The philosophical problem of free will and determinism is one of the most crucial issues in ethics because it requires various opposing dispositions. In this case, philosophers try to find a compromise between these different explanations of human free will choosing the most optimal among them. On the other hand, philosophers cannot always explain the nature of human choice because people often do certain actions without any rational reason. It encourages them to think that there are some external reasons that determine the causes and consequences of human will. This essay deals with the idea that soft determinism is the most plausible explanation of the problem. Moreover, it emphasizes that human actions consist of two main coherent principles: self-realization acts (compulsion) and external coercive acts (determinism).
Determinism as a philosophical theory provides a specific reason and logic for every physical action in the world. Accordingly, it cancels the possibility of accident or irrational reasons of events because everything that happens always has causal connectivity. Hard determinism suggests that there is only determinism, and no free will exists. Hard determinists believe that determinism is incompatible with moral discourse, so it should be excluded from the world. In fact, if determinism is true, then human actions do not relate to the free will, and therefore they are morally irresponsible. Thus, any moral acts are meaningless because they do not affect the determinism. The casual connectivity cannot be combined with morality since it is incompatible concepts. The argument of hard determinists consists of several positions. First, every action is the result of previous causes, and therefore the external circumstances determine the order of things. Second, since the act is determined by something external, then it cannot be defined by something internal (free will), and thus there are no available documents. Third, a person is morally responsible only for free acts, and if the latter phenomenon does not exist, then there is no moral discourse. This position is based on the scientific laws that disclaim free will and accept determinism as the only reason of all things.
On the contrary, soft determinism seeks a middle ground between hard determinism and free will trying to combine them into a single law. It differs significantly from the hard version because it does not negate free will. Determinists try to rethink hard determinism and moral discourse taking some ideas from them. However, they cannot reject determinism and accept free will as they would not be determinists then. They claim that there is another type of free will that determines the nature of moral action. In this sense, determinists propose a compatible position. According to this, soft determinists do not reject moral discourse because people should be responsible for the actions .
They should be responsible for those acts that do not have external forces or constraint, and thus they do not prevent them from performing a specific action. For example, if a person has an option to stop the bomb without external pressure, he/she will be morally responsible for this action. In this case, this action is connected with the idea of circumstantial freedom of self-realization as opposed to “free” as uncaused or self-caused. In other words, a person can be free if nothing allows being free. Such free will is essentially different from the free will that hard determinists or libertarians propose. Accordingly, there is a difference between an act done according to one’s desires and an act done against one’s will or permit. Soft determinism states that lack of compulsion is the sign of free will, and this type of freedom is strongly connected with moral discourse.
Libertarians argue that moral decisions and actions emerge as result of free will which is not defined by any other factors. Such actions can be called as uncaused or spontaneous because only free will is the driving principle of human action. The libertarians state that law-like expectations are incorrect when it comes to act of the will. The acts of will do not relate to the laws and have their own internal (and sometimes irrational or unconscious) logic. Accordingly, a person has a full moral responsibility for his/her actions because there are no other reasons to act in certain way. At the same time, Campbell asks the following question: “But in what precise sense is free will a precondition of moral responsibility, and thus a postulate of the moral life in general?” People are able to act either morally or immorally, and therefore education, biology, society, or culture do not influence their decision. They believe in the principal position: if a person acts according to his/her free will, then there must be a moral responsibility for these actions. Hence, there are no external circumstances or any other “free wills” that can justify a person’s deeds. Besides, it is also important to reject any deterministic theory of psychology. They state that all deterministic theories are too mechanistic in their interpretations of human psychology. Libertarians argue that people’s moral experience clearly shows that they are not determined by psychological reasons. In other words, a person always has a choice to do something or not, and the nature of this act is neither external nor psychological.
In my opinion, the most plausible theory is soft determinism which proposes to distinguish between different acts of free will. I do not support hard determinism position that all our actions are determined by external causes, because there are things that we can decide according to personal free will. Moreover, determinism also eliminates any possibility of moral responsibility but in fact, our society should follow moral behavior. In contrast, libertarians limit all things to free and moral responsibility. In fact, it is also wrong position because there are many circumstances that a person cannot determine. Hence, the best option is a compromise between internal and external will since people should not only be responsible for their actions but also consider certain objective circumstances. In this case, Hume proposes two distinct kinds of reasons, namely, demonstrative reasoning and moral reasoning .
On the contrary, soft determinists are right assuming that people can partially control circumstances which affect their decisions. They argue that moral praise and condemnation serve as a reward or punishment, and therefore can affect person’s subsequent behavior . However, the main advantage of soft determinism is that it does not reject moral responsibility for any human action. For instance, if I decide whether to kill somebody or not, then my final choice will depend only on my free will. Nobody forces me to pull the trigger. Obviously, there are many external conditions; but my decision will always be mine. In any case, I should be ready for moral responsibility.
In conclusion, the problem of free will and determinism is the most complex issue in philosophy. It consists of three opposing positions that propose different solutions to the issue. Hard determinism reveals the presence of free will, and thus brings everything to the cause and consequence. Libertarianism rejects the existence of external factors because everything depends on human will and moral responsibility. However, the best option is soft determinism that considers both positions. In real life, not everything is determined by the will as well as many actions are not determined by casual objective reasons. There are many situations that require considering both subjective free act and objective social circumstances. Moreover, the internal non-binding causes moral responsibility because no one influences this act, and a person can choose whether to act morally or not.