MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

388 views

What is compatibilism?

Compatibilism, in the context of philosophy, is the belief that humans can have both free will and determined actions. To understand compatibilism, it is important to first understand the two arguments it brings together; determinism andfree will

Free will is easy to understand; it is simply the idea that, as humans, we have the ability to make independent and free decisions

Determinism however, is the philsophical argument that nothing can happen without being caused to happen. Just as a pen will not move unless something makes it move, determinists argue that people can never make a decision without that decision being influenced by their past experinces. Thus, according to this theory, all our actions are determined by our thought processes in making the decison, which are formed entirely by our pasts. Thus, if we knew enough about a persons past, character, and thought processes, we could predict all of their decisions. And if all of our decisions are determined, how can we ever act freely? 

This is where compatibilism comes in; compatibilists like Hume (probably the most famous compatibilist philosopher) argue that just because our actions are predictable, does not mean they are not free. By challenging the defintion of freedom as we assume it to be, compatibilists argue we can exist freely within a determined universe. This is because, as Hume argues, freedom does not mean the ability to make decisions independently of our pasts, but the ability to make decisions without these decisions being forced upon us. Simply because our actions are predictable, because of our individual thought processes and experiences shaping the way we make decisions, does not mean that we are forced to make these decisions. Thus, compatilists argue, although our actions and decisions are determined, we still act freely. 

Once you understand these themes the best way to answer a question on this topic would be to outline the concepts, then discuss how they link together through compatibilism. Then you can make your own decision on what to conclude in the essay; is is possible to argue all three sides! Remember when making your argument to discuss why your decision is a response to the other arguments, not just stating what you think. Don't forget this is a hard topic, so if you understand the concepts and can evaluate them in an exam, you'll do well. 

Eleanor F. IB Economics tutor, A Level Economics tutor, GCSE Economic...

11 months ago

Answered by Eleanor, an A Level Philosophy tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

24 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Nancy L.

Degree: Theology and Religion (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Religious Studies+ 6 more

Philosophy
Religious Studies
Philosophy and Ethics
History
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“About Me Hello! My name is Nancy, and I'm currently in the second year of my Theology and Religion degree at Exeter University. My passion is for all things religion, having studied it at GCSE, A-Level and now at university. However, ...”

£20 /hr

Charlie H.

Degree: Social and Public Policy, Philosophy and Sociology (Masters) - Glasgow University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Sociology+ 2 more

Philosophy
Sociology
Religious Studies
Extended Project Qualification

“About Me: Hi, my name is Charlie and I am a MA Social and Public Policy, Sociology and Philosophy student at the University of Glasgow.  I have always had a passion for the subjects that I learn (both in my degree and at high school),...”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Didrik W.

Degree: Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy (Bachelors) - St. Andrews University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, -Personal Statements-

Philosophy
-Personal Statements-

“Currently, I am in the penultimate year of my philosophy degree at the University of St Andrews. I wasn't always a good student however. Having experience being at the verge of dropping out of Secondary school, I have come to understa...”

MyTutor guarantee

About the author

£20 /hr

Eleanor F.

Degree: Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Bachelors) - Oxford, Somerville College University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Physics+ 6 more

Philosophy
Physics
History
Government and Politics
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature
.TSA. Oxford.
-Personal Statements-

“About me: My name is Ellie, and I’m studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford. I’m really passionate about my subjects and I want to share this with you!  I have plenty of experience teaching and mot...”

You may also like...

Posts by Eleanor

What is compatibilism?

Why might the equilibrium market price of a good change?

Other A Level Philosophy questions

What is the difference between 'a priori' and 'a posteriori' knowledge?

Outline the main threads of thought in Preformatism.

How qualified are you to help me

Why is the "No False Lemmas" approach an inadequate repair to the JTB account of knowledge?

View A Level Philosophy tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok