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Bell's Theorem and Free Will

  1. Jan 7, 2014 #1
    Based on the state of science so far, I'm of the opinion that free will does not exist. When I say "free will", I mean that our thought processes and bodies are controlled entirely by natural laws. If our brain is governed by classical principles, then it's completely deterministic. If there are quantum effects in play, then our brain is probabilistically random which is as much a death sentence for free will as any other factor.

    I was going through the results of Bell's theorem recently and found that the freedom of the experimenter to choose the variable to measure is a key assumption. Given that we have no reason to believe that experimenters have "true" free will, how does this affect the validity of Bell's theorem?

    Of course, we can easily create a subsystem to replicate the "choice" of measurement. Say if a certain radioactive decay has a 50% chance of occurring, we could use the results to choose our variable without contradictions.

    So...does the current state of science allow for traditional "free" will that is unbound from the laws of nature? After all, that is the meaning of the word "free" - as in "not bound".

    Due to the nature of this question, I would like to avoid anyone giving their "feelings" or "personal opinions" on whether or not free will exists. I don't want to venture into philosophy, just remain solidly within the realm of peer reviewed accepted scientific principles.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2014 #2


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    It hasn't looked particularly good for free will. Look up Libet's experiments. He was the first well-known scientist to do neuroscience experiments on free will. There's a wiki on the neuroscience of free will, too (that includes reference to Libet.)

    There have been some experiments since Libet, too. This is, of course, a very controversial topic. People will defend free will aggressively.
  4. Jan 7, 2014 #3


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    Closed, pending moderation.

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