Sabine Hossenfelder explains a lot of science well, but she goes off the rails when discussing a favorite topic this week
I don't believe in free will. This is why.
She covers the main issues, but omits her wacky belief -- she believes in superdeterminism
. That is the belief that everything has been determined by the Big Bang, and that it is impossible to do a randomized scientific experiment. We are all slaves in a giant machine, and it is impossible to learn how the machine works.
This belief is so crazy that it is enough to discredit everything she says. Maybe that is why she omits it in this video.
She disagrees with the philosophers who say that free will is compatible with determinism. But then she says it is also incompatible with indeterminism! She is wrong about this. Free will means acting contrary to what others predict, so it appears as indeterminism.
Her main argument is that physicists use equations to predict things, so everything is predictable by equations. The obvious exception is quantum mechanics, but she says the wave function is determined. She neglects to say that the wave function is not observable.
Quantum mechanics is indeterministic. It does not rule out free will.
The guy said to me: Why don't I kill myself tomorrow, because what is the point of anything? ...
I am not a psychologist, I am a physicist. I don't know what to say to people with existential angst. Please see a psychologist. I am not a philosopher either.
In essence, she is a preprogrammed robot, and she is not programmed to kill herself.
She could give this answer to anything. Why does she believe in climate change? She is programmed to.
I think that some people have libertarian free will, and some don't. Pres. Joe Biden probably had free will when he was younger, but appears to have lost that mental capacity. Sam Harris probably did also, before spending a year doing LSD experiments. When people like Hossenfelder and Harris deny that they have free will, we should take them seriously. Maybe they are just puppets, lacking the mental ability to make decisions on their own. They are like schizophrenics who hear and follow voices in their heads. q
If you do not have free will, then you are not a fully conscious human being. Free will is the most obvious thing about your existence. Without free will, you are just a cog in a machine.
Here is a interesting new video in favor of free will.
Biologist Jerry Coyne summarizes Hossenfelder (and agrees):
In October of 2020, Hossenfelder declared that libertarian free will — i.e., the “I-could-have-done-otherwise-using-my-volition” form — didn’t exist. I agree with her, of course, for we’re both “naturalists” and “hard determinists.” If you think matter obeys the laws of physics, which is universally accepted in science, then there’s no room for mental lucubrations that could somehow tweak the laws of physics (Mental lucubrations are instantiations of physical law!) That’s why she (and I) think that, as far as libertarian free will is concerned, “it’s obvious that we don’t have it.”
I believe in libertarian free will, but not in anything that breaks the laws of physics. If free will breaks the laws, which law? Where is that law published? Who got the Nobel Prize for such a huge discovery?
There is no such law. Just a belief, by some, that the past determines the future. But there is no such law, and much of science is based on the possibility of unpredictable influences.
She cites philosophers, but according to her data, only 11% say "no free will".
Her answer is a good one: those people should see a psychologist. I manage to hang onto being a hard determinist, though of course I act as if I can make free decisions. We can’t live without feeling that way because that’s just the way our brains are constructed.
At least he is honest here. It is like saying: As a schizophrenic, I hear voices in my head. I don't know why. Ask a psychologist. I follow the voices because of how my brain is constructed.
A recent PBS TV Nova episode seems to be against free will:
Your Brain: Who's in Control?
Are you in control, or is your brain controlling you? Dive into the latest research on the subconscious with neuroscientist Heather Berlin. Sleepwalking, anesthesia, game theory, and more reveal surprising insights in this eye-opening journey to discover what’s really driving the decisions you make.
presents evidence that your conscious decisions can be influenced by subconscious brain processes. I am sure that's true, but I don't think it has much to do with free will. You are still making a decision, even if you are not fully conscious of all aspects of it.