Thursday, November 12, 2009

Determinism and Necessity (Chapter 1.4)

Robert Kane asserts that the "free will problem" arose when human beings evolved enough to begin reflecting on the world and on themselves and their own behavior and came to realize that many factors influenced if not caused that behavior. This led to doctrines of physical, logical, theological, biological, psychological, social, and other kinds of determinism. But, says Kane, the "core idea" of all deterministic doctrines is:

An event (such as a choice or action) is determined when there are conditions obtaining earlier (such as the decrees of fate or the foreordaining acts of God or antecedent causes plus laws of nature) whose occurrence is a sufficient condition for the occurrence of the event. In other words, it must be the case that if these earlier determining conditions obtain, then the determined event will occur.

Kane points out that while determinism is "a kind of necessity," it is a "conditional necessity" in that a determined event is inevitable only if the proper conditions arise to determine it. For example, John did NOT have to go to Samarra no matter what the preceding conditions were. Had those conditions been different, he might have been determined by THEM to go to Damascus instead. But they were such that he was determined to go to Samarra.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I don't know about John, but I'm staying in samsara no matter what. My free will doesn't seem to be able to get me into nirvana. It's a "conditions-be-hanged necessity."