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Strong Determinism (Departmental Seminar)

Joining the Seminar face-to-face:
Limited seats for face-to-face seminar. Registrations will be handled on a first come, first served basis.
Register by 15 September 2023: https://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/webform/view.php?id=13671712

Joining the Seminar online:
No registration is required.
Link: https://cuhk.zoom.us/j/94822592694
Meeting ID: 948 2259 2694


A strongly deterministic theory of physics is one that permits exactly one possible history of the universe. In the words of Penrose (1989), “it is not just a matter of the future being determined by the past; the entire history of the universe is fixed, according to some precise mathematical scheme, for all time.” Such an extraordinary feature may appear unattainable in any realistic theory of physics. In this talk, I show how it can be achieved in a universe like ours. First, I propose a definition of strong determinism and explain how it differs from standard determinism and super-determinism. Next, I discuss its attractions, implications, and some toy examples. The possibility of strong determinism has interesting consequences for explanation, causation, prediction, and modality. Finally, I show that Everettian quantum mechanics, with a new version of the Past Hypothesis, provides an easy route to strong determinism. On the new theory that I call the Everettian Wentaculus, the quantum state of the multiverse is a fundamental mixed state with exactly one possible history. As a consequence of physical laws, the history of the multiverse could not have been different. (The paper version is forthcoming in Philosophers’ Imprint; the preprint is available at https://arxiv.org/abs/2203.02886)

Delivered in English.
All are welcome.