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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. For other uses, see Determinism (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Fatalism, Predeterminism, or Predictability.

Determinism is a metaphysical philosophical position stating that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given those conditions, nothing else could happen. "There are many determinisms, depending upon what pre-conditions are considered to be determinative of an event."[1] Determinism throughout the history of philosophy has sprung from diverse considerations, some of which overlap. Some forms of determinism can be tested empirically with ideas stemming from physics and the philosophy of physics. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism (otherwise called nondeterminism). Determinism is often contrasted with free will.[2]
Determinism often is taken to mean simply causal determinism, that is, basing determinism upon the idea of cause-and-effect. It is the concept that events within a given paradigm are bound by causality in such a way that any state (of an object or event) is completely determined by prior states. This meaning can be distinguished from other varieties of determinism mentioned below.
The introduction of "cause-and-effect" introduces unnecessary complications related to what is meant by a 'cause' and how the presence of a 'cause' might be established, the interpretation of which varies from one physical theory to another. These complications are avoided by a more general formulation based upon connections between 'events' supplied by a theory:
"a theory is deterministic if, and only if, given its state variables for some initial period, the theory logically determines a unique set of values for those variables for any other period."[3]
—Ernest Nagel, Alternative descriptions of physical state p. 292
This quote replaces the idea of 'cause-and-effect' with that of 'logical implication' according to one or another theory that connects events. In addition, an 'event' is related by the theory itself to formalized states described using the parameters defined by that theory. Thus, the details of interpretation are placed where they belong, fitted to the context in which the chosen theory applies.
Other debates often concern the scope of determined systems, with some maintaining that the entire universe (or multiverse) is a single determinate system and others identifying other more limited determinate systems. For example, using the definition of physical determinism above, the limitations of a theory to some particular domain of experience also limits the associated definition of 'determinism' to that same domain.
There are numerous historical debates involving many philosophical positions and varieties of determinism. They include debates concerning determinism and free will, technically denoted as compatibilistic (allowing the two to coexist) and incompatibilistic (denying their coexistence is a possibility).
Determinism should not be confused with self-determination of human actions by reasons, motives, and desires. Determinism rarely requires that perfect prediction be practically possible – merely predictable in theory.

Many philosophical theories of determinism frame themselves with the idea that reality follows a sort of predetermined path
Causal determinism is "the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature".[4] However, causal determinism is a broad enough term to consider that "one's deliberations, choices, and actions will often be necessary links in the causal chain that brings something about. In other words, even though our deliberations, choices, and actions are themselves determined like everything else, it is still the case, according to causal determinism, that the occurrence or existence of yet other things depends upon our deliberating, choosing and acting in a certain way".[5] Causal determinism proposes that there is an unbroken chain of prior occurrences stretching back to the origin of the universe. The relation between events may not be specified, nor the origin of that universe. Causal determinists believe that there is nothing uncaused or self-caused. Historical determinism (a sort of path dependence) can also be synonymous with causal determinism.
Nomological determinism (sometimes called 'scientific' determinism, although that is a misnomer) is the most common form of causal determinism. It is the notion that the past and the present dictate the future entirely and necessarily by rigid natural laws, that every occurrence results inevitably from prior events. Quantum mechanics and various interpretations thereof pose a serious challenge to this view. Nomological determinism is sometimes illustrated by the thought experiment of Laplace's demon.[6]
Physical determinism holds holds that all physical events occur as described by physical laws.[7][8] Depending upon definitions, there is some room here for the view that not everything in the universe must be tied to some physical state, but that view is not usually emphasized by adherents of physical determinism because of the widely accepted scientific view that the operation of all physical systems (often unnecessarily taken to mean everything) can be explained entirely in physical terms, the assumed causal closure of physics.
Necessitarianism is very related to the causal determinism described above. It is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for the world to be. Leucippus claimed there were no uncaused events, and that everything occurs for a reason and by necessity.[9]
Predeterminism is the idea that all events are determined in advance.[10][11] The concept of predeterminism is often argued by invoking causal determinism, implying that there is an unbroken chain of prior occurrences stretching back to the origin of the universe. In the case of predeterminism, this chain of events has been pre-established, and human actions cannot interfere with the outcomes of this pre-established chain. Predeterminism can be used to mean such pre-established causal determinism, in which case it is categorised as a specific type of determinism.[10][12] It can also be used interchangeably with causal determinism - in the context of its capacity to determine future events.[10][13] Despite this, predeterminism is often considered as independent of causal determinism.[14][15] The term predeterminism is also frequently used in the context of biology and hereditary, in which case it represents a form of biological determinism.[16]
Fatalism is normally distinguished from "determinism".[17] Fatalism is the idea that everything is fated to happen, so that humans have no control over their future. Fate has arbitrary power, and need not follow any causal or otherwise deterministic laws.[18] Types of Fatalism include hard theological determinism and the idea of predestination, where there is a God who determines all that humans will do. This may be accomplished either by knowing their actions in advance, via some form of omniscience[19] or by decreeing their actions in advance.[20]
Theological determinism is a form of determinism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, or predestined to happen, by a monotheistic deity, or that they are destined to occur given its omniscience. Two forms of theological determinism exist, here referenced as strong and weak theological determinism.[21] The first one, strong theological determinism, is based on the concept of a creator deity dictating all events in history: "everything that happens has been predestined to happen by an omniscient, omnipotent divinity".[22] The second form, weak theological determinism, is based on the concept of divine foreknowledge - "because God's omniscience is perfect, what God knows about the future will inevitably happen, which means, consequently, that the future is already fixed".[23] There exist slight variations on the above categorisation. Some claim that theological determinism requires predestination of all events and outcomes by the divinity (i.e. they do not classify the weaker version as 'theological determinism' unless libertarian free will is assumed to be denied as a consequence), or that the weaker version does not constitute 'theological determinism' at all.[24] With respect to free will, "theological determinism is the thesis that God exists and has infallible knowledge of all true propositions including propositions about our future actions", more minimal criteria designed to encapsulate all forms of theological determinism.[25] Theological determinism can also be seen as a form of causal determinism, in which the antecedent conditions are the nature and will of God.[5]
Logical determinism or Determinateness is the notion that all propositions, whether about the past, present, or future, are either true or false. Note that one can support Causal Determinism without necessarily supporting Logical Determinism and vice versa (depending on one's views on the nature of time, but also randomness). The problem of free will is especially salient now with Logical Determinism: how can choices be free, given that propositions about the future already have a truth value in the present (i.e. it is already determined as either true or false)? This is referred to as the problem of future contingents.

Adequate determinism focuses on the fact that, even without a full understanding of microscopic physics, we can predict the distribution of 1000 coin tosses
Often synonymous with Logical Determinism are the ideas behind Spatio-temporal Determinism or Eternalism: the view of special relativity. J. J. C. Smart, a proponent of this view, uses the term "tenselessness" to describe the simultaneous existence of past, present, and future. In physics, the "block universe" of Hermann Minkowski and Albert Einstein assumes that time is a fourth dimension (like the three spatial dimensions). In other words, all the other parts of time are real, like the city blocks up and down a street, although the order in which they appear depends on the driver (see Rietdijk–Putnam argument).
Adequate determinism is the idea that quantum indeterminacy can be ignored for most macroscopic events. This is because of quantum decoherence. Random quantum events "average out" in the limit of large numbers of particles (where the laws of quantum mechanics asymptotically approach the laws of classical mechanics).[26] Stephen Hawking explains a similar idea: he says that the microscopic world of quantum mechanics is one of determined probabilities. That is, quantum effects rarely alter the predictions of classical mechanics, which are quite accurate (albeit still not perfectly certain) at larger scales.[27] Something as large as an animal cell, then, would be "adequately determined" (even in light of quantum indeterminacy).

Nature and nurture interact in humans. A scientist looking at a sculpture after some time does not ask whether we are seeing the effects of the starting materials OR environmental influences.
Although some of the above forms of determinism concern human behaviors and cognition, others frame themselves as an answer to the Nature or Nurture debate. They will suggest that one factor will entirely determine behavior. As scientific understanding has grown, however, the strongest versions of these theories have been widely rejected as a single cause fallacy.[28]
In other words, the modern deterministic theories attempt to explain how the interaction of both nature and nurture is entirely predictable. The concept of heritability has been helpful to make this distinction.
Biological determinism, sometimes called Genetic determinism, is the idea that each of our behaviors, beliefs, and desires are fixed by our genetic nature.
Behaviorism is the idea that all behavior can be traced to specific causes—either environmental or reflexive. This Nurture-focused determinism was developed by John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner.
Cultural determinism or social determinism is the nurture-focused theory that it is the culture in which we are raised that determines who we are.
Environmental determinism is also known as climatic or geographical determinism. It holds the view that the physical environment, rather than social conditions, determines culture. Supporters often also support Behavioral determinism. Key proponents of this notion have included Ellen Churchill Semple, Ellsworth Huntington, Thomas Griffith Taylor and possibly Jared Diamond, although his status as an environmental determinist is debated.[29]

A technological determinist might suggest that technology like the mobile phone is the greatest factor shaping human civilization.
Other 'deterministic' theories actually seek only to highlight the importance of a particular factor in predicting the future. These theories often use the factor as a sort of guide or constraint on the future. They need not suppose that complete knowledge of that one factor would allow us to make perfect predictions.
Psychological determinism can mean that humans must act according to reason, but it can also be synonymous with some sort of Psychological egoism. The latter is the view that humans will always act according to their perceived best interest.
Linguistic determinism claims that our language determines (at least limits) the things we can think and say and thus know. The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis argues that individuals experience the world based on the grammatical structures they habitually use.
Economic determinism is the theory which attributes primacy to the economic structure over politics in the development of human history. It is associated with the dialectical materialism of Karl Marx.
Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society's technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. Media determinism, a subset of technological determinism, is a philosophical and sociological position which posits the power of the media to impact society. Two leading media determinists are the Canadian scholars Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan.