Examine the main concepts of Hard Determinism
Hard Determinism can be defined by Baruch Spinoza’s quote: ‘In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to will this or that by a cause, which has been determined by another cause…and so on to infinity’. This basically means that humans do not have free will, and that all moral actions have prior causes.
Hard Determinism follows the Principle of Causality, which states that everything has a cause, and every cause has an effect. In our universe, there are certain laws of nature which govern everything that happens. All of our actions come about as a direct result of these scientific laws, and each choice we make was determined by the situation that arose directly before it. This situation was itself determined by the situation before it, and this chain regresses infinitely. All theories of determinism are influenced by Isaac Newton, who stated that the universe is governed by immutable laws of nature such as motivation and gravitation. The world is viewed as a mechanism which is dominated by the law of predictable cause and effect. He argued that if we knew all the causes, we would be able to predict the effect. A follower of Newton named Pierre Laplace placed such confidence in the all-pervasive power of causality that he thought that the minutest prediction could be made if we were able to know the various causal factors involved. This essentially says that even human action could theoretically be predicted if we had knowledge of all prior causes. This leaves no room for chance or choice, as everything is already determined. The concept of cause and effect can be illustrated through the knowledge that if friction occurs, then heat will follow. Due to this knowledge, we are able to predict that if you rub your hands together, then they will become warmer. For a Hard Determinist, human choices are just as much a part of the Principle of Causality as friction causing heat. All our actions are determined, meaning that we have no free will, or in turn, moral responsibility.
Hard Determinists believe in the existence of both internal and external causation. It is thought that some causes are internal, and are therefore biological or genetic. However, there are also causes that are external to us, namely the environment. It is a combination of both these causes which determines our behaviour. A minority, called Genetic Determinists, claim that almost all physical ad behavioural aspects of humanity are determined by genetics. However, the majority of Determinists would point out the indisputable influence that upbringing and environment seem to have on human behaviour. Internal causation can be shown by the discovery of various genes which seem to lead to certain behaviour. For example, researchers from King’s College London discovered that boys with a particular version of a gene which lowers monoamine oxidase, are more likely to indulge in anti-social behaviour if they h...