Can Bell's Theorem Be Applied to the Question of Free Will?

In summary, scientists have not found evidence that free will exists. The experiments that have been done so far suggest that our thoughts and actions are controlled by natural laws. If there are quantum effects at play, then free will may be a death sentence.
  • #1
bhagwad
28
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.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
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.
 
  • #3
Closed, pending moderation.

Zz.
 

Related to Can Bell's Theorem Be Applied to the Question of Free Will?

1. What is Bell's Theorem and how does it relate to free will?

Bell's Theorem is a mathematical proof that shows the limitations of local hidden variable theories in explaining the nature of quantum mechanics. It suggests that the behavior of particles at a quantum level is inherently random and cannot be fully explained by deterministic laws. This has implications for the concept of free will, as it challenges the idea that all events are predetermined and that we have complete control over our actions.

2. How does Bell's Theorem impact our understanding of causality?

Bell's Theorem suggests that there may be events that are not caused by any preceding factors and are truly random. This challenges the traditional concept of causality, which states that every effect has a specific cause. It also raises questions about the role of free will in the causality of events.

3. Can Bell's Theorem be experimentally tested?

Yes, Bell's Theorem has been tested in various experiments, such as the Bell test experiments, which have shown results consistent with the predictions of quantum mechanics. These experiments have provided evidence for the non-locality and randomness of quantum systems, supporting the validity of Bell's Theorem.

4. How does Bell's Theorem impact the debate on determinism vs. indeterminism?

Bell's Theorem has been used to argue against determinism, as it suggests that there may be events that are not fully determined by preceding factors. It also challenges the idea of indeterminism, as it shows that randomness at a quantum level does not necessarily equate to free will. Instead, it suggests a complex relationship between causality, determinism, and free will that is still being debated by philosophers and scientists.

5. What are the implications of Bell's Theorem for the concept of free will?

The implications of Bell's Theorem for free will are complex and still being debated. Some argue that it supports the idea of a limited free will, where our choices are influenced by both deterministic and random factors. Others believe that it challenges the concept of free will altogether, as it suggests that our actions may be predetermined by quantum randomness. Ultimately, the implications of Bell's Theorem for free will depend on one's philosophical and scientific perspective on the nature of reality and consciousness.

Similar threads

  • Quantum Interpretations and Foundations
10
Replies
333
Views
13K
Replies
190
Views
10K
  • Quantum Interpretations and Foundations
25
Replies
874
Views
33K
Replies
80
Views
4K
  • Quantum Interpretations and Foundations
2
Replies
44
Views
2K
Replies
50
Views
4K
  • Quantum Interpretations and Foundations
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
0
Views
806
  • Quantum Interpretations and Foundations
2
Replies
37
Views
2K
Replies
1
Views
958
Back
Top