Determinism as a theory is supported by a majority of philosophers, each with special vested interests in one or more of the many determinisms
is a form of determinism that argues man is free as long as his own will is one of the steps in the causal chain, even if his choices are completely predetermined for physical reasons or preordained by God.
is a special form of determinism where every event in the future is fated to happen. Fatalism does not imply that any causal laws or higher powers are involved. Que sera, sera
The core idea of determinism is closely related to the idea of causality
. But we can have causality without determinism. And we will see that the departure from strict causality is very slight compared to the miraculous ideas associated with the "causa sui
" (self-caused cause) of the ancients.
Despite David Hume's critical attack on the necessity of causes, many philosophers embrace causality and determinism strongly. Some even connect it to the very possibility of logic and reason. And Hume himself believed strongly, if inconsistently, in necessity. "'tis impossible to admit any medium betwixt chance and necessity," he said.
Bertrand Russell said "The law of causation, according to which later events can theoretically be predicted by means of earlier events, has often been held to be a priori, a necessity of thought, a category without which science would not be possible." (Russell, External World p.179)
The core idea of indeterminism is closely related to the idea of causality
. Indeterminism for some is simply an event without a cause. But we can have an adequate causality without strict determinism, which implies complete predictability of events and only one possible future.
An example of an event that is not strictly caused is one that depends on chance, like the flip of a coin. If the outcome is only probable, not certain, then the event can be said to have been caused by the coin flip, but the head or tails result was not predictable. So this causality, which recognizes prior events as causes, is undetermined and the result of chance alone.
We call this "soft" causality. Events are caused by prior (uncaused) events, but not determined by events earlier in the causal chain, which has been broken by the uncaused cause.
Determinism is critical for the question of free will. Strict determinism implies just one possible future. Chance means that the future is unpredictable. Chance allows alternative futures and the question becomes how the one actual present is realized from these potential alternatives.
The departure required from strict determinism is very slight compared to the miraculous ideas associated with the "causa sui
" (self-caused cause) of the ancients.
Even in a world that contains quantum uncertainty, macroscopic objects are determined to an extraordinary degree. Newton's laws of motion are deterministic enough to send men to the moon and back. Our Cogito
model of the Macro Mind is large enough to ignore quantum uncertainty for the purpose of the reasoning will. The neural system is robust enough to insure that mental decisions are reliably transmitted to our limbs.
we see a world of
soft causality and adequate determinism
We call this determinism, only ineffective for extremely small structures, "adequate determinism." Determinism is adequate enough for us to predict eclipses for the next thousand years or more with extraordinary precision.
Belief in strict determinism, in the face of physical evidence for indeterminism, is only tenable today for dogmatic philosophy. We survey ten modern dogmas of determinism
The presence of quantum uncertainty leads some philosophers to call the world indetermined. But indeterminism
is misleading, with strong negative connotations, when most events are overwhelmingly "adequately determined."
There is no problem imagining that the three traditional mental faculties of reason - perception, conception, and comprehension - are all carried on deterministically in a physical brain where quantum events do not interfere with normal operations.
There is also no problem imagining a role for randomness in the brain in the form of quantum level noise. Noise can introduce random errors into stored memories. Noise could create random associations of ideas during memory recall. This randomness may be driven by microscopic fluctuations that are amplified to the macroscopic level.
Our Macro Mind needs the Micro Mind for the free action items and thoughts in an Agenda of alternative possibilities to be de-liberated by the will. The random Micro Mind is the "free" in free will and the source of human creativity
. The adequately determined Macro Mind is the "will" in free will that de-liberates
, choosing actions for which we can be morally responsible
[Determinism must be disambiguated from its close relatives causality
, and predictability
[In Existentialism, the will condemns all the unchosen alternatives to nothingness as it grants being to the one chosen.]