Philosophy Assignment

Hard Determinism

Determinism is the belief that everything happens due to a certain cause. Hard determinism is a position on free will, which holds that determinism is true and inconsistent with free will, and thus, free will does not exist. All occurrences in the world are a result of natural causes, which means that human beings do not have the freedom to choose their actions. 

Hard determinism is different from soft determinism in that the latter assumes the capability of determinism and free will to coexist. Hard determinism is also contrasted with metaphysical libertarianism, which suggests that free will exists and determinism is nonexistent.


John Stuart Mill

Despite being a determinist, John Stuart Mill believes that human beings are free in a given sense. In an attempt to solve the problem of compatibility of free will with determinism, Mill adopts the theory of “misleading association”, which includes the concept of “necessity”. He emphasizes the need to set these two statements apart: on one hand, actions occur necessarily, while on the other hand, they are predetermined and human beings have no influence on them. Mill suggests two doctrines: the doctrine of necessity (determinism) and that of fatalism. While fatalism is not compatible with the free will, according to Mill, determinism is.

John Stuart Mill holds that determinism does not necessarily exclude the ability of a person to influence his actions. He also believes that an ability to influence one’s character is essentially the free will. 

Question 2

Harry Frankfurt in his “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person” argues that personhood entails more than a genetic makeup of a person. Therefore, a ‘person’ is the one who has the ability to engage himself with his will (desires) while considering his motivations. 

Frankfurt classifies desires into the first and second order desires, and second order volitions. First order desire is a desire of the first instance, which has no bearing on another desire. For example, a desire to eat a burger is a first order desire. Second order desire is a desire that has a bearing on another desire, or the desire to desire an item. Second order volition is a second order desire developed by oneself that is not connected to first order desires.

Frankfurt believes that in order to have a free will, one needs to have second order volitions. A “wanton” is a creature that has second order desires, but has no desire to be moved by them. Such person lacks willfulness. Willfulness is what enables people to identify with their second order desires and decide whether such desires are worth of being pursued.

The Drug Addict Analogy

To distinguish between a person and a wanton, Frankfurt uses an analogy where two men are uncontrollably addicted to a drug. One is a person unwillingly addicted, while the other is a wanton addicted to the drug. Neither of them is capable of quitting the habit, but they are still different. The wanton addict has conflicting first order desires: one, he desires to ingest a drug so that he can feel its effects, whereas the other is a desire to refrain from taking a drug because he understands its harmful effects. The unwilling addict has an additional desire to refrain from taking a drug, because he has a desire to refrain from taking it. Third ability that stems out of a free will is what sets apart the unwilling drug addict from the wanton.

Question 3

Argument by analogy (AA) for other minds was developed by Bertrand Russell. He was a British philosopher and a literary stylist. With his literary prowess, he authored various books that have been and are used worldwide up to date. He seeks to expound the fact that the mental state of a person is responsible for his/her behavior. Without a proper form of a mental state, the actions of a person would be unjustifiable. To justify the existence of other minds except ours, an additional postulate needs to be accepted to strengthen the analogy. According to Russell, other minds exist, which is a probabilistic inference.

A-type criticism supports the claim that a solid analogical argument must proceed and conclude based on observed facts. First, the validity of these observed facts must be proven. Hyslop and Jackson developed an argument for the presence of helium on the Sun. This argument was drawn by an analogy that Earth has some characteristics of helium. They refute an argument that cannot be observed, i.e., mental status using the analogy of helium presence on Earth. An example of existence of helium on the sun illustrates that unobservable things can be inferred from unobserved things. The light emitted by the Sun is the first proof that helium exists in it.

However, the helium on the Sun analogy is not a good response to A-type objection to AA. One of the reasons is that Hyslop and Jackson do not define a “direct observation”. Several questions arise about their analogy of helium on the Sun: does observing helium on the Sun using a microscope count as a “direct observation”?; does observing using our eyes count as a “direct observation”? These are the examples that elucidate the downfall of the analogy by Hyslop and Jackson.

Question 4

A woman, who has consented to go out with a man, is fully aware that soon she will face the need to make a decision. However, she does not want to appreciate the urgency. At the moment, she chooses to concern herself only with what is respectful and discreet in the man’s attitude. She does not want to perceive the temporal consequences of his actions. If he says to her, “I find you very attractive”, she will disregard the sexual undertones of such statement and instead focus on the behavior of a speaker. The reason for associating man’s statement with his demeanor is woman’s uncertainty about her wants. She is aware of her effect on a man, but at the same time, she would be horrified and humiliated if he reciprocated in a similar manner. Yet, she will not find any charm solely in a respect, rather she needs to feel that the respect is directed toward her person, precisely, her body. She refuses to comprehend the desire for what it is, finding convenience in recognizing it only as his effort of admiring and showing respect toward her.

Should he take her hand, again, she becomes aware of the risk the action poses: a change of the situation. She does not wish to withdraw her hand from his, because it will ruin the charm of the moment. At the same time, leaving her hand in his implies her consent to flirt with him. Her aim is to postpone the decision for as long as possible while enjoying his desire. She neither consents nor resists his action.

We say that she is in a bad faith as she disarms the actions by reducing them to existing in the mode of in-itself. However, given a woman recognizes man’s desire for what it is, she also allows herself to enjoy it. Lastly, she perceives herself as being separate from her body, so that events may happen to the body, which she has no control over. 

Question 5

Some philosophers of art, like R.G. Collingwood, have suggested that art exists in the mind of an artist, hence it possesses no solid reality outside artist’s imagination. Collingwood’s argument rests upon what he terms as empirical facts about art. He argues that artists create art as a way of expressing their emotions, which are un-analyzable without an expression. Collingwood explicitly states, “The work of art proper is something not seen or heard, but something imagined”. 

Collingwood holds that art centers solely on an artist and does not take into account other individuals such as the viewers. Since art is created by an artist, Collingwood believes that art is also created exclusively for an artist. However, such a claim is indefensible, because existing separately from artist’s imagination the idea of an artwork loses its objectiveness. Therefore, art should be separable from an artist in order to attain its separate identity.  

For example, the famous painting of Mona Lisa, which is admired by many lovers of art. The piece of art is mostly identified as a physical object, independent from its creator. Viewers are able to access it at the Louvre in Paris. It is even reasonable to argue that the portrait is more famous than its creator. Today, people remember the portrait better than the person who painted it. If the portrait of Mona Lisa was as personal as Collingwood claims to its creator, Leonardo da Vinci, then viewers would be unable to access it. Hence, Collingwood’s arguments render art “untouchable.” Admittedly, these objections rest upon a metaphysical presupposition about an art object, specifically on the idea that it must allow for the interaction with the viewer.

Collingwood’s assertions, though worth of consideration, are not entirely truthful when appraising artwork. Art may originate as an idea in the artist’s mind, but its development leaves a physical item capable of changing ownership, from an artist to a third party, for example.

Question 6

Dennis Dutton was an art philosopher as well as a co-founder and co-editor of various websites concerning art. He sought to quash the view held by Alfred Lessing and Arthur Koestler, who both believed that aesthetic value of a piece of art remains constant whether it is forged or not. Dennis Dutton accuses them of having an aesthetic philistinism, which is the tendency of lacking gratitude to art, beauty, spirituality and intellect.

Forged art is a piece of art presented to a buyer with the sole purpose of deceiving, which receives applauds because of the perception that it belongs to a renowned artist. Although an aesthetic object does not change after the revelation of forgery, the implication brought forward is that it was previously valued due to the belief that it belonged to a renowned artist and not for its intrinsic aesthetic properties. Even though art operates on immediate visual effects, a forged artwork does not and cannot have the same artistic value as the original piece. Forger’s achievement cannot be equated to that of the original artist.

Forged artwork does not have the same artistic value as the original one in terms of monetary value and moral implications. Original artwork is a culmination of artist’s technique and commitment. Art is best understood by learning its origins, artist’s technique and the context in which it was created. A classic example of this distinction is a notorious forger Han Van Meegeran, who was arrested for selling the Dutch national treasure. He forged Johannes Vermer’s art among which was the “Christ and the disciples at Emmaus”. His works have been accepted as the original pieces of art for years.

Question 7

Jean Paul Sartre focuses on the doctrine of existentialism, which suggests that every truth and action have an implication of environment and human subjectivity. Sartre’s belief was an objection to Marxists, who concentrated on isolating people from one another leading to a non-accountability for the existence of other people. Sartre, who was highly aware of the presence of other people in the environment, states that the same grounds that prove the existence of others also prove my existence and thus, a person’s ego is viewed to be a transcendent object in the world just as much as others are. With all the tentativeness and risk entailed by objectivity, he states that while others are objects, he is an object as well.

Once one becomes aware of other people’s emotions such as shame and pride, this means that one becomes an object for the other in their world. By being aware of the other, one will start weighing his actions through the lens of the other, which become the hallmark of my actions. Physical presence of the other is unnecessary because their imaginary look and judgment will influence one’s actions.

Being aware of the other threatens one’s freedom as it makes one subscribe to actions that are acceptable by the other. In this context, Sartre has used the parable of a master and a slave, where one’s consciousness is a subject to the consciousness of the other. One is not free to make self-choices because of one is restrained by the presence of the other.

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