Such a person believes that whatever you did or do has been predetermined by a god or another omnipotent force. It's as if free will didn't exist.

e.g. "It's no use trying to discuss it with you. You are ..........

  • Seems almost like this might get more informed answers on the Philosophy Stack Exchange -- although it pretty clearly seems on topic here. Which part is more important, the "predetermined" or the "as if free will didn't exist" part? There are arguments that predetermination and free will are not incompatible.
    – herisson
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 0:34
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    ...a determinist? Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 0:45
  • @sumelic You caught me. I can't see how predetermination and free will can coexist.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 0:59
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    Someone was bound to ask this question...
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 6:19
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    Note that this is not necessarily bundled with a religious belief. There are many atheists who believe that there is no free will and everything is predetermined by physical and chemical reactions.
    – vsz
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 6:05

4 Answers 4


A fatalist or a predestinarian.

predestinarian: A person who believes in predestination; a fatalist. Also in extended use. [OED]

From a philosophical standpoint:

In philosophy, a fatalist is someone who holds specific beliefs about life, destiny, and the future. Fatalists share the certainty that fate has already been laid out in front of them, and that they have no real control over what will happen.


You can also check:

  • 4
    +1 for "fatalist," since that usually has the connotation sought for
    – herisson
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:01
  • Is there any difference in the context where "fatalist" and "predestinarian" are used? Religion?
    – Centaurus
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:06
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    @Centaurus: They can be just same but they can diverge in philosophical and religious contexts. For example, predestination in Calvinism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination_%28Calvinism%29
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:12
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    Note that "fatalist" is often used in a less rigorous sense to identify someone who feels that fate/the world/everything is against him, even though he may not believe that the future is predetermined. Ie, a "pessimist", only more accepting/less resentful of his fate.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:34
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    Never once heard predestinarian. Heard fatalist fifty million times. And not just in English. So you'll clearly be reaching a much bigger audience with the latter.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 10:07

A Calvinist:

Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians.


Reformed theologians teach that sin so affects human nature that they are unable even to exercise faith in Christ by their own will. While people are said to retain will, in that they willfully sin, they are unable to not sin because of the corruption of their nature due to original sin. To remedy this, Reformed Christians believe that God predestined some people to be saved. This choice by God to save some is held to be unconditional and not based on any characteristic or action on the part of the person chosen.

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    A person can believe that all is predetermined and free will is an illusion without accepting the other tenets of Calvinism and, indeed, without being a Christian or believing in a God at all. Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 13:52
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    @DaveSherohman what would cause all things to occur without something that is uncaused (god) forcing these actuations into actuality? Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 14:15
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    @hownowbrowncow That's more of a question of philosophy, but historically there was the concept in physics that all actions in a system are determined solely by the initial state of the system. With advances in our understanding of quantum mechanics that concept is now regarded as unlikely-to-impossible. Regardless, you don't need the concept of a deity to say that the universe is deterministic.
    – Daenyth
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 16:37
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    While @DaveSherohman is correct in his comment, I think this answer still is worth considering because Calvinism is a well-known branch of religion that espouses predestination. It is not unheard of for Calvinism to act as a conversational synonym for predestination without any implied reference to its other tenets. Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 17:24
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    @Daenyth You don't need to explain anything that I know quite a bit about. In order for your ball to ahieve it's position and then have the ability to do work (fall) it must exist at a state that has a non-minima potential energy. This means that this energy must firs tbe put into the system and only THEN would it fall into an equilibria (at it's minima). Linking back to the universe --the universal system would have to be initially created at a non-minima position in order for it to become actuated. This is impossible as it implies that the system was acted upon. Which is a contradiction. Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 18:53

A mechanist

mechanist: a person who believes in the doctrine of mechanism.

Specifically Anthropic Mechanism - via wikipedia:

The thesis in anthropic mechanism is not that everything can be completely explained in mechanical terms (although some anthropic mechanists may also believe that), but rather that everything about human beings can be completely explained in mechanical terms, as surely as can everything about clockwork or gasoline engines.

  • Could you elaborate on how this relates to predetermination? In my mind it's possible to perceive the human being mechanically and still believe in the power of human will over the state of the universe.
    – talrnu
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 18:21
  • @talrnu I don't think I'm qualified to elaborate. I added the answer as it's a term I happen to know that wasn't mentioned already, I expected the answer would sit about exactly where it is in terms of up-votes :) Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 4:11

...It's as if free will didn't exist.

Ermanen's post gives two great terms.

There's a stronger one that might apply:


Necessitarianism is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for the world to be.

It is the strongest member of a family of principles, including hard determinism, each of which deny free will, reasoning that human actions are predetermined by external or internal antecedents. Necessitarianism is stronger than hard determinism, because even the hard determinist would grant that the causal chain constituting the world might have been different as a whole, even though each member of that series could not have been different, given its antecedent causes.

(From Wikipedia. Emphasis mine)

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