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2.4 Irrelevances to the debate

2.4.1 Determinism

Whether natural systems are deterministic or not, in an absolute sense, seems to be an untestable question. Both the deterministic and indeterministic viewpoints adequately describe the observed world. Thus the abstract question of whether a real system is deterministic must be irrelevant to the abstract question of the validity of the reductionist thesis

Artificial situations can be categorised as deterministic or otherwise. For example in a game your next move may be determined by the rules or you may have a choice. Within the framework you are considering, there is either a mechanism for determining your move (i.e. the player's strategy for the game) or not. If there is, then the move is determined by that, if not, it is undetermined - i.e. there is simply not enough information to determine this by any process (mechanical or otherwise). Note that whether the move is determined does depend on the framework you are considering, but within any particular framework (however general), whether something is determined is not relevant to the absolute question of whether the situation is reducible or not.

However, this does highlight the practical importance of choosing the appropriate framework for a problem. The framework greatly effects the practicality of modelling a system. In the above example in a framework which includes the players strategies, it may be possible to model the game but impractical if you choose merely the rules and possible sequences of moves.

Pragmatic Holism - Bruce Edmonds - 22 FEB 96
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