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While Taylor argues that the agent is completely divorced from all causal influence, Holmstrom rejects this view. According to Taylor, any desires or beliefs that the agent acquires originate solely in the agent. What Taylor means by this view is that desires and beliefs have no antecedent causes. In this understanding, Holmstrom by rejecting Taylors view simply rejects the idea that an agent’s desires and beliefs are independent of external forces.
The philosophical theory behind the argument at hand is the theory of soft determinism. The theory of determinism argues that all events in the universe are causally determined. This goes for human actions as well. Therefore, while Taylor argues that human actions are only caused by the human’s desires and beliefs, Holmstrom rejects this view and in the contrary argues that human’s desires and beliefs are externally influenced and therefore that free actions do not exist. He explains in favor of Taylor that indeed, free actions are a result of free will. The controversy however comes in when Holmstrom argues that self will is depended of external forces. Holmstrom argues that the question of freedom of will is misguiding and that actually, the correct question should be the power of control that an agent has over their desires and beliefs.
From Holmstrom argument, we observe three important features. First, is that the subject agent is involved in the causal process of their actions. Secondly, the control over the desires and beliefs that lead to actions vary from light to strong power. The last observation to make is therefore that there exists a narrow distinction between free and un-free actions. Besides the power to control desires and beliefs, Holmstrom argues that some beliefs and desires are instilled to us by others, yet we hold to them feely. For instance, brainwashing in which case the individual being brainwashed freely purposes to hang around the brain washing process. Holmstrom referred to this as conditioning. For the reasons presented above, Holmstrom is justified to present his case which is valid and reasonable.
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