05 January 2007

Free Will?

Betsy tells me in a blog 'content is good, links are less good'. So I shall try to keep that in mind as I discuss a fascinating article in the New York Times: Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t.

In it, the author says "A vote in favor of free will comes from some physicists, who say it is a prerequisite for inventing theories and planning experiments.

That is especially true when it comes to quantum mechanics, the strange paradoxical theory that ascribes a microscopic randomness to the foundation of reality. Anton Zeilinger, a quantum physicist at the University of Vienna, said recently that quantum randomness was 'not a proof, just a hint, telling us we have free will.'”

I am particularly intrigued with quantum mechanics, so this is very provocative.

There is an important and often misunderstood point here. Physics is NOT deterministic when you get to the subatomic level. And in fact quantum mechanics appears to have a special role for the conscious mind.

It's definitely an interesting article. What do you think? Are we just deterministic meat machines or do we have free will?

1 comment:

Lore said...

I'm very happy to find someone who is interested in physics, but also in philosophy!

I agree with you when you talk about quantum mechanics. In fact there are two very important experiments in QM, which proof that randomness exists.

The first is the Bell-experiment. It shows that the correlations between particles are not determined by something which we cannot know. In other words, the result is not determined by some properties of the particles which we don't know or by other events: the result is decided at that moment!

The second experiment is the "before-before", which shows that there isn't any kind of communication between the two regions in which the particles are. Conclusion: the cause of this results (if it exists) is outside space and time...

And what can we say now about freedom?
Well, we can now think a world with freedom without contraddiction!
Indeed we can think, that our freedom can act in the world by "deciding" the results of theese phenomena.

So the deterministic view of the world is very old now, and the free view of men is the future of science!

Just a short hint: visit the blog www.scienceandbeyond.net, and you'll find a lot of material about QM and free will!