Schools of thought


Determinism is the doctrine that all events (including human actions) are completely determined by previously existing causes (ie. causes external to the will).

  • anal: a deterministic function in programming is a function that given the same inputs will always produce the same output. That is, "there is no way the output (or, future) would have been any different given these certain set of cirumstances".

Determinism is about interactions which affect cognitive processes in people's lives. It is about the cause and the result of what people have done. Cause and result are always bound together in cognitive processes.

  • It assumes that if an observer has sufficient information about an object or human being, that such an observer might be able to predict every consequent move of that object or human being.

Laplace's Demon

If we had some super being that knew the placement and momentum of every single atom in the universe, then that being would also be able to reconstruct the entire history, as well as the entire future of that universe just by doing the math of classical mechanics.

  • irreversible processes in thermodynamics suggest that Laplace's "demon" could not reconstruct past positions and moments from the current state.


Free will is often contrasted with determinism, though there is a philosophical school of thought that views both free will and determinism as compatible (compatibilism)

Determinists say that if we actually had sufficient knowledge, we would be able to predict a person’s every thought and action.

Metaphysical Libertarian

Libertarian free will is summed up in the phrase “could have done otherwise”

e.g. René Descartes, Immanuel Kant