If determinism is correct, then we must accept the thesis of universal causation. This thesis claims that everything that happens has a cause, and that every action is caused. Some theorists even claim that the causation of our actions is ancestrally determined. For example, the action of my writing this paper was determined by some unknown original cause that predates my existence and possibly even the existence of mankind.
When understanding the multiple positions of the freedom versus determinism paradox, it can be understood that determinism is the underlying foundation of the determinist position. Determinists state that determinism is true.
If every action is caused, then there are no free actions. If there are no free actions, then no one is responsible for his or her behavior. Therefore, no one is responsible for their behavior. Stemming from the determinist conclusions follows the acceptance of the final premises of incompatibilism.
The incompatibilist argues that for any action A, if A is ancestrally determined, then A is causally determined by conditions over which the agent had no control.
If the agent had no control, then the action the agent performed was not free. The incompatibilist concludes with the paired statements: Thus, if one is so inclined to accept determinism, one must accept the final premises of incompatibilism: Perhaps, like in many other aspects of our life, we are again ignorant to the truth of our current situation.
Obviously, the determinist position is not accepted by all. Many philosophers argue that not all our actions are determined. Instead, they claim that some of our actions are free. The philosophers who claim that we have free actions are called libertarians.
The radical opposition that libertarians pose to the determinist position is their acceptance of free actions. Libertarians accept the incompatibility premise that holds agents morally responsible for free actions. Incompatibilism maintains that determinism is incompatible with human freedom. Libertarians accept that there are free actions, and in doing so, believe that we are morally responsible for some of our actions, namely, the free ones.
What, then, is considered freedom? Essentially, person S performs action A freely if and only if iff S performs A, and S could have done otherwise. In order to further identify with freedom, the Shadow Principle was developed. The Shadow Principle claims that no condition of the past can prevent me from acting now unless it causes a current condition that prevents me from acting now.
Current conditions that prevent me from acting now are known as causal shadows. In order to surpass these causal shadows and act in accordance with freedom, there must be an absence of external physical constraint, an absence of interior physical constraint, and an absence of internal psychological constraint, such as a compulsion or a phobia. For many, it seems likely that there can be some compromise between the determinist and libertarian positions. Here, we find two final controversies that may suggest a radical reexamination of such a paradox: The first controversy was suggested by a philosopher named John Martin Fischer.
Fischer rejects the end premises of the determinist position. In his claim, the semi-compatibilist claim, he maintains the position that there are no free actions, but rejects the claim that agents are not morally responsible for their behavior. For the semi-compatibilist, free-will has nothing to do with moral responsibility. The only alteration this claim would make is that agents should be held morally responsible for their actions, even if said actions are not free.
Thus, we have come to a point in this discussion where I shall finally examine compatibilism; compatibilism being the best solution to the freedom versus determinism paradox. At this juncture, I hold that compatibilism is most correct when evaluating the freedom versus determinism paradox. The compatibilist position states that freedom and determinism are compatible, that the determinist position is true, that there are free actions, and that people are morally responsible for their free actions.
The traditional compatibilist view states that S performs A freely only if S could have done otherwise. In order to solidify their position, the compatibilist states that the inconsistency of determinism and freedom—that if the determinist position is true then, there is no free action; and the belief that at least some actions are free—are only apparent, and not real. The way compatibilists argue for their position is to make the claim that actions are caused, but that they are caused by something not itself an action.
From this position, it is suggested that reason can be that which brings about a rational action. Reason is an explanation for an action, and is the reason for causing the action, but is not an action within itself.
Suppose, at the end of this paper, I give reasons stating why I concluded the paper the way I did. The reasons are not actions, they did not cause the conclusion of my paper, and they merely explain the conclusion of my paper.
While they are not the source of the conclusion, they are needed in order to establish a firm conclusion. It seems, then, that reasoning can bring about cause, but does not necessarily have to be a cause in and of itself.
In conclusion, I have discussed the multiple theories that come about when surmising an answer to the paradox of freedom versus determinism: I have thus concluded that we should accept compatibilism as the most appropriate approach to understanding such a paradox. As the compatibilist suggests, determinism is true, but we sometimes have free actions, and therefore, agents should be held morally responsible for their actions.
We can accept the notion that we have, at least some of the time, free actions, because of reasoning. Reasoning allows us to bring about results, without actually generating a cause in and of itself. Philosophical Problems and Arguments: 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.
Here, b is almost certainly false; see Earman ,ch. Even if we now are not, we may in future be in a position to mount a credible argument for or against determinism on the grounds of features we think we know the Final Theory must have.
Determinism could perhaps also receive direct support—confirmation in the sense of probability-raising, not proof—from experience and experiment. And in broad terms, this is the case in many domains we are familiar with. Your computer starts up every time you turn it on, and if you have not changed any files, have no anti-virus software, re-set the date to the same time before shutting down, and so on … always in exactly the same way, with the same speed and resulting state until the hard drive fails.
These cases of repeated, reliable behavior obviously require some serious ceteris paribus clauses, are never perfectly identical, and always subject to catastrophic failure at some point. But we tend to think that for the small deviations, probably there are explanations for them in terms of different starting conditions or failed isolation, and for the catastrophic failures, definitely there are explanations in terms of different conditions.
Most of these bits of evidence for determinism no longer seem to cut much ice, however, because of faith in quantum mechanics and its indeterminism. Indeterminist physicists and philosophers are ready to acknowledge that macroscopic repeatability is usually obtainable, where phenomena are so large-scale that quantum stochasticity gets washed out. But they would maintain that this repeatability is not to be found in experiments at the microscopic level, and also that at least some failures of repeatability in your hard drive, or coin-flipping experiments are genuinely due to quantum indeterminism, not just failures to isolate properly or establish identical initial conditions.
If quantum theories were unquestionably indeterministic, and deterministic theories guaranteed repeatability of a strong form, there could conceivably be further experimental input on the question of determinism's truth or falsity. Unfortunately, the existence of Bohmian quantum theories casts strong doubt on the former point, while chaos theory casts strong doubt on the latter.
More will be said about each of these complications below. If the world were governed by strictly deterministic laws, might it still look as though indeterminism reigns? This is one of the difficult questions that chaos theory raises for the epistemology of determinism.
A deterministic chaotic system has, roughly speaking, two salient features: Definitions of chaos may focus on either or both of these properties; Batterman argues that only ii provides an appropriate basis for defining chaotic systems. A simple and very important example of a chaotic system in both randomness and SDIC terms is the Newtonian dynamics of a pool table with a convex obstacle or obstacles Sinai and others.
Billiard table with convex obstacle. The usual idealizing assumptions are made: The ball's trajectory is determined by its initial position and direction of motion. If we imagine a slightly different initial direction, the trajectory will at first be only slightly different.
And collisions with the straight walls will not tend to increase very rapidly the difference between trajectories. But collisions with the convex object will have the effect of amplifying the differences. After several collisions with the convex body or bodies, trajectories that started out very close to one another will have become wildly different—SDIC.
In the example of the billiard table, we know that we are starting out with a Newtonian deterministic system—that is how the idealized example is defined. But chaotic dynamical systems come in a great variety of types: 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. This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. For other uses, see Determinism disambiguation.
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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. Retrieved 20 December Retrieved 19 December On this doctrine events throughout eternity have been foreordained by some supernatural power in a causal sequence.
Pre- determinism at the Planck scale". Quantum Theory provided a beautiful description of the behaviour of isolated atoms and nuclei and small aggregates of elementary particles.
Modern science recognized that predisposition rather than predeterminism is what is widely prevalent in nature. Far Western Philosophy of Education Society. See for example Ormond, A.
Science of Artificial Neural Networks. However, predeterminism is not completely avoided. If the codes within the genotype are not designed properly, then the organisms being evolved will be fundamentally handicapped.
Retrieved 22 December Dictionary of World Philosophy.
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.
In it he coined the terms "soft determinism" (today's compatibilism), and "hard determinism" (strict determinsm, indeed, pre-determinism from the beginning of time). For Teachers To hide this material, click on the Normal link.
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. 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.
Hard determinism synonyms, Hard determinism pronunciation, Hard determinism translation, English dictionary definition of Hard determinism. n. The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision, is the inevitable consequence of antecedent. There are three theories of free will and determinism that you will need to be aware of: Hard Determinism. Hard Determinism is the theory that human behaviour and actions are wholly determined by external factors, and therefore humans do not have genuine free will or ethical accountability.