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Freewill and determinism are ideas about the extent to which human beings are capable of having their own thoughts, making their own decisions and acting upon those decisions.
There are often said to be three broad schools of thought on this issue. 1) Libertarianism 2) Compatiiblism/Soft Determinism 3) Determinism. Within these groups, there is a big variety of opinion and different people justify their positions in different ways. This can seem confusing and a bit unclear, but I will try to give you a brief outline or map of some ideas below.
People who are classed as Libertarians believe that humans are free. They believe that we are able to generate our own thoughts and make decisions based on those thoughts and act upon those decisions. In this case every individual is thought to have complete responsiblity for their actions.
2) Compatiblism/Soft Determinism.
Compatibilism is to some extent a middle way between Libertarianism and Determinism. This is why some determinists have called it 'Soft Determinism' in the past - they thought it was a weak version of determinism. This term was often used as a put down so it is best to call this view, or set of views, Compatibilism.
Compatibilists generally think that humans are free to some extent and determined (dependent on factors other than our own will) to some extent. There are lots of different ways that this is explained.
One way of explaining this is that the thoughts we have and the decisions we make are free, but there are factors that stop us from being able to act on those decisions. For example, you may have the thought that you do not feel well and make the decision that you should go home from school, but there may be rules in place that make this difficult or impossible for you to do. This is a type of social factor that determines what you do.
Another way of explaining Compatibilism is that the thoughts we have and the decisions we make are based on things that have happened to us in our lives and our particular psychological and genetic make up - this is called psychological and genetic determinism. However, once we have had those thoughts and made those decisions, we are completely free to act out those decisions or not to and in this way we are free.
Determinism is the opposite to Libertarianism. While libertarians think that we are free in our thought, decisions and actions, determinists think we are not free - but determined - in our thought, decisions and actions. To think that something or someone is determined in this way is to think that they could not think, decide or act other than they do. Even if they think they want to do other than they do, there was never a possiblity that they would have done.
Different determinists have different ideas about how we are determined or what determines us.
Some people think that our genetics and psychology determine everything that we think, decide and do. This is sometimes called biological determinism.
Other people think that society and the people around us - our parents, friends, teachers and even the media - determine how we will think, decide and act. This is sometimes known as social determinism.
There are lots of different people with ideas that fit into different parts of these categories and some that seem to fit into more than one of these categories. This can be confusing, but I hope that I can help you work through those people's ideas, get a really clear idea of what it is they are saying and then consider them in relation to these categories. This will help you to really understand the complexity of the issue we are dealing with.see more
Utilitarianism is a system for making ethical decisions - ones that involve a question of whether something is right or wrong. Utilitarianism argues that we should make these decisions based on how useful they are (their utility, hense Utilitarianism). Utilitarianism suggests that the use of something is based on how much happiness it brings about.
There are three subsections of Utilitarianism, each associated with a key figure: Bentham's Act Utilitarianism, Mill's Rule Utilitarianism and Singer's Preference Utilitarianism.
Bentham's Act Utilitarianism can be seen as a basis for Mill and Singer's work. Bentham argues that the right thing to do is that which causes the greatest good - pleasure - for the greatest number of people. There is a system for evaluating the amount of pleasure an act will cause called the Hedonic Calculus.
Mill's Rule Utilitarianism is different from Bentham's Act Utilitarianism because while Bentham assesses the utility of each act individually, Mill uses the principle of Utility to set up several rules for a society as a whole to live by. These rules are still utilitarian because they are based on what creates the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people.
Singer's Preference Utilitarianism is similar to Bentham and Mill's theories in that it is concerned with pleasing the most people. However, it moves away from a strict concern for the amount of pleasure an action, or rule, provides. Instead, Singer is concerned with fulfilling the interests of the people involved in the ethical decision - the right thing to do is that which fulfills the preference of most people, which may not always be what bring them pleasure and reduces pain. Can you think of an example in which you would prefer to do something that causes you more pain that it does pleasure?see more
When people talk about religion they aren't only referring to major religions like Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism. These are all examples of religions, but religious systems come in a huge range of forms. So, when academics try to think about all of these various ideas together they think about what they have in common.
People often say that some of the things these religious ideas have in common that makes them a religion is that they involve rituals, sacred spaces and commitment to a particular religion or idea.
When we think about sport, there are some elements of it that are similar to the above ideas about religion.
Rituals: Many football supporters go to football games regularly and have a particular pattern of behaviour when they do this - they might always eat the same thing and sing the same songs, for example - this is a bit a like going to church on a regular basis in terms of singing hymns and taking communion on a regular basis.
Sacred spaces: In Christianity, Judaism and Islam, people regularly visit a particular place to think about and practise their religion - whether that is a church, a synagogue or a mosque. In football, it can be said that a stadium or a home ground is like this. It is a place where people go to participate in their group activity - either religion or sport - and to cement the ideas of that group within their lives and themselves.
Commitment: A commmon feature of religions is that they are usually exclusive - a person is a member of one religion not many. Similarly, people often support one particular sports team, not many, and remain committed to them whether they do well or not.
Although sport and religion are simliar in these ways, it is important to remember that what is often considered the defining feature of religions is that they are concerned with cosmology (how the universe is) and/or with the supernatural (a god, several gods, ancestor spirits, etc). In sport, this isn't obviuosly the case. Many people that go to football games may have views about cosmology and the supernatural, but those views aren't usually given by the sport itself. They are indepent of it.see more