Free will and determinism, which is right?  The notion of having free will is explicit in our justice system and just about everything else we do.  For instance, we tend to highly value personal responsibility and is predicated upon our notion of free will.  In reality, free will runs on the range and is often the primary domain of Christian theologians.  However, determinism, on the other hand, is often the position more held by people who hold a materialist philosophy.    

However, there is a third option, the compatibility strategy.  The compatibility strategy suggests that both free will and determinism are incompatible after all.  According to Grim, that  “a classic Compatibilist analysis, freedom is simply the ability to do what you want, free from coercion. If so, you may act freely even if your actions are the result of causal laws and earlier events. But that classic account does not prove fully adequate to our concept of freedom.” You might be familiar with Clarence Darrow.

Clarence Darrow was a lawyer who was defended John Scopes during Scopes trials. (see (Links to an external site.) for more information).  In 1924, Clarence Darrow used the problem of free will and determinism in defending Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Darrow was successful; the two men were not hanged but were sentenced to life imprisonment.  Both of these men committed a terrible crime kidnapping and murdering 14-year old Bobby Franks.  Darrow basically used the determinism defense that the jury accepted as valid.  Darrow’s argument revolved around the environment the two men were brought in as spoiled rich kids who never really learned right from wrong along with no feeling of guilt or remorse for any of their actions.  (see (Links to an external site.)). 

This is just one example of determinism and free will are often pitted against each other.  For more fun, explore the following websites: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Grim, P. (2008). Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines

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