Dipping back into the wonderful world of Determinism we have a slightly different take on the idea. We’ll begin by defining Indeterminism:

Indeterminism: Not every event that occurs is completely determined by previous conditions.

  Now you might be saying “Well that’s obvious Captain Jack.” To which I’d remind you I’m not Jack, regardless we’ll continue. The next important thing to know is what it means for something to be undetermined.

e is undetermined =df e is not completely determined by previous conditions.

  This is important because it leads us into what becomes of Indeterminism. It’s a fascinating philosophy because as with other philosophies it gets taken to some very unusual extremes. One such extreme is called “simple determinism” which looks as follows:

Simple Indeterminism
1) There are some undetermined actions.
2) People act freely whenever they perform undetermined actions.
3) People are morally responsible for their own undetermined actions.

    At first glance this appeared to be a pretty reasonable setup. The first tenet says that there are ‘some’ undetermined actions. It is difficult to say that something never happens, so its safe to say that there are ‘some’ undetermined actions. Likewise it comes out to feeling common sense when you look back on your life. Some events did not move along because of the flowing of the wind or the force of gravity.

  Likewise tenet two is making a general statement that seems difficult to argue with. A person is acting freely when they are performing an action that is undetermined. In essence they had options A) and B) (at the very least) and decided to go with one or the other. That choice was their freedom in action.

  Finally the third tenet states that when you act freely you are morally responsible. The idea being that if you choose to murder someone then you are responsible for that activity. However there is a large loophole that this particular version of Indeterminism has and it has to do with the global nature of the third tenet. A seizure is indeed an undetermined action, during that particular moment before the seizure you had the event you desired and the possibility of a seizure. However if you killed someone while having seizures many would be hard pressed to file charges against you. There are more complicated examples but this simple situation puts us in the place of either denouncing Simple Indeterminism or deciding that indeed a seizure victim is fully responsible for the repercussions of their seizure.

  If we were to make some minor modifications to Simple Indeterminism we could clean up most situations.

Rico’s Indeterminism
1) There are some undetermined actions.
2) People act freely whenever they perform undetermined and desired actions.
3) People are morally responsible for their own undetermined and desired actions.

  The introduction of desired to the pre mentioned “undetermined” situations fixes the issue of involuntary problems. In this case when presented with (for simplicities sake) two options if you choose to do one but you are unable because of uncontrollable variables (IE. Seizures or similar situations) then the resulting act is not something you are morally responsible to.

  Now this philosophy has the possibility for abuse but only in the judgement of the person by other persons. If we are to accept morality as something of a natural law (which it isn’t but bear with me) then the person IS morally responsible it’s just that they are attempting to mask the fact that they are. Likewise the action of lying about it being their desired action is also another situation of being responsible.

  Morality is certainly a discussion for another day, however when taken into context of the idea of Indeterminism I feel it’s somewhat self explanatory. Likewise I’m relatively hard pressed to think of a situation where your desired action is not one you are morally responsible for or even one that isn’t an act of freedom. However anyone feeling frisky can take a shot at providing a situation where you are acting out in a desired fashion and are not morally responsible (or even should not be).

By | 2009-02-12T19:32:33+00:00 February 12th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Indeterminism