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What Is a Lazy Reason?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

“Lazy reason” is a term that is used to refer to the idea that actions or events are predetermined, and any planning or active choice in action is unimportant or meaningless. This is basically a criticism of the idea of determinism or fatalism, and uses the term “lazy” to describe such concepts. Determinism is a concept built upon the idea that future events will occur regardless of the actions of any individual person, and that everything is predestined. “Lazy reason” is then used to describe this idea in a negative sense, arguing that it takes away personal responsibility and can serve as a justification for laziness and inaction.

The term “lazy reason” does not necessarily describe a basic concept or philosophy all its own, but instead is used as part of an argument against another idea. This idea is equivalent to determinism or fatalism, which is the concept that the future is already determined regardless of human action. Such views are often tied to predestination and the idea that an all-powerful deity has already determined the past, present and future. If such a view is taken as philosophy, then it becomes easy to decide to do nothing in a time of critical action or make no choices, since anything that must happen will happen regardless of his or her actions.

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

Some have argued that this type of world view is a form of “lazy reason” in which people are able to dismiss themselves from personal responsibility and action. If a person’s thoughts and deeds are already determined, then he or she has no reason to consider such things and can merely act without thinking. Rather than concern himself or herself with the plight of others, the opponents of determinism argue, someone can merely worry for himself or herself since the outcome of any action is already preordained. This justification of inaction uses “lazy reason” since it absolves people of the necessity to act or think for themselves.

The major argument behind the idea of “lazy reason” is that people should be active and think critically about future events. Even if the future is predetermined in some way, future events are still beyond the knowledge and comprehension of humanity and therefore are unknown. The right action or thought that is meant to happen might only occur due to careful consideration and planning. This would mean that even within the confines of someone’s lazy reason for inaction, he or she should still consider that some action may be necessary and could be the future event that must take place.

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Discussion Comments


I don't agree with this idea at all. I think it's dangerous to believe that everything is fate and that we have no power over anything. If everyone thinks like this, it will result in a very passive society that can't even defend its rights.


@MrsPramm-- Absolutely.

It's very difficult and heavy to think that we are responsible for everything that happens to us. This causes people to worry and beat themselves up for no reason. People feel guilty or incompetent because they didn't succeed at something.

But it's not like that at all. There are some things that are in our power. There are things we can change and effect. But there are also things we have no power over. For example, we don't choose our gender or which family we are born into. So we have to realize that we are not responsible for many of the things that happens to us.


I hold the "lazy reason" worldview. I believe that everything is predestined and that the divine has knowledge of everything. Everything that has happened to me and that will happen to me has been determined already.

But I don't believe that predestination means doing nothing. We can't just lay back and expect things to develop on their own. We have to do what's necessary on our part and then accept that whatever happens was willed to happen.

So despite the name, I don't think that lazy reason gives people an excuse to be lazy and careless in life. I think this worldview is more about doing what one can and then coming terms with it if things don't exactly turn out as we had wanted.


@umbra21 - I actually like the idea of a lazy reason in general because it takes some responsibility off people that I think we take on too much. I know I'm always worried about whether or not I'm being as responsible as I should be for everything, but it's just not possible to control everything in a life. Sometimes you just have to let things happen the way they happen and accept that it's not your responsibility.


@KoiwiGal - I don't have empirical proof, but my favorite theory on how this works is one that my philosophy lecturer introduced me to. It basically says that everything has already happened, because time may flow like a river, but the beginning and end of the river exist no matter where the person experiencing them might be along the path.

So, yes, a person might be destined to wear a red shirt on a certain date, because they always did wear it on that date and that can never be changed. But that doesn't mean they didn't decide to wear it themselves. Trying to second guess that decision is no different from trying to second guess anything that happened in the past.

In this way, you can kind of take the negative part of a lazy reason away, because things are still inevitable, but they are also the result of choice.


I definitely agree with the idea that we should carefully consider our actions, regardless of whether or not we think they might be predetermined. Even if you feel like something is inevitable, your own reactions are still your own. Maybe the decision to be a better person was also inevitable, but it still has to be actively made.

We might live in a world with the illusion of choice, but there is no advantage in acting as though that is true, whether it is or not.

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