Indeterminism - Science - Classical and Relativistic Physics

Classical and Relativistic Physics

The idea that Newtonian physics proved causal determinism was highly influential in the early modern period. "Thus physical determinism became the ruling faith among enlightened men; and everybody who did not embrace this new faith was held to be an obscurantist and a reactionary". However: "Newton himself may be counted among the few dissenters, for he regarded the solar system as imperfect, and consequently as likely to perish".

Classical chaos is not usually considered an example of indeterminism, as it can occur in deterministic systems such as the three-body problem.

John Earman has argued that most physical theories are indeterministic. For instance, Newtonian physics admits solutions where particles accelerate continuously, heading out towards infinity. By the time reversibility of the laws in question, particles could also head inwards, unprompted by any pre-existing state. He calls such hypothetical particles "space invaders".

John D. Norton has suggested another indeterministic scenario, where a particle is initially situated on the exact apex of an inverted dome.

Branching space-time is a theory uniting indeterminism and the special theory of relativity. The idea was originated by Nuel Belnap. The equations of general relativity admit of both indeterministic and deterministic solutions.

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