An Inchoate Universe: James's Probabilistic Underdeterminism

William James Studies 14 (1):54-83 (2018)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
In this paper, I challenge the traditional narrative that William James’s arguments against determinism were primarily motivated by his personal struggles with depression. I argue that James presents an alternative argument against determinism that is motivated by his commitment to sound scientific practice. James argues that determinism illegitimately extrapolates from observations of past events to predictions about future events without acknowledging the distinct metaphysical difference between them. This occupation with futurity suggests that James’s true target is better understood as logical determinism rather than causal determinism. This has consequences for James’s proposed alternative, which I call his probabilistic underdeterminism, a conception of the universe that is built on chance, choice, and a local teleology. All of this forms part of a broader criticism of the scientific practices of his day based on their widespread failure to acknowledge the distorting effects of observation on that which is observed.
Keywords
No keywords specified (fix it)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
BROAIU-2
Revision history
Archival date: 2018-09-26
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2018-09-26

Total views
32 ( #35,013 of 39,984 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #22,653 of 39,984 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.