Determinism

(Lat. de + terminus, “end”). The general philosophical thesis which states that all events are subject to a rigid law of cause and effect. Given any set of conditions, only one outcome is possible. This rules out any concept of free will. There are five basic approaches to determinism:

(1) Ethical: knowledge determines choices. Therefore, if one knows the good, he automatically follows it (cf. Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Aquinas, Leibnitz).

(2) Logical: men's minds are fettered and that nothing can be altered by them. This is equal to fatalism (cf. Stoics).

(3) Theological: the universe and everything in it are absolutely dependent upon God. The absolute goodness of God predisposes some to say that this means all things are good. The omniscience and omnipotence of God leads others to the ideas of foreordination and predestination. God foreknows, purposes, and does everything according to His eternal, changeless, and infallible will. Man without God is determined to sin, and with God he is determined to salvation. The latter statements are indicative of the theology of Luther and Calvin.

(4) Physical: all things in nature (men included) behave according to inviolable and unchanging natural laws. Thomas Hobbes expressed this philosophy.

(5) Psychological: all human behavior is precipitated by causal factors. B.F. Skinner is the best modern exponent of this view.