Prof. Jennifer Roudabush September 15, 2015 Inquiry Proposal: Free will Vs. Determinism



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Aiko Gallardo

UNIV 200


Prof. Jennifer Roudabush

September 15, 2015


Inquiry Proposal: Free will Vs. Determinism
The idea of whether human beings act on free will or determinism was one of the many topics discussed in my UNIV 112 class last year. Throughout the class, we would be required to have discussion circles with my peers and we would be graded on how much we contributed to the discussion. This was a reoccurring topic within our discussions and my peers and I enjoyed arguing what we believed was the correct answer. It was interesting to hear the opinions of my peers and their reasoning behind their beliefs. All the answers were carefully thought out and made it extremely difficult to choose a side in the argument. I was reminded of how much the actual topic interested me then during the class discussion of possible topics for the research paper. This topic covers the idea of whether human beings are capable of truly making decisions on their own or if the decisions they are already predetermined. There are many factors that would cause people to lack the free will that they may believe that have, such as being influenced by the media, culture, or family. I believe the topic would fit the requirements of an adequate topic because there are many opinions as what would be the correct “answer”, though in reality, there is no correct answer to this question. Thus, I plan to study how the decisions made by people are already predetermined by factors surrounding them so that I can find out how people lack true free will so that I might better understand what factors influence the decision making process of people.

The first step in doing my preliminary research on my topic was to define “free will” and “determinism” to get a foundation on what exactly I would be researching. A quick search into www.Dictionary.com defined free will as free and independent choice; voluntary decision. Determinism was defined as the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes. After understanding and analyzing the definitions, I searched the topic itself, “ Free will Vs. Determinism”, into the Google Search engine. The first option was an article from “Simply Psychology”, which also defined free will and determinism and stated reasons as to why each choice would be correct. This article also mentioned the opinions and the theories of psychologists in the mid-1900’s, such as Abraham Maslow. The second option was an article by “The Great Debate” stating more detailed reasons as to why either determinism or free will would be considered the correct answer. For example, it mentions the factors of determinism such as genetics and how determinism may be related to the genes in the DNA of a person. Another argument on the website, titled “Innate Capacity”, states that humans hold the same characteristics of each other, and there is no variation within that particular trait. Some people just hold more traits than others, but those who have the same traits, are the same person. The fourth option was a Wikipedia page of “Free Will”. Wikipedia defines free will as “the ability to choose between different possible courses of action.” A list of words are given that are associated with free will and actions that are freely chosen such as responsibility, praise, guilt, sin, advice, persuasion, and deliberation. The page mentions how free will is understood to mean origination, meaning that free will is the act of deciding without having precedents. The question that I’m studying was mentioned under the section of Western Philosophy which stated: “Do we have some control over our actions, and if so, what sort of control, and to what extent?” This question basically challenged the idea of free will vs. determinism. The fifth option form the Google engine search showed a video, and I though it would be a different outlet in order to gain more information. The video began with very informative foundation of the issue and the difference between determinism and free will. This video also discussed many discussions and opinions on the subject. I would personally suggest students to watch the video to get a solid foundation on the matter of free will vs. determinism.

Free will vs. determinism is a topic that has been discussed since the beginning of the 1900’s. Though it is not a recent issue, it’s a topic that is enjoyed to be debated today. It requires quality arguments and counter arguments in order to gain an edge on the debate, yet even so, its difficult to completely agree with on side when the other has responses that seem correct as well. Speaking from a personal experience, while discussing this subject in my UNIV 112 class, the people speaking on behalf of a side of the argument, seemed to get extremely frustrated due to the observation that every answer was countered by another compelling argument. Analyzing the topic itself, it doesn’t seem as though there would be lack of discussion towards the topic whatsoever. As stated before, there are many topics involved in this very broad topic. Once a specific topic has been exhausted, it would be easy to move from that topic to another.

A couple fact-based questions that would be important to know before beginning research on the topic was a whole include:



  • What is the definition of “free will”?

  • What is the definition of “determinism”?

  • What factors would sway the process of decision-making?

Typically, people come to a consensus on the definition of free will. There is debate on what would be considered the correct definition of “determinism” because of what the definition affects. Factors that would sway the process of decision making is a straightforward question with definite answers and there is no limit to the amount of answers given. The next step I need to take in order to move on with my inquiry question is to set up an outline of my paper as a whole to ensure that I cover topics I want to include and the base points of what I’m trying to reach. Creating outlines have always helped in the past while writing papers and it’s a strategy I continue to use. Its created very structured and organized papers for myself.

Free will vs. determinism is a topic that invites students to actually think of very structured and thoughtful response. As stated before, this discussion requires answers that must include details in order to be viewed as valid. It’s extremely inviting for discussion within the class and its interesting to hear the opinions of the peers in the classroom. While researching this project, I hope to understand new perspectives and become more open-minded to the ideals of other people. Without completing the tasks such as answering the questions given, I may miss an important point that would help in the understanding of the presentation. I am most invested in researching this project because I want to find an answer that most fits my personality considering the many options or answers.


Works Cited


McLeod, Saul. "Freewill and Determinism in Psychology | Simply Psychology." Freewill and Determinism in Psychology | Simply Psychology. Simply Psychology, 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
"The Great Debate: Determinism and Free Will." The Great Debate: Determinism and Free Will. The Great Debate, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.

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