# An Argument for Determinism

What do you think of this argument for determinism?

(1) Determinism is the thesis that there are rules that determine everything. “Everything” includes actions and states.
(2) Rules determine the things that follow them.
(3) Consider any consistent set W of rules.
(4) Either a thing X follows the rules of W or X does not follow the rules of W.
(5) If X follows the rules of W, then X is following rules.
(6) If X does not follow the rules of W, then X is following the rule “Break the rules of W.” Thus, X is following rules.

By disjunction elimination using (4), (5), and (6),
(7) X is following rules.

Which means
(8) X is always following rules. It is impossible for X not to follow rules (It is never the case that there is no rule X is following).

It follows from (2) and (8) that
(9) There are rules that determine X.

Therefore, by (1) and (9),
(10) Determinism is true.

Is this argument valid? Is it sound? Why or why not?

Overall, what do you think of this argument?

as a determinist, i personally don’t think it’s a good argument…

It’s certainly a clever piece of linguistic work, but it’s a little circular. If you define something as “following rules”, and define following rules as everything, you’re kind of cheating.

Care to explain?

A clever piece of linguistic work? This argument is object-oriented I assure you! Every step is either a logical consequence of previous steps, or a premise. It could be put into first-order logic and would work, if you really wanted to do the tedious work of doing so.

Do not underestimate me, sir!

I overestimated you. Your use of the word rule is a linguistic mistake in the second case. There is no rule that says “don’t follow the rules.”

It sounds to me like you are saying, rules or natural laws govern literally everything.

I believe at a quantum level not everything is set in stone.
We do have some true randoms, but that alone isn’t enough
to disprove determinism. It just means some things are determined
by chance, instead of God or free will.

Don’t forget the rule that says “don’t follow the rules”!

A linguistic mistake in the second case? I don’t know what you mean by that.

Of course there’s a rule that says “Don’t follow the rules!” Say you’re on a camping trip and the leader says “Don’t swim in the river.” But then you and your camping buddies start a game. The one rule of rebellious game is “Don’t follow the leader’s rules.” Simple as that.

Or how about the more simple rule, “Commit a crime”? That means break the law.

Yes, that is what I’m saying. It’s nice to have you understand me. Thanks!

Not to get too off topic, but I fail to understand exactly how the Uncertainty Principle disproves determinism. I know what the Uncertainty Principle is, I just don’t see how it shows determinism is false. I don’t see the connection. Maybe other’s do, but I have yet to.

“Determined by chance.” Interesting. (Not saying I agree, but interesting).

But there is no universal rule that says not to follow the rules. That’s a paradox.

So X follows the rule “don’t break the law” and also the rule “break the law”? How does that work?

6 doesn’t follow, unless you add a premise saying all action is done from rules, such that even when it isn’t done from body of rules W, it is still being done by body of rules non-W. But then, you’ve sort of presupposed determinism, whereby determinism you mean action governed by rules. (invalid)

Despite that, free will is referred to as the capacity for self-determination. The “rule” which X follows in breaking rules of W could be the rules X sets for her own self; as such, i.e., if true, then 1 is false, because one can be determined by rules and be free, when the rules are one’s own. (unsound)

[tab]Okay. Done editing (for now.)[/tab]

If X doesn’t follow the rules W, it may or may not be following the rule “don’t follow the rule.”

Maybe X didn’t follow W because W failed to apply. You left that option out.

That’s my point. Everything is governed by rules. These rules determine everything. So, the world’s deterministic.

That’s my argument, simplified.

No. I don’t know where you’re getting this. At any moment, X follows exactly ONE of those rules. It can’t follow both simultaneously, obviously.

I don’t think you understand what I mean by rule. “Rule” is synonymous with “statement” here. A true statement is a followed rule. A false statement is a violated rule. For example, the rule “Don’t rape” is equivalent to the statement “Person P does not rape.” A person P for which the statement is true is following the rule. A person P for which the statement is false is violating the rule.

You’re wrong in your quote. When action isn’t done from a body of rules W, it is being done by a body of rules non-W. I don’t need to stipulate this. It follows from the simple truth and falsity of the statements involved. I’ll give you an example:

W={“Don’t eat doughnuts.”}
Z={"Eat doughnuts.}

Now suppose I don’t follow the rules of W. Then I eat doughnuts. Thus, I’m following the non-W set of rules Z. That’s pretty easy to see. When I’m not following a rule, then I must be following the negation of that rule. Either way, I’m always following a rule. This doesn’t “presuppose” determinism. I don’t like you saying that. It’s a well-crafted logical deduction. ANY sound argument that proves determinism (is such one exists) is going to have to have determinism hidden somewhere in the premises.

I don’t see how invoking free will makes (1) false. I neither prove nor disprove free will in my argument. I don’t even mention it. I don’t need to. Whether or not there is free will is a whole different issue.

My argument makes no mention of “Don’t follow the rule.”

I left that option out? Did I? So what? All that matters is that X is not following the rules of W.

Simple minded maybe. You have created a paradox. Fix it.

You’re question begging, writing paradoxes, and not doing anything good. The best you can do is restate the false conclusion?

Not simultaneously. But if W contains a rule and also its negation then W is just the set of all possible rules.

Looking at this intuitively, it seems that one of the rules of W, from a deterministic point of view, is that you can’t break out of the set W and operate in a set Z. If you could do that then you would have free will. And if you have free will then you can’t be proving determinism.
It seems that your argument hinges on showing that ‘break the rules’ is a rule in W. That makes me think that either ‘break the rules’ is not a rule or it can’t be part of W if W is to remain consistent.
I agree with Captaincrunk - I think that you have created a paradox.

You’re welcome.

I personally consider determinism to be scientific, because we discovered that every visible thing is governed by physical laws.
We can still persue the sensation of freedom, or liberty, for good results, but accept that we don’t govern reality at the same time.

And invisible things too.

The best argument for determinism is simply the entire body of scientific knowledge. That should suffice.