Determinism

Edited by Jonah Nagashima (University of California, Riverside)
About this topic
Summary Determinism is a claim about the laws of nature. Events are determined if the laws of nature, together with the total set of facts prevailing at a moment in time, are sufficient to settle precisely what happens at the next and each subsequent moment of time. Determinism thus rules out chanciness in a central sense of that word. The free will debate has been centrally concerned with whether determinism is incompatible with freedom: many philosophers worry that if how agents act is always settled prior to their action (settled even prior to their birth) than we lack free will.
Key works The key works on the compatibility question are more or less coextensive with the key works on free will, since the first issue has been so central to the second. I shall not list those works here. Important papers that explore the nature of determinism itself as it pertains to free will includeBerofsky 1971; the two volumes of Honderich 1988 and Earman 2004.
Introductions Honderich 1973;Kane 2002
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785 found
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1 — 50 / 785
  1. Frankfurt Cases and 'Could Have Done Otherwise'.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    In his seminal essay, Harry Frankfurt argued that our exercise of free will and allocation of moral responsibility do not depend on us being able to do other than we did. Leslie Allan defends this moral maxim from Frankfurt's attack. Applying his character-based counterfactual conditional analysis of free acts to Frankfurt's counterexamples, Allan unpacks the confusions that lie at the heart of Frankfurt's argument. The author also explores how his 4C compatibilist theory measures up against Frankfurt’s conclusions.
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  2. Free Will and Compatibilism.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The author mounts a case against the libertarian and hard determinist's thesis that free will is impossible in a deterministic world. He charges incompatibilists with misconstruing ordinary 'free will' talk by overlaying common language with their own metaphysical presuppositions. Through a review of ordinary discourse and recent developments in jurisprudence and the sciences, he draws together the four key factors required for an act to be free. He then puts his 4C theory to work in giving a credible account of (...)
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  3. Strong Determinism.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    A strongly deterministic theory of physics is one that permits exactly one possible history of the universe. In the words of Penrose (1989), "it is not just a matter of the future being determined by the past; the entire history of the universe is fixed, according to some precise mathematical scheme, for all time.” Such an extraordinary feature may appear unattainable in any realistic and simple theory of physics. In this paper, I propose a definition of strong determinism and contrast (...)
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  4. Determinism and Luck.Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    In the course of writing a book on Free Will, I took the opportunity to read a good deal of contemporary literature on the Free Will problem. This paper is a survey and reflection on that reading, responding to the current trends and state of play concerning the existence of free will.
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  5. Freedom in a Physical World – a Partial Taxonomy.Jude Arnout Durieux - manuscript
    If I take a free decision, how does this express itself physically? If God acts in this world, how does he do so? The answers to those two questions may be different or the same. Here we sketch a typology of possible answers, including Transcendent Compatibility. It turns out that in an open universe, freedom is the timewise mirror image of causality.
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  6. Causal Counterfactuals Without Miracles or Backtracking.J. Dmitri Gallow - manuscript
    If the laws are deterministic, then standard theories of counterfactuals are forced to reject at least one of the following conditionals: 1) had you chosen differently, there would not have been a violation of the laws of nature; and 2) had you chosen differently, the initial conditions of the universe would not have been different. On the relevant readings---where we hold fixed factors causally independent of your choice---both of these conditionals appear true. And rejecting either one leads to trouble for (...)
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  7. Constructive Dilemma Arguments for the Impossibility of Free Will.Kristin M. Mickelson - manuscript
    The traditional problem of free will and determinism is ostensibly about settling the relationship between free will and determinism. According to the standard narrative, this problem boils down to settling whether free will stands in a compatibility or incompatibility relation with determinism. Similarly, there is traditional debate over whether a compatibility or an incompatibility relationship holds between free will and indeterminism. Since indeterminism is simply the negation of determinism, anyone who holds that human free will is incompatible with both determinism (...)
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  8. Humean Laws, Humean-Law Compatibilism, and the Consequence Argument.Kristin M. Mickelson - manuscript
    Traditional compatibilism is the view that free will is compatible with determinism. Humean-law compatibilism (a.k.a. weak-law compatibilism), is the view that free will is compatible with determinism, where determinism is defined in terms of a broadly Humean view of the laws of nature. A growing number of philosophers hold that Humean-law compatibilists are targeted by and have special resources to resist arguments for traditional incompatibilism, including the Consequence Argument (cf. Beebee and Mele 2002, Perry 2004, Hetherington 2006, Berofsky 2012, Mele (...)
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  9. Free Will of an Ontologically Open Mind.Jan Scheffel - manuscript
    The problem of free will has persistently resisted a solution throughout centuries. There is reason to believe that new elements need to be introduced into the analysis in order to make progress. In the present physicalist approach, these elements are emergence and information theory in relation to universal limits set by quantum physics. Furthermore the common, but vague, characterization of free will as "being able to act differently" is, in the spirit of Carnap, rephrased into an explicatum more suitable for (...)
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  10. How Necessary is the Past? Reply to Campbell.Matthew H. Slater - manuscript
    Joe Campbell has identified an apparent flaw in van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument. It apparently derives a metaphysically necessary conclusion from what Campbell argues is a contingent premise: that the past is in some sense necessary. I criticise Campbell’s examples attempting to show that this is not the case (in the requisite sense) and suggest some directions along which an incompatibilist could reconstruct her argument so as to remain immune to Campbell’s worries.
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  11. The Basis of Indeterminism.Shan Gao - 2001
  12. From Newtonian Determinism to Branching-Space-Time Indeterminism.Nuel Belnap - manuscript
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  13. Freedom and Determinism.Author unknown - manuscript
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  14. One World or Many? Poppoer's Three World Theory and the Problem of Scientific Determinism.Brian Baigrie - unknown - Eidos: The Canadian Graduate Journal of Philosophy 3.
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  15. Compatibilism From the Inside Out.Andrew M. Bailey - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    In this article, I focus on internal dimensions of moral responsibility. I argue that if such dimensions are real -- and it seems they are -- then moral responsibility is compatible with determinism.
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  16. Lawful Persistence.David Builes & Trevor Teitel - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    The central aim of this paper is to use a particular view about how the laws of nature govern the evolution of our universe in order to develop and evaluate the two main competing options in the metaphysics of persistence, namely endurantism and perdurantism. We begin by motivating the view that our laws of nature dictate not only qualitative facts about the future, but also which objects will instantiate which qualitative properties. We then show that both traditional doctrines in the (...)
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  17. Blackwell Companion to Free Will.Joe Campbell, Kristin Mickelson & V. Alan White (eds.) - forthcoming - Blackwell.
  18. Tertullian on Divine Sovereignty and Free Will in Advance.David Clark - forthcoming - Philosophy and Theology.
    Christian thinkers in the patristic era were not reluctant to integrate classical philosophy with biblical theology as they addressed the seeming incompatibility of free will and determinism (fate). This paper compares and contrasts Tertullian and the Stoics as they explain three issues relating to freedom and fate: 1) The operation of the Logos, 2) Theological Anthropology, and 3) Teleology. While in agreement with the Stoics on several key points, Tertullian crucially departs from them as he argues it is not by (...)
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  19. Free Will, Control, and the Possibility to Do Otherwise From a Causal Modeler’s Perspective.Alexander Gebharter, Maria Sekatskaya & Gerhard Schurz - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    Strong notions of free will are closely connected to the possibility to do otherwise as well as to an agent's ability to causally influence her environment via her decisions controlling her actions. In this paper we employ techniques from the causal modeling literature to investigate whether a notion of free will subscribing to one or both of these requirements is compatible with naturalistic views of the world such as non-reductive physicalism to the background of determinism and indeterminism. We argue that (...)
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  20. Effects, Determinism, Neither Compatibilism nor Incompatibilism, Consciousness.Ted Honderich - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
    Since the rise of the theory of determinism, philosophers have argued and declared that we are diminished by it. Bishop Bramhall against Thomas Hobbes in the 17th Century, Kant against Hume in the 18th, F. H. Bradley against John Stuart Mill in the 19th, Robert Kane and Robert Nozick against such as me in the 20th Century. There must be something in this relentless tradition. It cannot, it seems to me, be the falsehood of determinism. Is it, so to speak, (...)
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  21. Freedom and Determinism.Jenann Ismael - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
    Any person truly considering belief in a scientific world view has to confront the question of whether and in what sense, if she views herself as a natural system in a world governed by natural laws, she can continue to regard herself as free. The prima facie clash is usually expressed in terms of a conflict between freedom and determinism, captured in an argument known as the Consequence Argument. If the natural laws are deterministic, our behavior must be deducible by (...)
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  22. The Ability to Do Otherwise and the New Dispositionalism.Romy Jaster - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    According to the New Dispositionalist’s response to the Frankfurt Cases, Jones can do otherwise because Black merely masks (or finks), but does not deprive Jones of the relevant ability. This reasoning stands in the tradition of a line of thought according to which an informed view of the truth conditions of ability attributions allows for a compatibilist stance. The promise is that once we understand how abilities work, it turns out that the ability to do otherwise is compatible with determinism, (...)
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  23. A Puzzle About the Fixity of the Past.Fabio Lampert - forthcoming - Analysis.
    It is a widely held principle that no one is able to do something that would require the past to have been different from how it actually is. This principle of the fixity of the past has been presented in numerous ways, playing a crucial role in arguments for logical and theological fatalism, and for the incompatibility of causal determinism and the ability to do otherwise. I will argue that, assuming bivalence, this principle is in conflict with standard views about (...)
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  24. The Naturalistic Case for Free Will.Christian List - forthcoming - In Stavros Ioannidis, Gal Vishne, Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker (eds.), Levels of Reality in Science and Philosophy. Cham: Springer.
    The aim of this expository paper is to give an informal overview of a plausible naturalistic case for free will. I will describe what I take to be the main naturalistically motivated challenges for free will and respond to them by presenting an indispensability argument for free will. The argument supports the reality of free will as an emergent higher-level phenomenon. I will also explain why the resulting picture of free will does not conflict with the possibility that the fundamental (...)
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  25. Ted Honderich, Philosopher: A Kind of Life.D. Macey - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  26. (In)Compatibilism.Kristin M. Mickelson - forthcoming - In Joseph Campbell (ed.), Companion to Free Will. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
    The terms ‘compatibilism’ and ‘incompatibilism’ were introduced in the mid-20th century to name conflicting views about the in-principle relationship between the thesis of determinism and the thesis that someone has free will. These technical terms were originally introduced within a specific research paradigm, the classical analytic paradigm, but few free-will theorists still work within that paradigm (i.e. using its methods, granting its substantive background assumptions, etc.). This chapter discusses how the ambiguity of the terms ‘incompatibilism’ and ‘compatibilism’ took root. I (...)
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  27. Nietzsche: Politics as First Philosophy.Donovan Miyasaki - forthcoming - Palgrave Macmillan.
    (Part one of a two-volume study) Notorious for his vehement criticisms of egalitarianism and democracy, Nietzsche has been dismissed as an apolitical thinker at best, a dangerous forefather of fascism at worst. Nietzsche: Politics as First Philosophy argues that Nietzsche’s moral philosophy is a political philosophy in disguise. He reinvents the very foundations of political theory, grounding it in a deterministic psychology and completely rejecting moral means of human enhancement, opening new avenues for political thought beyond the narrow scope of (...)
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  28. Intuitions About Free Will and the Failure to Comprehend Determinism.Thomas Nadelhoffer, Samuel Murray & Elise Murry - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    Theories of free will are often measured against how well they capture everyday intuitions about free will. But what are these everyday intuitions, and what theoretical commitments do they express? Empirical methods have delivered mixed messages. In response, some free will theorists have developed error theories to undermine the credentials of countervailing intuitions. These efforts are predicated on the idea that people might misunderstand determinism in any of several ways. This paper sheds light on the comprehension problem. We first discuss (...)
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  29. A Hot Mess: Girolamo Cardano, the Inquisition and the Soul.Jonathan Regier - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
  30. Free Will and Determinism. Edited by Vlggo Mortensen and Robert C. Sorensen. Philadelphia: Coronet, 1987. 213 Pages and Notes. $28.50 (Paper). Tackling the Subject of Free Will and Determinism is Like Trying to Fight a Tar Baby: No Matter Where You Throw the First Punch, You Find. [REVIEW]Kenneth Vaux - forthcoming - Zygon.
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  31. The Question of Determinism.Greg Whistance-Smith & Dr Nathan Kowalsky - forthcoming - Philosophy.
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  32. Law-Abiding Causal Decision Theory.Timothy Luke Williamson & Alexander Sandgren - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    In this paper we discuss how Causal Decision Theory should be modified to handle a class of problematic cases involving deterministic laws. Causal Decision Theory, as it stands, is problematically biased against your endorsing deterministic propositions (for example it tells you to deny Newtonian physics, regardless of how confident you are of its truth). Our response is that this is not a problem for Causal Decision Theory per se, but arises because of the standard method for assessing the truth of (...)
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  33. Precis of Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice.Gregg D. Caruso - 2022 - Journal of Legal Philosophy 2 (46):120-125.
  34. Laws, Melodies, and the Paradox of Predictability.Dorst Chris - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-21.
    If the laws of nature are deterministic, then it seems possible that a Laplacean intelligence that knows the initial conditions and the laws would be able to accurately predict everything that will ever happen. However, it would be easy to construct a counterpredictive device that falsifies any revealed prediction about its future behavior. What would then occur if a Laplacean intelligence encountered a counterpredictive device? This is the paradox of predictability. A number of philosophers have proposed solutions to it, though (...)
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  35. Special-Science Counterfactuals.Christian List - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):194–213.
    On the standard analysis, a counterfactual conditional such as “If P had been the case, then Q would have been the case” is true in the actual world if, in all nearest possible worlds in which its antecedent (P) is true, its consequent (Q) is also true. Despite its elegance, this analysis faces a difficulty if the laws of nature are deterministic. Then the antecedent could not have been true, given prior conditions. So, it is unclear what the relevant “nearest (...)
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  36. Libertarian Free Will and the Physical Indeterminism Luck Objection.Dwayne Moore - 2022 - Philosophia 50 (1):159-182.
    Libertarian free will is, roughly, the view that agents cause actions to occur or not occur: Maddy’s decision to get a beer causes her to get up off her comfortable couch to get a beer, though she almost chose not to get up. Libertarian free will notoriously faces the luck objection, according to which agential states do not determine whether an action occurs or not, so it is beyond the control of the agent, hence lucky, whether an action occurs or (...)
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  37. Moral Responsibility and Existential Attitudes.Paul Russell - 2022 - In Dana K. Nelkin & Derk Pereboom (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Moral Responsibility. New York City, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 519-543.
    We might describe the philosophical issue of human freedom and moral responsibility as an existential metaphysical problem. Problems of this kind are not just a matter of theoretical interest and curiosity: They address issues that we care about and that affect us. They are, more specifically, relevant to the significance and value that we attach to our lives and the way that we lead them. According to the orthodox view, there is a tidy connection between skepticism and pessimism. Skepticism threatens (...)
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  38. Poder divino y libertad creada en la modernidad temprana.David Torrijos Castrillejo - 2022 - Scripta Theologica 54:9-34.
    The article explores the modern distrust of God as a threat to human freedom. The teachings on the relationship between freedom and grace sustained by the Spanish theologian Luis de Molina have some features that could be related to this distrust. Divine providence is preserved in his system by a somewhat deterministic conception of the human psyche. Thus, freedom is not completely safeguarded but a certain suspicion about Divine power is introduced nevertheless. As an answer to these difficulties, the author (...)
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  39. A Thomistic Account of Human Free Will and Divine Providence: Pedro de Ledesma and the De Auxiliis Controversy.David Torrijos Castrillejo - 2022 - Religions 13:375.
    Pedro de Ledesma is one of the Dominican theologians of the School of Salamanca involved in the De Auxiliis controversy, i.e., the disputes around a famous book by Luis de Molina on the relation between divine foreknowledge and providence and our free will. Studying an unpublished manuscript by Ledesma and his 1611 book on this subject, the article shows that he opposed Molina with a Thomistic position that we call deflationary. According to this interpretation, God, in moving the created will (...)
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  40. Incompatibilism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason in Kant’s Nova Dilucidatio.Aaron Wells - 2022 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 4 (1:3):1-20.
    The consensus is that in his 1755 Nova Dilucidatio, Kant endorsed broadly Leibnizian compatibilism, then switched to a strongly incompatibilist position in the early 1760s. I argue for an alternative, incompatibilist reading of the Nova Dilucidatio. On this reading, actions are partly grounded in indeterministic acts of volition, and partly in prior conative or cognitive motivations. Actions resulting from volitions are determined by volitions, but volitions themselves are not fully determined. This move, which was standard in medieval treatments of free (...)
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  41. In Defense of Flip-Flopping.Andrew M. Bailey & Amy Seymour - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13907-13924.
    Some incompatibilists about free will or moral responsibility and determinism would abandon their incompatibilism were they to learn that determinism is true. But is it reasonable to flip-flop in this way? In this article, we contend that it is and show what follows. The result is both a defense of a particular incompatibilist strategy and a general framework for assessing other cases of flip-flopping.
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  42. Predestinación y libertad. Escritos en torno a la controversia de auxiliis.Domingo Báñez & David Torrijos-Castrillejo - 2021 - Pamplona: EUNSA.
    Edition of the opuscules by D. Báñez on De auxiliis controversy. There is the critical edition of three manuscripts and the first Spanish annotated translation of the opuscules. The Latin text is disposed together with the translation. An introduction situates the opuscules in its systematic and historical context.
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  43. Determinism, Freedom, and Moral Responsibility.Susanne Bobzien - 2021 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Determinism, Freedom, and Moral Responsibility brings together nine substantial essays on determinism, freedom, and moral responsibility in antiquity by Susanne Bobzien. The essays present the main ancient theories on these subjects, ranging historically from Aristotle followed by the Epicureans, the early Stoics, several later Stoics, and up to Alexander of Aphrodisias in the third century CE. -/- The author discusses questions about rational and autonomous human agency and their compatibility with a large range of important philosophical issues, including their compatibility (...)
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  44. On the Compatibility of Rational Deliberation and Determinism: Why Deterministic Manipulation Is Not a Counterexample.Gregg D. Caruso - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (3):524-543.
    This paper aims to defend deliberation-compatibilism against several objections, including a recent counterexample by Yishai Cohen that involves a deliberator who believes that whichever action she performs will be the result of deterministic manipulation. It begins by offering a Moorean-style proof of deliberation-compatibilism. It then turns to the leading argument for deliberation-incompatibilism, which is based on the presumed incompatibility of causal determinism and the ‘openness’ required for rational deliberation. The paper explains why this argument fails and develops a coherent account (...)
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  45. His Sovereignty Rules Over All: A Review of Recent Work on Divine Determinism. [REVIEW]Jesse Couenhoven - 2021 - Modern Theology 37 (2):508-522.
  46. Expanding William Hasker's Transcendental Refutation of Determinism.Ibrahim Dagher - 2021 - Prometheus Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy 2 (3):15-21.
    This paper is an evaluation and expansion of William Hasker’s transcendental argument against determinism. Hasker’s argument attempts to show that determinism is logically incompatible with rationality and justified belief. Hasker claims this argument to be conclusive given two independent qualifications: first that the argument only applies to a specific form of determinism, and second that the argument rests on a specific conception of rationality. My aim in this paper will be to modify and expand Hasker’s argument such that it (1) (...)
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  47. Quantum Propensities in the Brain Cortex and Free Will.Danko D. Georgiev - 2021 - Biosystems 208:104474.
    Capacity of conscious agents to perform genuine choices among future alternatives is a prerequisite for moral responsibility. Determinism that pervades classical physics, however, forbids free will, undermines the foundations of ethics, and precludes meaningful quantification of personal biases. To resolve that impasse, we utilize the characteristic indeterminism of quantum physics and derive a quantitative measure for the amount of free will manifested by the brain cortical network. The interaction between the central nervous system and the surrounding environment is shown to (...)
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  48. A Rationalist Defence of Determinism.Michael A. Istvan - 2021 - Theoria 87 (2):394-434.
    Largely due to the popular allegation that contemporary science has uncovered indeterminism in the deepest known levels of physical reality, the debate as to whether humans have moral freedom, the sort of freedom on which moral responsibility depends, has put aside to some extent the traditional worry over whether determinism is true. As I argue in this paper, however, there are powerful proofs for both chronological determinism and necessitarianism, forms of determinism that pose the most penetrative threat to human moral (...)
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  49. The Relation of Causal Necessity and Free Will in The Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence “When Our Pen Reached This Point, It Shattered to Pieces”.Mohsen Javadi - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 23 (3):113-136.
    The relation of causal necessity with free will has been a source of great debate in the history of philosophy and theology. However, in recent years, it has also been discussed in the science of Usul al-Fiqh. After explaining the compatibility of causal necessity with free will, Ākhūnd Khurāsānī speaks of the ’shattering of his pen.’ Two interpretations have been given for this statement. Muḥaqqiq Iṣfahānī considers the theory of compatibility that Khurāsānī presented as being correct. However, he interprets the (...)
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  50. On Determinism, Causality, and Free Will: Contribution From Physics.Grzegorz P. Karwasz - 2021 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 69 (4):5-24.
    Determinism, causality, chance, free will and divine providence form a class of interlaced problems lying in three domains: philosophy, theology, and physics. Recent article by Dariusz Łukasiewicz in Roczniki Filozoficzne is a great example. Classical physics, that of Newton and Laplace, may lead to deism: God created the world, but then it goes like a mechanical clock. Quantum mechanics brought some “hope” for a rather naïve theology: God acts in gaps between quanta of indetermination. Obviously, any strict determinism jeopardizes the (...)
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