Nurture v/s nature and free will



The debate of nurture vs. nature and free will remains to be one of the unsolved arguments with every generation taking up a continuation of where older philosophers left it. This debate is a justification of professor Griffith findings that there is no hope of finding a perfect research, since every generation comes up with their own understanding. Some philosophers argue for nature, and many other argue for nurture. Philosophers who argue on the side of nature have based their argument with characteristic that were born with, physical predispositions. On the other side, nurture emphasizes on characters that have been molded, and that can be changed. Later in the 20th century came Jean-Paul Sartre in defense of free will instead of nature or nurture. In this paper, we are going to discuss the role of nature vs. nurture vs. free will as discussed by different philosophers.

To begin with, Steve Pinker in his argument in defense of nature says that genes determine the behavior of a person. He use the example, why are people in Britain able to speak English during people in Japan able to speak Japanese. He belies that people in Britain’s have genes that make it easier to understand and speak British English. For the Japanese to learn the British accent, they must be exposed to that language to understand it fully. He states that all human minds are equally blank at the stage of bath, free from any instinctive but genetically shaped and behaviors. Behavior differences exist between individuals of the same gender and different gender.

Secondly, B. F. Skinner also known as the father of behavior science is famously known for his work to justify that human behavior could be modified. He believed that it was a little bit easier to study the behavior other than internal events such as gene mutations. In his argument of behavior, he looked in the cause of action and its effect. He found out that behavior that are not supported tend to die at some point. When a child develops certain positive behavior, and there is no one who reinforced and mentors the child the behavior will one day end and develop a new behavior that people will support.

Thirdly, Jean Paul Sartre believes that the human being can choose their action without being forced by neither nature nor nurture. Free will regards by the option that supports God creation where God gave man the ability to choose between god and evil. According to Sartre, free will is important for personal development because you do according to what you want and not to please others or favor natural law. Looking at human being, free will helps one to make the decision where they feel they are right. At times, free will is in favor of natural law or nurture. According to natural laws, a man is supposed to marry a woman. Free will gives a person the option whether to obey that law or do whatever they want. We are responsible for what we do depending on what we believe is good and bad.

However, nature seems to play a big role is shaping the behavior of a person. How do you explain a family where all the members are interested in studying music? Well, this interest is in the genes of a family. However, this should not mean that all members of that family will develop their interest in music. This simply shows that all children born into the lineage of that family will be born with genetic possibility that they will also develop their interest in music.

On the other hand, the nurture in which one is raised gives him or her possibility that he or she will adopt the practices of the environment. If a child is born then brought up in a generation where people love to listen and play music, there are high possibility that the child will develop their interest in listening and playing music. The natural setting in which one is brought up in plays a major role in person interest and behavior. There are high possibilities that the behavior we portray in our own society are shaped by our society simply because we want to please the people from where we come from.

Finally, the debate of nurture vs. nature and free will remains to be one of the unsolved arguments with every generation taking up a continuation of where older philosophers left it. In my own opinion, free will plays a vital role in the behavior of a person. The behaviors we portray are based upon our beliefs that we are doing the right thing. I believe we choose what we want to do and thus free will allows us to do what is the right thing for us. We are responsible for what we do depending on what we believe is good for own benefit. Free will shapes the behavior of a person based on their preferences.


Works Cited

Catania, A. Charles. “The operant behaviorism of BF Skinner.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 7.04 (1984): 473-475.

Collins, Nick. “Nature vs. nurture: outcome depends on where you live.” Nap., 2012. Web.

Fairholm, Ian. Issues, Debates and Approaches in Psychology. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Print.

McLeod , Saul. “Nature Nurture Debate in Psychology.” Simply Psychology – Articles for Students. N.p., 2007. Web.

Pinker, Steven. “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.” (2002): Print.

Sartre, Jean-Paul, Forrest Williams, and Robert Kirkpatrick. The Transcendence of the Ego: An Existentialist Theory of Consciousness. New York: Hill and Wang, 1995. Print.

Smith, K. “Neuroscience vs philosophy: Taking aim at free will.” Nature (2011): n. pag. Web. <10.1038/477023a>.


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