Monday, May 7, 2012

Determinism, Libertarianism, Compatibilism, and a… Minority Report Abstract

Jeff Fenchel, James Hopper, and Brandon Smith

      Minority Report provides a unique perspective on the debate of determinism vs freewill. In the opening scene of Minority Report, John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is investigating a murder that has yet to happen. This is made possible by “precogs” human beings who have the ability to see into the future. Because of this ability, John is able to stop the murder before it happens. In addition, the would-be murderer is arrested for the “future crime” of murdering his wife, an even that never actually took place. Obviously the criminal justice system of John’s time views the world in a deterministic fashion because they are willing to convict people on actions they were predicted to carry out. However, the criminal justice systems actions prevent their prediction from occurring, thus undermining the deterministic view of the world upon which the systems laws are based.  You could go as far as to argue that law enforcement is embracing a libertarian concept by taking free action to change the future based on predictions that can no longer occur if they are successful. The concepts of Libertarianism and Determinism are extreme cases of the conflict between free will and fate. A proposed middle ground, Compatibilism, offers a combination of deterministic and libertarian methodologies by categorizing events as the consequence of free will or determinism on a case by case basis.
       In addition to reviewing the three concepts of Determinism, Libertarianism, and Compatibilism we will also attempt to relate these to social interaction. It is our intention that relating these concepts to real world experiences will help illuminate the need to explore these concepts interpersonally and provide a greater understanding of human to human interaction.

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