Free Will vs Determinism.

Essay by kristie78University, Bachelor'sA+, January 2006

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The apparent contrast between the theories of free will and determinism has been ane incessant debate that has attracted philosophers and theorists for many years.

The debate itself in regards to criminal behaviour surrounds the central question, 'is our behaviour, including criminal actions, something we freely choose to do by an act of our own will or is our behaviour largely determined by forces beyond our immediate self control. These factors are primarily thought to include our biological make-up, family environment, socio-economic status and the laws of nature (Bartol, 1995). This debate is important to Criminology as it holds the key to prediction of risk and therefore prediction of crime. There are three major stances on determinism that are known as hard determinism, soft determinism and non-determinism (also known as free will) (Williams, 1991).

The key issue stemming from the debate about free will v determinism stems from the issue of taking and accepting responsibility of ones actions and behaviour.

Responsibility can be broken down into two essential components: control and understanding (Williams, 1991).

Hard determinism is the belief that our actions are actually controlled or impelled by forces beyond our immediate decision making process'. It completely dismisses the idea of free will as an illusion and that no act including criminal behaviour can be seen as an act of free will. It states that every event is directly caused and it is the aim of criminology to uncover the causes of criminal behaviour, with the possibility of being able to predict and therefore control criminal behaviour and crime (Campbell, 1994).

Hard determinism takes a number of forms in the manner of biological, sociological and psychological determinism. It is the firmly held belief of determinists that we are pre-ordained by either our biological inheritance, early child hood memories held...