to excuse a person acting under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Our
society has not yet dealt with the problem of determinism, namely,
that all behavior has its necessary and sufficient causes and could not
have been different under the circumstances at that moment.
Punishment as a deterrent makes sense to a determinist, but
punishment as retribution does not.
Another issue our society hasn't dealt with is unconsciously
motivated behavior. We humans do many things we don't want to do
and don't even understand. Can a person be held responsible for
his/her unconscious? It seems unreasonable. Thus, a society seems to
have a choice between (a) denying there are unconscious causes
(which would be absurd) or (b) refusing to hold a person responsible
for unconsciously caused acts (which our society is reluctant to do).
So, we refuse to think about it very much.
B. F. Skinner's (1972) book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity,
Berofsky's (1971), Determinism, and Rychlak's (1979), Discovering
Free Will and Personal Responsibility, are good references in this area.
I personally find determinism very helpful and a satisfying way to look
at life. I have never seen any behavior, no matter how unusual or
strange, that clearly could not have been caused by behavioral laws.
Besides, what are the alternatives? You could assume that cause and
effect relationships are far too complex for us humans to understand,
that most things happen by accident, not lawfully, that mysterious
forces unknown to humans determine what we do, and so on. None
seem too hopeful.
STEP TWO: List disturbing situations. Recognize that you would
do what others have done, if you were them and had their past
and environment. Accept your own past behavior.
Your task, when anything upsets you, is to reduce the stress by
understanding why it happened. This is similar to method #7, stress
inoculation, in chapter 12. To begin with, you might consider what
situations and behaviors you would like to be more tolerant about,
more accepting of, and less disturbed by. For example, you may be
upset by a critical and hurtful parent, by a racially prejudiced relative
or friend, by a critical and demanding teacher, by an unwed mother on
welfare, by a dishonest and power-seeking politician, by an illegal drug
pusher who sells to teenagers, or by your own internal critic which
calls you stupid, weak, and naive. There are innumerable situations
that bother us, i.e. where we are basically saying "it shouldn't be this
way" or "It's going to be awful." But, remember, whatever has
happened is lawful.
Next, it may be quite helpful to list all the causes you can think of
for these upsetting situations and behaviors. Method #1 (everything is
true of me) in chapter 15 may be helpful at this point. Also, note how
determinism compliments methods #1 and #3 in this chapter. The
idea is to understand fully the behavior. You may want to talk to other
people involved and/or even to uninvolved wise persons to get their