About this topic
Summary Past global states of a deterministic system, together with the laws governing that system, entail the entire future history of the system. There is only one way that a deterministic system can evolve, given a prior state and deterministic laws. Prima facie, determinism excludes any non-trivial chance of that system evolving over time in any other way: it has chance 1 of evolving the way it in fact will evolve.   The dispute over deterministic chance, like that over free will and determinism, revolves around two issues: (i) how to make that prima facie case for the incompatibility of chance and determinism into a precise argument; and (ii) whether the resulting argument is successful.
Key works Incompatibilism about chance and determinism is rarely explicitly defended. (It is expressed forcefully by Lewis 1980.) Earman 1986 articulates the notion of determinism precisely, and also endorses the difficulty of making irreducible objective probability consistent with determinism (chapter VIII). The most notable recent attempt to defend incompatibilism is that of Schaffer 2007, who derives incompatibilism from considerations of the conceptual role of chance. A response along the same lines is Eagle 2011. A compatibilist approach relying on a more substantive Humean theory of chance is Frigg & Hoefer 2010. The recent compatibilist debate has focussed intensively on the status of probabilities in classical statistical mechanics, appearing as they do to be objective and nevertheless grounded in a deterministic theory. Clark 1987 and Loewer 2001 are prominent discussions of this issue; Ismael 2009 uses the basic framework of phase space to argue that some kind of objective probability, if not chance, is compatible with determinism. The prospects for quantum chances in deterministic versions of quantum theory, like the Everett interpretation, is explored by Greaves 2004.  The converse issue—can there be indeterminism without chance?—is addressed by Norton 2008.
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  1. Short-Run Mechanistic Probability.Marshall Abrams - manuscript
    This paper sketches a concept of higher-level objective probability (“short-run mechanistic probability”, SRMP) inspired partly by a style of explanation of relative frequencies known as the “method of arbitrary functions”. SRMP has the potential to fill the need for a theory of objective probability which has wide application at higher levels and which gives probability causal connections to observed relative frequency (without making it equivalent to relative frequency). Though this approach provides probabilities on a space of event types, it does (...)
  2. Probability and Manipulation: Evolution and Simulation in Applied Population Genetics.Marshall Abrams - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):519-549.
    I define a concept of causal probability and apply it to questions about the role of probability in evolutionary processes. Causal probability is defined in terms of manipulation of patterns in empirical outcomes by manipulating properties that realize objective probabilities. The concept of causal probability allows us see how probabilities characterized by different interpretations of probability can share a similar causal character, and does so in such way as to allow new inferences about relationships between probabilities realized in different chance (...)
  3. Mechanistic Probability.Marshall Abrams - 2012 - Synthese 187 (2):343-375.
    I describe a realist, ontologically objective interpretation of probability, "far-flung frequency (FFF) mechanistic probability". FFF mechanistic probability is defined in terms of facts about the causal structure of devices and certain sets of frequencies in the actual world. Though defined partly in terms of frequencies, FFF mechanistic probability avoids many drawbacks of well-known frequency theories and helps causally explain stable frequencies, which will usually be close to the values of mechanistic probabilities. I also argue that it's a virtue rather than (...)
  4. Equidynamics and Reliable Reasoning About Frequencies.Marshall Abrams, Frederick Eberhardt & Michael Strevens - 2015 - Metascience 24 (2):173-188.
    A symposium on Michael Strevens' book "Tychomancy", concerning the psychological roots and historical significance of physical intuition about probability in physics, biology, and elsewhere.
  5. Out of the Closet.A. Ahmed - 2011 - Analysis 71 (1):77-85.
  6. Quantum Mechanics and the Question of Determinism in Science.C. O. Akpan - 2005 - Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):72-79.
    Classical science and in fact Post-Newtonian science up till the early twentieth century were mired in a deterministic interpretation of realities. The deterministic hypothesis in science holds that everything in nature has a cause and if one could know the antecedent causes, he could predict the future with certainty. But quantum mechanics holds that sub-atomic particles, though the ultimate materials from which all the complexity of existence in the universe emerges, do not obey deterministic laws, hence, their activities are causally (...)
  7. On the Character of Statistical-Mechanical Probabilities'.D. Albert - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64.
  8. Physics and Chance.David Albert - 2012 - In Yemima Ben-Menahem & Meir Hemmo (eds.), Probability in Physics. Springer. pp. 17--40.
  9. Probability in the Everett Picture.David Albert - 2010 - In Simon Saunders, Jonathan Barrett, Adrian Kent & David Wallace (eds.), Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory & Reality. Oxford University Press.
  10. Review of Gerhard Ernst, Andreas Hüttemann (Eds.), Time, Chance, and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics[REVIEW]David Albert - 2010 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (9).
  11. Time and Chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Harvard University Press.
    This book is an attempt to get to the bottom of an acute and perennial tension between our best scientific pictures of the fundamental physical structure of the ...
  12. Transition Chances and Causation.Frank Arntzenius - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (2):149–168.
    The general claims of this paper are as follows. As a result of chaotic dynamics we can usually not know what the deterministic causes of events are. There will, however, be invariant forwards transition chances from earlier types of events, which we typically call the causes, to later types of events, which we typically call the effects. There will be no invariant backwards transition chances between these types of events. This asymmetry has the same origin and explanation as the arrow (...)
  13. What Could Be Worse Than the Butterfly Effect?Robert C. Bishop - 2008 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):pp. 519-547.
    Some have argued that chaos, with its characteristic feature of sensitive dependence on initial conditions, should be sensitive to quantum events (Hobbs 1991; Kellert 1993). The upshot of these arguments is that classical chaos would then be indeterministic, but such a conclusion is dependent on which versions of quantum theory and solutions to the measurement problem are adopted (Bishop and Kronz 1999). In this essay, the relationship between quantum mechanics and sensitive dependence is placed in the general context of nonlinear (...)
  14. Determinism and Indeterminism.Robert C. Bishop - 2006 - In Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition. pp. 29-35.
    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 (...)
  15. Anvil or Onion? Determinism as a Layered Concept.Robert C. Bishop - 2005 - Erkenntnis 63 (1):55 - 71.
    Kellert (In the Wake of Chars, University of Chicago press, Chicago, 1993) has argued that Laplacean determinism in classical physics is actually a layered concept, where various properties or layers composing this form of determinism can be peeled away. Here, I argue that a layered conception of determinism is inappropriate and that we should think in terms of different deterministic models applicable to different kinds of systems. The upshot of this analysis is that the notion of state is more closely (...)
  16. On Separating Predictability and Determinism.Robert C. Bishop - 2003 - Erkenntnis 58 (2):169--88.
    There has been a long-standing debate about the relationshipof predictability and determinism. Some have maintained that determinism impliespredictability while others have maintained that predictability implies determinism. Manyhave maintained that there are no implication relations between determinism andpredictability. This summary is, of course, somewhat oversimplified and quick at least in thesense that there are various notions of determinism and predictability at work in thephilosophical literature. In this essay I will focus on what I take to be the Laplacean visionfor determinism and (...)
  17. Quantum Statistical Determinism.Eftichios Bitsakis - 1988 - Foundations of Physics 18 (3):331-355.
    This paper attempts to analyze the concept of quantum statistical determinism. This is done after we have clarified the epistemic difference between causality and determinism and discussed the content of classical forms of determinism—mechanical and dynamical. Quantum statistical determinism transcends the classical forms, for it expresses the multiple potentialities of quantum systems. The whole argument is consistent with a statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics.
  18. Opinions and Chances.Simon Blackburn - 1980 - In D. H. Mellor (ed.), Prospects for Pragmatism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 175--96.
  19. Determinism, Laws, and Predictability in Principle.Richard Boyd - 1972 - Philosophy of Science 39 (4):431-450.
    This paper examines commonly offered arguments to show that human behavior is not deterministic because it is not predictable. These arguments turn out to rest on the assumption that deterministic systems must be governed by deterministic laws, and that these give rise to predictability "in principle" of determined events. A positive account of determinism is advanced and it is shown that neither of these assumptions is true. The relation between determinism, laws, and prediction in practice is discussed as a question (...)
  20. Are Objective Chances Compatible with Determinism?Seamus Bradley - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (8):e12430.
    We review the question of whether objective chances are compatible with determinism. We first outline what we mean by chance and what we mean by determinism. We then look at the alleged incompatibility between those concepts. Finally, we look at some ways that one might attempt to overcome the incompatibility.
  21. The Indeterministic Character of Evolutionary Theory: No "No Hidden Variables Proof" but No Room for Determinism Either.Robert N. Brandon & Scott Carson - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):315-337.
    In this paper we first briefly review Bell's (1964, 1966) Theorem to see how it invalidates any deterministic "hidden variable" account of the apparent indeterminacy of quantum mechanics (QM). Then we show that quantum uncertainty, at the level of DNA mutations, can "percolate" up to have major populational effects. Interesting as this point may be it does not show any autonomous indeterminism of the evolutionary process. In the next two sections we investigate drift and natural selection as the locus of (...)
  22. Chance in Physics: Foundations and Perspectives.Jean Bricmont & Others (eds.) - 2001 - Springer.
    This selection of reviews and papers is intended to stimulate renewed reflection on the fundamental and practical aspects of probability in physics.
  23. Symposium: Randomness.G. Spencer Brown & G. B. Keene - 1957 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 31:145 - 160.
  24. Probability and Disturbing Measurement.Jeremy Butterfield - 1987 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 61:211--243.
  25. Determinism, Probability and Randomness in Classical Statistical Physics in Imre Lakatos and Theories of Scientific Change.P. Clark - 1989 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 111:95-110.
  26. Problems of Determinism: Prediction, Propensity and Probability.Peter Clark - 2006 - In Wenceslao J. González & Jesus Alcolea (eds.), Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy and Methodology of Science. Netbiblio.
  27. Statistical Mechanics and the Propensity Interpretation of Probability.Peter Clark - 2001 - In Jean Bricmont & Others (eds.), Chance in Physics: Foundations and Perspectives. Springer. pp. 271--81.
  28. Determinism and Probability in Physics.Peter Clark - 1987 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 61:185--210.
  29. Determinism and Probability in Physics.Peter Clark & Jeremy Butterfield - 1987 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes( 61:185-243.
  30. A Hidden Measurement Representation for Quantum Entities Described by Finite-Dimensional Complex Hilbert Spaces.Bob Coecke - 1995 - Foundations of Physics 25 (8):1185-1208.
    It will be shown that the probability calculus of a quantum mechanical entity can be obtained in a deterministic framework, embedded in a real space, by introducing a lack of knowledge in the measurements on that entity. For all n ∃ ℕ we propose an explicit model in $\mathbb{R}^{n^2 } $ , which entails a representation for a quantum entity described by an n-dimensional complex Hilbert space þn, namely, the “þn,Euclidean hidden measurement representation.” This Euclidean hidden measurement representation is also (...)
  31. Thermodynamic Entropy and Its Relation to Probability in Classical Mechanics.Kevin Davey - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):955-975.
  32. Quantum Theory of Probability and Decisions.David Deutsch - 1999 - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London:3129--37.
  33. Probability and Locality: Determinism Versus Indeterminism in Quantum Mechanics.William Michael Dickson - 1995 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
    Quantum mechanics is often taken to be necessarily probabilistic. However, this view of quantum mechanics appears to be more the result of historical accident than of careful analysis. Moreover, quantum mechanics in its usual form faces serious problems. Although the mathematical core of quantum mechanics--quantum probability theory--does not face conceptual difficulties, the application of quantum probability to the physical world leads to problems. In particular, quantum mechanics seems incapable of describing our everyday macroscopic experience. ;Therefore, several authors have proposed new (...)
  34. The Probability Problem in Everettian Quantum Mechanics Persists.F. Dizadji-Bahmani - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (2):axt035.
    Everettian quantum mechanics results in ‘multiple, emergent, branching quasi-classical realities’ . The possible outcomes of measurement as per ‘orthodox’ quantum mechanics are, in EQM, all instantiated. Given this metaphysics, Everettians face the ‘probability problem’—how to make sense of probabilities and recover the Born rule. To solve the probability problem, Wallace, following Deutsch , has derived a quantum representation theorem. I argue that Wallace’s solution to the probability problem is unsuccessful, as follows. First, I examine one of the axioms of rationality (...)
  35. A Dilemma for Objective Chance.Phil Dowe - 2003 - In Jr Kyburg & Mariam Thalos (eds.), Probability is the Very Guide of Life: The Philosophical Uses of Chance. Open Court. pp. 153--64.
  36. Revising Statistical Mechanics: Probability, Typicality and Closure Time.Alon Drory - 2012 - In Yemima Ben-Menahem & Meir Hemmo (eds.), Probability in Physics. Springer. pp. 115--134.
  37. A Global Equilibrium as the Foundation of Quantum Randomness.Detlef Dürr, Sheldon Goldstein & Nino Zanghí - 1993 - Foundations of Physics 23 (5):721-738.
    We analyze the origin of quantum randomness within the framework of a completely deterministic theory of particle motion—Bohmian mechanics. We show that a universe governed by this mechanics evolves in such a way as to give rise to the appearance of randomness, with empirical distributions in agreement with the predictions of the quantum formalism. Crucial ingredients in our analysis are the concept of the effective wave function of a subsystem and that of a random system. The latter is a notion (...)
  38. Objective Probability-Like Things with and Without Objective Indeterminism.László E. Szabó - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38:626.
    I shall argue that there is no such property of an event as its “probability.” This is why standard interpretations cannot give a sound definition in empirical terms of what “probability” is, and this is why empirical sciences like physics can manage without such a definition. “Probability” is a collective term, the meaning of which varies from context to context: it means different — dimensionless [0,1]-valued — physical quantities characterising the different particular situations. In other words, probability is a reducible (...)
  39. Probability.Antony Eagle - 2015 - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science.
    Rather than entailing that a particular outcome will occur, many scientific theories only entail that an outcome will occur with a certain probability. Because scientific evidence inevitably falls short of conclusive proof, when choosing between different theories it is standard to make reference to how probable the various options are in light of the evidence. A full understanding of probability in science needs to address both the role of probabilities in theories, or chances, as well as the role of probabilistic (...)
  40. Deterministic Chance.Antony Eagle - 2011 - Noûs 45 (2):269 - 299.
    I sketch a new constraint on chance, which connects chance ascriptions closely with ascriptions of ability, and more specifically with 'CAN'-claims. This connection between chance and ability has some claim to be a platitude; moreover, it exposes the debate over deterministic chance to the extensive literature on (in)compatibilism about free will. The upshot is that a prima facie case for the tenability of deterministic chance can be made. But the main thrust of the paper is to draw attention to the (...)
  41. Chance Versus Randomness.Antony Eagle - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This article explores the connection between objective chance and the randomness of a sequence of outcomes. Discussion is focussed around the claim that something happens by chance iff it is random. This claim is subject to many objections. Attempts to save it by providing alternative theories of chance and randomness, involving indeterminism, unpredictability, and reductionism about chance, are canvassed. The article is largely expository, with particular attention being paid to the details of algorithmic randomness, a topic relatively unfamiliar to philosophers.
  42. Randomness Is Unpredictability.Antony Eagle - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):749-790.
    The concept of randomness has been unjustly neglected in recent philosophical literature, and when philosophers have thought about it, they have usually acquiesced in views about the concept that are fundamentally flawed. After indicating the ways in which these accounts are flawed, I propose that randomness is to be understood as a special case of the epistemic concept of the unpredictability of a process. This proposal arguably captures the intuitive desiderata for the concept of randomness; at least it should suggest (...)
  43. Determinism: What We Have Learned and What We Still Don't Know.John Earman - 2004 - In Joseph K. Campbell (ed.), Freedom and Determinism. Cambridge Ma: Bradford Book/Mit Press. pp. 21--46.
    The purpose of this paper is to give a brief survey the implications of the theories of modern physics for the doctrine of determinism. The survey will reveal a curious feature of determinism: in some respects it is fragile, requiring a number of enabling assumptions to give it a fighting chance; but in other respects it is quite robust and very difficult to kill. The survey will also aim to show that, apart from its own intrinsic interest, determinism is an (...)
  44. A Primer on Determinism.John Earman - 1986 - D. Reidel.
    Determinism is a perennial topic of philosophical discussion. Very little acquaintance with the philosophical literature is needed to reveal the Tower of ...
  45. The Statistical Processes of Evolutionary Theory.A. W. F. Edwards - 1963 - The Eugenics Review 54 (4):217.
  46. The Place of Probability in Science.Ellery Eells & James H. Fetzer (eds.) - 2010 - Springer.
  47. Objective Probabilities in Number Theory.J. Ellenberg & E. Sober - 2011 - Philosophia Mathematica 19 (3):308-322.
    Philosophers have explored objective interpretations of probability mainly by considering empirical probability statements. Because of this focus, it is widely believed that the logical interpretation and the actual-frequency interpretation are unsatisfactory and the hypothetical-frequency interpretation is not much better. Probabilistic assertions in pure mathematics present a new challenge. Mathematicians prove theorems in number theory that assign probabilities. The most natural interpretation of these probabilities is that they describe actual frequencies in finite sets and limits of actual frequencies in infinite sets. (...)
  48. Chance, Possibility, and Explanation.N. Emery - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):95-120.
    I argue against the common and influential view that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic. The problem with this view, I claim, is not that it conflicts with some antecedently plausible metaphysics of chance or that it fails to capture our everyday use of ‘chance’ and related terms, but rather that it is unstable. Any reason for adopting the position that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic is also a reason for adopting (...)
  49. The Metaphysical Consequences of Counterfactual Skepticism.Nina Emery - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):399-432.
    A series of recent arguments purport to show that most counterfactuals of the form if A had happened then C would have happened are not true. These arguments pose a challenge to those of us who think that counterfactual discourse is a useful part of ordinary conversation, of philosophical reasoning, and of scientific inquiry. Either we find a way to revise the semantics for counterfactuals in order to avoid these arguments, or we find a way to ensure that the relevant (...)
  50. Chance, Possibility, and Explanation.Nina Emery - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1):axt041.
    I argue against the common and influential view that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic. The problem with this view, I claim, is not that it conflicts with some antecedently plausible metaphysics of chance or that it fails to capture our everyday use of ‘chance’ and related terms, but rather that it is unstable. Any reason for adopting the position that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic is also a reason for adopting (...)
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