Strong Determinism

Philosophers' Imprint (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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 it with those of standard determinism and super-determinism. Next, I discuss its consequences for explanation, causation, prediction, fundamental properties, free will, and modality. Finally, I present the first example of a realistic, simple, and strongly deterministic physical theory--the Everettian Wentaculus. As a consequence of physical laws, the history of the Everettian multiverse could not have been different. If the Everettian Wentaculus is empirically equivalent to other quantum theories, we can never empirically find out whether or not our world is strongly deterministic. Even if strong determinism fails to be true, it is closer to the actual world than we have presumed, with implications for some of the central topics in philosophy and foundations of physics.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - 2023 - In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), The Probability Map of the Universe: Essays on David Albert's Time and Chance. Cambridge, Masschusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 204-248.
The Unity of Science and the Mentaculus.Martin Glazier - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Time's arrow and self‐locating probability.Eddy Keming Chen - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 105 (3):533-563.
Explanation, Laws, and Causation.Wei Wang - 2017 - New York, NY: Routledge.
Causation and Explanation.Stathis Psillos - 2003 - McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP.
The Cosmic Void.Eddy Keming Chen - 2021 - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-Being: New Essays on the Metaphysics of Nonexistence. Oxford University Press.
Mentaculus Laws and Metaphysics.Heather Demarest - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (3):387--399.
On the Carroll–Chen Model.Christopher Gregory Weaver - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):97-124.
Bergson's Theory of Free Will.Joel Dolbeault - 2020 - Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy 28 (2):94-115.
Modal principles in the metaphysics of free will.Tomis Kapitan - 1996 - Philosophical Perspectives 10:419-45.


Added to PP

522 (#24,284)

6 months
257 (#3,356)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Eddy Keming Chen
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Causal determinism.Carl Hoefer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The metaphysics within physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Causality.Judea Pearl - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

View all 53 references / Add more references