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❶The debate has been most recently framed by Cartwright in The Dappled World Cartwright in terms psychologically advantageous to her anti-laws cause.

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Hard Determinism


James was careful to explain that he would rather "debate about objects than words", however. He did not insist in saying that replacing determinism with a model including chance had to mean we had 'free will'. The determinist would counter-argue that there is still reason for hope. Whether or not the universe is determined does not change the fact that the future is unknown, and might very well always be.

From a naturalist point of view, a person's actions still play a role in the shape of that future. Clark, founder and director of the Center for Naturalism, explains that humans are not merely the playthings of patterned, natural forces in the universe - but rather we are ourselves examples of those forces.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring ed. VanArragon 21 October Key Terms in Philosophy of Religion. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Retrieved 22 December Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, , p. A Theory of Determinism. Clarendon Press, , p. Philosophical Studies , Volume 8, p. Oxford University Press [], p. Benedict de Spinoza "The Ethics". Translated from the Latin by R. Part V, Proposition VI.

Retrieved from " https: All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from February Use dmy dates from March Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 21 April , at Mathematical models that are not deterministic because they involve randomness are called stochastic. Because of sensitive dependence on initial conditions , some deterministic models may appear to behave non-deterministically; in such cases, a deterministic interpretation of the model may not be useful due to numerical instability and a finite amount of precision in measurement.

Such considerations can motivate the consideration of a stochastic model even though the underlying system is governed by deterministic equations. Since the beginning of the 20th century, quantum mechanics —the physics of the extremely small—has revealed previously concealed aspects of events.

Before that, Newtonian physics —the physics of everyday life—dominated. Taken in isolation rather than as an approximation to quantum mechanics , Newtonian physics depicts a universe in which objects move in perfectly determined ways. At the scale where humans exist and interact with the universe, Newtonian mechanics remain useful, and make relatively accurate predictions e.

But whereas in theory, absolute knowledge of the forces accelerating a bullet would produce an absolutely accurate prediction of its path, modern quantum mechanics casts reasonable doubt on this main thesis of determinism. Relevant is the fact that certainty is never absolute in practice and not just because of David Hume's problem of induction. The equations of Newtonian mechanics can exhibit sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

This is an example of the butterfly effect , which is one of the subjects of chaos theory. The idea is that something even as small as a butterfly could cause a chain reaction leading to a hurricane years later. Consequently, even a very small error in knowledge of initial conditions can result in arbitrarily large deviations from predicted behavior.

Chaos theory thus explains why it may be practically impossible to predict real life, whether determinism is true or false. On the other hand, the issue may not be so much about human abilities to predict or attain certainty as much as it is the nature of reality itself. For that, a closer, scientific look at nature is necessary.

Quantum physics works differently in many ways from Newtonian physics. O'Connell explains that understanding our universe, at such small scales as atoms, requires a different logic than day-to-day life does. O'Connell does not deny that it is all interconnected: O'Connell argues that we must simply use different models and constructs when dealing with the quantum world. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is frequently confused with the observer effect.

The uncertainty principle actually describes how precisely we may measure the position and momentum of a particle at the same time — if we increase the accuracy in measuring one quantity, we are forced to lose accuracy in measuring the other. This is where statistical mechanics come into play, and where physicists begin to require rather unintuitive mental models: A particle's path simply cannot be exactly specified in its full quantum description.

The probabilities discovered in quantum mechanics do nevertheless arise from measurement of the perceived path of the particle. As Stephen Hawking explains, the result is not traditional determinism, but rather determined probabilities. In fact, as far as prediction goes, the quantum development is at least as predictable as the classical motion, but the key is that it describes wave functions that cannot be easily expressed in ordinary language.

As far as the thesis of determinism is concerned, these probabilities, at least, are quite determined. These findings from quantum mechanics have found many applications , and allow us to build transistors and lasers. On the topic of predictable probabilities, the double-slit experiments are a popular example. Photons are fired one-by-one through a double-slit apparatus at a distant screen. Curiously, they do not arrive at any single point, nor even the two points lined up with the slits the way you might expect of bullets fired by a fixed gun at a distant target.

Instead, the light arrives in varying concentrations at widely separated points, and the distribution of its collisions with the target can be calculated reliably. In that sense the behavior of light in this apparatus is deterministic, but there is no way to predict where in the resulting interference pattern any individual photon will make its contribution although, there may be ways to use weak measurement to acquire more information without violating the Uncertainty principle. Some including Albert Einstein argue that our inability to predict any more than probabilities is simply due to ignorance.

They argue that the course of the universe is absolutely determined, but that humans are screened from knowledge of the determinative factors. So, they say, it only appears that things proceed in a merely probabilistically determinative way. In actuality, they proceed in an absolutely deterministic way. Bell criticized Einstein's work in his famous Bell's Theorem which proved that quantum mechanics can make statistical predictions which would be violated if local hidden variables really existed.

There have been a number of experiments to verify such predictions, and so far they do not appear to be violated. Better and better tests continue to verify the result, including the " Loophole Free Test " that plugged all known sources of error and the " Cosmic Bell Test " that based the experiment cosmic data streaming from different directions toward the Earth, precluding the possibility the sources of data could have had prior interactions.

However, it is possible to augment quantum mechanics with non-local hidden variables to achieve a deterministic theory that is in agreement with experiment. Bohm's Interpretation, though, violates special relativity and it is highly controversial whether or not it can be reconciled without giving up on determinism.

More advanced variations on these arguments include Quantum contextuality , by Bell, Simon B. Kochen and Ernst Specker in which argues that hidden variable theories cannot be "sensible," which here means that the values of the hidden variables inherently depend on the devices used to measure them. This debate is relevant because it is easy to imagine specific situations in which the arrival of an electron at a screen at a certain point and time would trigger one event, whereas its arrival at another point would trigger an entirely different event e.

Thus, quantum physics casts reasonable doubt on the traditional determinism of classical, Newtonian physics in so far as reality does not seem to be absolutely determined.

This was the subject of the famous Bohr—Einstein debates between Einstein and Niels Bohr and there is still no consensus. Adequate determinism see Varieties , above is the reason that Stephen Hawking calls Libertarian free will "just an illusion". All uranium found on earth is thought to have been synthesized during a supernova explosion that occurred roughly 5 billion years ago.

Even before the laws of quantum mechanics were developed to their present level, the radioactivity of such elements has posed a challenge to determinism due to its unpredictability. One gram of uranium , a commonly occurring radioactive substance, contains some 2. Each of these atoms are identical and indistinguishable according to all tests known to modern science.

Yet about times a second, one of the atoms in that gram will decay, giving off an alpha particle. The challenge for determinism is to explain why and when decay occurs, since it does not seem to depend on external stimulus. Indeed, no extant theory of physics makes testable predictions of exactly when any given atom will decay. At best scientists can discover determined probabilities in the form of the element's half life.

That is, it explicitly and uniquely predicts the development of the wave function with time. So if the wave function itself is reality rather than probability of classical coordinates , then the unitary evolution of the wave function in quantum mechanics, can be said to be deterministic. But the unitary evolution of the wave function is not the entirety of quantum mechanics. Asserting that quantum mechanics is deterministic by treating the wave function itself as reality might be thought to imply a single wave function for the entire universe , starting at the origin of the universe.

Such a "wave function of everything" would carry the probabilities of not just the world we know, but every other possible world that could have evolved.

For example, large voids in the distributions of galaxies are believed by many cosmologists to have originated in quantum fluctuations during the big bang. See cosmic inflation , primordial fluctuations and large-scale structure of the cosmos.

However, neither the posited reality nor the proven and extraordinary accuracy of the wave function and quantum mechanics at small scales can imply or reasonably suggest the existence of a single wave function for the entire universe.

Quantum mechanics breaks down wherever gravity becomes significant, because nothing in the wave function, or in quantum mechanics, predicts anything at all about gravity. And this is obviously of great importance on larger scales. Gravity is thought of as a large-scale force, with a longer reach than any other. But gravity becomes significant even at masses that are tiny compared to the mass of the universe. A wave function the size of the universe might successfully model a universe with no gravity.

Our universe, with gravity, is vastly different from that which is predicted by quantum mechanics alone. To forget this is a colossal error. Objective collapse theories , which involve a dynamic and non-deterministic collapse of the wave function e. Ghirardi—Rimini—Weber theory , Penrose interpretation , or causal fermion system s avoid these absurdities.

The theory of causal fermion systems for example, is able to unify quantum mechanics , general relativity and quantum field theory , via a more fundamental theory which is non-linear, but gives rise to the linear behaviour of the wave function and also gives rise to the non-linear, non-deterministic, wave-function collapse.

These theories suggest that a deeper understanding of the theory underlying quantum mechanics shows the universe is indeed non-deterministic at a fundamental level. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Nomological determinism. This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy.

For other uses, see Determinism disambiguation. Not to be confused with Fatalism , Predeterminism , Predictability , or Theological determinism. This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed.

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This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. August Learn how and when to remove this template message. Amor fati Calvinism Causality Chaos theory Digital physics Emergence Eternalism False necessity Fatalism Fractal Game theory Ilya Prigogine Interpretation of quantum mechanics Many-Worlds interpretation Neuroscience of free will Notes from Underground Open theism Predestination Philosophical interpretation of classical physics Radical behaviorism Voluntarism Wheeler—Feynman absorber theory Types of determinism [ edit ] Genetic determinism Biological determinism Psychological determinism Social determinism Cultural determinism Economic determinism Logical determinism Geographic determinism Historical determinism Technological determinism Environmental determinism Theological determinism Predeterminism.

The Scandal in Philosophy. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Winter edition. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Winter ed. For a discussion, see Robert C. A Short Introduction to Philosophy 8th ed.

Another view of determinism is discussed by Ernest Nagel Alternative descriptions of physical state". The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation 2nd ed. In order to get started we can begin with a loose and nearly all-encompassing definition as follows:. The italicized phrases are elements that require further explanation and investigation, in order for us to gain a clear understanding of the concept of determinism. The roots of the notion of determinism surely lie in a very common philosophical idea: In other words, the roots of determinism lie in what Leibniz named the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

But since precise physical theories began to be formulated with apparently deterministic character, the notion has become separable from these roots. Philosophers of science are frequently interested in the determinism or indeterminism of various theories, without necessarily starting from a view about Leibniz' Principle. Since the first clear articulations of the concept, there has been a tendency among philosophers to believe in the truth of some sort of determinist doctrine.

There has also been a tendency, however, to confuse determinism proper with two related notions: Fatalism is the thesis that all events or in some versions, at least some events are destined to occur no matter what we do.

The source of the guarantee that those events will happen is located in the will of the gods, or their divine foreknowledge, or some intrinsic teleological aspect of the universe, rather than in the unfolding of events under the sway of natural laws or cause-effect relations. Not every metaphysical picture makes this disentanglement possible, of course. In a looser sense, however, it is true that under the assumption of determinism, one might say that given the way things have gone in the past, all future events that will in fact happen are already destined to occur.

Prediction and determinism are also easy to disentangle, barring certain strong theological commitments. As the following famous expression of determinism by Laplace shows, however, the two are also easy to commingle:.

In this century, Karl Popper defined determinism in terms of predictability also, in his book The Open Universe. Laplace probably had God in mind as the powerful intelligence to whose gaze the whole future is open. If not, he should have: But even if our aim is only to predict a well-defined subsystem of the world, for a limited period of time, this may be impossible for any reasonable finite agent embedded in the world, as many studies of chaos sensitive dependence on initial conditions show.

Conversely, certain parts of the world could be highly predictable, in some senses, without the world being deterministic.

When it comes to predictability of future events by humans or other finite agents in the world, then, predictability and determinism are simply not logically connected at all. In Laplace's story, a sufficiently bright demon who knew how things stood in the world years before my birth could predict every action, every emotion, every belief in the course of my life. Were she then to watch me live through it, she might smile condescendingly, as one who watches a marionette dance to the tugs of strings that it knows nothing about.

We can't stand the thought that we are in some sense marionettes. Nor does it matter whether any demon or even God can, or cares to, actually predict what we will do: Whether such alarm is actually warranted is a question well outside the scope of this article see Hoefer a , Ismael and the entries on free will and incompatibilist theories of freedom.

But a clear understanding of what determinism is, and how we might be able to decide its truth or falsity, is surely a useful starting point for any attempt to grapple with this issue. We return to the issue of freedom in section 6, Determinism and Human Action , below. Recall that we loosely defined causal determinism as follows, with terms in need of clarification italicized:. Why should we start so globally, speaking of the world , with all its myriad events, as deterministic?

One might have thought that a focus on individual events is more appropriate: Then if all—or even just most —events E that are our human actions are causally determined, the problem that matters to us, namely the challenge to free will, is in force. Nothing so global as states of the whole world need be invoked, nor even a complete determinism that claims all events to be causally determined.

For example, the start of a football game on TV on a normal Saturday afternoon may be sufficient ceteris paribus to launch Ted toward the fridge to grab a beer; but not if a million-ton asteroid is approaching his house at. Bertrand Russell famously argued against the notion of cause along these lines and others in , and the situation has not changed.

By trying to define causal determination in terms of a set of prior sufficient conditions, we inevitably fall into the mess of an open-ended list of negative conditions required to achieve the desired sufficiency. Moreover, thinking about how such determination relates to free action, a further problem arises. If the ceteris paribus clause is open-ended, who is to say that it should not include the negation of a potential disruptor corresponding to my freely deciding not to go get the beer?

They are also too short. For the typical set of prior events that can intuitively, plausibly be thought to be a sufficient cause of a human action may be so close in time and space to the agent, as to not look like a threat to freedom so much as like enabling conditions.

So we have a number of good reasons for sticking to the formulations of determinism that arise most naturally out of physics. And this means that we are not looking at how a specific event of ordinary talk is determined by previous events; we are looking at how everything that happens is determined by what has gone before. The state of the world in only entails that Ted grabs a beer from the fridge by way of entailing the entire physical state of affairs at the later time.

The typical explication of determinism fastens on the state of the whole world at a particular time or instant , for a variety of reasons. We will briefly explain some of them. Why take the state of the whole world, rather than some perhaps very large region, as our starting point?

One might, intuitively, think that it would be enough to give the complete state of things on Earth , say, or perhaps in the whole solar system, at t , to fix what happens thereafter for a time at least. But notice that all sorts of influences from outside the solar system come in at the speed of light, and they may have important effects. So evidently, for Mary's actions and hence, all physical events generally to be fixed by the state of things a month ago, that state will have to be fixed over a much larger spatial region than just the solar system.

If no physical influences can go faster than light, then the state of things must be given over a spherical volume of space 1 light-month in radius. In the time of Laplace, of course, there was no known speed limit to the propagation of physical things such as light-rays. In such a world, evidently, one has to fix the state of things over the whole of the world at a time t , in order for events to be strictly determined, by the laws of nature, for any amount of time thereafter.

In all this, we have been presupposing the common-sense Newtonian framework of space and time, in which the world-at-a-time is an objective and meaningful notion. Below when we discuss determinism in relativistic theories we will revisit this assumption. For a wide class of physical theories i. That is, a specification of the state of the world at a time t , along with the laws, determines not only how things go after t , but also how things go before t.

Philosophers, while not exactly unaware of this symmetry, tend to ignore it when thinking of the bearing of determinism on the free will issue. The reason for this is that we tend to think of the past and hence, states of the world in the past as done, over, fixed and beyond our control. Forward-looking determinism then entails that these past states—beyond our control, perhaps occurring long before humans even existed—determine everything we do in our lives.

It then seems a mere curious fact that it is equally true that the state of the world now determines everything that happened in the past. We have an ingrained habit of taking the direction of both causation and explanation as being past—-present, even when discussing physical theories free of any such asymmetry. We will return to this point shortly. Another point to notice here is that the notion of things being determined thereafter is usually taken in an unlimited sense—i. But conceptually speaking, the world could be only imperfectly deterministic: For example, suppose that near-perfect determinism were regularly but infrequently interrupted by spontaneous particle creation events, which occur only once every thousand years in a thousand-light-year-radius volume of space.

This unrealistic example shows how determinism could be strictly false, and yet the world be deterministic enough for our concerns about free action to be unchanged. Part of understanding determinism—and especially, whether and why it is metaphysically important—is getting clear about the status of the presumed laws of nature. In the physical sciences, the assumption that there are fundamental, exceptionless laws of nature, and that they have some strong sort of modal force, usually goes unquestioned.

We can characterize the usual assumptions about laws in this way: They make things happen in certain ways , and by having this power, their existence lets us explain why things happen in certain ways.

For a defense of this perspective on laws, see Maudlin Laws, we might say, are implicitly thought of as the cause of everything that happens. If the laws governing our world are deterministic, then in principle everything that happens can be explained as following from states of the world at earlier times.

In this respect also, we see that laws of nature are being implicitly treated as the causes of what happens: Interestingly, philosophers tend to acknowledge the apparent threat determinism poses to free will, even when they explicitly reject the view that laws are pushy explainers.

Earman , for example, advocates a theory of laws of nature that takes them to be simply the best system of regularities that systematizes all the events in universal history.

Yet he ends his comprehensive Primer on Determinism with a discussion of the free will problem, taking it as a still-important and unresolved issue. Prima facie this is quite puzzling, for the BSA is founded on the idea that the laws of nature are ontologically derivative, not primary; it is the events of universal history, as brute facts, that make the laws be what they are, and not vice-versa.

Taking this idea seriously, the actions of every human agent in history are simply a part of the universe-wide pattern of events that determines what the laws are for this world.

It is then hard to see how the most elegant summary of this pattern, the BSA laws, can be thought of as determiners of human actions. The determination or constraint relations, it would seem, can go one way or the other, not both.

On second thought however it is not so surprising that broadly Humean philosophers such as Ayer, Earman, Lewis and others still see a potential problem for freedom posed by determinism.

For even if human actions are part of what makes the laws be what they are, this does not mean that we automatically have freedom of the kind we think we have, particularly freedom to have done otherwise given certain past states of affairs.

It is one thing to say that everything occurring in and around my body, and everything everywhere else, conforms to Maxwell's equations and thus the Maxwell equations are genuine exceptionless regularities, and that because they in addition are simple and strong, they turn out to be laws.

It is quite another thing to add: One might try to defend this claim—unpalatable as it seems intuitively, to ascribe ourselves law-breaking power—but it does not follow directly from a Humean approach to laws of nature. Instead, on such views that deny laws most of their pushiness and explanatory force, questions about determinism and human freedom simply need to be approached afresh.

A second important genre of theories of laws of nature holds that the laws are in some sense necessary. For any such approach, laws are just the sort of pushy explainers that are assumed in the traditional language of physical scientists and free will theorists. But a third and growing class of philosophers holds that universal, exceptionless, true laws of nature simply do not exist. For these philosophers, there is a simple consequence: As with the Humean view, this does not mean that concerns about human free action are automatically resolved; instead, they must be addressed afresh in the light of whatever account of physical nature without laws is put forward.

We can now put our—still vague—pieces together. Determinism requires a world that a has a well-defined state or description, at any given time, and b laws of nature that are true at all places and times.

If we have all these, then if a and b together logically entail the state of the world at all other times or, at least, all times later than that given in a , the world is deterministic.

How could we ever decide whether our world is deterministic or not? Given that some philosophers and some physicists have held firm views—with many prominent examples on each side—one would think that it should be at least a clearly decidable question. Unfortunately, even this much is not clear, and the epistemology of determinism turns out to be a thorny and multi-faceted issue. As we saw above, for determinism to be true there have to be some laws of nature. Most philosophers and scientists since the 17 th century have indeed thought that there are.

But in the face of more recent skepticism, how can it be proven that there are? And if this hurdle can be overcome, don't we have to know, with certainty, precisely what the laws of our world are , in order to tackle the question of determinism's truth or falsity? The first hurdle can perhaps be overcome by a combination of metaphysical argument and appeal to knowledge we already have of the physical world.

Philosophers are currently pursuing this issue actively, in large part due to the efforts of the anti-laws minority. The debate has been most recently framed by Cartwright in The Dappled World Cartwright in terms psychologically advantageous to her anti-laws cause.

Those who believe in the existence of traditional, universal laws of nature are fundamentalists ; those who disbelieve are pluralists. This terminology seems to be becoming standard see Belot , so the first task in the epistemology of determinism is for fundamentalists to establish the reality of laws of nature see Hoefer b.

Even if the first hurdle can be overcome, the second, namely establishing precisely what the actual laws are, may seem daunting indeed. In a sense, what we are asking for is precisely what 19 th and 20 th century physicists sometimes set as their goal: Both a and b are highly debatable, but the point is that one can see how arguments in favor of these positions might be mounted.

The same was true in the 19 th century, when theorists might have argued that a whatever the Final Theory is, it will involve only continuous fluids and solids governed by partial differential equations; and b all such theories are deterministic.


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Hard determinism (or metaphysical determinism) is a view on free will which holds that determinism is true, and that it is incompatible with free will, and, therefore, that free will does not exist.

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Hard-determinists are called "hard" because their position is very strict; all events in the universe (including those of man) are strictly determined. Consequently, there is no such thing as moral responsibility since it is considered by them to be incompatible with determinism.

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Feb 12,  · Hard Determinism: Absolutely everything happens as a result of something else, through cause and effect, and there are no random elements to the universe. Basically, the cause of any action can be traced back almost infinitely to the original state of the filefreevd.tkg is truly filefreevd.tk: Resolved. Determinism, especially the variation of "soft" determinism (cf. William James) or compatibilism, is supported as a theory of free will by a majority of philosophers, each with special vested interests in one or more of the many determinisms.

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The distinction between “hard determinism” and “soft determinism” was first made by the American philosopher William James (). Both positions insist on the truth of determinism: that is, they both assert that every event, including every human action, is the necessary result of prior causes operating according to the laws of nature. The hard incompatibilists hold that both determinism and free will do not exist, the libertarianists that determinism does not hold, and free will might exist, and the hard determinists that determinism does hold and free will does not exist.