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Does science support free-will

  1. Dec 30, 2013 #1
    I am trying to see whether science supports the idea of free-will. I don’t mean the illusion of unpredictability that arises from not understanding all the variables. I mean the type of free-will where you can say ‘I want X to be at position Y at the time Z.

    I am wondering whether any field of science supports this.

    From my current investigations, it appears that Newtonian Physics does not allow for this because in that field everything is deterministic and is following a set of rules initiated at the big bang.

    Quantum Physics also does not allow for this. Although more flexible than Newtonian physics (probabilities instead of rigid laws) Quantum physics still implies that we do not determine where a particle will appear (Probability decides) If we want the X to appear at a position with a near zero probability then we will remain wanting.

    I will be grateful for any help with this matter.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2013 #2


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    The most popular scientific experiment testing free will was Libet's, but there have been follow-up experiments. Most of them don't look good for what we perceive as free will. This is, of course, a very controversial issue, but this has been a neuroscience topic, not a physics topic:


    Organism behavior is currently thought to be dictated by classical laws. Penrose proposed a quantum effect underlying consciousness, but it is largely unaccepted.
  4. Dec 30, 2013 #3
    To elaborate a little on this one , well free will by itself is a very very wide ranging phrase.
    free will in human emotions, actions and interactions is a totally different thing as to compared to some set of physical constants and rules on which this world works.

    I can tell you that in physics or the material world which is also the world in which our physical bodies interact and which we can measure , free will only goes as far as it can until it is being restricted by the laws of nature , just like a train can only function on rails it can;t just decide to jump off and go snowboarding on the hill right... :)

    Now you can clearly make a car or a air baloon and decide which day under which conditions and to which way you want to go so I would say we as humans being part of this whole universal machine have a given amount of freedom in which we can do some things into some boundaries just like driving a car you have a choice whether to drive a little closer to the middle or the side of the road but you have to drive on the road you can't just drive on a field or in the middle of the forest so by this I want to say that our free will, if we can even call it so, is restricted and also determined by the laws of nature.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2013
  5. Dec 30, 2013 #4


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    But the interesting question is not whether we can drive a little closer to the line or not. It's not really whether we have choices at all. We clearly have choices and make decisions. The question is whether those choices and decision-making processes are deterministic or not.
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