The Problem of Determinism - Freedom as Self-Determination

Psychotherapie Forum 18:100-107 (2010)
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Abstract
There are arguments for determinism. Admittedly, this is opposed by the fact of everyday experience of autonomy. In the following, it is argued for the compatibility of determinism and autonomy. Taking up considerations of Donald MacKay, a fatalistic attitude can be refuted as false. Repeatedly, attempts have been made to defend the possibility of autonomy with reference to quantum physical indeterminacy. But its statistical randomness clearly misses the meaning of autonomy. What is decisive, on the other hand, is the possibility of knowledge, which opens up opportunities for planning, freedom of choice and ultimately 'self-choice'. Results of neurobiological research, especially Benjamin Libet's and more recently John-Dylan Haynes', seem to refute this: Actions are unconsciously initiated before conscious decision. But, as Libet has also shown, consciousness always has the possibility of a veto – and thus also of knowledge-driven action control. Ultimately, the idea of possible self-choice can thus become the determining condition. Only such a form of rational self-determination establishes a spiritual identity and at the same time represents the maximum of autonomy possible for human beings.
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