Monday, February 8, 2016

Quantum mechanics allows free will

A new philosophy paper argues:
In the libertarian ``agent causation'' view of free will, free choices are attributable only to the choosing agent, as opposed to a specific cause or causes outside the agent. An often-repeated claim in the philosophical literature on free will is that agent causation necessarily implies lawlessness, and is therefore ``antiscientific." That claim is critiqued and it is argued, on the contrary, that the volitional powers of a free agent need not be viewed as anomic, specifically with regard to the quantum statistical law (the Born Rule). Assumptions about the role and nature of causation, taken as bearing on volitional agency, are examined and found inadequate to the task. Finally, it is suggested that quantum theory may constitute precisely the sort of theory required for a nomic grounding of libertarian free will. ...

Considering the elementary constituents of matter as imbued with even the minutest propensity for volition would, at least in principle, allow the possibility of a natural emergence of increasingly efficacious agent volition as the organisms composed by them became more complex, culminating in a human being. And allowing for volitional causal agency to enter, in principle, at the quantum level would resolve a very puzzling aspect of the indeterminacy of the quantum laws–the seeming violation of Curie’s Principle in which an outcome occurs for no reason at all. This suggests that, rather than bearing against free will, the quantum laws could be the ideal nomic setting for agent-causal free will.
This may sound ridiculous, but quantum mechanics allows for free will in a way that no other physical theory does. It predicts many things while leaving others unpredictable. Maybe that unpredictability is part of a free will mechanism.

You may not accept this, but it does disprove the idea that free will is anti-scientific. Many scientists and most philosophers argue that a scientific outlook requires denying free will. They are wrong. Quantum mechanics allows free will.


  1. Roger,

    Quantum Mechanics is predictive, not explanatory. This is why it fails as actual science: There is no 'mechanism' at all in Quantum mechanics, just statistical math, which is not a cause, or a force, or an agent of action of any kind.
    As for scientists denying free will, I concur in part. Many of them have no free will whatsoever, as they are prisoners of their own groupthink, confusing political consensus with scientific comprehension.

  2. Yes, I am coming around to the view that many people do not have free will. Even highly respected intellectuals can be prisoners of groupthink, as you say.