Monday, April 17, 2017

Blog #69 - Some random thoughts on fate and free will

Last week, before watching the Adjustment Bureau, we talked about varying degrees of fate and free will and their connections to philosophers that we've studied so far.

Determinism - everything that occurs in life happens out of necessity, whether it is God's plan, the laws of nature, or something else's plan.  Or, in other words, every action that we take has something that came before it that triggered that action, whether external (out of our control) or internal (feelings, thoughts, experiences).

Hard Determinism - believes that Determinism is true and that as humans, we have no freedom.  Psychologists B.F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud believed in many respects that Hard Determinism is true and that humans are little machines who are slaves to our upbringing / conditioning (Skinner) or our conscious and unconscious desires (Freud).
  - One of the things that I said that I found problematic with HD is that we really aren't responsible for our actions if HD really is the case, because we have all been fated, if you will, to do the things we are going to do.  I feel that we need to be held responsible for our actions, to a great extent.
 - Another thought (new for this blog and not in notes) is that because we're all physical beings in a physical world, we are subject to physical or natural laws, and we can't change them.  Try to defy gravity.  I've tried it. I almost broke my ankle once when I was ten jumping off of the roof of my grandparents' garage. Image result for broken ankle  (not my ankle).

Soft Determinism - this occurs when there is an intersection of our will and our capacity to do something that we want.  We are free to the extent that we are able to get the things that we want.  If I wanted to date Heidi Klum but didn't have the capacity, then I wasn't really free.  If I had the capacity or ability to ask Heidi Klum out on a date, and I met her (let's say I was hanging out at a taping of Project Runway, non-stalker like), I would be free to ask her out.  But that doesn't mean I have the freedom to actually go out with her, because that would also require her consent.  So, my freedom is very limited in this sense.
Free Will & Determinism
• Universal Determinism: position that states every event that takes place is caused by some condition beforehand even if you are or are not aware of all conditions or events. If you were to repeat the same moment under the...
  - St. Augustine, an early Catholic Church father and once prodigal son, felt that our free will (within God's plan) can lead us to sin if we deviate from His plan.
  - The Hellenist philosophers, the Stoics, believed that we should be happy with what we get, since they believe that to fight the laws of nature is futile.

Indeterminism - Determinism is wrong and there could be a few different options:
  a. In life, there are only random events.
  b. In life, some events are random, some we have choices over.
  c. Some things are uncaused (or we don't know or understand the cause)
  d. Some events are caused by not necessary (I gave the example of heavy smoking causes cancer).

A branch of Indeterminism is called Libertarianism, rejects determinism and states that everyone has free will, and regardless of the circumstances or parameters, you still have a choice.  This is something that Existentialist philosophers, most notably Jean-Paul Sartre, believe in.  We are truly free as long as we have options to choose from - latte, mocha, coffee, frappaccino?

Below is the Crash Course episode on Determinism vs. Free Will. Enjoy.  It may frustrate you.

So, after watching the Crash Course video, The Adjustment Bureau, and reading over some of the thoughts listed above, what are your views on determinism vs. free will?  Are you buying Hank Green's argument about hard determinism?  Is our free will just an illusion?  Or are you o.k. with God's plan (if that's what you believe) or just rolling with the flow (if that's your belief)?  Do you believe in free will despite what Hank is saying?
Please provide some specific examples from either CC, Adjustment Bureau, the thoughts above, and your own life.

Thanks for reading.  Due Thursday, April 20th by the beginning of class.  250 words minimum. 


  1. I believe in indeterminism (free-will) as opposed to determinism (fate). A large part of this, as with a lot of my beliefs, come from my staunch atheistic beliefs. As discussed in class, I don't believe in a higher power or deity that dictates our lives for us; I don't believe in some master plan. The world is too chaotic for that idea to make sense (And regurgitate the claim "We simply cannot comprehend His mysterious ways"). I think that all events in life are up to some sort of chance and sometimes incalculable probability.
    I do think that some people are naturally advantaged and disadvantaged. For instance, those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth are more likely to have a better life, while those of a more humble background are likely to not be as fortunate later on in life. That does not mean, however, that this was their destiny. It wasn't destined for some people to be rich and some people to be poor; that just simply and randomly happened as a consequence to a whole series of other events, reactions, and linchpins. Or take the same idea with minorities. I don't think it's anyone's fate to be deemed "different" on a social level; It was a genetic lottery that dictated whether or not a baby is black or white (or somewhere in between), female or male, or gay and straight (or again, somewhere in between).
    So, again, some people may be at a natural advantage or disadvantage, depending on their situation, but we still have a large amount of free-will. For example, take a child who was raised by a father who was an abusive alcoholic. That child, depending on their perception and will, has a choice: They can either mirror their miserable father who was addicted and abusive, or they can be empowered to be the antithesis of their father and lead a healthy life. Or, take wealthy kids versus underprivileged kids: the wealthy kids have all the resources they need to thrive and be successful in life, but if they don't commit to it, and instead just burn their submissive parents' money, they'll amount to nothing in life. Whereas a kid who lives in a rough neighborhood, while tough as the odds are stacked against them, can do anything in their power to try and enrich themselves, should they choose to do so.
    To me, we all have a choice with quite a few things in life. The real question is, "What will your choice be?"

  2. I do believe in Gods plan. I believe that believe have free will, but at the same time all the choices you make will eventually plan out to what God had in plan for you. I mean I see how some people can see it as an illusion and I don't fully understand it myself, but this is where my faith lies. It's like I believe in free will to an extent because even in the adjustment bureau Norris went against his plan and eventually his plan changed to be what he wanted it to be. I feel as though determinism comes into play because like people die and that's not free will in most cases. Tragedies happen and it's not always caused by someone making a choice like floods and hurricanes. This is why I believe that there is a God that makes sure everything happens for a reason and not just because it is what it is. I don't really agree with hard determinism because I do feel like there is some freedom in the ways of life, such as you choose what you eat or what movie you watch. Fried conscious and unconscious desire controlling us isn't always right. In all actuality this cannot be proven because it can't be empirically tested because no one truly knows what their unconscious wants. Even soft determinism makes some sense, because we all have the capability to choose between choices but which one we choose may go with having Gods plan control where that decision leads you in life.

  3. Personally, I don’t feel like fate or free will entirely dictate my life on their own. It is a mixture of the two, so I would have to agree most with the idea of soft determinism. For me, this means that everything happens for a reason, but we have the capability as individuals to guide our lives in the directions we want them to go. I feel this is the best of both worlds. It leaves room to realize that whatever happens is meant to happen in the greater scheme of things, but it doesn’t leave anyone entirely helpless and only along for the ride. I can’t say I believe in a plan created by some higher power like a God, I just believe that the universe’s events all occur with purpose. For example (I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately): college. Though I can choose what schools to apply to based on visiting campuses and where I think I will fit in best, the schools that I get accepted into are for a reason, and the one I choose to attend with be my decision for a reason, even if the reason isn’t entirely clear to me in the moment. If I don’t get into my “dream school”, there’s reasoning behind that too, it simply wasn’t meant to be. My grandma’s favorite saying is “it is what it is”, so maybe that’s colored my thinking throughout the years, but I think that only goes so far. I believe a better saying is “it is what you make of it”, and you can twist most situations into something worthwhile, even if it isn’t the ideal path or top choice. Of course, some people are dealt better cards than other, this goes without saying. Within the lifestyle you’re born into, you can work towards the best life you can have (whatever that means to you, it is different for each person).

  4. Kyle Beauregard

    It’s hard for me to say what belief I side with in this case. On one hand, I certainly disagree with Determinism and fate, that we have no real control of our lives. That’s a rather hard pill to swallow. But on the other hand, it’s also not quite right for me to say that I believe that everything is random, as Indeterminism states. Too many things practically scream ‘meant to happen’ to simply call them a coincidence. And the romanticist in me loves the idea of having a chosen match, someone made just for you, similar to Norris and Elise in The Adjustment Bureau. But even then, I prefer the idea that you still have a choice of who you fall in love with, rather than being continuously pushed to your soulmate.

    Free will seems to be the golden mean between total randomness and fated forever, which makes it ideal. Even then, how do you define free will? How free is it? Is there a plan, and all of our decisions are guided by that plan, or maybe our unconscious desire to fill that plan? Or are we just making rational choices in an irrational world, filled with surprises and coincidence and caused events? I can’t say, I literally have no idea. It’s all just speculation on my part. I tend to have a very laid-back view on life, and hence have no real opinion on what my choices are based on. But if I had to choose, I’d say the latter is preferable. It’s somehow comforting that our struggle is our own, and not just some elaborate plan laid out before our birth. The suffering we face is of our own cause, or of someone else’s, but isn’t just some means to an end. (Ironic, considering that as a writer, my entire purpose is to make a story about a group of character’s struggles.)

  5. Although I prefer the concept of libertarianism, I still hold onto the fact that certain things are meant to be. I’m not a strong believer in “God’s plan,” so to speak, or any other high being’s “plan” for that matter; however, I do think that through some energy that ties us all together, fate does exist. In that regard, I support the Stoics point of view in believing that there are certain laws of nature one can’t avoid. If I were to be held up in the morning and in turn missed a fire at work which completely demolished my part of the office, I would accept that things were as they were and I wasn’t meant to die. Prior to becoming extremely rich an influential, Oprah Winfrey was fired from a reporting job for being too “emotionally involved in the stories” but later became one of the most famous journalists in the world. Winfrey could have failed and resigned herself to the fact that journalism wasn’t for her—her free will was the thing that drove her to prove her formal employer wrong. Fate also plays into Oprah’s success: she could have never been fired and instead worked with local news for the rest of her life and never have become successful. Winfrey’s life was a combination of what was meant for her as well as what she made for herself. Free will is an important aspect of life to me because of personal experience. From what I’ve observed, things simply don’t go well when people wait around for thing to happen. There may be a certain level of necessary work put in by an individual to get to where they’re intended. I have a friend who has a poor relationship with her mom and many people in her life, yet she doesn’t do anything to try and improve her life. Her reasoning is that everyone has their fate, so she accepts the concept of being miserable. The actions of an individual factor into their happiness, as people who work to be better typically are better—even with certain things being predetermined.

  6. When we first started discussing fate versus free will, my initial reaction was to say that of course I have free will. I am typing right now because I choose to type right now. However, once I was thinking I realize what determinism really means. I firmly believe in hard determinism, but this does not depress me at all, nor discourage me. While the literal definition of Determinism is that every action is predestined, this is often misunderstood. I do not believe that there is a chairman like in The Adjustment Bureau who has an arbitrary plan. Rather, I believe that whenever we come to a decision tree, there is only one right answer, thus our path is determined. It may seem as though I am writing this essay right now because of free will, but that is not exactly accurate. I reached a decision path when I got home whether to do homework or not. Given the fact that I stress about grades and like to get things done as soon as I have time, there wasn’t really choice. No matter how many times I have the choice between homework and procrastination, assuming that everything else is held constant, I will choose homework every time. There is no way that I would choose procrastination, that is against my values as a person. So we can see that my output was determined, even though there was a “choice”, there was only one path that I would ever take. Likewise, as I am typing this essay, it seems like I have absolute freedom over what words I say, in what order, and what my message is. Once again, not so. Because of the parents I had, I read a lot of books growing up. Because of the books I read, I developed a certain vocabulary. Although it might seem like I have free will over whether to say “on the other hand” or “conversely”, I will always choose “conversely” because that was used more often in the books that I read. And we can take a step back and say that I read those books because they were the ones my parents gave to me. I had no other option for books. Those were literally the only options I had. If we take another step back, my parents got those books for me for their own reasons. One final example is clothing. I have a lot of clothes in my room, so there is a potential for freedom here, but upon inspection, it is still all determined. My decision tree in the morning starts off: do I wear clothes today? Given the social stigma that comes from public nudity and the potential legal ramifications, I choose yes. I will always choose yes. That answer was the correct answer for me, and was determined. Next: what pants do I want to wear? The decision tree branches off to sweatpants, jeans, khakis, dress pants, and so on. Given the fact that I want to impress my teachers and look professional, that value pushes me in one direction. Also, I feel very comfortable in jeans, so that also influences my decision. Dress pants seem a bit overkill, and I’m not trying to dress up, just look professional, so that is another influence. Given those three factors, there is one clear answer here. I was determined to wear jeans to school today.

  7. Freddy
    I place my belief between Soft Determinism and Indeterminism. I do not believe in a master plan, where everything we do is dictated and pre-organized by something or someone else. I find that view very pessimistic, and I’m not really willing to live a life that I cannot control. I would believe in that theory if the world was a better place, if it was working as it should and evil was not as strong as it is. Why would a master plan designed by a greater someone that is Good involve such pain? And if it was not designed by someone good but rather by a neutral force or an evil one (and that plan would have a neutral ending, or an evil one), then how come we are all striving towards the Good? We do not know about a greater plan, so I choose not to believe in one. I actually believe in free will, but even that has it’s flaws. We do not have complete free will, there are laws that we cannot defy or we will end up paying the consequences with our life (even if I, alone, wanted to rebel to a dictatorial and totalitarian government, I’d probably be killed in a few days for speaking up against the government. I decided to rebel with my free will, but I ended up killed. Not worth it). However, in most situations, we have free will, especially thanks to recognized human rights. Free will is also about thinking: we’re the only ones inside our minds, so we're free to think what we want.

  8. Olivia Reeves: I am a pretty firm believer in soft determinism. I think we have limited choice capability because that capability is determined by destinations already decided for us. There’s that old saying that everything is either a gift or a lesson, and that’s how I view experiences. You mentioned above the Heidi Klum example. The universe or fate or whatever you choose to regard it as has a plan laid out for you, as in, it probably won’t play out well. Regardless, you as a person have the feeling of control in making a choice to ask her out and that choice ends up becoming a lesson: celebrities are cool but unattainable. It’s sort of like the cartoon with the cow except with the illusion of more options besides the slaughterhouse but where (if the slaughterhouse is indeed where you’re supposed to end up) the various paths all lead there anyway. In this sense, I think we have some control over the choices we make about our journey to various destinations, but fate has control over what that destination is. The destination is set in…not stone, but some slightly more malleable form, like steel. It can be altered with significant effort, like in The Adjustment Bureau, but it’s fairly confirmed before you even start on the path to get there. Your choices in life are laid out so you feel like you have the illusion of choices, but really any of the paths you take, whether convoluted or straightforward, will lead to a fate already preordained on your behalf. The point of it all is that whilst you don’t have control of really the end result, you can either learn and grow or enjoy the experiences at the end and along the journey, whether they be a gift or a lesson, regardless of your lack of true control.

  9. I believe hard in soft determinism and in what St. Augustine has to say about free will within God's plan. Since I am Christian I don't believe in anything being truly free of will to anyone. This goes back to the definition of determinism which stated “every action that we take has something that came before it that triggered that action, whether external (out of our control) or internal (feelings, thoughts, experiences)." What I believe is that yes, I have the right to do whatever whenever because I am my own person, but there are rules in which have consequences if you go against them (better known as a sin). I then further believe based on what the Bible says that God has predestined us before he world which means he knows what we are going to do before we even do it; this leads to the question of... "Do we really have free will then?" I ask this because if God has planned our lives before we are even born then he has the say so on what flies and what doesn't based on how he wants you to grow up, learn, and portray on Earth. For example when Locus was predestined to kill Oedipus even though he was supposed to be dead parents were led to adopt him. Later Locus was predestined to learn of his prophecy and go about killing his real father then marrying his mother. Yes, he did have the choices to do such things but I believe coincidences are obvious examples of soft determinism.

  10. Sanae C

    After this video I am not sure what I believe anymore. I think I believe in self-determinism or free will to a certain extent. I don't believe in a God so I can't really say I believe in his plan. I think we do things because we have to in a sense but also Hank Green made me feel like I'm a puppet and someone is just planning my life out for me. It confused me because I wasn't EXACLY sure on what my purpose is. When we spend 12 years in school what's the point if everything is planned out for us? What's the point in doing good in school if either way you're going to end up in the career field you didn't choose? When I grow up I want to be a lawyer or an Obstetrician-gynecologist (two things on very different spectrum's) but what if the "chairman" says that I am going to be an assistant at the local post office? It makes all of what we are doing now seem pointless. I also believe that if we really don't have control over our lives then it just makes God seem even more messed up in a way. If they (God) are in total control of our lives and they plan everything single thing out then why would they let bad things happen.Like when Locus had to kill his father and marry his mother. He thought he could control it not happening but ended up doing it anyway because he couldn't escape fate. It seems like the philosophers put all of their faith and thoughts into God and gives them credit for making what happens happen. That mean manifest destiny, slavery, the Great Depression, WW1&2 and messed up stuff happening in the present is all pre-determined and planned out by God. This is why I don't think I could ever really believe in hard determinism. I think things are caused by other things. Kind of like the causation argument. We study for a test so we can do good on it. We use our get out of jail free card when we don't study or don't feel prepared enough for that test. Kids all over the country study for years and months to get a good score on the SAT and ACT, but "the chairman" already has our score pre-determined? I just don't see how humans could progress if all of this was true. I think that if this was legit then it means nothing truly will ever be our fault. We could totally do whatever we want and say "my actions were pre-determined". I think this is all false and it should be reconsidered and thought about differently. Hank Green is correct when he says it's super hard to debate Hard determinism because I can't even think of any claims/evidence against it.

  11. As a society we have no free will, just being blunt. Sure we can pick out which "ironic" t-shirt we want to wear for the day or pick which one of the refreshing cool taste of over twenty great soft drinks. But there's no real choice. There are only about five soft drink companies, four American made car brands, three oil companies, two real political parties, and a partridge in a pear tree. It's the illusion of free choice, we have no real power. But we lie to ourselves by saying "I can control my own fate". People's fate has been picked from the moment they were born. A CNN poll showed that 70% of people who were born into the working class will stay in that class. Those same people only have a 4% chance of becoming part of the 2.5% of wage earners. People's fate is set in stone due to our horrific social system that puts profit over people. It turns human beings into faceless numbers on a sheet of paper collecting dust in an old filing cabinet that some lucky person has to carry since no one uses those anymore. The less the people control their own fate, have less access to a halfway decent education, and have true freedom, the better for the people in charge. The people who run those car, pop, and oil companies. What amazes me about our incredible predicament we seem to have put ourselves into is no one really seems to care. We just go on with our little prepland life and mind our manners. We choose a mediocre home and a garbage nine to five that barely pays the bills. Choose a overpriced college to fall into a prison of debt so great that most economist say they will need to restart our college financial aid system in about ten years. Choose your soft drink and your car. I say choose freedom. Don’t get that mindless job that you only have to count down to the day you die. Choose your passion. Choose you. Choose life.

  12. When it comes to fate and free will I believe in interdeterminism. As mentioned in class discussions, I went to a private school for most of my life which instilled religious values on myself. One thing that I learned there which I still believe today is that God gave us free will. When He created humans, God ensured that we all have the ability to make chooses we desire. However, I do believe that some things are meant to happen which may or may not be part of a greater plan. I feel that there have been too many "coincidences" in human history and in my life to argue against some predetermined things. Yet, I try to not think to hard about things like this and just go with the flow. In the Adjustment Bureau, David and Elise are seen as meant to be together by us as humans, but when in judgement of a higher power, it is not meant to be. As stated before, there are sometimes too many coincidences to keep calling the events coincidences and I feel that applies to the movie's main characters. Although David is being kept from Elise because the Bureau says it is what is meant to happen, they keep being brought closer and closer together, against the higher power's plan. In my view they are meant to be together and their choices have led them to their common interests, even though it is forbidden. Even when all of the odds are stacked against them, they choose each other regardless of the consequences which may follow. However, one could argue that maybe the plan was to have them be together in the end the whole time and the difficulty of it was just a test of God? In the end, their given free will overcame The Chairman's wishes. Again, sometimes these things are hard to think about which is why I like to avoid it.

  13. Zaria Seabron 1st hrApril 19, 2017 at 10:34 PM

    I believe that we all have free will, but when we decide something, there are certain things that become more likely to occur. As I’ve said before in class, I am not very religious, but I do believe in a higher power, and also that all of our paths, which are constantly changing as we continue living, are perfectly connected with each other. So a person has free will in deciding what they do, but while they're on that path, they are still subject being influenced by people they meet along the way.
    It is hard to argue Hank’s video, because Hard determinism is easier to conceive I think. When I was watching the video, part of me was like “yeah this totally makes sense,” but then there was that part of me that really liked the idea of being free. I believe we are on Earth to have an experience, adding to the number of experiences we’ve already had, contributing to our greater selves. So because of my belief, I don't understand why we would even be here is everything was already planned for us.
    In the Adjustment Bureau, Norris was told that it wasn't in his plan for him to be with Elise, which is why the men were following him around: to put him on the right path. After the movie, I began thinking if Norris was truly taking charge of his own life, or if he was meant to do all of those things, like meeting Elise on the bus, leaving her in the hospital, telling her about the Bureau, etc. But then if that is true, then Harry and the other men couldn't have really been that angelic, because they made mistakes, like Harry reading the newspaper and not spilling coffee on Norris. If the men are better than regular people, then why do they still make mistakes? This makes me feel like we do have free-will, since things that are “supposed” to happen don't always happen, which leads us on a path that wasn't in our “plan.”

  14. I do in fact believe that everything happens for reason, but I also believe that we have free will and what we say/do. At first I agreed with Hard Determinism simply because in my religion I do believe that God has our entire life planned out. However, just like Mr. Wickersham said, I don't agree with the fact that Hard Determinists believe that they're not responsible for their actions...that's crazy. To do something and say it's not your fault is practically lying--that's kind of off the mark, I know but it's the first thing that comes to mind. Now although this may seem similar to what Christians believe, they're not the same thing. I do, in fact, believe that God has a plan for us, therefore what goes on in our life is predetermined. HOWEVER, God did in fact give us free will. What I mean is God has a plan for us, but sometimes we take different ways to get there instead of His first intended route. For example, in the Crash Course it gives the story of Oedipus who was given a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. To avoid this becoming true, his father places him in the forest as a baby, but Oedipus is found by another couple who then raise him. As he grows up, he learns about the prophecy and leaves home to prevent it from happening (he doesn't know he's adopted). Later in his life he kills what seems to be a random man and married the dead man’s wife--turns out the man was his father and the woman was his mom. In this particular in stance, the plan here was for Oedipus to marry his mom and kill his dad. Not saying that this is the type of actions Christian’s or God believes in, but from this story the prophecy was fulfilled. Even though Oedipus had free will, to which he used to get away from who he thought was his real parents, the prophecy was still fulfilled. The reason this goes against Hard Determinism is because he had a choice on what to do in his life once he heard about the prophecy, and he chose what he chose. I believe that in the end, we’re here for a reason, whether that's to become or obtain a high paying job impacting people or it’s something a simple as meeting the right people and impacting their life. Whatever the “end result” is, we’re going to get there by God’s design, but because He gives of free will to what we choose, the way we get there maybe different. Sometimes we stray away from the original path God has for us, but we always come back; similar to how there’s more than one way to success.

  15. Out of the limited choices provided, I think that I align most with hard determinism. However, I am unsure whether or not I believe that events are a result of some sort of “master plan” as the Adjustment Bureau would have us believe or if events are simply caused by other events. The latter point I think is just objectively true. There is a cause to every action and these causes can be traced back pretty far if we ponder on it for a while. If I decide not to have oatmeal for breakfast – to take a spin on Hank Green’s original example – that is caused by a combination of causes that lead me to that decision (I’m not very hungry, we’re out of dried cranberries that I would usually mix in, oatmeal is gross, etc.). This line of reasoning makes perfect sense to me and is thus pretty easy for me to accept. If all of the above factors as to why I should not have oatmeal for breakfast are true, then it makes sense that the consequence of me not having oatmeal in the morning would be fated. What makes me think harder is about whether or not a plan actually exists for where our lives should go. I know that this seems unlikely, but sometimes, events seem too significant and perfectly timed to be caused by random events. Personally, there was a time where I was on the verge of quitting debate and choir at the same time, until I had a critical conversation with my brother the night before I was planning on quitting. The choice to stay in these events has opened so many doors for me, allowed me to meet people, and all around shape who I am. As Hank Green said in the video however, a feeling is not enough to prove that an idea is true or even worth considering.

  16. Before I watched the Hank Green video on hard determinism, I was convinced that humans had free will. It makes sense on the surface to think that no one governs the thoughts in our heads therefore I have the freedom to think whatever I want. The reasoning I had for my claim was that people are responsible for their actions and should be held accountable if they make a bad one. Simply going with the idea that you can’t blame them for what they have done because it was already determined does sit well in my conscious. I then considered how does God’s plan fit into all of this mayhem. I do believe that God has control over fate/determinism (because if God doesn’t then who does?), but at the same time I believe God has given man free will in order to see how they chose to lead their own life and ultimately if they chose to sin. However after watching the crash course video, the margin for free will disappeared for me completely. Hank mentioned that the rest of the physical world must follow a set of laws due to science and our brains are apart of the physical world which means that they must be governed by event causation as well. To me that reasoning makes complete sense, but I am still left feeling undecided on whether or not I believe humans have free will. If I rely solely on science’s reasoning for determinism, then I’m left wondering what’s God’s purpose for human existence if God already knows what will happen? If free will is an illusion, then does that mean God takes responsibility for all of the evil in the world?

  17. Isaiah Johns: I believe in God's plan. While I do believe that He knows ultimately what will happen to all of us, I do not believe He resembles the adjustment bureau in that He will do whatever is necessary to force is into our fate, making us feel as though it is free will. I believe that God, in essence, gives us breadcrumbs and opportunities to live the life He knows we are capable of, and it is entirely  our choice to follow them. I don't believe that one action causes a string of reactions, but that every one action has a single consequence. In my opinion God leaves more hints or calls to action for us than we know of, and do not catch all of them because we are not perfect. I believe that although He knows what will happen to us, it is made entirely of our choices. He wants followers that yearn for him, not ones whose fate he has to calculate to their dying breath, that wouldn’t make sense. How would He even know who to choose to follow Him and who to go to hell? I believe that we have the freedom to take our lives in many different directions, and there is not a set way that it will pan out, but God knows the final way it will pan out. We are allowed to make mistakes and to learn from them, but it is how we choose to apply the consequences of our mistakes that will initiate the following actions.

  18. Francesca ButtazzoniApril 20, 2017 at 8:23 AM

    I think that life is completely driven by our ability to use freewill. My belief stems from my faith in Christianity. I was taught that God create bad things the devil does, and the reason we can be influenced by the devil’s temptations is our freewill. God gave his children freewill so that he could see how we choose to live our lives for him. I most agree libertarianism, as long as we have choices, we are free. Life is filled with choices and the main reason I believe that time travel will never exist is that a our future isn't created yet. Every choice we make in each leads us to our future and I be alive that “future’ is always changing, its never set in stone. Also, if I believed in hard determinism, how could I explain murder and rape. How is it that some people are just fated for horrible and tragic futures. Even if hard determinism is the way of the world, Id rather believe in a world that is good and doesn't condemn some people to awful fates. St. Augustine said he felt that our free will can lead us to sin if we deviate from His plan and I think this is mostly true. I feel that my God gave people free will not to damn us to tragedy but as a sort of test. He is looking to see how chooses him, who is willing to use his infinite choices to sacrifice it all for him. (Francesca B)

  19. Although I don’t agree with it, I understand the argument of libertarianism. Knowing that you’re making your own choices and doing what is best for you gives us a feeling of control over our lives. Knowing that I as a unique individual make my own decisions, I would much rather have to deal with the responsibilities of creating my own future than having it already predetermined. Despite this comfortable existence, we forget that cause and effect heavily plays into how we make decisions. Growing up, we are told to make the right choices; to have integrity and do the right thing, however, I believe that though we may derive a sense of righteousness from making our own decisions, it only feeds the illusion that we have free will. People know what is right and wrong in society, so of course I don’t believe that we shouldn’t have to face consequences for our actions. Understanding this, I also feel that if I were in someone else’s position, feeling their emotions, and understanding their past, I would probably commit the exact actions as them. In reality many things that we do in our lives, no matter how big or small are influenced by external factors that we experience in our life. In the video, Hank Green explains that it is difficult for libertarians to provide an argument that supports their belief, thus philosophical reasoning recommends that they are rejected. He says that the most precise argument for free will is that if we feel like we are free, we shouldn’t discount the legitimacy of our subjective experiences. However, Green suggests the formula of belief, desire, and temperament and all of our actions are results of invisible causes in our brains; the chain of past events that make up the present. In the Adjustment Bureau, we learn that David and Elise were meant to be together in the previous plans of the Chairman. We know that this is why they feel like they are supposed to be together. However, we learn that although they feel like they were meant to be, it was only due to something predetermined- the plan.

  20. wallie (late)
    Okay this whole concept is a blurred line for me. I’m not really sure what I believe because I don’t believe in fate but I do believe in the whole belief + desire + temperament = action thing. It’s so contradicting because by saying I don’t believe in fate I’m automatically naming myself as a libertarian but when I also say I believe in the BDT equation I’m automatically a hard determinist, but Hank said being both is literally impossible so what am I supposed to do? I would love to believe that every person chooses what they do, but deep down I know that the way someone acts is a result from previous decisions and actions and the previous decisions and actions of others around them. But where those original actions done by free will? Or were they caused by the caused by the caused by the caused? And that just brings us back to the whole god deal and I don’t believe in god so… But if I don’t believe in god but I do believe in cause and effect but I also believe that we chose our actions freely it doesn’t really work. I guess watching that crash course video really slapped my reality into place. The movie didn’t have much effect on me – it’s just a syfy movie in my mind that has nothing to do with real life. But the crash course is real life and I’m a part of real life and what I believe is real life but if what I believe isn’t possible then is it really real life? Or am I just stuck in a circle where nothing has a start because to me there’s no causer but nothing has an end either because free will and cause-and-effect can’t function together? If anything, I’d have to say I’m a mixture of libertarianism and hard determinism, even though Hank Green seems to think that’s impossible.

  21. Before watching the crash course video, I was confident that I only believed in free will. I believed this because I do not believe that there is a higher power such as god, who some believe has a plan written out for us providing us with a destiny. I have realized that in a way I agree with determinism after hearing the crash course’s explanation on everything already being a cause of something that happened before. We act the way we act, say the things we say, and think the way we think due to previous experiences, meaning that I agree with everything being determined from an initial starting point of what we did, said, or thought. The initial starting point, however, was not a prime mover, but more so the first events in our life that later cause us to be who we are.
    With all this being said about determinism, I do agree with the Libertarians in that we have a choice. Events in our life are determined by previous causes and effects, however, we still have a choice on how to react to the event, but our choice was influenced by the kind of person we have become leading up to that particular moment, even if it may seem small. I believe in us having our own choices that are influenced by this idea of determinism, because of the term “reductionism” mentioned in the crash course. I find myself tracing back to particular moments in my life that would get me to a certain point. Even though at first glance it may seem like that particular event in our life just happened because it happen, we can use reductionism to see that all these small moments led up to this other moment.

  22. Before watching the crash course video, I was confident that I only believed in free will. I believed this because I do not believe that there is a higher power such as god, who some believe has a plan written out for us providing us with a destiny. I have realized that in a way I agree with determinism after hearing the crash course’s explanation on everything already being a cause of something that happened before. We act the way we act, say the things we say, and think the way we think due to previous experiences, meaning that I agree with everything being determined from an initial starting point of what we did, said, or thought. The initial starting point, however, was not a prime mover, but more so the first events in our life that later cause us to be who we are.
    With all this being said about determinism, I do agree with the Libertarians in that we have a choice. Events in our life are determined by previous causes and effects, however, we still have a choice on how to react to the event, but our choice was influenced by the kind of person we have become leading up to that particular moment, even if it may seem small. I believe in us having our own choices that are influenced by this idea of determinism, because of the term “reductionism” mentioned in the crash course. I find myself tracing back to particular moments in my life that would get me to a certain point. Even though at first glance it may seem like that particular event in our life just happened because it happen, we can use reductionism to see that all these small moments led up to this other moment.

  23. Re-Submitting because the last one never submitted!

    When it comes to the idea of determinism, free will, and all that jazz, I come to consider myself a soft determinist. I believe that each and everyone of us is here for a reason, that we all have something that we are destined to do. However, I don't believe that we always follow this path of destiny. Although I think there is some form of plan or outline for our lives, I don't think that we necessarily need to follow the plan. For example, whoever created this plan, whether God or something else, probably didn't plan on genocide or acts of terrorism, but that somebody made the extreme decision to stray away from their plan. Think of our life's plan as a straight, unwavering line. When we are born, we follow our plan directly (overlapping with the plan's), but as we age and develop the cognitive skills to make decisions for our selves, or line starts to stray away. With each wrong decision we make we stray farther and farther from our plan, but we are pulled closer with the correct decisions. I'd say that we all are supposed to do one thing, but we have the freewill on whether we do it or not. I don't thinks it's an illusion of freewill, or only a partial freewill, I think that we have the choice to do the right thing or not (maybe conscience or instincts have something to do with the choice.) All in all, I'd say there is a plan for every person's lives, but we do have a form of freedom that can keep us close or push us away from that plan. Maybe I'm not one hindered percent a soft determinist, but I'd say my ideas align with this group the most.


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