In science, unpredictable or unpredictability refers to the inability to predict the course of action of certain events or processes.

Italian physicist Ettore Majorana, who did his PhD on “The Mechanics of Radioactive Nuclei” under Enrico Fermi in 1929, commented the following: [1]

“The disintegration of an atom is a simple event. It is unpredictable, happens in isolation, and after a wait of sometimes thousand or up to millions of years. In contrast, nothing similar happens in the events registered by social statistics. This is not, however, an insuperable objection. The disintegration of a radioactive atom can force an automatic counter, possessing an adequate amplifier, to register it with a mechanical effect. We then only need some common laboratory artifices to prepare in one way or another a colorful and complex chain of phenomena, which are controlled by the accidental disintegration of a single radioactive atom.

Nothing exists from a strictly scientific point of view to prevent us from accepting as plausible that the origin of human occurrences could also be found in some fundamental event similarly simple, invisible and unpredictable. If this is so, and we believe that it is so, the role of statistical laws in social sciences will be seen to increase. Their role will not only be that of empirically establishing the result of a large number of unknown causes. It will rather be to provide, above all, a concrete and immediate testimony of reality. The interpretation of this testimony will require a special art, one that is not precisely secondary to the art of government.”

Majorana’s aim, according to Carlos Perez, was to establish a theoretical connection between the death-rates or marriage-rates of a modern society and the disintegration of a radioactive atom. [2]

Free will
English physicist C.G. Darwin, in the “Introduction” to his 1952 Next Million Years, argued in a contradictory manner that the next million years of human evolution could be predicted by the methods of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, and that people were “human molecules” as he defined us, but that, in a contradictory manner to his overall thesis, humans have free will owing to their 'unpredictability'.

Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine, in the 1970s, predominately, promoted the view that the evolution of humans was akin a like the evolution of Benard cells, which he defined as dissipative structures, according to which, prior to their formation, up to the bifurcation point, things were predictable, but that at the bifurcation point things became unpredictable.

This is an ontic opening argument method of arguing against determinism in the human sphere or arguing that human behavior is indeterministic, which of course is code for a free will argument.

Adjacent possible
In 1999, in promotion of his upcoming 2000 book Investigations, Kauffman began to outline what seems to be his unified theory, that of what he calls the “adjacent possible” (or chemically adjacent possible), a rather ill-defined term, which he describes as those regions of the biosphere in which “autonomous agents” (Kauffman’s term for a minimal living thing, which meets the criterion: (a) is auto-catalytic, (b) completes one thermodynamic work cycle, (c) has a membrane) push their way into novelty—molecular, morphological, behavioral, and organizational. The thermodynamic states not yet attained - the “adjacent possible” states as Kauffman terms them - are unpredictable since they are the result of the interaction of the large collection of autonomous agents, such as people, or rather one’s genes, and all the other evolving things in the external world. [3]

This, similar to Prigogine's dissipative structures argument, is an ontic opening argument against determinism.

1. (a) Majorana, Ettore. (c.1935). “The Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences” (“Il valore delle leggi statistiche nella fisica e nelle scienze sociali”), in: Sciencia (1942), 36:55-58 (published posthumously by his friend Italian physicist Giovanni Gentile Jr.); English translation in: "Ettore Majorana: the Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences", Quantitative Finance, 5:133-40 (2005); English translation by Rosario Mantegna in: Bassani G.F (ed) (2006) Ettore Majorana Scientific Papers (pgs. 250-26). Springer.
(b) Majorana, Ettore. (c.1935). “The Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences” (online reprint, with biography by Carlos Pérez); Spanish version in: C. ALLONES (2004): “El valor de las leyes estadísticas en la Física y en las Ciencias Sociales”, Empiria, núm. 7: 183-209 Madrid.
2. Perez, Carlos A. (c.2005). “Sociological Commentary”, USC.es.
3. Kauffman, Stuart. (2000). Investigations (pgs x-xi, 4-5). Oxford University Press.

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