Determinism

Posted Soul of Singapore & Facebook 22 Jan 2017

Determinism – I have given considerable thought to this concept in the last few years and have read many articles and arguments published/advanced in this regard. And my evaluation/conclusion for determinism? It is a concept with no practical value and totally useless as far as I am concerned. The “you could not have done otherwise” assertion of the determinist seems to be a stock answer to any occurrence in the past.

Just listen to this dialogue; a phenomenon that can plausibly occur of course:

Non-determinist: I am going to decide, right now, whether to drink coffee or tea; can you tell or determine as to what my choice would be?

Determinist: Determinism is not about prediction in advance.

Non-determinist: But I am not asking you to predict in advance; I am about to make a simple choice, right now, in the next moment, and I want you to tell me, with your deterministic concept, what I would be consuming, it is only either coffee or tea. It is a 50/50 case, really; you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right just by guessing; but using your deterministic concept, you should have no difficulty in determining what my drink would be. And I wouldn’t ask you to tell me what determined what, even if you gave me the right answer – that would probably be something impossible for you.

Determinist: I do not know the deterministic process that would determine your intent, coffee or tea, in this case.

The non-determinist drank coffee.

After the fact, the determinist told the non-determinist: “You had no choice; it was already determined that you would be drinking coffee, not tea; what has happened, in this case, could not have happened otherwise.”

Did the determinist say anything sensible? Is determinism a coherent concept? Please wade in.

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