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Determinism and Indeterminism

Bishop, Robert C. (2005) Determinism and Indeterminism. [Preprint]

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Abstract

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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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
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Bishop, Robert C.
Additional Information: Entry to be published in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition, to appear in December 2005.
Keywords: Determinism, Indeterminism, Physical Theories
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Depositing User: Dr Robert C. Bishop
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2005
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:13
Item ID: 2324
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/2324

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