Physics, philosophy, and free will.
Is everything predetermined? Why physicists are reviving a taboo ideaSuperdeterminism makes sense of the quantum world by suggesting it is not as random as it seems, but critics say it undermines the whole premise of science. Does the idea deserve its terrible reputation?
[Here's an uncomfortable series of questions:Let's say, for the sake of argument, that people do have "free will".What does that even mean?
What is the will free of
If these questions seem too abstract, let us consider some more concrete smaller questions.
(1) Are we free to choose what we believe?
If you answered "yes" then I challenge you to believe -- I mean really believe
not merely accept for the sake of argument -- that 2 + 2 = elephant.
You can't do it. But if you had freedom to choose your beliefs, then you could.
(2) Are we free to choose how we act?
This, I think, comes closer to what most thinking people believe "free will" entails.
But even this does not survive scrutiny.
(2.1) What determines how you act?
Well, presumably, it is some combination of what you believe, what your goals are, and what you think the current circumstances are. Note that your beliefs about current circumstances are a special case of "what you believe", so these can be collapsed into a single thing.
OK, so then your actions are a function of (a) what you believe, and (b) what your goals are.
Having established that your beliefs are not under your control (or do you really
believe that "2 + 2 = elephant" yet?), this leaves your goals as the only refuge of "free will".
(2.2) What determines your goals?
(2.2.1) Is it "god"? If so, then you did not choose them, and "free will" loses.
(2.2.2) Is it nature? If so, then you did not choose them, and "free will" loses.
(2.2.3) Is it your soul? If so, then where did your soul get those goals? Return to step 2.2.1.
(2.2.4) Is it "random"? If this is your preferred answer, then is "freedom" really the same thing as "randomness"? Is the die free to "choose" what side turns up when you roll it? If so, is this the way you wish to conceptualize your own "soul"?
None of this required physics. All it takes is logic; basic thinking things through."Free will" is worse than impossible. It is incoherent.
Physicists are jacking themselves off if they think they can answer, or even speak intelligently to, this question. This is a question for logic first; science only comes into play once the logic is worked out.]
Superdeterminism makes sense of the quantum world by suggesting it is not as random as it seems, but critics say it undermines the whole premise of science. Does the idea deserve its terrible reputation?www.newscientist.com