Free will & physics

Source: The Anarchist Shemale
by Aria DiMezzo

"Strangely, I’ve seen Quantum Mechanics used as an argument against free will. The argument goes that physical laws dictate the behavior of strings, quarks are composed of strings, atoms are composed of quarks, molecules are composed of atoms, and we’re composed of molecules. Why on Earth should 'free will' suddenly enter into the equation? It all suggests that our behavior is determined by physical laws we haven’t discovered, because physical laws determine the behavior of the things that we’re composed of. Except for the Uncertainty Principle, they’d have a point. Whether 'God plays dice with the universe' has not been ascertained and cannot be determined, even in theory." (04/20/17)

  • dL

    because I’m writing this from my phone in a parking lot

    Most impressive thing about that essay…

    Given that quantum mechanics has different interpretations, I'm not sure quantum mechanics qua quantum mechanics has all that much to say on the metaphysical topic. True, the classical arguments of determinism implicitly follow from the path dependency of classical systems. Path dependency simply means that if you know the state of the system at time t0, you know the state of the system(momentum and position) at any time t. The formalism of classical system is typically expressed as the Hamiltonian, with its partial derivative yielding the path evolution of the system state in canonical space.

    In quantum mechanics, the Hamiltonian is the Schrodinger equation. The Schrodinger Equation gives you the evolution of the system over time, but the state evolution is a probability wave. Unlike classical mechanics where knowing the state of the system at time t0 allows one to exactly predict the state at time t, there is no such path dependency in QM. Indeed, you can't even precisely measure the system state at time t0. The more precise you try to measure momentum or position, the less precision(or more uncertainty) you get in the corresponding variable. This is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

    Obviously, when you attempt a measurement, there is no probability wave. You can make a direct measurement. This is known(in one interpretation, the Copenhagen interpretation) as "collapsing the wave function." This theory of measurement considers the state of the system to be a superposition of possible outcomes before observation.

    Now what is the "free will" for the thing being observed? Path dependency is traded for a probabilistic super-positioning of states. The thing's own observables are a function of what the observer tries to measure. if the observer tries to nail down the thing's position, the more uncertain the thing's momentum, and vice versa. That doesn't sound much like free will. it sounds more like a type of Observable dependency.

    Two points. One metaphysical libertarianism(or free will) has absolutely nothing to do with w/ political(or ethical libertarianism). You could be a state socialist and a metaphysical libertarian. Conversely, you be an anarchist and a complete determinist. Secondly, metaphysical libertarianism is not reducible to mathematical physics.

    These are the facts: Everyone is born into the world under a particular set of circumstances, a particular set of constraints. You don't choose the time, the place or your biology. The question from this is the unavoidability of choice or preference. If you ascribe to free will, you say choice. if you are a determinist, you say preference. And then it proceeds the same for both RE: will. Political libertarianism will say: do what you will w/ minimal constraint to act according to will. It doesn't matter if that will is freely arrived at or already predetermined. For example, I am personally attracted to females. I don't think I had much say in the matter. Does that make questions of responsibility or choice within my own preferencea irrelevant. Hardly.

    • dL

      yep, the stars had already predetermined that i would type bockquote instead of blockquote…and hence muck up my point w/ bad formatting…lol