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Philosophical Considerations

Reality is the determinist limit of nondeterminist approximations. In what a human or robot can know about the world, many events are not inevitable. In any human account, it did not have to be raining when Benjamin Franklin first arrived in London. Indeed maybe it wasn't. Even if the world is deterministic, any achievable description of it is nondeteterministic. Elaborations of particular narratives sometime remove some of the nondeterminism by accounting for the causes of particular events and for fluents holding in the results of these events.

Therefore, it may be worthwhile to regard the world as determinist and suppose that every event has causes whether we know them or not. Thus any particular nondeterminism is potentially eliminable.

It might be supposed that quantum mechanics vitiates these considerations, but I don't think it requires modifications on the common sense level. Free will in a determinist world is discussed in [[McCarthy and Hayes, 1969]].

John McCarthy
Thu Apr 27 22:02:22 PDT 2000