What Is Determinism?

Determinism is the view that everything that happens in the world is determined entirely by pre-existing causes. Causal determinism is also seen more generally as the idea that everything that happens or exists is caused by antecedent conditions. Roughly speaking, causal determinism is the view that every event is caused by previous events and conditions and the laws of nature. Saying that every event is determined by antecedents, the operation of the laws of nature means that it must have occurred under the conditions of a given antecedent.

If the world really works according to the laws of physics, then it seems that once the initial conditions of the world are established, then each subsequent event in history inevitably follows by cause and effect. If any event is causally determined by forces beyond our control, then it must include an event of determinism that concludes that determinism is true. For the determinist, the march of causality will make the outcome inevitable, so it is a mistake to assume that everything else was possible.


Therefore, to believe in determinism is to go far beyond the observable and known facts. Here’s what it looks like: the determinist view of much of nature. Determinism is perhaps easier to understand when we think about the natural world. Many philosophical theories of determinism are built on the idea that reality follows some predetermined path.

Although the philosophies of individual determinists may differ, determinism has generally been a conservative philosophy. In modern psychology, the determinists are most likely to be genetic determinists, arguing that genes play a decisive role in determining a person’s personality, lifestyle, and destiny. Some forms of determinism can be empirically tested through ideas derived from physics and the philosophy of physics. However, for psychological science, the belief in the possibility of choice seems more plausible and useful than determinism.

Some philosophers of science argue that while causal determinism (in which everything, including the brain/mind, obeys the laws of causality) is compatible with a mind capable of doing science, and fatalism are not. This is why, in the eyes of most people, determinism and free will are incompatible beliefs (though in recent decades more and more philosophers have embraced some form of compatibilism, which on maintaining the vague notion of free will while still supporting determinism). This assumption also seems to render discussions of issues such as free will and determinism useless, since it is pre-determined who will hold what views.


Determinism is often understood to exclude free will because it implies that people cannot act otherwise. Theological determinism believes that there is a God who determines everything people do, either by knowing their actions in advance (through some form of omniscience) or by predetermining their actions. Determinism is the modern name (created in the 19th century), the ancient thought of Democritus believed that the deterministic laws of cause and effect govern the motion of atoms and that everything, including human thought, is simply composed of Atoms in a vacuum. In philosophy, the theory that all events, including moral choices, are determined entirely by pre-existing causes.

Biological determinism holds that all behaviors, beliefs and desires are fixed in our genetic makeup and constitution and cannot be changed. Determinism believes that all human behavior is due to genetic or environmental factors, which are difficult or impossible to change once they occur. Determinism is the philosophical thought that every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the necessary and inevitable consequence of previous states of affairs. This means that human decisions and actions are predetermined, just like any other event.

Simple causal determinism is the concept that events in a given paradigm are causally related in such a way that each state is completely determined by the previous states. Law determinism, often synonymous with physical determinism (its opposite is physical indeterminism), is the most common form of causal determinism. results of previous events. Taken to the logical extreme of determinism, determinism would argue that the original Big Bang caused every action, and perhaps mental thought, through a causal system. Another option comes from Deist thinking, which claims that the universe has been deterministic since creation, but attributes creation itself to a metaphysical God or a first cause outside the chain of determinism.


Freud also considered internally controlled human behavior in the form of unconscious motivation or infantile events known as mental determinism. External (environmental) determinism sees the cause of behavior outside the individual, such as the influence of parents, the media, or school. Environmental determinism is the study of how the physical environment influences the development of society.

Psychological determinism states that we begin to discover certain psychological laws that allow us to predict, often based on early childhood experiences, how a person will respond to various situations in the next life. The distinction between “hard determinism” and “soft determinism” was first proposed by the American philosopher William James (1842-1910). William James), or Compatibilism, is considered a theory of free will by most philosophers, each of whom has a particular interest in one or more of the many determinisms. Compatibilists accept determinism but believe that a person is free as long as his will is one of the steps in the chain of cause and effect, even if his choices are entirely predetermined by physical causes or by God.

In quantum mechanics, the two principles of quantum determinism and reversibility state that information must always be conserved. Extraordinary quantum mechanics may undermine the prestige of determinism as a universal doctrine, but that doesn’t mean it saves the idea of ​​free will. Choice requires multiple possible outcomes, which is “no” to determinism.

This post was proofread with Grammarly.

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