Journal of
Geography and Regional Planning

  • Abbreviation: J. Geogr. Reg. Plann.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2070-1845
  • DOI: 10.5897/JGRP
  • Start Year: 2008
  • Published Articles: 386


The paradox in environmental determinism and possibilism: A literature review

Fekadu K.
  • Fekadu K.
  • Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Arba Mnich University, Arba Mnich, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 August 2013
  •  Accepted: 20 August 2014
  •  Published: 30 September 2014


This article provides in-depth review of the prevailing controversy among environmental determinists and possibilists, and searches the linkage among them. The issue of environmental determinism and possibilism is still being debated for more than a century among both geographers and non-geographers, which is a paradox. This work was  analyzed based on  content and document. The article tries to analyze the thesis differently, looks for the gaps and makes an Interface. And it also identifies the gaps in the existing literature and an inference for the further research which would be conducted in the area and also a better tool to be used as a teaching material for both underground and postgraduate levels. Determinist argues that ‘man is entirely under the influence of nature’.  However, the possibilist believes that man is never entirely free from the influence of environment, but there is a room for the effort of man, such as technology, attitude, habits, and values of human, which influence man’s action and it also bring the physical environment. So, it is obvious that both factors (Man and nature) are equally important to make an influence on each other. The geographers have not denied the vis-a-vis effects of both man and environment like early determinist says ‘man influences environment, just as the earth influences man.’ Therefore, both viewers should lessen their stand rather than to elasticize it into different extreme; they should come to a common ground and do more on how much the environment can influence man and how man can influence the environment.


Key words: Determinism, paradox, probabilism and possibilism.