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Free Will for People implies Free Will for Particles?

  1. May 15, 2006 #1

    selfAdjoint

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    Herewith the currently much discussed Free Will theorem, which deduces the implication in the name if this thread from three plausible axioms.

    Based on an EPR type thought experiment, it makes the point that if we allow the experimenters to set up the experiment without being deterministically constrained, that is, by free will, then the subsequent behavior of the entangled particles will be free to exactly the same degree. Free will is than a consequence for particles generally.
     
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  3. May 15, 2006 #2

    selfAdjoint

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    The paper is just packed with goodies. I can't resist sharing this:

     
  4. May 15, 2006 #3

    nrqed

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    This is not addressing directly the post (sorry) but I wanted to ask a question:
    I don't see why "not being deterministically constrained" implies "by free will". I could see how this could have been argued before the advent of QM but I thought that this was precisely the most remarkable implication of the discovery of QM: that non-deterministic did *not* imply free will.

    So, pre-QM I could see how one could argue that "non-deterministic" would have led to the existence of free will. But post-QM, it seems that this leap is not warranted.

    So I would say that maybe someone's thoughts and actions are not deterministically determined, but that does not imply free will.

    It seems that the very concept of free will would necessarily involve something *outside of physics*. I really don't see how a willed decision could suddenly arise out of nowhere. This is totally different from the collapse of wavefunction which involves randomness. Free will involves the very notion that one "decides" out of the blue something, which could never ever fit within any physical theory (probabilistic or not) I could imagine.

    The closest to "decision making" that one could get would be to say something like "I am about to eat. My mind is in a state

    0.5 |I will decide to eat pizza> + 0.866 |I will decide to eat chinese>

    And then there is collapse and I end up deciding to have pizza. But of course, there is no free will at all here.

    I just don't see how any physical theory could incorporate the very notion of free will.

    Anyway, sorry for the babbling :-)

    Pat
     
  5. May 15, 2006 #4

    selfAdjoint

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    Yes, this precise criticism has been made of their view. They make some attempt to reply/counter it in the paper, but I don't want to over-summarize their conclusions. As the saying goes, read the whole thing. Their precise definition of a change of an individual's state being "free" is "Not a determinate function of the information available in the individual's past light cone."
     
  6. May 15, 2006 #5
    Could you explain to me what this means, are they actually saying that a Janus model experimentally indicates that effects in one frame make causes in another? Now how is that? It seems to me that, that is only possible, if there are undiscovered laws.

     
  7. May 15, 2006 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    No, the Janus model is only true in reference to a frame, so you could prove QM is true for Alice using Bohm's model (which is their prime illustration of a Janus model), AND you can prove QM is true for Bob using the Bohm model, but because Bohm's model is not invariant under Lorentz transformations, you can't use it over the spacetime range that includes both Alice and Bob at once. But C and K say, "That's OK, as long as all we ask Bohm to do is verify the QM model with the projection postulate". Those are local things. If they are true for Alice and Bob separately that's all we need to know.

    The Janus models are not factual in the broader context in the same way that a flat map is not true on the scale of the Earth's curvature; but the Janus models suffice to prove the quantum model is factual just as a flat map showing that Main Street intersects Elm Street can be verified locally, and you can use it to verify a globe there by showing the globe and the map agree on the intersection..
     
  8. May 16, 2006 #7
    Is this the “elan vital” equivalent for free will?

    (Out of respect, I shall resist the temptation to roll on the floor laughing)

    How should an elementary particle exhibit its free will, except by behaving indeterministically?

    Are we to conclude that human free will arises from the indeterministic behaviour of elementary particles?

    MF
     
  9. May 16, 2006 #8
    This is a polite way of saying that the concept of free will is incoherent and irrational.
    It seems to me that the concept of free will not only requires something "outside of physics", but also something "outside of logic".

    MF
     
  10. May 16, 2006 #9

    selfAdjoint

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    No there is no elan vital or additional ghost in their approach. Nor does it turn on human feelings as in compatibilism. It is just a logical deduction; if you assume that human experimenters have the freedom to set up their equipment in an unpredetermined way, then it follows that the particles have just as much freedom in how they will interact.

    So it is perfectly possible to assert the contrapositive: If particles are not free then nor are human beings. But that is an assertion, you haven't demonstrated particles are unfree (in the special sense of the term they used, which as nrqed remarked other people just call quantum indeterminism).
     
  11. May 17, 2006 #10
    As a staunch determinist, I have no problem equating the human notion of "free will" with "indeterminism" - but I think a libertarian free will supporter would reject the idea.

    The HUP clearly shows us that we cannot "demonstrate" unequivocally that "particles are unfree" in the sense of being indeterministic. The HUP is a fundamental limit to our epistemology which means we can neither prove nor disprove determinism nor indeterminism (contrary to the claims of many QM interpretations).

    I can, however, demonstrate quantum determinacy in particular cases. If I take a spin 1/2 particle (eg electron) and "prepare it" so that it is "spin up", then when I measure its spin in the vertical direction it will be "up". QM tells us that if we do nothing to the electron and at a later time measure the spin again in the vertical direction, there is a probability of unity (ie certainty) that we will again measure "spin up". If this is not quantum determinism, then what is it?

    Best Regards

    MF
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2006
  12. May 17, 2006 #11

    selfAdjoint

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    In a truly deterministic world there would be no "if". If we had the freedom to do nothing, the particle was also free. Suppose we believed we had done nothing and measured the particle agin and found its spin along our chosen axis to be down, would we conclude
    a) The particle just decided to change
    b) Some other local interaction disturbed the particle
    c) The particle was, unknown to us, entangled, and some remote interaction occurred.
    ?

    We could always save the appearances, which doesn't make the example a very good proof of an ontological certainty.
     
  13. May 17, 2006 #12
    I'm reluctant to read this, as I don't see how this ever makes sense.

    I think it's ridiculous to equate the free will of a system of particles (ie. people) with particles themselves.

    First off, I don't see how the particles that are determining the experimenters free will can ever be incorporated in this explanation: unless you believe there is some kind of Experimenter determining the experimenters.

    I'm willing to grant them the possibility that free will of the experimenters implies free will for the particles they experiment with; however, this is a wholly different free will than that most philosophers discuss about ie. free will of a system to decide about itself.
     
  14. May 17, 2006 #13

    selfAdjoint

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    Well if you won't read it, I don't see how you feel justified in commenting on it. Don't depend on my posts for its content because I have just highlighted my own conclusions. There is not one mystical thread in the whole paper, it is just logical developments from three plausible axioms describing the entanglement of quantum systems.
     
  15. May 17, 2006 #14
    But there indeed would be! The conditional "If" simply reflects our epistemic ignorance (the determinability of the world), it does NOT necessarily reflect any ontic indeterminism. One can have a 100% completely (ontically) deterministic world which would still be (epistemically) indeterminable from the perspective of the agents operating within that world. In such a case, these agents are quite right to use conditional expressions including the word "if", because they are simply reflecting their own ignorance of the fine details of how their world works. But their ignorance of the details does not mean their world is indeterministic.

    We can perform the relevant experiments, and we can attempt to investigate (b) and (c) because both of these should be amenable to experiment.

    (Indeed, (c) is already ruled out because we have already measured the spin as being up, in the "preparation" part of the experiment, thus eliminating any entanglement).

    If we rule out (b) and (c), and find that the spin is still "down" then we might be willing to agree that (a) is a possible plausible explanation.

    My point is that the conventional understanding of QM says that in absence of (b) and (c), the spin will be up. If we perform the experiment and find the spin down then we have demonstrated a violation of the predictions of conventional QM.

    I don't think there is anything in the Conway & Kochen paper which suggests they believe the predictions of conventional QM is violated.

    MF
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2006
  16. May 17, 2006 #15
    After reading the Conway & Kochen paper again, I couldn't stop laughing.

    Then I realised their paper is dated March 31st. If they had waited just one more day then I could have understood what the paper was all about.

    Let me quote some choice phrases from their paper :

    Is this human free will supposed to be something like the Philosopher's stone which converts lead to gold?

    Then they try to suggest that whether quantum objects behave like waves or particles depends on the "roughness" of their environment!!!!!
    At least they are honest! This is not science, it's a joke!

    What else could they be suggesting, except plain and simple indeterminism? (What else IS indeterminism if it is not absence of ontic correlation with past information?). Oh but no, they claim (without any supporting argument) that this is something different, it is not simply indeterminism, it is instead this magical "free will".

    Again, for Conway and Kochen, this is not indeterminism, this is instead some kind of magical "free will". What is the difference? Do they explain?

    :rofl: No wonder they avoid giving an operational definition, because there is no difference in the definitions! Random means (to my mind) "absence of ontic correlation with past information". What does "free" mean for Conway and Kochen? In their own words it means :

    How does this differ from random? D'uh!!!!! :uhh:

    And how finally do human brains make use of this "particulate free will" which appears in the guise of randomness (but in most cases simply cancels itself out on the macroscopic scale)?
    Metaphysical mumbo-jumbo! Where is the proposed mechanism which conjures up any kind of meaningful and consciously controlled "free will" from "random behaviour"? Conway & Kochen are completely silent on this.

    With all due respect to a couple of Princeton mathematicians, this is not a "theorem of free will", it is a vain and desperate attempt to grasp at straws.

    Finally :

    One of the few sane and rational judgements in the entire paper.

    All in all, a good April Fool's joke, but submitted just one day early!

    MF

    Humans put constraints on what they can achieve more often by their limited imaginations than by any limitations in the laws of physics (Alex Christie)
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2006
  17. May 18, 2006 #16
    If I don't agree with the premises, then I'm justified in asserting its falsity according to my opinion.

    Now if one could show my disagreement to be unjustified, I might consider reading the argument.
     
  18. May 18, 2006 #17

    selfAdjoint

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    The premises of the theorem are three statements which they call the SPIN axiom, The TWIN axiom, and the FIN axiom. Read the paper to find out what those are.
     
  19. May 18, 2006 #18

    selfAdjoint

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    Well I think the connection between quantum indeterminancy of observers and particles is non-trivial, even if the authors somewhat naively identify that with free will! We often get this identification of QI and FW in even more naive form on these boards, and it helps to have a coherent statement to clarify what quantum indeterminancy entails.
     
  20. May 18, 2006 #19
    I do not agree with the premise that the free will of particles is implied by the free will for people. This means that proving there is no free will for particles, implies that there is no free will for people; which is of course false, as free will for people can be deterministically defined.

    Of course, I can imagine we are talking about a wholly different definition of free will here; but to be honest, I don't see why I should care. The free will of particles is only interesting insofar as it proves the free will for people, and I don't see how this approach can ever do that.
     
  21. May 18, 2006 #20
    I think the problem is how we define "free will". We (entangled particles as well as larger particle systems) all make decisions, but they are most likely a result of something allready determined. If not, they are random and of course that has nothing to do with decision making/free will - unless that's our definition of free will.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2006
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