Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hard Determinism

  1. Yes.

  2. NO.

  3. Something in between.

  1. Mar 6, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone :)

    As I was thinking about the logical outcomes of hard determinism, I found a weird one which states hard determinism is not necessarily true :surprised

    If hard determinism is true, Every single event at present will be due to the past events and all those past events due to the first cause.
    Doesn't this mean that our thoughts are a result of the first cause?

    If so, What we think is not based on logic and that if we believe in hard determinism it is because of whatever happened to me at past and not a logical outcome. Isn't this saying hard determinism doesn't necessarily exist?

    I'll be pleased to know your comments & to help me clarify this issue.
    Thankyou :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I am of the school of evolution. All things that exist today, including thoughts, have been determined to exist by natural selection. If they worked with the environment (another determiner) then they still exist. If they don't work with the environment they do not or soon won't exist.

    The natural progression of a thought is to become an overt action. Thoughts are covert in that they occur in the subjective domain of an individual's brain, unobserved by everyone else and often even by the person thinking them. But, no matter how remote the thought, if it is in conflict with natural law and therefore not a candidate for natural selection, it will cease to exist. If the thought leads to an action not supported by or supporting nature, the action, and quite possibly the actor, will cease to exist. That's how hard determinism seems to work in any instance by my estimation .
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  4. Mar 6, 2007 #3
    Hard determinism is illogical as it ignores random events known to occur. Natural selection, mutation and sexual reproduction are natural examples as is Quantum Mechanics and Dynamics.
  5. Mar 6, 2007 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Random events are none the less controlled by natural laws. Doesn't natural law determine the survivablility of a random event and its outcome and therefore doesn't natural law fit the description of hard determinism?
  6. Mar 6, 2007 #5
    If an event is truly random then it is not controlled by natural laws. Here I am using spontaneous as implied or included in random. Such things as radioactive decay, the generation of virtual particles in a vacuum, the uncertainty principle and the paths of electrons are all examples of randomness and spontaneousness. If all events cannot be known or predicted then hard determinism can not hold. Soft determinism may be another matter depending on how soft one makes it. Most things in the universe are caused and predictable but there is always some randomness where only the laws of chance prevail.
  7. Mar 6, 2007 #6
    This is total BS, you are confusing probability for randomness.

    Physics has no way to say whether or not true randomness (TR) exists in the world.

    Physics cannot prove the existence of TR because we can always suspect that the causes of events are unknown.

    Physics cannot disprove the existence of TR because we can always suspect that there are underlying phenomena which are unknown.

    With regard to the actual topic of the thread, I would say that just as we see a ball move in a bouncing pattern, we see thoughts moving in a logical pattern. Logic is the way that thoughts can 'interact'.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  8. Mar 6, 2007 #7
    Excellent, We can never prove randomness...

    If our thoughts are based on logical assumptions, its not related to determinism, & we get a sort of liberty...
    What happens to this outcome? if correct.
  9. Mar 6, 2007 #8
    I see... But I still can't find the answer to my former question,
    I'll be thankfull if you clarify your statements with some examples. :)
  10. Mar 6, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Aren't the "laws of chance", uncertainty and randomness part of the laws of nature? Without them it would be a monotonous universe and no doubt a faulty one that wouldn't last very long.
  11. Mar 7, 2007 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You asked if hard determinism exists or not.

    Being somewhat unfamiliar with the concept I tried to say that the only truely hard determiner I can come up with is Nature. Nature provides us with every state and every natural law. It is the omnipotent force, as far as I can see, that determines all events.

    Make notes about the ways of nature and you'll see what I mean. You'll see how our lives and actions are not only determined by but governed by nature and the laws of nature. Humans have a habit of trying to separate themselves from Nature - its our nature:smile: but we are nature - too.

    I was trying to fit in the nature of QM to the determinism of the laws of Nature but I don't know enough about QM to begin something like that.
  12. Mar 7, 2007 #11

    Well, Not exactly... I strongly believe in Hard Determinism & I competely agree with your conclusions on this topic.

    But what made me start this thread is the following outcome of determinism;

    Our thoughts are not free but governed by the environmental stimulies and ... in other words by the first cause.

    Now how can we say that our thoughts are logical, when the meaning of logic is singular. This means my logic is made by my past & your logic by yours.
    As a result; If we believe in determinism its due to the past events, & all that experience we have gained up to this date, so an outcome of determinism can be: Determinism doesn't necessarily exist ... Because its what I think, & my thoughts are not free but determined by the environmental stimulies...

    If you agree with this, then I'll write a simple observation I've had on this isue.

    All the best.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2007
  13. Mar 7, 2007 #12
    Absolutely! And I agree that a purely determinate universe would be boring, faulty and probably short lived.

    The Laws of Chance are not definitive nor binding on individual events. No prediction can be made. Only the odds of one outcome over another happening can be determined. That does not rule out the possibility that a tossed coin can come up heads ten times in a row. The next toss is still a 50/50 chance.

    On electrons, Richard Feynman said that we can only know that an electron left point A and arrived at point B. We cannot ever know how it got there, which path that it took.
    The summation of all possible paths, the sum of its history, resembles a probability curve. It is not a probability curve but a very close approximation and scientist use these curves in place of sums of histories because they are much easier to calculate.

    The point it that since randomness and chance are known to exist in nature then hard determinism, a relic of classical physics, can not therefore hold as every event cannot be known or predicted as required by hard determinism.

    There are a number of people who disagree with me, some vehemently, but they apparently are not familiar with Quantum Physics or the Laws of Chance and Probability. I'm no expert nor scientist much less a mathematician but I have read and studied extensively about the subjects. Also Chaos Theory is just that, chaotic and also not definitive nor predictive on single events or particles.
  14. Mar 7, 2007 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I'll leave vehemence to snakes so no worries:rolleyes: . I had no idea that hard determinism meant being able to predict the future. My impression, without consulting a dictionary, of the term is that it is the study of the origin of events, not what the event will be doing in the next nano second. But, now that I use your definition and the fact that it is tied to classical physics, I can see where the ideas of prediction and hard determinism merge. Thanks Royce.
  15. Mar 7, 2007 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    After reading Royce I'd have to tentatively disagree about hard determinism since the "past" may well be our perceptive interpretation of the machinations of Quantum Mechanics. You'll have to refer to Alan Watts or any number of quantum physicists to see how there may actually be no past/present and future other than what humans perceive because of our limited biological and neurological structuring and its inability to be aware of the simultaniety of events. An excercise would be for you to see memories as events going on in the present since that's what they are. They may have been "structured" during some other event but they are an event unto themselves and therefore, when they occur, they are a present event. Further to that, an event occuring as a thought has every bit as much influence as the event itself and so you can see that the "past" really can be viewed as the "present" and or "future" and so this terminology begins to break down as far as its "logic" is concerned.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2007
  16. Mar 7, 2007 #15
    Its no so much that it can predict the future, its that the future is totally determined by the past and present. In hard determinism there is no room for chance or freewill.
    We are destined to live our lives exactly as determined by the past events.
    In principle if we can know the exact position, motion and energy of every particle in the universe, since cause and effect are completely bound, then we can know the exact state of the universe at any time, past present and future. This of course includes all of our actions and decisions.
  17. Mar 7, 2007 #16


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I see. Is there a chance that along with the possibility of knowing the exact state of the universe at any time we could use random predictive generators or the "logic" of the "laws of chance" to predict random events and changes in our first predictions which are based on the "predictable" actions of perceived past events?
  18. Mar 7, 2007 #17
    Sure we do it all the time. On macro scales and with thousands if not millions of incedents the Laws of Quantum Physics and Chance are as good approximations as we can get, vertual mathematical certainties.
  19. Mar 7, 2007 #18
    There seems to be some equivocation in this thread between "the laws of nature" and "the laws of nature as we can possibly know them."
  20. Mar 7, 2007 #19


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Good point!
  21. Mar 7, 2007 #20
    I don't think that, just because our thoughts about determinism might have come from deterministic processes, they must be wrong. This doesn't disprove determinism.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads for Hard Determinism
News How hard is it to choose a single science?