The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Determinism is true

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/8/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,150 times Debate No: 24630
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (3)




The debate is simple: any specifics can be discussed in comments. First round is for acceptance. My opponent must defend libertarianism. Burden of Proof is shared.


Determinism is the philosophical idea that every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs. (

Libertarianism is the philosophical idea that free will is purely, inevitably orchestrated by individual's free will.

The first round is for acceptance and definitions.


Determination is true yes BUT it is not why we do things. It leads up to why we do things.
I.e. I am influenced to do something but at the end of the day I choose to do it or not.
If I dont have free will then there is no reason for me to live as if I cant choose to do something then I cannot think for myself.

If I am hungry then I naturally want to go and eat. I have been influenced to eat BUT I can choose if want to eat. If I dont eat then I will die slowly ut if I doeat then I will natuarlly live longer. (just an example dont forget)

If you was influenced in determinisim and didn't choose when you ahd the choice then you're not very bright.
How ever if you was influenced to believe in determinism and at the point of choosing and you chose not to believe then there you have it in a nut shell.
Everyone has free will. It says in the bible numerous times where it is mentioned.

Leviticus 22:29
And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will.

Mentioned free will. Why would it mention it f what your saying it doesn't exist?
Debate Round No. 1


Seeing as the BoP is on me, I'm going to present 3 arguments/contentions in favour of determinism.


P1) If behaviorism works, then determinism is true
P2) Behaviourism works
C1) Therefore, behaviourism is true

Behaviourism is a psychological idea made at the forefront of psychology due to the works of Skinner and Watson. The idea is famous because of the work of Skinner, showing behaviourism to be true. To be true, there must be successful experiments based on its presupposition.

Behaviourism rests on determinism because behaviourism is the idea that people can be artificially determined to act in a certain way. The experiments I will cite will show this.

Firstly, the little albert experiment[1] by Watson showed that children, when shown certain images and colours and played horribly irritating noises, start reacting negatively to the images and colours, acting in fear. Of course, this is not surprising. But the interesting point is that, when the horrible noises were removed from the environment, then the child remains scared of these images and colours, and can only become "unscared" by the same treatment in reverse. Meaning, that we begin to become fearful of these images and colours because of association to these horrible noises. Rational thought held no value in comparison in determinism.

Secondly, Classical Conditioning is so common that we should not be surprised that it works. The original experiment is Pavlov's Dogs[2] in which dogs were given food when a bell was rang. This meant the dogs started releasing salive when the bell was rang. When the bell was removed, they were conditioned, and so still emitted saliva when the bell rang. This is because they have been conditioned, or determined, to act in a certain way, due to external causes. This similarly has happened with human beings.

Finally, The Milgram Experiment is a famous one because it shows how people react to authority. When people are commanded to do something by a man in a lab coat, essentially, they do it a lot more than if it was anyone else, even if it is something clearly immoral[3]. This is because, as a society, we have been conditioned to listen to authority (or as human beings we react to authority: the specific cause is debated).

All three show behaviourism's suppositions that external influences hold a majority stake in what we do as accurate. Thus, from this we can conclude determinism.


(Credit here goes to 000ike)


Rapid growth in technology has led to startling neurological discoveries, all of which completely support the theory of Determinism. I will present them in the order of progressive significance.

Libet’s Delay

Benjamin Libet’s experiments in the late 20th Century measured the time lapse between decisions, consciousness, and actions. Using electrical stimulation and a clock face oscilloscope to determine the time of awareness, they found that there was a 500 millisecond delay between a neural event and the subject’s conscious awareness of it. This led to the conclusion that “the perceived time at which we make a decision must be subjectively referred back by 500 milliseconds. Unlikely as it seems, and contrary to our own impression, we must have made our decisions slightly before we actually became aware of them”(7)

Study no. 1

Twelve right-handed subjects (aged 22-29) were tested using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the University of Leipzig. They were placed in front of a screen, showing a descending cascade of letters. They were then to press either a button to the right or to the left at random, then report what letter was on the screen at the moment of their decision.

This was the conclusion:

In summary, we could replicate the finding of Soon et al. [30] that motor intentions were encoded in frontopolar cortex up to seven seconds before participants were aware of their decisions. Using ultra-high field fMRI on a 7 Tesla scanner, we could show that these patterns became more stable with increasing temporal proximity to the conscious decision. These findings support the conclusion that frontopolar cortex is part of a network of brain regions that shape conscious decisions long before they reach conscious awareness.”(4)

Study no. 2

An experiment conducted by neuroscientist, John-Dylan Haynes in 2008 modernized Libet’s experiment using fMRI. They were able to predict which button a patient would press (left or right) with 60% accuracy. (5)

Study no. 3

As part of a surgical procedure conducted by surgeon and neurologist, Itzhak Fried, electrodes were implanted deep in the brains of the patients to precisely monitor their neuronal activity before pressing a button. It was found that their decisions could be predicted with 80% accuracy 700 milliseconds prior to the patient being aware that he had made a decision.(5)

Impressive Results

Professor Patrick Haggard from the London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience goes even farther than the aforementioned studies. He proves that the human mind can be coerced by outside forces in the universe. He demonstrates “transcranial magnetic stimulation” using magnetic coils held over his head while simultaneously measuring electrical activity in his muscles. When his assistant presses a switch to activate the coil, his fingers twitch.

Christina controls Prof Haggard's fingers like a marionette. The mechanical nature of it is unsettling. A graph on a screen shows his muscle activity plotted by time; 20 milliseconds after she clicks the button, it depicts an elegant leap and drop, like a heartbeat on an ECG. That 20 milliseconds is how long it takes for the signal to travel down his nerves.”(6)

The conclusion here is a definitive negation of the spiritual will. As Haggard explains,

We don't have free will, in the spiritual sense. What you're seeing is the last output stage of a machine. There are lots of things that happen before this stage – plans, goals, learning – and those are the reasons we do more interesting things than just waggle fingers. But there's no ghost in the machine. (6)

Final argument

P1 - No action is free if it must occur.

P2 - For any event, there are multiple preceding causes of the event

P3 - If an event has causes, then it cannot cause the event to both happen and not happen.

C - Thus, events must occur.

C - Thus, No action is free. (Thus no free will, thus determinism)

The argument is simple: an event can either happen or not happen. If an event has causes, then the cause causes the event to happen, and the causes cannot make the event not happen: that breaks the law of non-contradiction. Finally, an action is not free if it is necessary: you cannot choose to do something which must occur. Using Locke's analogy:

"[suppose] a sleeping man is locked in a darkened room. On awakening he decides he will remain in the room, unaware that the room is locked. In reality the man has no freedom to choose, he cannot get out of the room. However, his ignorance of his true condition has led him to believe that he does have the freedom to choose to remain in the room."[8]


I have presented multiple reasons in favour of determinism. My opponent must show all of these to be false to promote libertarianism.

Quickly rebutting my opponent

My opponent pleas to the Bible. However, the correct response is the most obvious one: it's wrong. Secondly, my opponent states that we are free as we are influenced, but we still have a choice. I have rebutted this point. Finally, free will removing meaning of life is an argument from convenience: it proves nothing.

1 -;
2 -;
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -


As I dont like to write out a lot I'll say this in the most simple way as I can.

If for example are influenced to get off this debate, and I influence you 999% to do something else, there is that 1% to not go and do something else and stay on here.
You now have the choice to stay here or to go off and do something else. Because I have influenced you 999% to do something else statistics would show that you would MOST likely go and do something else, BUT you can chose not to. They dont say "The choice is your's" for nothing.
You have the choice in everyday life, You can choose not to goto work but you know if you dont then you increase the chances of loosing your job, so therefore you choose to goto work.
You choose to use the bathroom at certain time. You can hold it in and ait 2-4 more hours or you can go now and not return untill aother 10-11 hours (roughly)

You have the choice at every point of your day wether you like it or not. Detrminisim says that everything is followed upon something i.e. this happens because this happened. But that must have happened cause you yourself had an effect upon it, i.e. you choose to do part of the equation to lead upto the final conclusion.

You can post as many examples as you want, the fact of the matter is you had the choice to make this debate, I didnt influence you nor did anyone else. You CHOOSE to do this debate and I chose to accept it.

You can't argue this topic.
Yes everything happenes because of what happened in the past BUT you had an effect on it i.e. you had a CHOICE at some part for it to evolve into your personality today.
Debate Round No. 2


Due to two people requesting this, I'm opening up with a picture.

My opponent's argument rests on the 1% to the 999% (which is a severely bad mathematical error but whatever) being free will. However, I am unfortunate in not receiving any reason to believe this 1% exists. Determinism is an explanation for why your choices are made. A student will buy pasta because it is cheap, and they are poor. Another student may have a billion pound grant and buy gold encrusted bread because they are rich and want to show off. These all promote deterministic views of the world.

What made me do this debate?

A determinist would say: preceding events. These would include my (and your) personality, scientific discovery bringing technology in the world to give the ability to do so, and other events. The idea of there being no influence is simply preposterous: society promotes rational discourse, which for one is influence.

You can't argue this topic

This is the problem: free will is something we think is "obvious" or "definite" or similar. The problem is, when we rationally discuss it, we lack arguments for it.


Why do you not believe that this 1% of influence does not exist? Let me make it so you will accept it or should I say more influenced to accept it.
99% and 1% of influence now. Happy? Good :)

The fact again that you said above that determinism out rules free will i.e. a choice and now you say that determinisim is the event leading upto the choice is ver mis-leading.
If your going to argue then stick with what you are saying. Dont give me fancy exampes when I can destroy them.
Your example of a student buying paste because he/she is poor is an event yes, and yes he bought the pasta because he was poor yes! But he also had a say in the matter of buying it, you didn't mention that this student could have thought about not buying the pasta this is the same for the rich student.

If they dont have thoughts then no you dont have free will. If you have not thought about what you are doing RIGHT now then you dont have free will, which is impossible. Everyone is given free will, it is then upto them what they do with this. They can chose how to run their lives, wether they become a good or bad person. They are influenced in life yes! But they also have the choice to remove them from that part.

e.g If a child is getting involved in the wrong crowd and they are about to rob a place. The child wouldn't want to be there and starts to have second thoughts i.e Free will i.e choice!

You have a choice what you do in your life and based around that choice is the influence but when it comes down to what you actally do is down to what you want to do and not what society tells (influences) you to do!
Debate Round No. 3


Before i forget:

I am going to just make a point: My opponent has changed from "999%" to "99%" on his statistics. Why? It was because I brought it up: that is the cause. To say it was him is to say that if I did not bring it up, he would have changed it anyway. Is it rational to say that my influence did nothing? Of course not. Now, look at the exact wording. It is irrational to claim it would be phrased in this exact way if I did not hold any influence.

Determinism is an explanation of what we choose to do. It explains how our choice is due to events outside of our control. What my opponent is doing is "Determinism+". Essentially, things are determined BUT there's also a middle man which allows what is determined to happen, but can stop the determined from happening. Except what is determined happens anyway. In other words, the middle man is pointless, trivial, and an unncessary addition. Further, this was responded to in my final argument: determined events are necessary: one does not do the opposite. "You could not step twice into the same river", in the words of Heraclitus. You cannot do the opposite of the determined: that is irrational.

My opponent has given no compelling case for libertarianism. He has given examples of humans doing things, and said they have free will. I, essentially, and riposting with "no they don't". I defend this assertion, though, with behaviourism, and other arguments.

Please, take this into account when voting.




On the top part of your text about you bringng it up and that had an "effect" on me. YES! Yes it did, but I still have the choice wether I want to correct myself in order for ou to be happy, or me to leave it as it is irrelevant.
I chose to to change it. I was influenced yes but I still chose to correct it.

"What my opponent is doing is "Determinism+". Essentially, things are determined BUT there's also a middle man which allows what is determined to happen, but can stop the determined from happening. Except what is determined happens anyway. In other words, the middle man is pointless, trivial, and an unncessary addition."

If it is an unnecessary addition of this "middle man" then there would be no free will I.e. no choice for you to make.
For an example, I want a kebab tonight, the shop is 2 hours away, I am hungry.
Now I am influenced to go because I am hungry but it is my choice to go because I might not want to do the 2 hours journey to get there.
Therefore I must have a choice i.e. free will, in wanting to go because I am hungry or not wanting to go because it's to far.

The "middle man" that you said above is no unnessecary because if it was not there (as mentioned above) you wouldn't have a choice, you wouldn't need to think over things twice, because if you think it is right the first time, then why "double check" it? Because you want to make sure right? Thats your choice, you can choose to believe it is right the fist time, or you can choose to check it again to make sure it is right and maybe correct it.

Put it this way, on this website when debating with someone, once you have written your part it then says at the bottom left "review" It then takes you to another screen where it THEN gives you the choice to read it over again before pubishing it. If there was no need for free will i.e. choice then there would be no need for this feature i.e. the "middle man".
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 6 years ago
crazi, when you debate, it's who is convincing and logical, not who most people's minds haven't changed, otherwise it is luck of who voted. The fact of the matter is, your argument was unconvincing, irrational, and inherently circular. In other forms of medium, it is more evident as you ended by simply insulting me. If you care to debate this again, go for it. I could do with more wins.
Posted by mrcraziboi1 6 years ago
I dont like it that when you agree with met the start and end of the debate (when voting) then surly I have won the debate. But the way it works on here I need to know how to spell correctly and provide evidence? Maks nu sensce two meh :P
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 6 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins c/p skills have fell flat. I meant to add "Determinism, especially the variation of "soft" determinism (cf. William James) or compatibilism, is supported as a theory of free will by a majority of philosophers, each with special vested interests in one or more of the many determinisms". Oh well (same link btw).
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
But that's how you defined determinism in the first round. :/
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 6 years ago
Kinesis, in all due respect, there is a large difference between causal determinism and determinism. Determinism is, in regards to the free will debate, a dismissal of free will in choice-making, i.e. when we make a choice, it is due to external effects. It specifically revolves around the free will debate. Unless I misunderstand what you've put.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Stephen, while you obviously did much better in this debate, I fear you've made some errors in your characterisation of the resolution. None of your arguments, so far as I can tell, even attempt to demonstrate that causal determinism is true. What does showing that humans don't have free will or that that their psychologies can be manipulated do to show that "every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs"? That is a broad universal thesis about the entirety of existence, but you narrowed the debate to human free will.

Determinism is, at first sight, certainly a threat to free will. But that doesn't mean refuting free will proves determinism is true.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 6 years ago
Damn... I forgot the picture. That's a severe problem. I'm posting a new one.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 6 years ago
Kinesis, seriously, you've just made my day.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Aww, Con, you're from the UK. Stop letting us down.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by FourTrouble 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro does not uphold his burden to prove that determinism is true. All he proves is that human beings do not have free will. I see no reason to accept the conclusion that every event or state of affairs is determined.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The debate boiled down to whether or not prior causes had a 100 causal effect on future actions or whether it was just (lol) 999 percent. Con didn't really offer any counter-evidence to Pro besides re-asserting over and over that we have a choice. Arguments to Pro.
Vote Placed by Kinesis 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: rfd in comments.