Developmental Aspects of Health Compliance Behavior

By Norman A. Krasnegor; Leonard Epstein et al. | Go to book overview

1
Enlarging the Scope of the Compliance Construct: Toward Developmental and Motivational Relevance

Paul Karoly Arizona State University


SETTING THE STAGE

One of the oldest and least productive recurrent dichotomies is that which distinguishes determinism (as a concept and/or a set of causal mechanisms) from free will (as a concept and/or a set of causal mechanisms). Among the problems generated by a belief in the validity of this categorical distinction is the assumption that science and "scientific method" are predicated upon the former, and require a renunciation of free will in any of its manifestations. As noted by Howard and Myers ( 1989), free will is not synonymous with the doctrine of nondeterminism, which is, in fact, the true opposite of deterministic models in science. The belief that events (including human actions, thoughts, and feelings) result from some cause(s) -- the essence of a deterministic philosophy -- is not innately incompatible with a belief in internal (personal, under-the-skin) sources of causation (the philosophy of agency, self-determination, internal control, or, more commonly, free will). Clearly, then, one can maintain a belief in the doctrine of determinism while simultaneously believing that some event antecedents (some of the time) are person centered.

Hence, the converse of determinism is nondeterminism, or the view that events "just happen" in an unknowable manner (a truly nonscientific stance), whereas the opposite of free will is nonagentic mechanism, or, according to Howard and Myers ( 1989), the position that: "our actions are the result of mechanisms (e.g., environmental, physiological, genetic, cultural) which are completely coercive" (p. 337). A serious, subtle, and pervasive problem in contemporary social science is the dual tendency to remain suspicious of concepts that smack of self-determination while conflating valid causal analysis with

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