If everything is ruled by determinism, what rules determinism itself?

Has any philosopher ever explored this matter?

  • I made an edit which you may roll back or continue editing. +1 I hope someone has an answer for this. I have the same question. – Frank Hubeny Feb 27 at 13:11
  • Dennett et al (the physicalist determinists) say that the chance conditions of the big bang created causality, and that free will is an illusion. Some idealists like descartes say the physical is subject to determinism, but not the mind.. which is somewhat paradoxical. Other idealists say that determinism is an illusion. Determinists in general seem to take causality a-priory, and why not, we take integer addition as such, and that wouldn't work without causality. – Richard Feb 27 at 13:30
  • @Andrej, do you mean determinism in the physical sense, or in the philosophical sense (Philosophy of mind and free will) ? – SmootQ Feb 27 at 14:13
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    Yes, the elaboration of this is called the cosmological argument, and, assuming the question makes sense, the answer is the "first cause", a.k.a. God. Unfortunately, the question most likely does not make sense, determinism is an abstraction that can not "rule", nor can it be "ruled". – Conifold Feb 27 at 21:39

I am afraid I have never heard of a philosophy that explores this very point, but I have something to add in this subject.

Physical Determinism asserts that everything that exists could not be otherwise (At least this is the definition I agree with). Let us see where logic may take us here.

Our assertion is physically deterministic in essence, since most determinists (in the physical sense of determinism) would agree with it, (let us ignore quantum mechanics and suppose that physical determinism is true).

Premise : for all x, if x is the case (C) then it is not possible (not-P) for x to not be the case. With : C = be the case, and P = possible to not be the case. I chose P instead of ◇ to avoid using modal logic for a physical possibility, which would lead to a controversy).

By possible I do not mean: logical possibility in modal logic, but just 'physical' possibility if you will, that is why I only content myself with predicate logic (not modal logic). Which means that there are certain physically possible configurations that will never happen, and it is not possible for them to happen physically, not because they are impossible, but by virtue of deterministic causation that does not bring forth these configurations .

So, in predicate logic : (∀x)(Cx → ~P)

The problem is that this proposition seems to be sufficient to define determinism, we do not need anything else other than saying that determinism is that everything that is the case is impossible to be otherwise (impossible does not mean logical impossibility here).

(∀x) means EVERYTHING , since the definition is self-sufficient, and gives an account for physical determinism, then there no reason to think that (∀x) means "everything except determinism itself".

If we substitute x by determinism, by universal instantiation, it follows that : "If determinism is the case, then it is not possible for determinism to not be the case (to be otherwise)" .

Hence, determinism is ruled by itself, if the assertion is true (and we agree that this is indeed the definition of determinism), then it follows that determinism is impossible to be otherwise.

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