Dice-Like and Distributed

Time Machines, Space Engines and the Enactment of Risk Markets


In November 1884 the American psychologist and philosopher William James addressed students at Harvard on ‘the dilemma of determinism’: Is ‘free will’ genuinely free, or is everything given in advance? Refreshingly, the answer was of little interest. James made it quite clear from the outset of his lecture that he was not going to offer any solution or provide any settlement to an ancient intellectual tussle between those professing the predetermined state of the universe and those contesting it. ‘Facts’, he proclaimed, ‘have hardly anything to do with making us either determinists or indeterminists’ since it is impossible to see how ‘any amount of assurance that something actually happened [can] give us the least grain of information as whether another thing might or might not have happened in its place’. To James, the existence of alternative possibilities was a matter of rational belief, not of proof, and hence his interest in determinism was of an altogether different sort than that of the usual protagonists debating its veracity…