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Chapter 5

PHIL 201 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Theological Determinism, Determinism, Psychological Determinism

Course Code
PHIL 201
C. Kenneth Waters

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Reading Notes
March 4, 2019
Hard Determinism
Hard Determinism is the theory that human behaviour and actions are wholly determined by
external factors, and therefore humans do not have genuine free will or ethical accountability.
There are several different supporting views for this belief, which incorporates philosophical
determinism, psychological determinism, theological determinism and scientific determinism.
B. F. Skinner
B. F. Skinner dominated the field of psychology in the mid-twentieth century with his
theory of behaviorism as "the science of human behavior" and its extension to a
philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism. Skinner reduced all human behavior
to environmental operant conditioning and "reinforcement" of selected responses with
rewards or punishment.
Skinner's major contribution to free will and morality came in 1971 with his book
Beyond Freedom and Dignity. In it, he denied the existence of intentions, purposes, aims,
goals, and other internal psychological states. He attacked the idea of "autonomous man"
and free will as somehow "uncaused." He felt that as new evidences of predictable
behavior are discovered by science, no one will be exempt from "complete determinism."
I. Skinner thought his work would reform the practices of praise and blame,
rewards and punishment,
II. Skinner hoped to replace the random reinforcements of today's society with a
new kind of social control that
would not "free" men but change the controls that shape their lives.
III. Skinner thought our images of ourselves as free men had contributed to global
ecological catastrophes.
IV. Skinner's methods are intended for the controlled future evolution of man and
In Skinner’s scheme of things the person who commits a crime has no real choice. (S)he
is propelled in this direction by environmental circumstances and a personal history,
which makes breaking the law natural and inevitable.
Freewill and Determinism
The determinist approach proposes that all behavior is caused by preceding factors and is
thus predictable. The causal laws of determinism form the basis of science.
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