Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Quantic free will

Supplementary material

Determinism is a concept according to which the universe is an immensely complex pool table, in which the movement of each and every ball is the result of it having been hit by another one, and so on and so forth back to the very initiation of the first movement. In this view, every action is not actually fated, but rather pre-determined and ultimately (if we had some kind of über-computer capable of dealing with data at the universal scale) theoretically predictable.

In this view, free will doesn't actually exist. Oh, sure, individuals have the impression that they might make choices; pick up this pencil or not, wink or not, continue reading this until the end or not. But in actuality, even those choices are determined by the arrangement of the atoms in the molecules of the neurons of our brain, and so even if we make a choice, there never was a possibility that we might choose otherwise.

On the other hand, in quantum physics indeterminacy is at the heart of certain phenomena, particularly when it comes to figuring out how certain measurements will turn out. When is a single radioactive isotope going to decay? What slit will a photon go through?

Many philosophers have discussed the relevance of quantum-level indeterminacy to large-scale determinism and to the concept of free will. They are really puting the "Ph" back in "Ph.D."