sorts of decisions that lead to both beliefs and actions that are wholly of our own choosing. Like, I could do that. I had oatmeal this morning because I felt
like it. This view – that humans are capable of entirely free actions – is known as libertarian free will. And to be clear, libertarian free will is
nothing like political libertarianism. Both views get their name from the word liberty, but political libertarians are all about freedom
from government intervention, while people who accept libertarian free will could be anything from political libertarians to socialists. They just think that, metaphysically, we can
act freely. So a lot of us figure that our thoughts and
actions are free. But, most of us also believe that every effect
has a cause, And that everything that happens now, in the
present, is the necessary result of events that occurred
in the past. This view is known as hard determinism. And many of the people watching this probably
think that they believe in both things; that many of your actions are free, and that
the world is governed by cause and effect. But, it turns out, you can’t rationally
hold both views. Because, traditionally, libertarians have defined free actions according to what’s known as the Principle of Alternate Possibilities. That might sound like the plot device for
a sci-fi show, but this principle says that an action is
free only if the agent – that is, the person doing the thing –
could have done otherwise. So, truly free actions require options. Determinism, by contrast, doesn’t allow
options. It holds that every event is caused by a previous
event. Which means that an agent can never have done
anything other than what they did, and therefore, they are never free. But let’s look at these two options more
closely. And also, let’s look at my breakfast. Libertarianism says that my decision to eat
oatmeal this morning wasn’t necessarily caused by anything that
happened before it. Instead, it could have been the result of
non-physical events – specifically, my own thoughts –
that originated right at that point. I ate oatmeal because I decided to eat oatmeal! End of story. But libertarianism runs counter to what we
know about the workings of the physical world, with one thing causing another. So libertarians need a way to account for
their view. One way they do that is by making a distinction between what’s known as event causation, and agent causation. Event causation means that no physical event can occur without having been caused by a previous physical event. So, many libertarians concede that the physical
world itself is deterministic. Like, a baseball is flying through the air
because someone hit that ball with a bat. But many libertarians also argue that there’s
such a thing as agent causation, which says that an agent
– a being propelled by a mind – can start a whole chain of causality that
wasn’t caused by anything else. So, the person who hit the ball most likely
did so because they just decided to do it. By this logic, agents have the ability to
affect the causal chain of the universe. They can make stuff happen on their own. But, many philosophers find this idea untenable. Where would these free decisions, the ones that launch entirely new causal chains, come from, they ask? Are they simply random? What would compel an agent to make one decision,
and not another? And if you can answer those questions – if you can explain what would cause an agent to act – Then well, you’ve just reinforced the position
that actions are caused, rather than free. The fact is, it’s pretty difficult to find
arguments that support libertarian free will. The best argument in favor of it seems to be that it just feels an awful lot like we’re free. And libertarians argue that we shouldn’t discount the legitimacy of our own personal, subjective experiences – so if we feel so free, we should seriously
consider the possibility that we are. That point has a certain intuitive appeal. But if you can’t come up with an argument
to defend your feeling, then good philosophical reasoning recommends
that you reject it, or at least withhold judgment until you can
get some evidence together. So now let’s see if the hard determinists
can do any better. 18th century French philosopher Baron D’Holbach said that none of our actions are actually free. D’Holbach believed that everything that’s happening right now is the result of an unbroken chain of events. Everything, he said, is the inevitable result
of what came before. Including everything that we do! Our actions are caused in the same way that, say, home runs are caused by bats hitting balls, or tornadoes are caused by warm air systems
hitting cool air systems in the right conditions. This means that humans and our actions are just part of the physical world, bound by its physical laws. This belief is often explained through a view
known as reductionism. Reductionism is the view that all parts of
the world, and of our own experience, can be traced back – or reduced down – to
one singular thing. So, for example, you see your mind as being
capable of making free decisions. You think that what goes on in your head when you make a choice is not at all like bats and balls. But, well, mental states are brain states,
or at least they’re tied directly to your brain. And brain states are biological. And biological states are physical states. And the physical world – as we already said
– is deterministic. There’s just no room for free will in this
picture. We think we’re free – but we’re not. And really, as scientific thinkers, why would
we assume that we are? Why would we think that we’re any different
than everything else in the universe? What would make us so special? Libertarians are right that it’s really
hard to disregard the feeling of freedom. If I didn’t choose to eat oatmeal this morning,
why do I feel like I did? And what made me do it? But hard determinists say that the difference
between the causes of human actions and the causes of physical events
– like a bat hitting a ball – is that our actions have all sorts of invisible
causes that happen in our brains. Specifically, when beliefs team up with our desires and our temperament, they say, you get a deliberate human action. Combine my belief that oatmeal is nutritious,
with my desire for healthy nourishment, and the temperament that predisposes me to
enjoy warm, carby comfort foods, and ta-da! – you get oatmealy breakfast! Now, you might argue that those particular
beliefs, desires, and temperaments might lead to any number of breakfast choices
– cream of wheat, maybe, or some granola. But, if you dig deep enough, you’d see that
there are factors that rule out those options – as well as every other option. Maybe I’m a little worried about one of
my fillings coming loose, so I’m shying away from the granola because
it’s too crunchy. Or I just don’t think about cream of wheat
very often. I mean, they don’t have very good brand
awareness anymore. What even is cream of wheat exactly? And the oatmeal is sitting right there in
front of me. Or maybe I think briefly of making one of those quinoa breakfast bowls that are so hip right now. But my lazy temperament, or my belief that
I’m running late, pushes me to choose the 90-seconds-in-the-microwave
option. See how it works? All you have to do is change one factor – a belief, desire, or temperament –
and you’ll get a different outcome. Hard determinists argue that, just because
we can’t pinpoint the exact factors that led us to an action, we could, in theory isolate
them – if we knew enough about all the beliefs, desires,
and temperaments swirling around in our brains. So, in this view, what we call “decisions” are really just the inevitable results of a bunch of mental stuff combining in just the right way. And maybe it feels free.
But it’s not. But hold up!
Isn’t there some way out of this? Like, what if I have someone choose my breakfast
for me? Or what if I fall back on randomness, by,
like, flipping a coin? After all, if I just flipped a coin, then it wouldn’t look like that decision was made by beliefs, desires, and temperaments. But, well, no such luck. Because even if I thought I chose randomly,
my decision to flip the coin, or who I asked to pick for me, was just as
determined as everything else. And guess what! If you’re getting angry right now about
me telling you none of your choices are free, well, that anger was determined! If you’re finding this whole topic confusing,
or boring yep – still determined. You think you can just freely choose to stop
playing this video, but if you’re still watching me, good news: that’s determined
too! Determinists believe that you can’t help but feel and react the way you’re reacting right now. You can think you’re choosing to act in
ways that conform to the character that you’ve selected and shaped for yourself, but even
that “choice” is the result of all sorts of already-determined factors about you and
your place in the world. Hard determinism is tough to refute. And it has some really uncomfortable implications. It means the deeply held feeling most of us
have that we actually make free decisions? Is just wrong. And the whole concept of personal responsibility
is thrown out the window, too. As D’Holbach put it, we’re all just “cogs
in a machine,” doing what we were always meant to do, with
no actual volition. Oedipus had to kill his dad and marry his
mom. I had to eat the oatmeal. And you? You just had to keep watching!
You couldn’t turn away! Today we learned about libertarian free will
and it’s counterpoint, hard determinism. Next time, we’ll see if some middle ground can be found between determinism and libertarianism. And I sure hope there can be. Today’s episode of Crash Course Philosophy was inevitably made possible by Squarespace. Squarespace is a way to create a website,
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100 thoughts on “Determinism vs Free Will: Crash Course Philosophy #24

  • If there is a god, and this god has a divine plan for absolutely everything and everyone, and that plan cannot be deviated from, then no one has free will.

  • I think we have some free will, I think the answer lies with the double slit and how after it observed it changes.

  • but here i am watching this video just bc i accidentally found it on my recommendations. and dont tell me u chose to click, because no i didn't.. my sister clicked for me when i was drinking water. so it's a free will sir

  • The more I think about it, I’m beginning to think that we are nothing more than bags of chemicals enclosed in sacks of skin.

  • Think of it as a timeline. Determinism would say that we are in the middle of that timeline traveling along a certain path. As a libertarian free will believer myself, I see it as us at the front of the line as it expands, and every choice that we make changes the trajectory of the line. Every path is written, but the path that we travel down is not yet determined.

  • Hard determinism doesn't improve life, it only leads people into a state of moral nihilism and the disregard for personal responsibility. Society benefits from communal awareness and the ability to make society better through each individual. Determinists hate me when I tell them their thoughts don't contribute to the well-being of society, but that there is an opinion that has kept people healthier and happier knowing that they're playing a game and have all the choice to play the best game possible, this means those who can, will and those who can't, still can't. The will to do is predicated on ones sense of control, free will is such sense of control.

  • I'm a strong believer of cultural determinism. Is not that heaven determined I have to eat oatmeal, but the previous cultural and economic institutions decided that oatmeal is a worthy choice for early meals, therefore making it available to you in the market. You find that whenever you go to live to a different country that doesn't think oatmeal is good for breakfast.

  • Free will has its irony because you do not have the choise to have free will. If you ask me as a christian i do not really care to much for irony i have historical reasons to believe in Jesus because if a guy can rise from the dead after crusefixtion i am going to listen him. It is probebly just a personal thing. If someone shrugs off a crusefixion like it is nothing…well i have a personal rule. If someone shrugs off death as if it is nothing i am going to listen him. So yea.

  • belief + desire + temperament = action? No sir
    will = action! I can, not believe in something, have no desire to do something and have no right temperament of doing something and still do it. Why acknowledge belief, desire, and temperament as a concept and not 'will'?

  • Just because a baseball is thrown does not guarantee it will be hit, or more-so, it "must" be hit. All I see in this example is that it sets up a series of possibilities of conclusions which, from my perspective, is where that sense of free will comes into play. By no means do I HAVE to strike the ball after it is thrown. I merely chose to do so, if I so feel the need.
    Maybe I"m leaving some key element out but this is what I've gathered from this concept.

  • We don’t have free will because in the very beginning we did not ask to exist. There is not one person who asked during his time of being unborn and nonexistent ‘let me exist’. We did not have the power of consciousness and free will to ask, so the decision to masturbate at night to big booty having white girls was done by shear desire, the desire of sexual arousal. We only have desire, not free will.

  • Deterministic view is the absolute view of universe. It is the scientific truth. But libertarian view is like time. It seems real like DAMN real. But, even at best it is nothing but a stubborn illusion

  • Well actually a good refutation would Physics itself. Turned out physical events aren't so determined as it is stated by Quantum Physics that everything is in fact quite random. Therefore we can claim some sort of randomness in our actions and decisions but I'm not sure if it is that desired free will or there is just a little bit of uncontrolled uncertainty in our deterministic world.

  • sire if you believe in the concept of god you will understand that the miracle/test/purpose of human creation is to experience free will within our determined actions.
    the day of judgement is near and the guilty/innocent have been just as determined as anything else you can possibly thing about in this multiverse of existence.

  • I think hard determinism is mostly right. But I question the formula. All three of those components of a decision seem to have some bit of randomness to them. Even if you are exposed to something often as a child there is no guarantee you will develop a desire for that thing, or a belief that your parents held. I guess its where quantum mechanics comes in and how we have not figured out all of the randomness in it yet.

  • What if I don't give a fuk about my decisions or what I say or what I even do as long as it doesn't hurt anybody and as long as I don't steal I'm pretty fine at least I think

  • The idea of free will is for Dunning Kruger’s who haven’t suffered enough. I don’t hate myself as much as the voice inside of me which seems to take on everyone except my own thoughts. If I could control it, I would. The more I try the more I question if some of us are just meant to fail. Some of us study and work harder while Dissociating, apathetic, extremely sad but always ready to try harder so we can get out and away from the toxicity we were brought into.
    You can only try so many times with no sign of a person who understands or life to cut you just one break.
    You suddenly start looking at other peoples accomplishments for mediocrity and that’s what can lead to Npd.

  • I am about to do what is called a pro gamer move
    : You are an actor through fate and feel like you control.

  • A – if our choices are all determined and not free, why do we imprison the culpable, but not the inculpable? Why punish them, they couldn't help but do any of it?
    B – If every outcome comes from the series of its priors — and these from their prior causes – then are we not left with an infinite regress of causes? Was there a first cause of all things? A pure action — an un-caused cause?

  • We are determined to apply our free will, however with that free will caused by determinism we can choose to not exercise this determinism.

  • I wonder how many determinsts believe in free markets or the death penalty, that couldn't be free will, could it? Enjoyed the upload though!

  • what if we made our decisions based on coin tosses? "free me from decision"? we are giving ourselves up to that 50/50 answer? our choices left us up to that decision, but we are slaves to that outcome?

  • The issue with this discussion is the definition of "free will". Free from what? Our will is determined by earlier events, so what while we can do what we want, what we want is predetermined. We DO have free will – but this will isn't free from our former experiences. We are a product of our experiences, and our will/wants/needs are too – so while we are free to do what we want, our will isn't free when being made. This means that both are right. We have free will, AND our will is predetermined.

  • Free will is the idea that mind is not determined by space and time. This is experientially true: My body is determined to need food and water. I am free to give or not to give my body food and water. If free will did not exist I would not have a choice but to give the body food and water.

  • People in the comments don't seem to realize that any attempt to resist their own predetermined behavior is still predetermined behavior.

  • Blah, blah, blah we dont have freewill. Everyone who can think knows we dont have freewill. Its the what now that we need to focus on. Ive been waiting since 2005 for that discussion.

  • you saw an otmeal commercial on TV, bought oatmeal so you had oatmeal. as option. among toast and butter. and oatmeal won bwcause your ancestry included vicious warriors and needed some carby comfort food. and that is how you really get oatmeally breakfast.

  • Can someone reference the quote that was mentioned at the end of this video "We are all just cogs in a machine, doing what we were always meant to do, with no actual volition."

  • I think if a conversion between two people with these two ideas go on indefinitely, the ultimate question they would arrive to is whether there is a ghost in the machine or not. And I am pretty sure neither of them are going to adhere to such an explanation. So let's just suppose that we have free will. Now people who have this conception doesn't really think that it is something that cannot be demystified or does not have an explanation. Now if we do find the explanation, as is said by some philosopher you mentioned that all our choices are results of unbreakable sequence of preceding events, if we can actually come up with some thing that explains that sequence of steps for any given choice, that would certainly be a scientific break through of an immense magnitude, but if that is seen as an attack on free will we will also probably need to abandon the idea of there being any living organisms out there, as we have already known that they are just lump of some rare patterns in which non-living matters have organised themselves. So may be we have had placeholder terms for things that we don't know currently but a scientific explanation of it should not let us have the permission of doing anything we like, because we are not making choices and there is no free will anyway.

  • Slow the speed down to .75 and it's just like watching drunk history. Seriously so enjoyable. Probably retained it way better too.

  • Not everything but somethings, somewhere, someway are planned in such a manner that it really effect our future at major level 😰😰😰😰😰😌

  • Who is the "We"? Are we the physical body made of matter or are we something else? The body is made of lifeless chemicals being animated and appears to be living because of OUR presence – the self / soul / spirit / life. Our essence is spiritual distinct from matter. When we leave the body behind, the naturally dead body will be pronounced "dead" but we continue to live and trans migrate into another body. Free will applies to the self and not the brain, mind or physical body. We are the consciousness, the awareness, the seer, perceiver, decider, the I, the ego. Everything functions and set into motion because of us. Analogy: a programmer is different from a software and the hardware, yet they function as one and work according to the limitations of each one of them. If there is no programmer or operator using the computer, the computer software and hardware will not work on their own.

    We have been given free will to determine good from bad. The world is governed by order (good) and chaos (evil). Free will is not absolute and it is also governed by the Law of Karma akin to law of cause and effect – for every action, there is a definite and corresponding reaction. We consciously decide our actions and therefore have the responsibility, accountability for them. Lower animals are not bounded by this, they mainly act according to their instincts and cannot determine right from wrong, therefore they don't commit sins or Karma.

    Determinism is partly true. Because of the Karma we did in the past, we are destined to pay (suffer) or enjoy (reward) those actions. That's why we lead / have different fates. This is called Karmic reactions. Some of our decisions are also governed by the different modes of Nature – the weather patterns affects our mood and actions, our minds and outside forces influence us. We submit to the demands of our senses. But we are not like robotic machines that are pre-programmed and cannot deviate from what we are programmed to do. Even animals that are seen to be automatons exhibit some form of free will.

  • I love the Green brothers.
    I love learning about philosophy.
    I love learning about history.
    I love learning in general.
    I like knowledge and I like intelligent people.
    But why….WHY!?!???
    Why are so many of you so intent on controlling other humans.
    So many of you insist on supporting a police state in which almost every impulse humans have is monitored and controlled???
    In other words, why are all you people “commie-socialists”!?!??????

  • What does
    t stand for? It stands for the number measured by a clock. The
    equations tell us how things change as the time measured by a clock
    But if different clocks mark different times, as we have seen above,
    what does t indicate? When the two friends meet up again after one has
    lived in the mountains and the other at sea level, the watches on their
    wrists will show different times. Which of the two is t? In a physics
    laboratory, a clock on a table and another on the ground run at different
    speeds. Which of the two tells the time? How do we describe the
    difference between them? Should we say that the clock on the ground has
    slowed relative to the real time recorded on the table? Or that the clock
    on the table runs faster than the real time measured on the ground?
    The question is meaningless. We might just as well ask what is most
    real—the value of sterling in dollars or the value of dollars in sterling.
    There is no “truer” value; they are two currencies that have value relative
    to each other. There is no “truer” time; there are two times and they
    change relative to each other. Neither is truer than the other.
    But there are not just two times. Times are legion: a different one for
    every point in space. There is not one single time; there is a vast
    multitude of them.
    The time indicated by a particular clock measuring a particular
    phenomenon is called “proper time” in physics. Every clock has its proper
    time. Every phenomenon that occurs has its proper time, its own rhythm.
    Einstein has given us the equations that describe how proper times
    develop relative to each other. He has shown us how to calculate the
    difference between two times.7
    The single quantity “time” melts into a spiderweb of times. We do not
    describe how the world evolves in time: we describe how things evolve in
    local time, and how local times evolve relative to each other. The world is
    not like a platoon advancing at the pace of a single commander. It’s a
    network of events affecting each other.
    This is how time is depicted in Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
    His equations do not have a single “time”; they have innumerable times.
    Between two events, just as between the two clocks that are separated
    and then brought together again, the duration is not a single one.8
    Physics does not describe how things evolve “in time” but how things
    evolve in their own times, and how “times” evolve relative to each other.*

  • I assume you've been to college and have many degrees so I'm going to tell you the obvious. Determinism is a f**** scam. Your life is yours. If you want to look to determinism then you're not an American. Because then you become a lemming. Why should we give you a Vote? Your life is predetermined you have no free will philosophically you don't comply or coincide with the United States of America and its Constitution including its preamble. Because if your predetermined that means that you are not free and you don't belong here. Grow the f*** up.

  • Tough to answer. Yes, technically I get there is a lot of factors that go into a decision. But what if you can’t make a decision? You’re so stuck with the variables that you choose to procrastinate the decision until you can’t stand it any longer or you drop the whole thing. It doesn’t feel as though a brain that has predetermined something would put me the agent through so many cycles of overthinking the decision in the first place.

  • There is direct scientific evidence that our precipitation of our free will is not real. The direct evidence produced the effect during brain surgery of a human subject who was conscious.

  • Choosing to edit out all of what would have been natural pauses between sentences has turned this into an unwatchable nearly 11-minute single sentence.

  • I agree with you, but isn't it really the most interesting thing to know the differences of when you are "feeling free" and not feeling free and how you can be determined by yourself or by others in the moment and there is a differemce between that even if both is connected. If we defined freedom more as a way of looking at things, a way that shows us the possibilities, different doors and ways instead of showing us what is not possible?

  • We do have free will. What I have for breakfast is determined by my decision to make it myself or go to a local business that serves breakfast. If I decided to make my own breakfast, my decision on what to make is partly determined by what is available to use as ingredients. Whether I decide on oatmeal, fried eggs, an omelet, or whatever is leftover from last night's dinner, is my free choice to decide. If I choose to eat out, I have many choices there as well, and which one I choose is mostly determined by a lot of random thoughts and feelings I experience at the time. If Determinism was a real thing, our decisions would all be rational, but many many of our decisions are irrational, and often counter productive to our own well being.

  • Think of it like this: Frodo Baggins freely chose to take the ring to the fires of Mordor. No one in the story of the Lord of the Rings made him do that. And, at the same time he did it only because Tolkien wrote the story just that way. In this example Tolkien is a transcendent cause (i.e., God). Frodo has no influence over Tolkien at all; he doesn't even know that Tolkien exists.

    This also answers the issue of evil in the world. The story Tolkien wrote includes both good and evil characters. Some of those evil characters commit murder, but the police never accuse Tolkien of this evil act. They don't even accuse him of creating this evil. Because he didn't create evil, he created a story. So depending on whether you point of view is from within the story or from outside the story both free will and divine determinism are true at the same time though not in the same way. If you would like a full philosophical explanation of this concept read the book "The Most Real Being: A Biblical and Philosophical Defense of Divine Determinism" by Jack Crabtree. The example I used above is from his book.

  • I didn't want to give this a thumbs up. Not because I didnt enjoy the content but because YouTube tells me that if I believe the content is good, I must give it a thumbs up. Well I showed them; I gave this video a thumbs up in spite of YouTube. Ha, free will strikes again!!!

  • Atheists are wrong. We do have free will. We have the choice of whether or not to give a damn. Atheists choose not to.

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