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(Firstly I am sorry if this or a similar question has been presented but I can not find one that sufficiently examines what I am trying to ascertain.) I have been relatively taken with the arguments surrounding determinism and free will. Chiefly the suggestion that there is no way to consolidate the two together into a singular idea. One such reason I have been presented with to support determinism is the fact that such base things as our values or beliefs might be influenced by outisde beings; parents being the example I will use. If people such as our parents can shape our values and beliefs do we actually have free will in what we decide to do when predented with a moral choice? (i.e. Catholic beliefs leading one not to have an abortion or so on). One such issue I saw with this is that through introspection I can see where the beliefs of my parents no longer hold for me. I have adapted and developed what I would consider my own set of beliefs; even though I did start with the beliefs taught by my parents. Would this then be an argument for free will or would the development of my ideas be dependant upon yet another outisde influence? If the later is true, is there any other escape from deterministic thinking that is not presupposed on the idea of a 'soul' or similar?

July 22, 2010

Response from Charles Taliaferro on July 22, 2010
A large number of philosophers believe that one may affirm both determinism and freedom of the will. Probably at least half the panel does, though I do not. I suggest that a person does an act freely if she does the act and has the power to do otherwise (all other things remaining the same). And if determinism is true (determinism is, roughly, the idea that every event is necessary given antecedent and simultaneous events and the laws of nature) then persons lack the power to do any act other than the act they do. In any case, for most philosophers who affirm that we are free, we rarely think that freedom is without any context or absolute. In other words, if you are free, you are free to do some specific act or adopt some particular practice, and so on. You righly note the influence of family and other factors in shaping our thinking and action as adults. And even now, as adults, we may be under the influence of all sorts of forces and conditions. Nonetheless when you do reflect freely about (to use your example) the ethics of abortion, this would be a case of when you have the power to weigh reasons pro and con and come to your own conclusion.
Response from Eddy Nahmias on July 23, 2010
Here's one answer I have given to a related question.


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