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Philosopher: The laws of physics don’t rule out free will

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George Musser, a science writer reviewing a new book on the subject, thinks it will force free will skeptics to become more sophisticated in their arguments:

Recently, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder insisted that the laws of physics do not really allow for free will. However, science writer George Musser, the author of Spooky Action at a Distance (2015), notes that the debate around free will and physics is changing—and not in the way that many would expect. Introducing a new book by Christian List of the London School of Economics, Why Free Will Is Real (2019), he notes that List is one of a newer generation of thinkers, including cosmologist Sean Carroll and philosopher Jenann Ismael, who do not see a contradiction between “a nuanced reading of physics” and free will: “Younger thinkers now argue that free will is real ” at Mind Matters News

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See also: Mind Matters News offers a number of articles on free will bu neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Egnor on free will including

Can physics prove there is no free will? No, but it can make physicists incoherent when they write about free will. It’s hilarious. Sabine Hossenfelder misses the irony that she insists that people “change their minds” by accepting her assertion that they… can’t change their minds.

Does “alien hand syndrome” show that we don’t really have free will? One woman’s left hand seemed to have a mind of its own. Did it? Alien hand syndrome doesn’t mean that free will is not real. In fact, it clarifies exactly what free will is and what it isn’t.


Does brain stimulation research challenge free will? If we can be forced to want something, is the will still free?

Also: Do quasars provide evidence for free will? Possibly. They certainly rule out experimenter interference.

3 Replies to “Philosopher: The laws of physics don’t rule out free will

  1. 1
    PeterA says:

    Isn’t biology becoming the new queen of science, with the other major fields (math, physics, chemistry) serving biology research? Could it be simply because in biology we’re closer than in another field to see complex functional specified information in action?

  2. 2
    PeterA says:

    Emerging mechanisms of asymmetric stem cell division
    Zsolt G. Venkei and Yukiko M. Yamashita

    Recent studies have expanded our knowledge on the mechanisms of asymmetric cell divisions, revealing the previously unappreciated complexity in setting up the cellular and/or environmental asymmetry, ensuring binary outcomes of the fate determination.

    the underlying mechanisms remain largely elusive.

    the details of the underlying mitotic machinery are not yet understood

    Emerging studies have revealed complexities in mechanisms that ensure asymmetric outcome of divisions.

    These new discoveries made us realize (yet again) that we have not understood much of the secrets of life.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this quote from your article:

    The neuroscientific skeptic is absolutely right that, at the fundamental physical level, there is no such thing as intentional goal-directed agency. The mistake is to claim that there is no such thing at all. Intentional agency is an emergent higher-level property, but it is no less real for that.

    Well for the particles themselves it is certainly true that “at the fundamental physical level, there is no such thing as intentional goal-directed agency. ” But his claim that “Intentional agency is an emergent higher-level property” is refuted by the fact that in quantum mechanics “humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,

    Thus it is impossible for free will to be a “emergent higher-level property” of the material brain when free will makes it presence known in “the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.”

    As Anton Zielinger stated,,, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)

    Thus George Musser may try to claim that free will is merely an “emergent higher-level property” of the material brain but the fact of the matter is that free will is NOT ’emergent’ from anything material, no matter how complex a brain or computer may be, but free will preexist the material realm altogether. In other words, free will is a property of an immaterial mind, just as Theist’s have been holding for decades.

    Moreover, unlike his evidence free conjecture that free will is ’emergent’, there actually is empirical evidence from quantum mechanics and neuroscience backing up the Theist’s contention that free will is a property of a immaterial mind.

    As Michael Egnor stated, “an objective review of the neuroscientific evidence unequivocally supports the existence of free will.”

    Michael Egnor: Is free will a dangerous myth? – October 6, 2018
    Excerpt: 4. ,,, an objective review of the neuroscientific evidence unequivocally supports the existence of free will. The first neuroscientist to map the brains of conscious subjects, Wilder Penfield, noted that there is an immaterial power of volition in the human mind that he could not stimulate with electrodes. The pioneer in the neuroscience of free will was Benjamin Libet, who demonstrated clearly that, while there is an unconscious material predisposition to acts as shown by electrical brain activity, we retain an immaterial “free won’t,” which is the ability to veto an unconscious urge to act. Many experiments have followed on Libet’s work, most of which use fMRI imaging of brain activity. They all confirm Libet’s observations by showing what is at most a loose correlation between brain activity and volition (for example, nearly half the time the brain activity that precedes the act is on the wrong side of the brain for the activity to determine the will)—the looseness of correlation being best explained as evidence for libertarian free will. Modern neuroscience clearly demonstrates an immaterial component to volition.
    Harari is wrong about free will. It is not a myth. Free will is a real and fundamental aspect of being human, and the denial of free will is junk science and self-refuting logical nonsense.

    Moreover, although there have been several major loopholes in quantum mechanics over the past several decades that atheists have tried to appeal to in order to try to avoid the ‘spooky’ Theistic implications of quantum mechanics, over the past several years each of those major loopholes have each been closed one by one. The last major loophole that was left to be closed was the “setting independence” and/or the ‘free-will’ loophole:

    Closing the ‘free will’ loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell’s theorem – February 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Though two major loopholes have since been closed, a third remains; physicists refer to it as “setting independence,” or more provocatively, “free will.” This loophole proposes that a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure — a scenario that, however far-fetched, implies that a physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting. Such a scenario would result in biased measurements, suggesting that two particles are correlated more than they actually are, and giving more weight to quantum mechanics than classical physics.
    “It sounds creepy, but people realized that’s a logical possibility that hasn’t been closed yet,” says MIT’s David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and senior lecturer in the Department of Physics. “Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre, have we closed every conceivable logical loophole, even if they may not seem plausible in the world we know today?”

    And now Anton Zeilinger and company have recently, as of 2018, pushed the ‘free will loophole’ back to 7.8 billion years ago, thereby firmly establishing the ‘common sense’ fact that the free will choices of the experimenter in the quantum experiments are truly free and are not determined by any possible causal influences from the past for at least the last 7.8 billion years, and that experimenters themselves are therefore shown to be truly free to choose whatever measurement settings in the experiments that he or she may so desire to choose so as to ‘logically’ probe whatever aspect of reality that he or she may be interested in probing.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: In this Letter, we present a cosmic Bell experiment with polarization-entangled photons, in which measurement settings were determined based on real-time measurements of the wavelength of photons from high-redshift quasars, whose light was emitted billions of years ago; the experiment simultaneously ensures locality. Assuming fair sampling for all detected photons and that the wavelength of the quasar photons had not been selectively altered or previewed between emission and detection, we observe statistically significant violation of Bell’s inequality by 9.3 standard deviations, corresponding to an estimated p value of ? 7.4 × 10^21. This experiment pushes back to at least ? 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.

    Moreover allowing free will and/or Agent causality into the laws of physics at their most fundamental level, (as the experimental evidence from Quantum physics itself now empirically demands), has some fairly profound implications for us personally.

    For prime example, allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”. Here is a few post where I lay out and defend some of the evidence for that claim:

    (April 2019) Overturning the Copernican principle
    Thus in conclusion, the new interactive graph by Dr. Dembski provides a powerful independent line of evidence, along with several other powerful lines of evidence, that overturns the Copernican principle and restores humanity back to centrality in the universe, and even, when putting all those lines of evidence together, brings modern science back, full circle, to Christianity from whence it originated in the first place.


    Luke 22:42
    “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    Of supplemental note:

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video

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