Determinism is a philosophical standpoint, which advocates that every action and event, including humans’ mental processes and decisions can be predicted using chains of previous occurrences. In this manner, humans’ futures are not necessarily predetermined but can be shaped and influenced by past and present circumstances. Compatibilism is a philosophical viewpoint, which postulates that free will and determinism are complementary ideas. Free will can be defined as man’s freedom to choose and be responsible for his actions and decisions.
Compatibilists believe that as long as man’s actions and decisions are not forced on him, or he is not constrained or coerced to do anything he doesn’t want, then he is exercising his free will. In theological aspect, compatibilism argues that even if God is all-knowing, He didn’t took away from man his capacity to decide whether he’d choose the right or wrong path. Man is left with the moral responsibility of his actions. Incompatibilism, as the term implies, is a notion that is opposite to that of compatibilism.
Incompatibilists argue that free will and determinism are not complementary. There are two types of incompatibilism. First is the libertarianism, which states that the universe can’t be deterministic and believers of this concept assert that free will exists. The second one is called hard determinism, which asserts that determinism exists but it is not compatible with free will. The Consequence Argument was formulated by Van Inwagen to support the Incompatibilists’ assertion that free will and determinism can never go together.
This argument operates on the no-choice premise, which states that if determinism exists, then man has no control over events and the nature’s laws, and their consequences. There are two inferences that support Inwagen’s argument: Inference A: man has no choice of what went on before his time and how things happened prior to his birth; Inference B: man has no choice on the laws of nature and how they affect and shape events of the present and future. From these inferences, Inwagen’s argument concludes that the result or consequences of the natural laws and past occurrences are not up to man.
Man, therefore, has no choice. If I were a compatibilist, I would argue against the Consequence Argument by contradiction. If I can prove that either A or B is not true, then, that would negate Van Inwagen’s claim that incompatibilism is true. For instance, if Raul’s father died because of weak lungs and Raul also has weak lungs because of his genetic make up, then Inference A would be true because he can’t do anything about his genes. The natural conclusion, under determinism, would for Raul to also die because of weak lungs.
However, Raul can make Inference B false by taking care of himself and avoiding any substance that would further weaken his lungs. He can also fight his condition by taking medicines and exercising. Raul has every chance of overcoming his weakness and need not die from weak lungs. Even if Raul has no choice about his genetic make up, he still has a choice on how to address this matter. Since Inference B is proven false, then, the Consequence Argument does not hold true.
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