Physical systems (physics, chemistry) are creations of nature, and thus their designs can only be perceived, not conceived, by physical sciences. Political systems, on the other hand, are inventions of man, technologies whose developments were always intended to be ongoing processes carried along by each passing generation.


The more I learned about political science, the more I began to feel that this "malleability" of political systems was lost on my professors.

Malleability is not the right word here - it's part of what I'm trying to say, but I also want to emphasize the fact that they were originally conceived by man. I'm looking for a word that is something like "self-deterministic"", but I don't think that's quite it either. What word am I looking for here?

  • "The more I learned about political science, the more I began to feel that the artifice of political systems was lost on my professors"? I might think twice about using artifice to describe a subject I was being graded on, though. It doesn't have to mean deceptive, but it often carries that implication. And I wouldn't be too worried about suggesting political systems are concerned with manipulation
    – Phil Sweet
    Jun 6, 2016 at 2:07

4 Answers 4


contrived, man-made or factitious perhaps?


  1. not spontaneous or natural; artificial;

  2. made; manufactured:



adjective 1. made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, typically as a copy of something natural. [Google]


artificial adj.

  1. a. Made by humans; produced rather than natural. b. Brought about or caused by sociopolitical or other human-generated forces or influences: set up artificial barriers against women and minorities; an artificial economic boom.

  2. Made in imitation of something natural; simulated: artificial teeth.

  3. Not genuine or natural: an artificial smile.

n. artificiality [AHDEL]

Of course, senses 2 & 3 above are more commonly encountered, but context should disambiguate.


"Autonomous": acting independently or having the freedom to do so, perhaps?

Because it sounds to me that you are trying to emphasize that what might have started as a finite, deterministic, cognizable system has grown sufficiently in complexity – and possibly also in terms of constituent chaotic elements or phenomena, whether direct, emergent, interferent, or otherwise – so that it comes to operate independent of direct manipulation or control, and is likely only able to be objectively considered eschatologically, a term a professor of mine favored (in discussion of works by St. Augustine and Dante Alighieri).


Variants of impermanence, evanescence and mutability all fit to one degree or anther.

Mutability is likely close to what you're looking for.

  • Mutability implies an ability to be changed, often by outside influence. On the other hand, a self-deterministic system or agent is probably likely affected by outside influences but nevertheless capable of choosing for itself, of changing its behavior on its own. While a self-deterministic system may technically, in one sense or another, be considered mutable, I don't think that's precise enough to capture the intent. cheers Jun 6, 2016 at 0:32

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