Determinism and indeterminism

In Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition. pp. 29-35 (2006)
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Determinism is a rich and varied concept. At an abstract level of analysis, Jordan Howard Sobel (1998) identifies at least ninety varieties of what determinism could be like. When it comes to thinking about what deterministic laws and theories in physical sciences might be like, the situation is much clearer. There is a criterion by which to judge whether a law–expressed as some form of equation–is deterministic. A theory would then be deterministic just in case all its laws taken as a whole were deterministic. In contrast, if a law fails this criterion, then it is indeterministic and any theory whose laws taken as a whole fail this criterion must also be indeterministic. Although it is widely believed that classical physics is deterministic and quantum mechanics is indeterministic, application of this criterion yields some surprises for these standard judgments.



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Robert Bishop
Wheaton College, Illinois

References found in this work

Is classical mechanics really time-reversible and deterministic?Keith Hutchison - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (2):307-323.
Chaos, prediction and laplacean determinism.M. A. Stone - 1989 - American Philosophical Quarterly 26 (2):123--31.
Chaos and Indeterminism.Jesse Hobbs - 1991 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):141 - 164.
Is chaos indeterministic?Robert C. Bishop & Frederick M. Kronz - 1999 - In Maria Luisa Dalla Chiara (ed.), Language, Quantum, Music. pp. 129--141.

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