Metaphysics: The Ghost in the Machine.

Essay by alaceyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2003

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Metaphysics is defined as a branch of philosophy dealing with the most general principles underlying all reality and knowledge. Throughout history, philosophers have attempted to provide answers to metaphysical questions such as, "Am I ever free to choose and carry out a free act?" "What is this "I," this "self," that is supposed to originate my free choices?"

In this paper, I will present an overview of strict determinism, soft determinism, and complete freedom. Are our actions pre-determined or are we free to choose our own behaviors? I will discuss Taylor's Theory of Agency and the role of "self" in human behavior. I will then present my view on the "self." What kind of status does "self" have? Why do we believe in self?

Determinism is the belief that all physical events and human actions are determined by external forces before they occur. A strict determinist, or hard determinist, believes that there is no freedom of choice whatsoever in human behavior.

They feel an event cannot occur without a prior cause -- they happen because of antecedent causes or conditions. Suppose a person was in a car accident. A strict determinist would claim the accident was predetermined by an uninterrupted chain of causal events. Perhaps the person driving the car didn't see the other car coming because he was lighting a cigarette, which fell in his lap, which he was smoking as a result of feeling stressed hurrying to make it to work on time, etc. The accident, according to the strict determinist, could not have been avoided. Strict determinism leaves no room for moral blame. We cannot be held accountable for our actions if our decisions are not our own.

Soft determinism maintains the belief that all human behavior is caused and predetermined, but unlike strict determinism, there is...