I’ve been seeing the confusion between two different “no free will” positions crop up a lot recently – Determinism and Fatalism. Needless to say these aren’t the same thing. I created this InfoGraphic as a helpful tool to help crystallize the crux of the differences between these two lines of thought. If you find it helpful please share, spread around, or add it to your own site with a link back. Thanks – ‘Trick Slattery
If you liked this InfoGraphic and found it useful, please download and share it on your website (please link back to the original), on social media, email, etc. There is also a Dutch version here: Determinisme vs. Fatalisme InfoGraphic (DUTCH)
Determinism is dependent on causality. In fact the understanding of the nature of causal events is entirely what determinism is all about. Such an understanding can and most often does through a secular means of describing events and their restrictions. Our conscious thoughts, desires, decisions, and actions are all a causal part of how events will play out. They are a requirement of an eventual outcome, and therefore important to such. Fatalism, on the other hand, means that a person is “fated” to an outcome regardless of what precedes the outcome. If a person is fated to X, X will happen regardless of the thoughts, decisions, and actions a person makes. It may be that a persons actions were fated as well, but that is besides the point.
To look at the “futility compared” examples in the Infographic, one might say that consulting the doctor was fated as well, and that the fate of recovery is co-linked with the fate of calling the doctor. But if calling the doctor is fated, it is futile to decide to do so – as such will happen whether you decide to or not…and so on In other words, if your recovery depends on a number of other fated events, what you decide on is irrelevant as all of those events simply must happen regardless. You could theoretically decide to stand still and do nothing – and such events will happen.
On the other hand, for determinism, what you think, say, and do is part of the process that will lead to a specific event, and therefore is important to how everything plays out. And though what you think, say, and do is causal, there is no logical reason to do “nothing” that follows from such. Understanding the nature of causality and the importance of one event to another event is a causal understanding that will lead you to a more cohesive and coherent path and an output that would be better than the causality that would lead to a futile / defeatist attitude to stay in bed all day. For example, the belief in fatalism over determinism could causally lead to an attitude of futility which would have a different output than if you had the belief in determinism over fatalism.