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date: 16 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on three themes concerning determinism and indeterminism. The first is observational equivalence between deterministic and indeterministic models. The article discusses several results about observational equivalence and presents an argument on how to choose between deterministic and indeterministic models involving indirect evidence. The second is whether Newtonian physics is indeterministic. The article argues that the answer depends on what one takes Newtonian mechanics to be and highlights how contemporary debates on this issue differ from those in the nineteenth century. The third theme is how the method of arbitrary functions can be used to make sense of deterministic probabilities. The article discusses various ways of interpreting the initial probability distributions and argues that they are best understood as physical, biological, and other quantities characterizing the particular situation. The fact that the method of arbitrary functions deserves more attention than it has received so far is also emphasized.

Keywords: determinism, indeterminism, observational equivalence, indirect evidence, Newtonian physics, method of arbitrary functions, probability

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