Determinism and super-determinism are two closely related philosophical positions. The major difference between the two is that determinism can (theoretically) be deduced through scientific experimentation. Super-determinism, on the other hand, can not only not be deduced through experimentation, but states that experimentation can not even be done. The term super-determinism (or superdeterminism) seems to be scattered around the web quite liberally, usually meaning many different things, most of which are not what I mean by it. I don't know if I got the term, or the idea, from any single source, or if I came up with it on my own. It is a rather deviously simple procedure to realize super-determinism through thought experiment.

Determinism is the natural consequence of the belief in Newtonian mechanics, which is still the theory of physics that accounts for most of the physical reality we encounter. (Despite their claims of greatly revising physics and perhaps philosophy, quantum mechanics and relativity aren't really things that most people encounter). According to Newton, bodies follow fairly simple laws of motion, and follow only these rules. If you know the initial positions and velocities of bodies, you will know all their subsequent positions and velocities. This caused a great stir amongst philosophers, especially for Immanuel Kant, the last great metaphysician.

The thing about a Newtonian universe is that you can seperate invariant time and space from the matter existing inside of it. While the moon's course around the earth can be predetermined from its starting position, its starting position is contingent. According to Newtonian physics, if the moon was twice as far from the center of the earth, it would be under 1/4th as much gravity. Science preceeds in its discoveries by altering factors such as these, and plotting functional relationships.

If you go back to the above example, you may think for a while, and eventually you will realize a problem: while our understanding of physics and math says that the moon would undergo less gravitational pull at an increased distance, we don't know if this is actually true. For the simple reason that we can not simply move the moon out twice as far. Objects inside of space can not be "cut and pasted" to a different location inside of space. Determinism itself states this. Since determinism states that things in motion must follow a system of laws, this leads to the laws themselves being moot. You can not seperate the objects from the mathematical laws that govern them. This is super-determinism, the notion that objects are not only determined to act a certain way because of physical laws, but the belief that it is not even meaningful to seperate the object from how it will act under the law. It is meaningless to ask "what would happen if the moon suddenly lost half its mass", because the theoretical question itself is impossible.

Super-determinism is not a belief. It is (to me, at least), a notion. On a practical level, the pragmatics that allow scientists to do experiments and the fact that we somehow do have the ability to drop a bowling ball and a feather off of the Leaning Tower of Pisa seem to make super-determinism an interesting idea, but not something to actually think about. In addition, the small scale belief in quantum possibilities leads to the dissolution of the basic idea behind both determinism and super-determinism. On some levels, the problem presented by super-determinism does give questions on the limit of our knowledge. For example, we may ask ourselves what the universe would have looked like if it had started with much more anti-matter, or if the total amount of electrical charge had been different at the beginning, but since there is no way we could change these things, it could be that these questions are meaningless. On a small scale, biology may run into the same problems, since biological events are so unique that they can only happen once, meaning that to ask what would have happened likewise meaningless. One of the most basic theories of modern science combines these two difficulties: for the theory of evolution to be tested, would require the creation of a large earth like planet, which itself would need to have all the myriad small features that added up to evolution on earth. Such an experiment would be difficult on a scale that would make the experiment of moving the moon out to twice its orbit to look trivial.

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