# Free Will for People implies Free Will for Particles?

I find it difficult to understand how Bassi and Ghirardi differ "free" from "random". What do they mean when they say that "free behavior can be twinned, while random behavior cannot (a remark that might also interest some philosphers of free will)"? :uhh:

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Lars Laborious said:
I find it difficult to understand how Bassi and Ghirardi differ "free" from "random". What do they mean when they say that "free behavior can be twinned, while random behavior cannot (a remark that might also interest some philosphers of free will)"? :uhh:
From the paper:

It is possible to produce two distantly separated spin 1 particles that are “twinned,” meaning that they give the same answers to corresponding questions2. A symmetrical form of the TWIN axiom would say that if the same triple x, y, z were measured for each particle, possibly in different orders, then the two particles’ responses to the experiments in individual directions would be the same. For instance, if measurements in the order x, y, z for one particle produced x → 1, y → 0, z → 1, then measurements in the order y, z, x for the second particle would produce y → 0, z → 1, x → 1.
and

The TWIN axiom:. For twinned spin 1 particles, if the first xperimenter A performs a triple experiment for the frame (x, y, z), producing the result x → j, y → k, z → l while the second experimenter B measures a single spin in direction w, then if w is one of x, y, z, its result is that w → j, k, or l, respectively.
So Twinned Behavior essentially means Entangled Behavior. Quantum indeterminancy is consistent with this, but a completely random behavior would not show any such thing.

octelcogopod said:
If we are just machines reacting to external and internal stimuli, and everything is deterministic, then the obvious choice would be that all the events that lead up to us making a choice is WAY above our heads, and that the underlying physics are way too complex.

Maybe ignorance is bliss.
Agreed. This corresponds to Metzinger's "Inner Darkness" (see the Metzinger thread), one of his proposed conditions for conscious awareness.

The only reason some of us continue to believe the free will illusion is because the deterministic source of our decisions is hidden from us.

Best Regards

MF

They don't reject anything. They show that strict determinism is inconsistent with quantum determinancy. Not a very deep result, perhaps, but they should get props for removing the demonstration from the details of particular quantum systems to a clear axiomatic basis.
I assume here that you meant to type "quantum indeterminacy".

In their own words :

Conway and Kochen said:
we cannot prove our Free Will assumption - determinism.....is logically possible
Best Regards

MF

So Twinned Behavior essentially means Entangled Behavior. Quantum indeterminancy is consistent with this, but a completely random behavior would not show any such thing.
And we all know that the results of QM are NOT always indeterministic (in either an ontic or epistemic sense). They show that though quantum behaviour may sometimes be epistemically stochastic, QM nevertheless obeys some very well defined and deterministic rules, including the rules of entanglement. Conway & Kochen are not suggesting that "free will" can break these rules. Hence, their "free will" is indistinguishable from the epistemically stochastic results of QM.

Best Regards

MF

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well, the next thing to do is postulate that particles do have free will and investigate the implications. Perhaps consciousness has something to do with a characteristic of matter, and hence, must also be accounted for. Check out the book "Entagled Minds", it will come out in September. I think it's going to be very interesting.

Jonny_trigonometry said:
well, the next thing to do is postulate that particles do have free will and investigate the implications. Perhaps consciousness has something to do with a characteristic of matter, and hence, must also be accounted for. Check out the book "Entagled Minds", it will come out in September. I think it's going to be very interesting.
What does it mean to say that particles have free will?

Does this mean that particles have conscious desires, intentions, plans, volitions, needs, wants, and they behave accordingly?

Or does it mean that particles simply act stochastically or randomly (but have no conscious desires, intentions, plans, volitions, needs, wants)?

Which postulate would you suggest?

Best Regards

MF

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moving finger said:
What does it mean to say that particles have free will?

Does this mean that particles have conscious desires, intentions, plans, volitions, needs, wants, and they behave accordingly?

Or does it mean that particles simply act stochastically or randomly (but have no conscious desires, intentions, plans, volitions, needs, wants)?

Which postulate would you suggest?

Best Regards

MF

Well, to the authors of the paper it means particles' behavior is not predictable from past information, and is "twinnable", i.e; capable of entangled correlation. They claim that random behavior meets the first of these but not the second, so this behavior is distinguished from random.

They make NO assertions about consciousness, etc., for particles, but are very strong that the behavior they are talking about is a different thing from randomeness.

Well, to the authors of the paper it means particles' behavior is not predictable from past information, and is "twinnable", i.e; capable of entangled correlation. They claim that random behavior meets the first of these but not the second, so this behavior is distinguished from random.
Quantum behaviour is in fact not random (not even epistemically). In some cases it is deterministic (the wave function evolves entirely deterministically, and we can make deterministic measurements like the example I gave about measuring the vertical spin of an electron which we have already previously measured to be in a "spin-up" state; another example is the "twin" behaviour of entangled states), and in other cases it is apparently (epistemically) stochastic. But (as far as I know) never random.

But what does this have to do with free will? Are the authors then equating free will with the sometimes-observed stochastic behaviour of quantum events?

How does stochasticity engender human free will?
(It would simply make our actions stochastically unpredictable, like rolling a die, that's all - is that the way we want to believe we make free will decisions?)

Best Regards

MF

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I don't think this discussion is productive any more mf. The paper has its definition of free will which you disagree with. The authors note that their definition is "free" (not determined by previous information) and not random (because it's twinnable). But of course that has, deliberately, none of the richness we associate with consciuousness. It is precisely their point that this freedom of performance without reference to "will" is of the same character for particles as observers.

I keep stating this in one form or another and you keep saying it doesn't agree with your conscousness based ideas of free will. It's like Groundhog Day

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

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"
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

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 possibilty that a willed decision takes place--that we really have free will.

gptejms said:
What causes the collapse here?--observer?--but the observer is the observed. [...]there is the possibilty 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.

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?

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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?

Have you tried to follow the directions to the letter, or are you waiting for morning?

-Job-
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?

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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

Demystifier
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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.

Demystifier
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.

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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.

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Demystifier
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 ). 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).

Demystifier