A. The term determinism denotes a doctrine which claims that all objects or events, or all objects or events of some kind (for instance, falling within the range of some scientific discipline) are determined, that is to say must be as they are and as they will be, in virtue of some laws or forces which necessitate their being so.

B. Determinism is in fact the name of a whole class of theories which have the above feature in common. The term becomes the name of a specific doctrine when the kind of determinism is indicated, implicitly or explicitly. The specification may indicate either the class of things that are determined, or the type of thing that does the determining, or both. For instance, economic determinism tends to mean the doctrine that economic factors determine others, historical determinism tends to mean the theory that events in history are determined, sociological determinism is likely to mean the assertion that social facts are determined, and that they are determined by social factors.

C. An important characterization of determinism, cutting across the sub-division in terms of field, or subject, arises from describing it as causal determinism, which means the doctrine that events are determined causally. This idea can be opposed, for instance, to statistical or to theological determinism, i.e., to theories which claim that events are determined non-casually by statistical probabilities, or by the deity. It is arguable whether these types of determination should be seen as fundamentally non-causal, or whether ultimately they are but a special case of causation. It may be argued that statistical probabilities are to be interpreted as consequences of causes too complex or minute to be isolated in individual cases and that even transcendental determinants are to count as causes.

Taken from A Dictionary of the Social Sciences eds. J. Gould and W. Kolb, Free Press, 1964.