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    The key claim in this article is that determinism (or determinism plus some quantum randomness) is incompatible with free will defined “in any meaningful way”. But it doesn’t seem to engage with any of the arguments claiming that there is in fact a “meaningful way” to define free will such that it’s compatible with determinism. They may be wrong, but it isn’t like nobody has noticed this problem or discussed it before. Put differently, this blog post essentially asserts incompatibilism without really arguing either for it, or against its opposite.

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      You make a good point. This post fits a pattern of (n+1) smarty-pants philosophy blog posts that don’t realize they haven’t actually plumbed the topic or made their argument yet. I wrote stuff like this right after I decided strong free will was woo-woo at the age of 19. Fortunately I kept it to private conversations with like-minded friends.

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        When I read the title, “Free will does not exist”, my first thought was about compatibilism. However I now think this is a reductionist way of reading her blog post. She makes many points that don’t depend on the incompatibilist assumption in the title.

        I’m not saying that I agree with everything she says, but I think there’s more there than just a statement in favor of incompatibilist determinism.

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          I had a print subscription to n+1 for many years. Many of those articles take a certain resignation of expecting any payoff, to make it through. Sometimes there is an interesting idea buried in the exploration though, without citation, of course.

          Really it was a way to pass the time for my sunday breakfast in the cafe

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          I think her main point is about superdetermism. One assumption of the Bell’s inequality experiment is that the experimenter can choose what kind of measurement they make, and she states that this choice is determined. She states that she believes choice (but not free will) is compatible with determinism:

          It doesn’t mean that you are not making decisions or are not making choices. Free will or not, you have to do the thinking to arrive at a conclusion, the answer to which you previously didn’t know. Absence of free will doesn’t mean either that you are somehow forced to do something you didn’t want to do. There isn’t anything external imposing on you. You are whatever makes the decisions.

          Later she says:

          Free will of the experimentalist is a relevant ingredient in the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Without free will, Bell’s theorem doesn’t hold, and all we have learned from it goes out the window.

          This option of giving up free will in quantum mechanics goes under the name “superdeterminism”

          This part I’m confused about. In her view, in a Bell’s inequality test, the experimenter chooses what kind of measurement they make, and this choice is determined. I don’t have the background in the stuff, but it seems to me that it’s possible to accept that this choice is still determined (in a compatibilist way or not) without going so far as to accept that superdeterminism is the mechanism underlying the Bell’s inequality phenomena.

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            You could even take the article to be arguing for compatiblism and not be too far off the mark.

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            There is nothing quite as pointless (by definition) as arguing about free will, and yet it is one of the tastiest forms of nerd bait.

            I’d humbly suggest keeping this sort of wanking out in places where it belongs, e.g. not here.

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              I am troubled when people base ontologies on Quantum Physics. First, It is simply a model that explains what we know so far to great accuracy, but no ony really knows if something else is underneath. There is a big difference in being able to prove true randomness and perceived randomness i.e. maybe the perceived randomness comes from a pool of events/structure that are hidden from us.

              Nobody really understands quantum physics

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                If you’re going to use a title this strong, you should have an equally strong argument to go along with it, but there’s none to be found here.

                But there is still either no “freedom” or no “will”. Just try it. Try to write down one equation that does it. Just try it.

                1. Um, Math is incomplete (says Math), so an inability to express something in Mathematical form does not mean that thing doesn’t exist.
                2. There are lots of everyday, kindof important things that cannot be expressed in mathematical form (consciousness, qualia, to name a few).

                So… really inadequate post on the subject of free will. Only reason it’s at the top of Lobsters is because the algorithm gives undue weight to controversy. /me clicks “hide”

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                  To me, this is like someone saying “God does not exist.” That claim may be true and there certainly are similar statements that are almost certainly true, like “none of the ethnic gods created by humans exist in literal form” and “we should conduct our moral lives in ways that are independent of the God question; that is, do the right thing regardless of whether there are supernatural rewards and punishments” but, said with such certainty, it seems to have much attached to it (like, “no one should believe in God” or “there is no possibility of something that might be recognized as a God”) that I don’t fully accept. On God, while I’m not strongly religious, I don’t care to convince another person either way, because I don’t see a point.

                  If there is work that isn’t being done in physics because some fear that it will lead people to question free will, then that is a problem. Work that is ethical shouldn’t be rejected or avoided because we’re afraid of what we might learn. I’d say the same on religion; it wouldn’t have been good if Darwin had chosen not to write Origin of the Species because it might offend some religious believers, and it’s not good when that work is suppressed for such reasons.

                  As with God, I find the term “free will” not to be well-enough defined to even pose, much less answer, the question. And am I correct in understanding that no one really knows “the right interpretation” of quantum mechanics?

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                    For anyone else interested in the topic, Scott Aaronson has a very readable paper titled The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine proposing a (potentially testable) physical mechanism for free will.

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                      Free will only doesn’t exist because you don’t.

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                        I agree that there is nothing in physics that allows free will.

                        Not true.

                        Conway and Kochen say that they have now proven that particles’ responses can’t be pre-determined, even within this possible interpretation. “We can really prove that there’s no algorithm, no way that the particle can give an answer that is unique and can be specified ahead of time,” Conway says. “I’m still amazed that we can actually manage to prove that.”

                        Source: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/do-subatomic-particles-have-free-will

                        Paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0604079v1.pdf

                        Author replies to this near the bottom of the comments, but the reply does not really bring the “debate” any closer to a close. Given that our physics does not really handle the topic of consciousness, it seems extremely arrogant and presumptuous to make any definitive conclusions on the topic of free will based on it.

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                          those subatomic particles come together to form entirely predictable neurons though don’t they?

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                          The only known example for a law that is neither deterministic nor random comes from myself. But it’s a baroque construct meant as proof in principle, not a realistic model that I would know how to combine with the four fundamental interactions. As an aside: The paper was rejected by several journals

                          ‘nuf said: ego centric “I am smarter than others” writings are trivially ignorable in general. Sorry, author.