Determination Little Pine Poster

Determination: Little Pine

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Let us take a glance at the different uses of 'causation' and 'determination', two concepts that are frequently regarded as equivalent although some philosophers have acknowledged their difference. In actual use the word 'determination' designates various concepts, among which the following are particularly relevant to our discussion: (a) property or characteristic; (b) necessary connection, and (c) process whereby an object has become what it is--or way in which an object acquires its determinations in sense (a).

In its first acceptation, 'determination' is synonymous with 'characteristic', whether qualitative or quantitative; this is what determinatio meant in post-Roman Latin, and in this way it is used in various European languages, notably in German. In this sense, that is determinate which has definite characteristics and can consequently be characterized unambiguously; when applied to descriptions and definitions, 'determinate' is used as an equivalent of precise or definite, in contradistinction to vague.

But in science the most frequent use of the word 'determination' that is relevant to our concern seems to be that of constant and unique connection among things or events, or among states or qualities of things, as well as among ideal objects. (Thus, for instance, machines that run regular and reproducible--hence fully predictable--courses have been called determinate. Their successive states follow one another in a constant and unique way to the exclusion of new, unexpected states--contrarily to indeterminate machines, whose states are only statistically determined and constitute moreover an open set, that is, one admitting new elements.) If by necessary is meant that which is constant and unique in a connection, then in sense (b) the word 'determination' amounts to necessary connection.

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