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Core Concepts

Adequate Determinism
Agent-Causality
Alternative Possibilities
Causa Sui
Causal Closure
Causality
Certainty
Chance
Chance Not Direct Cause
Chaos Theory
The Cogito Model
Compatibilism
Complexity
Comprehensive   Compatibilism
Conceptual Analysis
Control
Could Do Otherwise
Creativity
Default Responsibility
De-liberation
Determination
Determination Fallacy
Determinism
Disambiguation
Double Effect
Either Way
Emergent Determinism
Epistemic Freedom
Ethical Fallacy
Experimental Philosophy
Extreme Libertarianism
Event Has Many Causes
Frankfurt Cases
Free Choice
Freedom of Action
"Free Will"
Free Will Axiom
Free Will in Antiquity
Free Will Mechanisms
Free Will Requirements
Free Will Theorem
Future Contingency
Hard Incompatibilism
Idea of Freedom
Illusion of Determinism
Illusionism
Impossibilism
Incompatibilism
Indeterminacy
Indeterminism
Infinities
Laplace's Demon
Libertarianism
Liberty of Indifference
Libet Experiments
Luck
Master Argument
Modest Libertarianism
Moral Necessity
Moral Responsibility
Moral Sentiments
Mysteries
Naturalism
Necessity
Noise
Non-Causality
Nonlocality
Origination
Paradigm Case
Possibilities
Pre-determinism
Predictability
Probability
Pseudo-Problem
Random When?/Where?
Rational Fallacy
Refutations
Replay
Responsibility
Same Circumstances
Scandal
Science Advance Fallacy
Second Thoughts
Self-Determination
Semicompatibilism
Separability
Soft Causality
Special Relativity
Standard Argument
Supercompatibilism
Superdeterminism
Taxonomy
Temporal Sequence
Tertium Quid
Torn Decision
Two-Stage Models
Ultimate Responsibility
Uncertainty
Up To Us
Voluntarism

Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Carl Ginet
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Christine Korsgaard
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
E. H. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
Joseph Fourier
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Stuart Hameroff
Patrick Haggard
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
William Stanley Jevons
Pascual Jordan
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
John von Neumann
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

 
Laplace's Demon
In the introduction to his 1814 Essai philosophique sur les probabilités, Pierre-Simon Laplace extended an idea of Gottfried Leibniz which became famous as Laplace's Demon, the locus classicus definition of strict physical determinism, with its one possible future.

Laplace said,

"We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes."

Nous devons donc envisager l'état présent de l'universe comme l'effet de son état antérieur, et comme la cause de celui qui va suivre. Une intelligence qui pour un instant donné connaîtrait toutes les forces dont la nature est animée et la situation respective des êtres qui la composent, si d'ailleurs elle était assez vaste pour soumettre ces données à l'analyse, embrasserait dans la même formule les mouvements des plus grands corps de l'universe et ceux du plus léger atome; rien ne serait incertain pour elle, et l'avenir comme le passé serait présent a ses yeux.

Laplace postulates a super-intelligence that could know the positions, velocities, and forces on all the particles in the universe at one time, and thus know the universe for all times. The concept has been criticized for the vast amount of information that would be required, impractical if not impossible to collect instantaneously. And where would the information be kept? If in some part of the universe, there would be an infinite regress of information storage.

If we imagine the exercise as purely mental, involving only the idea of such knowledge, we can see the Laplace's demon as a secular substitute for an omniscient God with perfect foreknowledge.

Laplace's view implies that the past and the present always contain exactly the same knowledge. This makes information a constant of nature. Indeed, some mathematicians think that information is a conserved quantity (the blue line in the figure), like the conservation of mass and energy.

However, midway through the 19th century, Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) realized that the newly discovered second law of thermodynamics required that information could not be constant, but would be destroyed as the entropy (disorder) irreversibly increased. Hermann Helmholtz described this as the heat death of the universe.

Physicists, including Ludwig Boltzmann, described entropy as "lost information," although many mathematicians thought the lost information might be recoverable (for example, by reversing the time).

Kelvin’s claim would be correct if the universe were a closed system. But in our open and expanding universe, David Layzer showed that the maximum possible entropy is increasing faster than the actual entropy. The difference between maximum possible entropy and the current entropy is called negative entropy, opening the possibility for complex and stable information structures.

The current view of the universe is a "heat birth" and a "cold death."

So we now know that a Laplace Demon is impossible, and for two distinct reasons. The old reason was that modern quantum physics is inherently indeterministic. The future is only probabilistic, though it may be "adequately determined."

The new reason is that there is not enough information in the past (none at all in the early universe) to determine the present.

The "fixed past" and the "laws of nature" pre-determine nothing, despite recent philosophical arguments.

Similarly, information at the present time does not determine the future. The future is open. We must create it.

It follows that determinism, the philosophical idea that every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the inevitable and necessary consequence of antecedent states of affairs, is not true.

More precisely, determinism, or determination by some preceding events as causes, should be distinguished from the pre-determinism of Laplace's time, the idea that the entire past (as well as the future) was determined at the origin of the universe.

Earlier versions of Laplace's idea

Gotfried Leibniz imagined a scientist who could see the events of all times, just as all times are thought to be present to the mind of God.

"Everything proceeds mathematically...if someone could have a sufficient insight into the inner parts of things, and in addition had remembrance and intelligence enough to consider all the circumstances and take them into account, he would be a prophet and see the future in the present as in a mirror."

The little-known Serbian scientist Roger Joseph Boscovich (1711-1787) developed an atomic theory, and understood the implications of knowing the positions, velocities, and forces of all the atoms...

Any point of matter, setting aside free motions that arise from the action of arbitrary will, must describe some continuous curved line, the determination of which can be reduced to the following general problem. Given a number of points of matter, & given, for each of them, the point of space that it occupies at any given instant of time; also given the direction & velocity of the initial motion if they were projected, or the tangential velocity if they are already in motion; & given the law of forces expressed by some continuous curve, such as that of Fig. 1, which contains this Theory of mine; it is required to find the path of each of the points, that is to say, the line along which each of them moves. [...] Now, although a problem of such a kind surpasses all the powers of the human intellect, yet any geometer can easily see thus far, that the problem is determinate, & that such curves will all be continuous [...] & a mind which had the powers requisite to deal with such a problem in a proper manner & was brilliant enough to perceive the solutions of it (& such a mind might even be finite, provided the number of points were finite, & the notion of the curve representing the law of forces were given by a finite representation), such a mind, I say, could, from a continuous arc described in an interval of time, no matter how small, by all points of matter, derive the law of forces itself; [...] Now, if the law of forces were known, & the position, velocity & direction of all the points at any given instant, it would be possible for a mind of this type to foresee all the necessary subsequent motions & states, & to predict all the phenomena that necessarily followed from them.
For Scholars
1. C.D.Broad, 1934 "Indeterminism is the doctrine that some, and it may be all, events are not completely determined."

Chapter 1.4 - The Philosophy Chapter 1.6 - The Scientists
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