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Lecture 26

PHL105Y5 Lecture 26: 02 Causal Determinism

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Bernard Katz

Causal Determinism the thesis that every event has a cause. Varieties of determinism: Fatalism: The future is comple tely settled in all respects by fate. Divine predestination: God ordained from alleternity everything that will happen. Causal (or physical/nomological) determinism: Every (physical) event has a (physical) cause. Causal (Nomological) Determinism nomological = natural laws Pierre-Simon Laplace, first articulation of what is now known as causal or scientific determinism: All events, even those which cacount of their insignificance do not seem to follow the great laws of nature, are a result of it just as necessarily as the revo lutions of the sun. In ignorance of the ties which unite such events to the entire system of the universe, they have been made to depend upon final causes or upon hazard, according as they occur and are repeated with regularity, or appear wit hout regard to order; but these imaginary causes have gradually receded with the widening bounds of knowledge and disappear entirely before sound philosophy, which sees in them only the expression of our ignorance of the true causes. A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, 1814 Final causes = purposes; hazard = chance Causal determinism can be understood as the claim thatevery event has a cause provided that causation is understood in a certain way. Laws of nature descriptive vs. prescriptive laws of nature laws vs. statement of laws law-like generalization vs. accidental generalization Causation: According to a standard account of causation, Event e caused event f iff (i) It is a law of nature thatif an event of kind E occurs, then an event of kind F occurs; and (ii) e is an event of kind E and f is an event of kind F (Such theories of causation are called regularity theories.) If causal determinism is true, every event is subsumable under—is
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