A redated post
Hasker consider the case for determinism
Two misconceptions about determinism
1) Determinism means that people do not make choices.
Determinists do not deny the existence of choices. They just maintain that actions are determined by past causes.
2) Determinism means that our choices make no difference.
My actions are causally effective even if determinism is true.
Arguments for determinism
1) Determinism is a necessary truth of reason. For every event that happens, there must be a sufficient cause. Otherwise the causes would be insufficient, and the event would not take place.
2) We always act on our strongest desire. Therefore, the strongest desire determines what we do. Our strongest desire is always the sufficient cause for our actions. Given our desires, we cannot do otherwise from what we do. (Psychological determinism).
3) Determinism is a presupposition of science. The scientists seeks to predict and control nature, this presuppose that nature is predictable and controllable. Science is the business of looking for and finding universal natural laws to explain everything. To deny determinism is therefore to oppose science.
4) Determinism is supported by the conclusions of the sciences.
Hasker, however, thinks that these arguments are not convincing.
1) Determinism is not self-evident. It can be asserted, but that doesn’t prove it.
2) There is no good way of deciding what one’s strongest desire is apart from seeing what motivates action. So “strongest desire” just means “the desire we act on.” Therefore the principle “We always act on our strongest desire,” just means “We always act on the desire we act on.” That’s trivially true.
3) Science seems to be getting along fine without determinism in physics. Quantum indeterminacy does not prove free will, but it does undercut the argument from presupposition for determinism.
4) The results of science also don’t support determinism. A good deal of behavioral science is statistical in nature. The existence of statistical laws is consistent with determinism, but also consistent with the rejection of determinism.
Therefore, Hasker concludes, the case for determinism is insufficient.
Another argument for determinism occurs to me. Suppose we assume a naturalistic or physicalistic world-view. If we do, then the physical world is a causally closed system. And everything else that exists, at least in space and time, is a necessary consequence of the state of the physical. Now it seems as if we don’t choose the state of the physical, since the physical is determined and determined only by other physical states. Nor are we responsible for the necessary consequences of the physical. But if our actions are the necessary consequences of the physical, then we are not responsible for our actions either.
Of course, one must be a physicalist in order to accept this argument, which Hasker is not.