Free Will for People implies Free Will for Particles?

  • #36
moving finger
1,689
1
Hi SelfAdjoint

With respect, I find myself unable to agree with your summary of the position.

selfAdjoint said:
The paper has its definition of free will which you disagree with.
I cannot even find where “free will” is defined in the paper, so it's hard for me to say whether I agree with their definition or not. Can you help out?

All I can find is :
Conway & Kochen said:
we find ourselves unable to give an operational definition of either "free" or "random"

selfAdjoint said:
The authors note that their definition is "free" (not determined by previous information) and not random (because it's twinnable).
The “twinnable” issue is in fact a red herring. It is simply an empirical fact that most but not all quantum behaviour is epistemically stochastic. Entanglement (what you call twinning) is an example of particular quantum behaviour which is determinable, and not epistemically stochastic (and the simple reason for this is than an entangled state is a single quantum state). Simple as that.

Most quantum events are epistemically stochastic, whereas some very special types of quantum events are determinable. And that’s all we can say. Whether one interprets this as meaning that such epistemically stochastic events are due to “particulate free will” or simply because of “stochastic particulate behaviour” is purely a matter of opinion, and the distinction is meaningless unless one can distinguish, by either definition or experiment, between these two. And the authors cannot.

In the Conway & Kochen paper, if we replace every occurrence of the words “Free Will” with the words “epistemically stochastic” the paper makes perfect sense, but without the need to posit some metaphysically magical and unexplainable concept.

The authors do not say just what they mean by “free will” in the case of particles and how this should differ in any way from “epistemically stochastic” particulate behaviour (in cases where quantum behaviour is in fact empirically observed to be epistemically stochastic).

The rational conclusion of the paper is in fact : If humans have free will (whatever that might mean), then the only rational explanation for the source of this free will is that quantum objects also have free will. But the authors admit that they are unable to provide an operational definition of free, they also admit that determinism is possible. They are also unable to show, either by definition or experiment, how “free will” particle behaviour should differ in any way at all from “epistemically stochastic” particle behaviour.

And that’s it in a nutshell.

Best Regards
 
  • #37
gptejms
386
2
nrqed said:
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.

Pat

What causes the collapse here?--observer?--but the observer is the observed.
Unless you have an explanation for the collapse in terms of the physics,there is the possibility that a willed decision takes place--that we really have free will.
 
  • #38
Lars Laborious
61
0
gptejms said:
What causes the collapse here?--observer?--but the observer is the observed. [...]there is the possibility that a willed decision takes place--that we really have free will.

If there is a cause, then it's deterministic since you can follow up by asking "What causes the cause?". If the cause that causes a collapse is the first cause (a cause that do not have a cause), then it's random, and random behaviour is not the same as free will. A choice has to be based on something to avoid being random.
 
  • #39
Eric England
115
0
Try an experiment if you like.

Close your eyes, take a relaxing breath and just FOCUS, without an image or thought in mind.

Now, without losing this focus, try to make a an unkown thought arise by your will.

If you do it correctly, a thought will not arise and only a pressure will start to build.

The moment you relax your focus and will, thoughts will begin to come.

If we can't make a thought arise by will, why would we think we have a will at all? Why would we think particles have a will?
 
  • #40
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,881
10
Eric England said:
Try an experiment if you like.

Close your eyes, take a relaxing breath and just FOCUS, without an image or thought in mind.

Now, without losing this focus, try to make a an unkown thought arise by your will.

If you do it correctly, a thought will not arise and only a pressure will start to build.

The moment you relax your focus and will, thoughts will begin to come.

If we can't make a thought arise by will, why would we think we have a will at all? Why would we think particles have a will?

I blank my mind and focus every morning and have no problem in evoking new thoughts. How am I to distinguish between the two possibilities: (1)There is indeed some correct way to do it, which you haven't described fully, and which I am failing to follow, and (2) You're wrong?
 
  • #41
Eric England
115
0
Have you tried to follow the directions to the letter, or are you waiting for morning?
 
  • #42
-Job-
Science Advisor
1,157
2
Would there be a varying distribution of free will over space and time, or would it be constant? For example, suppose a particle can be found between X1 and X2 with a probability of 1, while its exact position between X1 and X2 follows a uniform distribution wherein the particle is at a given position between X1 and X2 with probability 1/(X1-X2) = 0 (0 because the X-axis is not a discrete set). In this scenario, the position of the particle is both certain and random, depending on what question you are asking. At the microscopic level, living between X1 and X2, the particle's position is a random variable. At the macroscopic level, where X2-X1 is an unnoticeable distance, the particle's position is interpreted as not being random but determined.
Considering the same scenario with the slight modification that between X1 and X2, the particle's position is determined by free will (of the particle), then the particle has a choice only in the interval (X1, X2). When talking about a particle's free will are we restricting "when" and "where" the particles can make a decision (a pseudo-freewill), or do they maintain free will throughout space and time? Do particles have varying distributions of freewill? Would a group of particles, whose freewill is accountable by that of its constituent particles have more, less, or the same freewill as that of the constituent particles?
 
Last edited:
  • #43
moving finger
1,689
1
Eric England said:
If we can't make a thought arise by will, why would we think we have a will at all? Why would we think particles have a will?
Sure we can make a thought arise by will.
The question is : Is that will "free" or "deterministic", or even "random" or "stochastic"?

Here is a thought experiment for you to try :

Imagine you had taken a "willed" decision to have (for example) tea instead of coffee with your breakfast this morning. Suppose that one could "rewind the clock", and set absolutely everything back to precisely the same way that it was just before your decision (including all your internal neurophysiological states etc). (I know this is impossible in practice - it's a thought experiment after all). Would your decision be the same again (would you again choose tea) the "second time around"?

If you think it would not be the same, what explanation would you suggest for it being different to the first time (ie what rational or logical reason can you give for it being different)?

Suppose you could now repeat this thought experiment 100 times, so that you get 100 results. What do you think would be the outcome?

Would you choose "tea" 100 times out of 100? (this would imply causal determinism)

Would you choose "tea" 50 times and "coffee" 50 times? (this would imply simple random behaviour).

Would you choose "tea" perhaps 20 times and "coffee" 80 times? (this would imply stochastic behaviour).

What empirical outcome would you expect from the above experiment if you really had "genuine free will", and why?

I'm really interested to know how someone who believes in free will would answer this?

Best Regards
 
  • #45
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,881
10
Here is a recent (and excellent) non-philosophical comment on the free will theorem:
http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0611283

I wonder why you describe it as excellent. Couldn't be beause it's stongly Bohmian, now could it?

As you say it's not philosophical, but it's not really physical either (neither was Conway and Kochen, which I posted about so long ago just as a cute demarche). His claim that Bell + Aspect proves that QF is "nonlocal" will not be accepted in its pure simplicity by all those anti-Bohmian posters up on the Quantum Physics forum.
 
  • #46
Demystifier
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
13,304
5,731
It is actually not Bohmian but a GRW type, which, in fact, I do not like very much. The only similarity with the Bohmian approach is that both introduce a notion of an objective reality (which then, owing to the Bell theorem, implies objective=explicit nonlocality.)

It is excellent because it correctly finds counterexamples to the free will "theorem" and identifies the mistakes in the "proof" of it.

At best, if somebody still wants to have a free will theorem, one must introduce some additional assumptions. But the strength of a theorem is in the weakness of its assumptions, so this would make the theorem less strong.
 
Last edited:
  • #47
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,881
10
It is actually not Bohmian but a GRW type, which, in fact, I do not like very much. The only similarity with the Bohmian approach is that both introduce a notion of an objective reality (which then, owing to the Bell theorem, implies objective=explicit nonlocality.)

It is excellent because it correctly finds counterexamples to the free will "theorem" and identifies the mistakes in the "proof" of it.

At best, if somebody still wants to have a free will theorem, one must introduce some additional assumptions. But the strength of a theorem is in the weakness of its assumptions, so this would make the theorem less strong.

From the paper:

And even worse, already in 1935 Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen [10] showed that
freedom + QF + locality ⇒ determinism.

This whole dispute, and the socalled rigorous arguments within it is loose as a goose. The idea that EPR, or Bell, or anybody else has "proved" anything with their various gedanken experiments is laughable.

I am very loathe to get into this all-devouring maelstrom but here I'll dip a toe. There is enormous debate about just what Bell assumed when he set up his argument, and what in consequence he can be shown to have demonstrated. But all I can take from his writings is this: you cannot assume that separated but entangled events can be treated as separate cases for the purposes of forming a probability. This is all, and calling it "non-locality" doesn't make it so.

But this is really enough, and a strong result if you remember that what the quantum formalism really gives us is precisely a probability. What Bell showed is that quantum probabilities aren't your daddy's classical probabilities.

You recall Laplace with his jars of balls, that he used to formulate the first valid concept of mathematical probability; considering the various distributions of, e.g. colors on the balls in the jars and tacitly assuming pre-Bell separability of the cases, he worked up a tight theory of how to treat uncertain events. But if some of the balls had been quantum entangled balls, he wouldn't have been able to do it that way, and his conclusions would have been different. And Bell, with his inequalities, laid out some of those alternate conclusions. And Aspect and the later experimenters in this field verified them (at least, most physicists agree that they are verified. There are still curmudgeons who mutter about loopholes in the experiments. As I said, loose as a goose).

I myself am very sympathetic to all attempts to define an objective resolution of the measurement problem. You can find earlier threads where I go round and round with vanesch over Smolin's view of the relational approach, which I regard as objective in a way, and he regards as solipsistic. But in my mind this whole Bell area is infected with sentimental purblindness and begging of the question.
 
Last edited:
  • #48
Demystifier
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
13,304
5,731
I myself am very sympathetic to all attempts to define an objective resolution of the measurement problem. You can find earlier threads where I go round and round with vanesch over Smolin's view of the relational approach, which I regard as objective in a way, and he regards as solipsistic. But in my mind this whole Bell area is infected with sentimental purblindness and begging of the question.
I have not seen this thread, so I will ask for a short answer on a short question:
Does Smolin regards relational approach as realistic or solipsistic?
(I understood above that "he" refers to vanesch, not to Smolin.)

What I know is that Smolin likes the Nelson approach (which, by the way, is very similar to the approach favourized by me :wink: ). For that reason I would expect that he does not like the Rovelli's relational interpretation of QM (despite the fact that they were working together on LQG).
 
  • #50
Jonny_trigonometry
451
0
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.

hah, you've dealt with the set of orthogonal hunger functions too?
 

Suggested for: Free Will for People implies Free Will for Particles?

Replies
0
Views
88
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
135
Replies
12
Views
301
Replies
3
Views
323
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
818
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
248
Replies
3
Views
293
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
1K
Replies
10
Views
510
Top