, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 273–281 | Cite as

Determinism and predictability

  • N. G. Van Kampen


Theoretical determinism, as it is usually ascribed to Laplace, is neither verifiable nor falsifiable and has therefore no real content. It is not the same as predictability of actually observable phenomena. On the other hand, predictability is not an abstract principle; rather it is true to a certain degree, depending on the phenomena considered. It can be discussed only by examining the scientific state of affairs. This is done in some detail for classical statistical mechanics. Much of a recently published debate on determinism (Amsterdamski et al. 1990) is thereby obviated.


Statistical Mechanic Scientific State Abstract Principle Observable Phenomenon Classical Statistical Mechanic 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. G. Van Kampen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute For Theoretical PhysicsUniversity of UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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