convenient delusions for the advantaged and the successful, who want
to avoid responsibility for making it a better world.
Waller's article focused primarily on the philosophical and social
justice implications of believing in "free will." While that is very
important for a society, my focus in this section is on the personal use
of thinking as a determinist in terms of self-acceptance and tolerance
Everything has its causes. Things don't happen by magic.
According to determinism, there is nothing that "just happens," no
"accidents" without a cause, no arbitrary divine intervention (or, at
least, very rarely), no unavoidable fate, no mystical "free will" and no
predetermined destiny. Furthermore, all events or actions are lawful,
i.e. based on universal, ever present cause and effect relationships
between antecedents (the past) and outcomes (the present).
Gravitational pull is lawful, as is a rocket engine to counteract gravity.
There are reasons, i.e. it is expected or "lawful," for an acorn to
become an oak, not a pine tree. Likewise, in human behavior, it is
predictable, presumably based on complex "laws," that most people
will seek love, that behavior followed immediately by a reward tends
to be repeated (called the law of effect), that frustration arouses a
response (aggression, assertiveness, passive-aggressiveness or
whatever), that unpleasant experiences tend to be repressed or
suppressed, that negative self-evaluations are related to low self-
esteem, that most humans can learn, with knowledge and training, to
control their future to some extent, etc. Thus, life is "lawful."
All scientific efforts attempt to discover and understand "laws"--
basic dependable cause and effect relationships. If there were no order
(laws) in the universe, then there would be nothing to learn (except
that nothing is stable and, thus, understandable). The opposite seems
to be true; every event has a cause and this cause-effect connection is
potentially understandable. I'm not saying we scientists understand
everything right now (far from it) nor that we will eventually be able to
predict all behavior. That's nonsense. Yet, I have a belief that we will
be able to understand and control many of our own behaviors in 1000
years. It is our doubts about this matter that causes our reluctance to
earnestly search for and use scientific knowledge about the laws of
human behavior. Our ignorance about behavior keeps us preparing for
and fighting wars; suffering hunger, preventable illness, and
ignorance; making poor choices about careers, marriage partners,
child rearing; having many avoidable emotional problems; etc. In
short, discovering "laws" through wisdom and science, and using laws
to improve the human condition is, I believe, the great hope for the
future. Knowing psychological laws does not require us to be super
smart; it is just understanding what's happening.
Much human behavior is unquestionably very complex, but it is
reasonable to assume that all behavior is potentially understandable,
i.e. a consistent, logical, to-be-expected outcome resulting from many
causes. One way of looking at this is to say, "If I knew all the laws that