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Predictions and Resolutions

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The real reason that New Year’s resolutions have fallen out of favor and been replaced by predictions—with the pundits and the public alike—goes beyond mere cynicism. It is a reflection, rather, of the fact that predictions seem more in keeping with the spirit of the scientific age we live in.

If you think about it, a resolution is the opposite of a prediction. Or, at least, taking resolutions seriously means not taking predictions seriously, and vice versa.

Why? Because taking predictions seriously means believing that the universe is deterministic and that the future is inevitable. But if you believe that, what would be the point of making resolutions?

Conversely, making a resolution means resolving to exercise one’s free will more strenuously in the future according to one’s rational understanding of the good—the unspoken assumption being that the future is not foreordained, and that it is within your power to change the future by first changing yourself.

– James Barham, “Predictions and Resolutions,”The Best Schools blog (January 1, 2012).

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