determinism, philosophical thesis that every event is the inevitable result of antecedent causes. Applied to ethics and psychology, determinism usually involves a denial of free will, although many philosophers have attempted to reconcile the two concepts. Thomas Hobbes, identifying the will with appetites and defining freedom as the absence of impediments, concluded that free will exists where nothing prevents a person from satisfying his prevailing appetite. David Hume argued that a person's willful conduct counts as freely chosen even though his will has itself been determined by his motives. William James called such attempts to fit notions of free will into determinist systems "soft" determinism; "hard" determinism excludes the possibility of free will altogether. The doctrine of determinism is opposed by the principle of emergence, which states that truly novel and unpredictable events may occur out of the composite forces of nature.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Determinism: Selected full-text books and articles

Free-Will and Determinism By Allan M. Munn University of Toronto Press, 1960
Persons and Causes: The Metaphysics of Free Will By Timothy O'Connor Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Freedom and Determinism"
Free Will: A Philosophical Study By Laura Waddell Ekstrom Westview Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of determinism in multiple chapters
Lifelines: Biology beyond Determinism By Steven Rose Oxford University Press, 1998
Causality and Modern Science By Mario Bunge Dover Publications, 1979 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Part II "What Causal Determinism Does Not Assert" and Part III "What Causal Determinism Does Assert"
Freedom and the Will By D. F. Pears MacMillan, 1964
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Determinism"
Freedom within Reason By Susan Wolf Oxford University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Ability and Possibility (In Which the Implications of Determinism for Responsibility Are Discussed)"
Living without Free Will By Derk Pereboom Cambridge University Press, 2001
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