Dualism and monism are contradicting perspectives of human existence. Dualism suggests that there is a human body and there is a human mind. They are distinct, yet interacting. A body only exists through interpretation by a mind; a mind only exists through physical embodiment. However, the important detail of dualism is that the mind is immaterial, even though it is in a physical shell.
Monism suggests that the human mind and the human body are one; either they are both physical or they are both immaterial. A physical perspective allows for the mind to be studied scientifically, just as the body can be. Monism also emphasizes the interactional relationship between the mind and body. Of course, they must interact because they are one emergent entity. In the material view of monism, the mind itself is a result of the body and the external stimulus of the environment.
Determinism is the notion that all phenomena of reality have been caused by some previous phenomena. It is a cause and effect logic. Though it is not necessary, it may entail an obedience to the physical laws that exist – for whatever reason – in the universe in which this phenomena exists. Determinism is a foundation for scientific inquiry, which psychology as a science follows. Another possible suggestion of determinism is that the world is material and thus understandable through this cause and effect logic. To elucidate these concepts, I’ll use free-will as a nucleus of discussion.
Within determinism, there is no room for free-will in it’s absolute sense. If the universe really is deterministic then there are always causes for some effect, leading to other causes and effects, ad infinitum. By its definition, free-will can’t be caused in this context. So, free will implies that causes have not made an effect, but rather an immaterial mind has made an effect. In this sense, it seems that in a dualistic world free-will can flourish. However, the world appears to have organization and systems; and through a purely scientific paradigm it is purely material, and so monistic. Free-will and determinism are incompatible, just as dualism and monism are contradicting.
A person who believes in free-will must face the choice of believing that people can be good or evil, perhaps on a continuum; or at least believe in some sort of judgement or accountability for freely chosen behaviors. For the free-willer this may be so because in ourselves and others we can observe behaviors and results. Sometimes these are positive, neutral, or negative, and the agent is interpreted subjectively by these results. So, the free-will abider will see that person as fully culpable for what occurred. They had complete choice in action. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the fundamental attribution error: a person’s personality – or in this case free will – is the primary reason for some behavior, rather than the situation – or in this case deterministic cause.
Someone who does not see free-will as part of reality will naturally view people much differently than the above. They will see a person’s behavior determined by preceding causes. The causes direct the person to effects. Essentially, disposition and situation are addressed causally to define a person’s actions. The person who is deterministic and abides not to free will may have a more scientific, objective type of perspective of society and individual intent and actions. So monistically, they would see a person as “forced” to do everything they do moreso than acting upon their own personal volition.
So a person who believes in free-will should analyze for how they want to interpret free-will, whether dualistically as an immaterial, non-deterministic source of freedom of choice; or monistically as the illusion of freedom of choice embedded in an inherently cause and effect bound world. In this latter case, free-will is more of a convenient concept to explain the complex emergence of human behavior without having to account for causes of effect down to burdensomely fine detail. So as an interpretive concept, free-will can be applied by a monist or dualist as they see fit or per contextual usefulness.
In this light, everyone is caused to do something for some reason, whether it be from their spirit or from fundamental laws of physics. I personally submit to a monistic perspective. So, for me free-will is seen in this way: A person who submits to free will is caused to do so and is caused to view others relative to that submission, making free-will – ironically – a deterministically manifested concept. A person who does not accept free will is caused to do so and is caused to see cause. In justice, either type of person will be caused to react in some way. A free will subscriber will see a murderer as responsible for their choice and so should be sentenced to death. On the other hand, if a murder is understood to have determined causes for their crime, it may not matter. In a causal mind-set, the murderer’s murder has caused someone to sentence them to death, regardless of whether the murder was freely chosen by the murderer or under the effect of cause determined by greater forces of nature.
With all that in mind, what do you choose, or what has been chosen for you?