Compassion in a Deterministic World
Apr 3, 2021
Every decision anyone has taken is the result of external factors. Determinists would argue that because human action is determined, we cannot have free will.
If determinism is true, nobody gets to where they are due to their own choice and effort, whether they became successful philanthropists or serial criminals.
For example, people born in a low-income family with no education but who became successful entrepreneurs are probably a product of luck. And yet, we still praise them for their effort and for being self-made. Yet when it comes to the crime that someone committed, we get angry at him for being such a person who didn’t put any effort to stop himself from committing crimes. We think it’s because he’s terrible and untrustworthy, but really, he is neither. He was just born into a certain kind of family that is more likely to send him down that path than not. He was just unlucky.
The only difference between a successful entrepreneur and a criminal is what external factors they are exposed to since they were young.
Compassion is a strong human feeling that engenders a desire to promote others’ welfare. It is a moral emotion that motivates us to help others and to recognize the suffering of others.
Compassion is what makes us human. Without compassion, we would not have the ability to understand other people’s sufferings and stand up for them. We should be compassionate to all people, whatever their background.
Numerous studies have linked compassion with happiness and health. And it’s not just the physical health either.
Compassion and determinism are integral parts of each other. If we have no control over the decisions we make, then those decisions are not really ours to make in the first place. We are just products of our environment.
We cannot choose the life that we live and the decisions that we make. How can you be anything but compassionate to others when everything they do is out of their control?
The actions we take are merely the result of external factors, rendering everything we do out of our control. So why judge others? We should be compassionate to the people who don’t make choices because they’re not in a position to do so.
In conclusion, determinism is not the end of compassion. Instead, it is a part of the foundation of empathy. We should be compassionate towards everyone because everyone is just a product of their environment in which they have no control over. We should especially be compassionate towards ourselves.