Talk:Determinism/Archive 1

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Archived material from Determinism talk page

"block time"

I don't think block time solves the problem, as not only is quantum mechanics indeterministic, but the state at the present cannot even be determined JeffBobFrank 05:16, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC )

Actually, a lot of people make this point about quantum mechanics being indeterministic, but I think that it doesn't make sense in a broad theoretical sense. I understand that people point to the seemingly random nature of quantum mechanics as standing in opposition to determinism, but randomness is still restricted by causality. In order for quantum mechanics to be undetermined, a particles would have to move for no reason whatsoever, as opposed to a shift occurring for no reason that we can *measure*. Something has to be responsible for something else occurring, otherwise all things would lead to all possible consequences. That may jive with the "many universes" hypothesis, but as far as we know we only live in one. Also, even if that were the case, people's actions would still be determined on a macro level. For example, if quantum mechanics operates outside of the causal chain of time and causes me to have a desire, thought, etc., it is still something entirely unrelated to me that is causing me to have that desire or thought. I would be as responsible for acts resulting from that desire as I would be for the consequences of a phantom hand shoving me down the stairs. My two cents. Patrick Grey Anderson 03:16, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)

one cause at a time?

[P0M:] Objection One: The first line says, "Determinism is the philosophical doctrine which claims that every event is entirely caused by an immediately preceding event." Does this sentence really mean what the writer intended? For one thing, "immediately preceding event" has been given no operational definition, hence it is vague to the point of being meaningless. Suppose that someone fires an ICBM at a city half way around the world. Half an hour later it gets there and destroys the place. Is "pushing the button" the cause of the explosion? Just how long a time interval is too long to be counted as "immediately preceding"? And if a 0 time interval is involved, how can cause and effect be determined.

[P0M:] Objection Two: If two billiard balls simultaneously impact a third billiard ball from different directions, the third ball will be caused to move in a third direction. So the "cause" would not be "an immediately preceding event" but two such events.

[P0M:] Objection Three: Without any citations to the works of recognized figures in the history of philosophy, it is difficult to even begin to address the question of how cogent this article's explanation may be. P0M 01:07, 3 Mar 2004 (UTC)


You are correct that the first sentence is not all that clear. I was having a hard time coming up with a concise way of explaining the fact that when something is caused, the proximate cause is the immediately preceding "event" (I think that two billiard balls striking another counts as a single event---at some point one thing, whether it be the force of two billiard balls, the fluttering of ten thousand butterfly wings, etc., leads to the next event) in the ongoing chain of events. Obviously, everything is a product of the event preceding it. So the pushing of the launch button is just a more specific cause of the target blowing up than the Big Bang was, but less of a specific cause than the missile actually striking its target...So some distinction needs to be made. But, the whole point of determinism is that everything is related to something before, no matter how distant.

As for the lack of citations. Obviously, this is a work in progress. It is a lot easier to throw down some explanation than it is to find the relevant citations, but I did mention David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and John Searle. Interested parties can go to those pages for further information. But, by all means list the sources---that's what collaboration is all about. Off the top of my head, I know that the Critique of Pure Reason mentions human's reasoning ability as distinct from the causal universe.

Remember---you can just change the page---you don't just need to say what's wrong with it. Patrick Grey Anderson 21:19, 5 Mar 2004 (UTC)

On the (currently) last paragraph: One has to be careful when saying things like the "the entirety of space-time came into existence at some point without any prior cause". For example, prior to the existence of spacetime there could be no "point" at which spacetime could appear at, and there is no time before spacetime. Also the "absurdity of infinity" is somewhat non-neutral language. Some philosophers and mathematicians, amoung many others, allow for the reality of infinities, and are able to contemplate a whole raft of transfinite sets. So I would recommend a rewrite of the last paragraph, or delete it altogether. further, what about the case where spacetime comes into existence with a prior cause, a type of creation ex nihilo. It's not clear to me that this is logically impossible, so long as one is talking about creation from a physical vacuum rather than a deeper metaphysical nothingness. BMS 8 Mar 2004.

I guess my point is the "objective" absurdity of metaphysical nothingness. Mathematicians use infinity as a pragmatic idea for both notation and analysis. But, and I'm not a mathematician so I could be wrong, I don't think anyone can conceive of what infinity would actually entail. Basically, our minds can neither conceive of something always having been there, especially as the Big Bang starts to get fixed with an increasingly specific cosmic date, nor really explain how something could come out of nothing at all. And, if there was some sort of vacuum before the Big Bang, I would argue that the vacuum still counts as something. This is the fundamental problem with both the deterministic and first cause/free will viewpoints. So, I was just being a little poetic and loose with my meanings, which I will acknowledge is not ideal for an encyclopedia. Someone can re-write it if they feel like it. Patrick Grey Anderson 21:47, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)


I am the anonymous user who posted those paragraphs that you thought were "jarringly specific for this stage of the article and too one-sided" and deleted.

I am new to Wikipedia and still trying to find my way around.

Is there room in this page to present my one side? Can we have a separate heading under which to present the deterministic point of view? I believe that the world is determinsitic. It is hard to see this in the world of animals and humans. However, there is no question about it in the inanimate world, to my way of thinking.

As for 'this stage of the article' do you man it is too early or too late? (I am guessing too early.) The coin toss analysis is IMO very valid and seldom appreciated. It belongs in a discussion of determinism. How about putting it back under a subheading?



I wasn't trying to be rude, and I hope I wasn't. I am actually completely in agreement with your point of view and your arguments. However, and you will see this as you go along, the entries themselves are supposed to represent a "neutral point of view." It is sometimes hard to balance the presentation of what you believe to be irrefutable evidence with the opposing argument, so feel free to include sections even if they only seem to offer evidence for the deterministic viewpoint. However, they should be written in a "this is what people argue" fashion, and not in a way that makes the article read like a brief in favor of determinism. Then someone who disagrees with that argument, but not its characterization in the article, can come along and include a section on what people on the other side of the debate argue.

If you want to write something explicitly pro or anti-determinism, write it on the talk page. However, the debate on the talk page is really supposed to be about the article itself, not the idea it discusses.

The coin toss analogy is correct, I believe, and helpful in explaining to people why the notion of "randomness" is not equivalent to the idea that something can occur for no reason at all.

As for the "this stage of the article," yes, I believe the article is still too basic to be discussing some of the more elaborate examples. Also, try to avoid citations to current scholarship, because that tends to date an article, especially if the scholarship is later shown to be incorrect. As a rule of thumb, starting an article from a historical, definitional perspective is usually best. Before we get into a very specific part of the determinism debate, it would be helpful to discuss historical figures in the debate, their arguments, the religious history and implications of determinism, William James, Bertrand Russell, David Hume, Kant, etc.

Also, why not sign up for an account so that I can post something like this on your "user talk" page?

Patrick Grey Anderson 18:02, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)


Please see comments on your "user talk" page.


VC, I posted my response on your user talk page. Patrick Grey Anderson


"Ultimately, the intricacies of determinism and free will are relegated to the realm of pure reason, with all of its inherent inconsistencies and absurdities." Am I the only one that sees this as non-neutral? Dustin Asby 15:34, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It looks like an accurate statement, to me. Both are abstractions, and , therefore, only exist in the mind. KeyStroke 02:51, 2004 Sep 16 (UTC)
I had the same thought as Dustin Asby when I read the article. I think there are a lot of "abstractions" that aren't generally seen as inconsistent or absurd. Clearly our definitions of determinism and free will need to be rethought, and perhaps the categories themselves are inadequate. But that sentence calls "pure reason" inconsistent and absurd, not determinism and free will. It's a statement that carries a strong odor of empericist bias. Since someone else also felt strongly enough about this to post a remark, I'll change it. Jonathan Enderle 15:32, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
The reason I think that sentince belongs here is to remind people that there is no externaly verifiable (objective) way to prove either side. We also need to remind people not to 'go to war' over such concepts. If you accept determinism, then you have to also accept that some people are 'predetermined' to not accept determinism as a valid concept. If you accept free will, then you have to also accept that others have the right to 'choose' not to accept free will as a valid concept. Either way, the truth is that neither side will be able to convince the other, since it is all subjective. I think it is valid to state that, somehow. KeyStroke 20:01, 2004 Sep 17 (UTC)
The way you just stated it is more clear. Dustin Asby 08:07, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I agree, and after a few days I tried to state that idea that way. But Patrick Grey Anderson seems to have a personal mission to remove all entries that show this idea (that its all subjective) as it was deleted after I added it. Patrick, please don't make Wikipedia into your personal soap-box. The idea of determinism may be important to you, it may even be central to your belief system, but the fact remains that neither free-will, nor determinism, are objectively verifiable and it is important to state that. KeyStroke 12:12, 2004 Sep 22 (UTC)


I have to agree with POM about citations. The article has some citations, mostly to canonical philosophers. But a number of the article's points involve newer arguments, or describe debates that fall partially outside the philosophical canon as it now stands -- the Buddhism paragraph comes to mind. I'm vaguely familiar with the idea that Quantum Mechanics jams a monkey wrench in the machinery of determinism, but I've never seen it fully articulated before. I'd love to change the article myself, but I don't have the necessary knowledge. I encourage anyone who does to make a few edits. Jonathan Enderle 15:52, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

A valid point, yet one that I as well am unable to address. I came to this page not ever having heard of the concept. Dustin Asby 08:09, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Some recent philosophers who have made arguments for determinism are Ted Honderich and Derk Pereboom. On the indeterministic side you have Robert Kane, Harry Frankfurt, and many others. I'm too lazy to look up the works or add the citations.

About the quantum mechanics issue--I wouldn't necessarily say that it jams a monkey wrench in the machinery of determinism. From the moral philosophy perspective, it is sort of irrelevant. Let's say that quantum mechanics allows for completely uncaused events to occur (which is the most generous interpretation possible). This means that instead of my prior circumstances, genetics, etc. being responsible for my actions, some uncaused force wholly independent of me is responsible for them. That doesn't make me any more responsible or my will any more free.

But I wonder if we can even say that such events are uncaused. I am not a physicist, but having read some layperson's treatments of this issue, it seems like all that quantum mechanics can really show is that events occur for which we have no explanation (as the article states). This is very different from events occurring for no reason at all. Who is to say there isn't some cause we are unable to measure? They have done all of these experiments showing that nothing except pure uncertainty can account for differing experimental outcomes in identical experimental circumstances, but that seems to me to be a problem with the limitations of our mathematics or even our reason.

Anyway, I agree that that last sentence was a little slanted, so good job taking that out.

Patrick Grey Anderson 05:05, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

scope of this article

Patrick, I notice you removed my contribution (below) because you felt it did not add anything "substantive". Could you be a little more specific as to why you removed it? Shouldn't an article on determinism contain references to other articles, and actually practised belief-systems that are limited forms of determinism? Of course, I don't claim my paragraph was perfect, but I feel these issues should be addressed, if not in the final paragraph, then somewhere else in the article.

"It is possible to believe that determinism only applies to the entire universe as a system after the universe came into being, either in a Big Bang or through creation by a supernatural entity. Once the universe came into being, it behaved deterministically. These more restricted versions of determinism are held by many scientists today. The belief that God created the universe, and then left it alone is known as Deism. Many scientists would argue that it is impossible to know what happened to cause the extreme beginning of the universe and that, since we are inside the universe and can't look out, deterministic knowledge is limited." WhiteC 16:48, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Make it more to the point of the article and I'd agree with putting it back upDustin Asby 00:01, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What I meant was that the paragraph basically says, "some people think that the universe may have been created by some unknown force, but that immediately after its creation things became deterministic." I agree that there are people who mean the preceding when they speak of determinism, but it should probably be more specific: why is this a better explanation of determinism, who has made this argument (what scientists; what philosophers). The whole article is sort of vague as it is, I will admit, so I guess I am trying to encourage contributions to add something concrete. Links to other articles are fine, as long as they are set up with the proper context in this article. Patrick Grey Anderson 20:24, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
OK, I agree it needs more specifics. Here is an attempt at providing them. I'll wait a week for comments before putting it into the article...
"Since the early twentieth century when astronomer Edwin Hubble first hypothesized that red shift shows the universe is expanding, prevailing scientific opinion has been that the universe started with a Big Bang, and therefore has a finite age. Different astrophysicists hold different views about precisely how the universe originated (Cosmogony), but generally agree that scientific determinism has held since the universe came into being.
"Another philosophy which was articulated in the seventeenth century, shortly after Newton's deterministic laws of physics was Deism. Deists also believe that the universe has been deterministic since creation, but ascribe the creation to a metaphysical God who is exempt from determinism, and has not affected the universe since then." WhiteC 03:45, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Earlier comments in these discussions have talked about the lack of organization in this article. I think that putting some subheadings in would help clear things up, and make it easier to distinguish the different arguments for/against determinism within this article. What I propose to do is leave the actual contents of the article the same for now, and to put a subheading above each paragraph (approximately each para. anyway).

The subheadings would be (none) intro paragraph and quote

  1. Free Will/Compatibilism
  2. History of Determinism in the West
  3. Eastern Notions of Determinism
  4. Some Criticisms of Determinism (Morality/Jurisprudence, Quantum Mechanics)
  5. Some Answers (Normative Claims, Determinism in Quantum Mechanics)
  6. Scientific Determinism
  7. First Cause

(Perhaps sections 4 and 5 could be arranged differently?)

Any disagreements with doing this at all, or with how to start doing it? WhiteC 08:25, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Somebody else started already (many thanks)... I just reorganized sections to be more logical--putting the response to each argument against determinism right after the argument.

WhiteC 02:27, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

more NPOV issues

This article is pretty sloppy, as I think most people can tell. I took out the section on first cause as revised by Nodem, which went beyond just poor style and outright called one side of the debate fallacious, which isn't really appropriate in an article on a philosophical topic.

Maybe I went a bit far? I just object to statements like, the entirety of space-time came into existence at some point, unless you define this point embedded in a larger space-time outside of our own. The fallacy comes from implying that both the statements, space-time is everything, and something exists outside of space-time, are true. However, I work in computer software and don't do physics (although this is really about philosophy), so maybe I'm just using the the wrong kind of logic? Nodem
If time is finite, then there must be a beginning (which is what I think is meant by "at some point"). I don't think the phrase "came into existence at some point" necessarily implies any metaphysical cause (ie: thing/being 'outside' the universe), does it? WhiteC 06:59, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I wasn't really comfortable with the version that came before it, though. First cause is a complex topic, or at least a lot has been said about it, and the previous version of the paragraph was presenting a rather severe dichotomy. If someone could write a good article about the first cause debate, and maybe link to it from this article, that would be good. I'm not really qualified to do it.

Also, and I haven't made an edit about this, I'm uncomfortable, as a physicist, with the statement that most astronomers hold to scientific determinism. While many do, and they may be right, I can tell you that by far the dominant interpretation of quantum mechanics in physics circles is a nondeterministic one. Oops! forgot to login. I'm misterbailey if anyone was wondering.

You are right to question the most astronomers bit--I'll put in a qualifier about macroscopic forces. I've been working on deterministic system (philosophy), where I put a bit more about quantum physics and determinism, but it is a complex subject.
I agree that it would be nice if there were a separate article on first causes. And I agree that this article is sort of sloppy. Perhaps subheadings could be a first step to clearing it up?
WhiteC 11:45, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Proposed replacement text.

I have taken a stab at fixing the text we have been discussing. I'll put it here to get everyone's reactions, emendations, etc., before doing anything further with it.

Since the beginning of the 20th Century, quantum mechanics has revealed previously concealed aspects of events. Newtonian physics depicts a universe in which objects move in perfectly determinative ways. At human scale levels of interaction, Newtonian mechanics gives predictions that in all respects check out as completely perfectible, if not perfect in practice. The dependability of predictions turns out to be reliably improved by refinement in our knowledge of initial conditions. Poorly designed and fabricated guns and ammunition scatter their shots rather widely around the center of a target, and better guns produce tighter patterns. Absolute knowledge of the forces accelerating a bullet should produce absolutely reliable predictions of its path, or so we thought.
Contrary to what Newtonian mechanics would predict, at atomic scales the paths of objects can only be predicted in a probabilistic way. In double-slit experiments, electrons fired singly through a double-slit apparatus at a distant screen do not arrive at a single point, nor do they arrive in a scattered pattern analogous to bullets fired by a fixed gun at a distant target. Instead, they arrive in varying concentrations at widely separated points, and the distribution of their hits can be calculated reliably. In that sense the behavior of the electrons in this apparatus is deterministic, but there is no way to predict where in the resulting interference pattern an individual electron will make its contribution.
On the macro scale it can matter very much whether a bullet arrives at a certain point at a certain time, as snipers and their victims are well aware; the question is whether there are analogous quantum events that have macro- as well as quantum-level consequences. It is easy to contrive situations in which the arrival of an electron at a screen at a certain point and time would trigger one event and its arrival at another point would trigger an entirely different event. Whether such events are significant in nature is open to question and empirical investigation.
If probabilistically determined events do have an impact on the macro events such as whether a person who could be historically important dies in youth of a cancer caused by a random mutation, then the course of history is not determined from the dawn of time. But some authorities argue against the reality of such probabilistically determined events and/or argue that events on the atomic scale cannot influence the course of events on the macro scale.
Some people have argued that in addition to the conditions humans can observe and the rules they can deduce there are hidden factors that determine absolutely in which order electrons reach the screen. They argue that the course of the universe is absolutely determined, but that humans are screened from knowledge of the determinative factors. So, they say, it only appears that things proceed in a merely probabilistically determinative way. Actually, they proceed in an absolutely determinative way.
Although matters are still subject to some measure of dispute, quantum mechanics makes statistical predictions that would be violated if some underlying reason unknown to us existed. There have been a number of experiments to verify those predictions, and so far they do not appear to be violated although many physicists believe better experiments are needed to conclusively settle the question. See Bell_test experiments.

P0M 17:13, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

It's a good start. I wouldn't be so quick to say Newtonian mechanics supports determinism. It was certainly thought so before the 20th century, but the discovery in the 1960s that the Newtonian systems can exhibit sensitive dependence on initial conditions (SDIC) opens even Newtonian determinism to question. The equations are deterministic only if the value of all conditions are known exactly and the equations can be integrated forward exactly. Neither is possible in the physical universe. There was also never any way to know with certainty that Newton's equations held exactly. With SDIC, some variation in the 100th deimal place would eventually have a measurable effect.
Maybe I didn't express myself correctly. Whether the theory is correct or not is one question. Since Michelson-Morley we have known that the theory is not correct on the extreme macro scale, and since quantum effects were discovered we have known that the theory is not correct on the atomic scale. So, scientifically, it's just wrong. Wrong but useful most of the time. But in the way the theory describes forces acting on masses there is no wiggle room. If the theory were true, then one initial condition would always lead to a definitive following condition. The equations predict exactly what they predict. The questions about measurement have always been known, but it was always understood that if you got the wrong result you had better check your measurements, refine your operations, etc. (So imagine their shock when the answers insisted on coming out wrong no matter how more precisely they measured!) It was never a part of the Newtonian theory that what you were trying to measure could change underneath you without there being any forces acting to produce that change, which was one of the things that turned out to be wrong about it. So the classical physics argument has generally been stated in terms of how an omniscient God would know the entire history of the universe (could compute it at least) knowing the initial conditions, and humans desiring to win the pool by predicting when the ice would break on the river have lamented their lack of precise knowledge of the initial conditions. Pool sharps have always blamed their own lack of skill (or maybe the imperfect regularity of the balls) for their failures, not Lady Luck tipping the table somehow.
Prior to 1960, there was an expectation in Newtonian physics that small measurement errors would have small effects. That impled some practical long term predictability. That expectation is now understood to be false in general and, as you point out, pushes determinism into the realm of religion. Only "an omniscient God" can know initial conditions exactly. But why does an omniscient God need Newton? Can an omniscient and omnipotent God create free will? There are interesting questions, but they are not science.
The so-called chaos effect in mathematical terms is not the result of any mathematical uncertainty. The thing that surprised its discoverers was that starting a reiterative series of equations with two sets of values that varied only by hundredths or thousandths parts would so quickly produce results of huge magnitude. It was as though somebody put the same amount of money in two interest earning accounts, one of which always rounded fractions of pennies up and the other one of which always rounded fractions of pennies down and after 3 years one account had a thousand dollars in it and the other had a million dollars in it. The real chaos problem manifests itself in things like trying to predict weather using reiterative equations that are sensitive at the level of, e.g., a thousandth pound of air pressure or a thousandth of a degree of temperature, or even smaller, and not having measuring equipment that will measure with adequate precision. (And on top of that the whole scheme is based on dividing the atmosphere in to "cells" and making the practical assumption that each cell is small enough that a single measurement can adequately characterize it.) The farther out one tries to predict the weather the worse tiny imperfections in the first day's measurements manifest themselves as discrepancies from reality.
The technical term for what you are very nicely describing is "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" or SDIC. The tiny imperfections that prevent long range accurate weather forcasts are not limited to wing flaps. They extend to arbitrarily small events, including individual radioactive decay.
With quantum uncertainty, there is perhaps no question of getting anything right because the computations are now probabilistic, and even if somebody totally lucked out and guessimated the conditions on day 1 correctly, it wouldn't help because the equations themselves would predict a number of possible answers for day 10 and all you would know was which answer was the most likely to be what Mother Nature would serve up on that day. I say perhaps because I don't know whether people are right to say that he quantum effects always average out for large masses, that there is a quantum undertainty question about the position and velocity of an electron but not for the position and velocity of a planet. So maybe its like the statistical treatment of the motions of molecules in a gas. There's no way anybody could deal with the huge numbers of molecules involved even in a pint bottle of air, and the molecules will be moving at different speeds depending on what they've been hit by lately, but statistically one can make very accurate predictions about pressure and temperature. (I hated thermodynamics, so sorry if this is not a very precise treatment.)
I also disagree with claims that QM has no macroscopic effect. SDIC says even a tiny flutuation (e.g. a single cosmic ray striking the atmosphere) will eventually propogate to a large change in what otherwise would have occurred (the so called butterfly effect). There are plenty of macroscopic phenomena that are due to QM, not classical physics: specific heat, radioactivity, spectral lines, black body radiation, finite size of atoms. Even in the 19th century, measurements of specific heat could not be reconciled with Newtonian mechanics. As I have argued above, at least some cancers are "Shrodinger's Cat" events where important outcomes are determined by a single quantum event. --agr 14:28, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
What is "SDIC"? I'm inclined to believe they are right. Did I make the claim that QM has no macroscopic effect? I believe I said that it is an open question. What would be good at this point, if I've got the general outlines correct, would be to provide citations for the points of view of the reputable physicists who are still arguing about these matters. P0M 02:42, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
SDIC is what you described above about weather forcasting. We can certainly cite the butterfly effect article. The Cal Tech physicists I am familiar with tend to distain these types of arguments. If I recall correctly, Richard Feynamn's response was "Go compute something." --agr 11:46, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

determinism and law

Quote from the article on Determinism:

Some critics of determinism argue that if people are incapable of independent choice there can be no basis for morality, and therefore some aspects of criminal and civil jurisprudence and legislation are left without their necessary foundation. [...] Determinists have responded to [this] critique by distinguishing between normative and objective claims, arguing that statements of fact con and should be made independently of their consequences. Thus, even if determinism is inconsistent with the idea of a moral universe, that does not necessarily invalidate its conclusions.

My comment: Another way of responding to that criticism is this: if indeterminism is a motivation for laws and justice (because it says free will exists), then one can question the meaning of justice and punishing people who commit undesired acts. Because the main reason for punishing acts is that we don't want the acts to be committed again. But indeterminism states that the "cause and effect" axioms aren't true, and that means we can't know the reasons why those acts occurred, and more importantly, can't know that punishing the acts will prevent people from committing them. Therefore, indeterminism actually states that law and justice is MEANINGLESS. The indeterminism is in that case therefore very contradictional - what most indeterminists are doing is saying that "cause and effect" does not exist, then at the same time they assume that we can know for sure that the effect of the CAUSE "punish an undesired act" will have the EFFECT be that the act will be avoided by the punished person and others in the future.

Determinism, on the other hand, can be a motivation for law and justice - IF AND ONLY IF we can prove that punishments can keep people from committing undesired deeds in the future, and it's not certain that we can do that. The determinism does, however, also suggest that the undesired act had one or more causes in the environment, and if that cause can be found and eliminated, we can prevent undesired acts by creating a scenario - a set of CAUSES - that won't drive the human being to committing such an act. What supports that view is that several societies have existed, where humans have been able to live in harmony with each other. Furthermore, it's possible to show - if we as determinists can accept some inevitable axioms - that the actual society structure in civilization, unlike the structure in the natural flock based society, makes crimes and other undesirable acts more profitable (at least make it so that such acts to many humans SEEM more profitable) than more morally correct choices, has contributed to increasing crimes and other undesired acts.