FREE WILL

You are reading a blog post on a blog that you chanced upon on a list that contains over a thousand such blogs. You clicked on the link, maybe because you love science or maybe because you’re just a nice person who wants to make new friends. In any case, you are now reading a blog post. My question to you is, did you choose to read this blog or were you already destined to read this blog on this particular day, on this particular time since the Big Bang? This summarises the Free Will Debate. And though questions such as these fall under the purview of Philosophy, as always Physics has something to say.Before the formulation of quantum Mechanics, our physical laws were based on Newtonian Mechanics. Which says that knowing the state of a particle at one instant, we can predict with 100% certainty the state of the system in the future. So essentially, free will was an illusion. Since if we could map a human brain accurately, we could, hypothetically, predict the decisions that this human brain would make.
And then came quantum mechanics. Since quantum physics states that’s it’s impossible to completely know the state of a system, we can’t predict the future with a 100% accuracy and so there is free will. People said that because of this uncertainty, free will can exist.
The problem with this argument- and the reason many prominent quantum physicists dismiss it- is that free will is distinct from randomness. 
Brian Green explains this wonderfully. He says:

I find this unconvincing because my conception of ‘free will’ is radically distinct from ‘randomness’. To make the point, take quantum mechanics out of the discussion for a moment and imagine instead a comparison between a deterministic Newtonian universe and one in which there’s a wizard throwing dice, with reality unfolding according to the results the wizard obtains. If the wizard throws a 2, for example, I order pizza but if the wizard throws a 7, I order tofu. Although there’s (classical) probabilistic randomness at work here, I would not describe this world as offering me any greater degree of free will than I have in the usual Newtonian one. Free will, in the usual sense of the term, requires that I control my actions. Whether my actions are determined by Newtonian rigidity or probabilistic flexibility, I still am not in control, and so I still lack free will.”

The Free Will debate is fascinating both from a physics standpoint and a philosophy standpoint. I might do an even longer post on it in the future. For now, that’s all. If you have any thoughts, comment below. Or just say “Hi” and leave a link to your blog! 

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5 thoughts on “FREE WILL

  1. This is brilliant. For a very long time I was 100% convinced of determinism. It just… felt right. To me, it made perfect sense. I’m not sure what happened, or when, yo that certainty… Maybe I just mellowed with age 😀 The point is, today I keep an open mind. Which has turned out to be a good thing ever since science and philosophy started keeping company 😉

    Great, great post. I’ll be back for more.
    Guilie @

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  2. Physics here or there, I don’t like the idea of not having free will. I want to believe that I have control over my thoughts, decisions, actions, I want to believe that I make who I am, not just some random combination of some variables 😊
    Great, thought-provoking post, thank you!

    Andrea from Damyanti’s D Company #atozchallenge https://musicwordsblog.com/

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  3. Seems to me that free will is the joker in the deck, which sounds like it’s on the side of randomness. I don’t think free will is actually random, because people do behave in fairly consistent and often predictable patterns. I have yet to meet someone who is totally random in his or her behavior.

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  4. I think free will is an illusion! Everything is cause and effect in my opinion, which would mean that an individual isn’t making lots of independent decisions, because whatever decision someone makes was caused by SOMETHING – and that something was caused by a different thing before that and so and and so fourth until you’re back to the origin.

    Though I’m not sure there ever was an origin as such. Either way, not really believing in free-will doesn’t bother me, I am still who I am and still take the actions I take, it being pre-determined doesn’t take away from anything. If anything, there being some sort of structure to how and why everything happens is comforting!

    I don’t know, interesting to think about though 🙂

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