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David Hume And Determinism Essay

1107 words - 5 pages

The idea of Determinism is explored by many philosophers in the construction of arguments against free-will, morality, and liberty. Determinism is a philosophy that claims that all things are causally related to each other and there is a necessity behind every event that occurs and while Determinism as a term wasn’t coined as a term until the 19th century, David Hume explored these major concepts in his Enquiry, delving into the roots of humanity and questioning the truth of human freedom.1 In particular his exploration into human understanding leads him to conclude that there is no effect without a cause and liberty when opposed to necessity cannot universally exist.2 Hume’s discovery, the ...view middle of the document...

5 The other possible situation, which Hume clearly denies, follows the same causal chain but is the product of a dissimilar argument: God is imperfect.6 Hume argues that we cannot know this chain of events, and speculation on this subject leads us to ignore the world around us, which is the sole provider of knowledge. This ignorance of a world outside of the bounds of human experience does not allow us to understand the nature of God, making a discussion of his perfection outside of the bounds of reasonable philosophy. Determinism is the root of Hume’s method of discovery, and though it is clear that he is not willing to admit that God created human sin or is imperfect, Hume clearly acknowledges that such arguments have merit, though the answers lie outside of the subjective nature of empirical impressions.

One of the most influential human concepts is the idea of freedom with respect to individual and cultural identity.7 Hume, contrary to these overwhelmingly universal beliefs, claims that there is remarkable uniformity in human actions. He cites the predictability of the consequences of various human emotions relative to the motive, as with ambition leading to conquest or generosity leading to charity.8 Therefore, human action can be equally predicted by cause and effect, and it is absolutely necessary for a relatively stable society to exist. Hume argues that through observation we predict human behavior, and it is universally acknowledged that humans participate in this activity in contradiction to our belief that humans have the capacity to act freely.9 Hume speculates that morality may not be possible if this liberty does not exist because humans, under the will of an external force, could not accurately be blamed for their action because they are not the cause of them.10 However, an action can be performed causally within the bounds of a moral concept such as justice because, regardless of what force determined some form of injustice, there is an underlying feeling of wrongdoing that must resonate within the person who was causally determined to commit the act. Hume utilizes cause and effect to explain how human morality can exist through the constant effort of predicting certain consequences for various actions and emotions, further affirming his deterministic approach at...

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