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Philosophical theory of determinism

  1. Jul 19, 2006 #1
    My knowledge of physics is plebian so please bare with me. I have been thinking about the philosophical theory of determinism lately, and I am trying to discover the scientific thoughts behind the matter.

    In fact, I found that Einstein was worried by Quantum Physics and the presence of seemingly indetermined events. However, to my knowledge, these events are not proven to be indetermined - or are not necessarily irreconcilable within Chaos Theory?

    Moving on, however, I have a question I am wondering if someone can answer. Does probability exist or is it a way to predict when variables cannot be determined? For instance, if the exact environmental circumstances were the same (angle, texture, weather, everything), and you flipped a coin, would you get the same result every time? I am inclined to say yes, but I am not knowledable in the area.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 19, 2006 #2
    How much of the environment were you proposing to duplicate ?

    There is a relationship between determinism and locality...
  4. Jul 19, 2006 #3
    Theoretically, all of it. Time, place, area.
  5. Jul 20, 2006 #4
    The correct answer is that nobody knows for certain - because the experiment (replicating the precise antecedent conditions) is impossible in the real world. This lies at the heart of (a) chaos theory and (b) Hesienberg's Uncertainty Principle.

    Both (a) and (b) act to render it impossible to perfectly replicate any real-world experiment (we can of course replicate artificial world experiments that we already know to be deterministic and based on integer values rather than real values, such as those based on Conway's game of Life).

    Having said that - I am inclined to agree with you when you say you are inclined to say yes. I believe determinism is true - which means that if one could perfectly replicate the antecedent conditions, then we have no rational reason (under a deterministic account) to suppose that the outcome would be any different.

    Best Regards
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2006
  6. Jul 20, 2006 #5
    Apart from the Aspect experiment....

    (And if locality is true, you *can* duplicate the prior conditions)
  7. Jul 23, 2006 #6
    the HUP prevents one from perfectly duplicating prior conditions - our knowledge of those prior conditions is limited in precision - thus any duplication would be no more than an approximation, within the precision allowed by the HUP

    Best Regards
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