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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
Tom Stonier
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
 
Determinisms
Determinism is the idea that everything that happens, including all human actions, is completely determined by prior events. There is only one possible future, and it is completely predictable in principle, most famously by Laplace's Supreme Intelligent Demon, assuming perfect knowledge of the positions and velocities of all the atoms in the void.

More strictly, determinism should be distinguished from pre-determinism, the idea that the entire past (as well as the future) was determined at the origin of the universe.

Determinism is sometimes confused with causality, the idea that all events have causes. But some events may be undetermined by prior events. Such an event is indeterminate, sometimes known as a "causa sui" or self-caused event. But it may in turn be the cause for following events that would therefore not be predictable from conditions before the uncaused event. We call this "soft" causality. Events are caused, but they are not always predictable or determined.

Uncaused events are said to break the "causal chain" of events back to a primordial cause or "unmoved mover." Aristotle's "accidents" and Epicurus' "swerve" are such uncaused causes.

Although there is only one basic form of indeterminism, there are many determinisms, depending on what pre-conditions are considered to be determinative of an event or action. We identify more than a dozen distinguishable determinisms below.

There is only one irreducible freedom, based on a genuine randomness that provides for a world with breaks in the causal chain. Quantum mechanics is the fundamental source for indeterminacy and unpredictability in the physical, biological, and human worlds. It generates the Agenda for our Micro Mind in the Cogito model for Free Will.

Philosophers and religious thinkers become quite perplexed when considering the basic conflict between such an irreducible freedom and their own particular determinism. Because interpretations of quantum mechanics are difficult even for physicists, most philosophers dodge the issue and declare themselves agnostic on the truth of determinism or indeterminism.

Even some philosophers who accept the idea of human freedom are uncomfortable with the randomness implicit in quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. True chance is problematic, even for many scientists, including those like Planck and Einstein, who discovered the quantum world. And for traditional philosophers in a religious tradition, chance has been thought to be an atheistic idea for millenia, since it denies God's foreknowledge. Chance, they say, is only the epistemic problem of human ignorance.


The Determinisms
Behavioral Determinism assumes that our actions are reflex reactions developed in us by environmental conditioning. This is the Nurture side of the famous Nature/Nurture debate - note that both are determinisms. This view was developed to an extreme by B. F. Skinner.

Biological Determinism finds causes for our actions in our genetic makeup. This is the Nature side of the Nature/Nurture debate - both sides are determinisms.

Causal Determinism finds that every event has an antecedent cause in the infinite causal chain going back to Aristotle's Prime Mover. There is nothing uncaused or self-caused (causa sui). Galen Strawson holds this view.

Fatalism is the simple idea that everything is fated to happen, so that humans have no control over their future. Notice that fate has arbitrary power and need not follow any causal or otherwise deterministic laws. It can include the miracles of omnipotent gods.

Historical Determinism is the dialectical idealism of Hegel or the dialectical materialism of Marx that are assumed to govern the course of history.

Logical Determinism reasons that a statement about a future event happening is either true or it is not. If the statement is true, logical certainty necessitates the event (cf. Aristotle's Sea Battle). If the statement is not true, the event can not possibly happen. For logic. the truth is outside of time, like the foreknowledge of God.

Linguistic Determinism claims that our language determines (at least limits) the things we can think and say and thus know. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis claims that speech patterns in a language community are highly predictable.

Mechanical Determinism explains man as a machine. If Newton's Laws of Classical Mechanics govern the workings of the planets, stars, and galaxies, surely they govern man the same way.

Necessitarianism is a variation of logical and causal determinism that claims everything is simply necessary.

Physical Determinism extends the laws of physics to every atom in the human mind and assumes the mind will someday be perfectly predictable once enough measurements are made.

Psychological Determinism is the idea that our actions must be determined by the best possible reason or our greatest desire. Otherwise, our acts would be irrational.

Religious Determinism is the consequence of the presumed omniscience of God. God has foreknowledge of all events. All times are equally present to the eye of God (Aquinas' totem simul). Note the multiple logical inconsistencies in the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God. If God knows the future, he obviously lacks the power to change it. And benevolence leads to the problem of evil.

Spatio-temporal Determinism is the view of special relativity. The "block universe" of Hermann Minkowski and Albert Einstein assumes that time is simply a fourth dimension that already exixts, just like the spatial dimensions. The one possible future is already out there up ahead of where we are now, just like the city blocks to our left and right. J. J. C. Smart is a philosopher who holds this view. He calls himself "somewhat of a fatalist."

Compatibilism is the idea that Free Will is compatible with Determinism. Compatibilists believe that as long as our Mind is one cause in the causal chain that we can be responsible for our actions, which is reasonable. But they think every cause, including our decisions, are pre-determined. Compatibilists are Determinists.

Some of these determinisms (behavioral, biological, historical-economic, language, psychological, and religious) have modest to significant evidence that they do limit human freedom. But others are merely dogmas of determinism, believed for the simple reason that they eliminate random chance in the universe.

Chance is anathema to most philosophers.

For Teachers
For Scholars
Honderich: "Determinism is usually the thesis that all our mental states and acts, including choices and decisions, and all our actions are effects necessitated by preceding causes." Oxford Companion to Philosophy, p.293.

Chapter 6.1 - Demons Chapter 6.3 - Dogmas
Part Five - Problems Part Seven - Afterword
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