determinism


determinism
determinist, n., adj.deterministic, adj.deterministically, adv.
/di terr"meuh niz'euhm/, n.
1. the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws.
2. the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes.
[1840-50; DETERMINE + -ISM]

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In philosophy, the doctrine that all events, including human decisions, are completely determined by previously existing causes.

The traditional free will problem arises from the question, Is moral responsibility consistent with the truth of determinism? Among those who believe it is not consistent, some, maintaining the truth of determinism, have concluded that no one is morally responsible for what he does (and therefore that punishment for criminal actions is unjustified); others, maintaining the reality of moral responsibility, have concluded that determinism is false. Those who believe that moral responsibility is consistent with determinism are known as compatibilists (see compatibilism). Pierre-Simon Laplace is responsible for the classical formulation of determinism in the 18th century. For Laplace, the present state of the universe is the effect of its previous state and the cause of the state that follows it. If a mind, at any given moment, could know all the laws and all the forces operating in nature and the respective positions and momenta of all its components, it could thereby know with certainty the future and the past of every entity.

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      in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes that preclude free will and the possibility that humans could have acted otherwise. The theory holds that the universe is utterly rational because complete knowledge of any given situation assures that unerring knowledge of its future is also possible. Pierre-Simon, Marquis de Laplace (Laplace, Pierre-Simon, marquis de), in the 18th century framed the classical formulation of this thesis. For him, the present state of the universe is the effect of its previous state and the cause of the state that follows it. If a mind, at any given moment, could know all of the forces operating in nature and the respective positions of all its components, it would thereby know with certainty the future and the past of every entity, large or small. The Persian poet Omar Khayyam expressed a similar deterministic view of the world in the concluding half of one of his quatrains: “And the first Morning of Creation wrote / What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.”

      Indeterminism, on the other hand, though not denying the influence of behavioral patterns and certain extrinsic forces on human actions, insists on the reality of free choice. Exponents of determinism strive to defend their theory as compatible with moral responsibility by saying, for example, that evil results of certain actions can be foreseen, and this in itself imposes moral responsibility and creates a deterrent external cause that can influence actions.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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