Free will and physics: A reply to "Do We Have Free Will?"

There is one argument regarding free will which seems to come up time and time again, and it deserves a response. There was the week before last Sunday School linked blog making it, and the blog in the title. The basic argument is that since our brains are made of physical matter/particles/molecules/etc, and therefore play by the rules of chemistry/physics, there can be no free will since these tend to be deterministic. Unfortunately, it's a not a very good argument, and I will dare the next person making it to run their brain through a meat grinder. Hey, nothing's lost, right? :)

The error in the argument is the underlying assumption that nothing can be more than the mere sum of it's parts - the body is molecules, molecules are physics, the body is physics (gross oversimplification of the argument, I know). However, this is akin to saying that the Brazilian rainforest is a collection of trees, L'Étranger is letters on paper, the Internet is TCP/IP, or the Dance of the Knights is sound waves; Technically all those statements are correct. But all of those things are clearly more in aggregate than the individual components which make them up, you simply cannot get the sum from adding bottom up. On the other hand, if you take a top down approach it's quite clear that as you start subtracting one unit, more than one unit is lost from the total, and the same applies to organic life. The best illustration of the principle is probably the network effect.

That is not to say that our brain is capable of some sort of metaphysical activity per se (nor that there aren't good arguments against free will), only that the physical sciences may not be best tool for analyzing whether or not we are able to make non-determined/free willed choices. My feeling is that attempting to answer questions of 'why' with the answers of 'what' is misguided. We are products of nature with certain emergent properties, and free will may be the result of our conscious self awareness.

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Comment by Logicallunatic on January 30, 2012 at 2:07pm

This is deeply interesting. I can't help quoting Hitchens when he was asked "do you believe in free will?".......

I have no choice but to

Comment by Sean O' Byrne on January 30, 2012 at 2:52pm

I know some people are of the opinion that if it was possible to know the position and velocity of all matter that it would be possible to determine what will occur next. There are two arguments against this. Firstly Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which says that it's impossible to measure a particles position and velocity, thereby the measurements are impossible. I know this isn't exactly a counter-argument but its close. The second most definite argument is the case of virtual particles. These are opposite particles that come into existence and quickly destroy each other. But hypothetically if these come into existence near a black hole and one is withing the event horizon it will be captured by the black hole and the other could escape, thereby staying in existence. As no one can predict where these particles occur nor the frequency they appear, the system (universe) is never continuous and not travelling along a pre-determined path. A scientifically heavy answer but hey, its valid! 

Comment by Michael Appleman on January 30, 2012 at 2:59pm

If we don't not have free will, what kind of will do we have? If it isn't deterministic and also not supernatural then how does our will come about? Really the only thing left would be randomness, which still isn't free.

Also, all those things ARE simply what you said they are. They all require a mind to make them anything more than that, and there is your missing piece of the equation.

Comment by All And One on January 30, 2012 at 4:00pm

All life, human and non human, is aware of (seeing), understanding, doing and saying according to what is called interest span. Only half of life is understanding about what is going on around them and the other half is doing and saying within what can be described here as a causation from an area of activity life that came before within what would be linear time.

Life that is understanding about what is being seen and experienced can be said to have an ability to use information that is placed so to position them into what is complete knowing about what they are seeing and experiencing with activity which is movement and communication. This is what has been referred to as free will, however, life can only do what it understands to it moment to moment. Not all life is understanding to them at all moments and when what an existence has received to them about what they are seeing and experiencing is grossly mistaken they are only experiencing a feeling that is not continuable moving them over (vision, attention span) to another sight to understand something else. It is interesting to know how we understand, do and say as always. Existences that are going around with understanding life that can understand to physically continue within activity where sights and sounds are never experienced as loved, have a body posture, once awareness life is moved off, that will do what some in science understand related to decomposition or entropy. This is to say reduced to liquid hydrogen and this life is purposeful toward future repostionings according to vocabulary that is understandable at a doing something different circulation (like a spin down) activity place.

If you are understanding life, the parts of this that is interesting you can go over to something in your area and be available to see and know how it relates within images and words that you understand yourself with. There is nothing experienced as random within life that "steps up" this way.

Comment by Arcus on January 30, 2012 at 4:20pm

@Sean: Never heard of virtual particles in relation to black holes before, that was really interesting. Thanks!

@Michael: They aren't simply what I said they are, it's the combination of all aspects which makes the whole, and by subtracting you will lose more information than you take away due to interaction (perhaps apart from the rainforest, it is the weakest illustration, but a play on 'not seeing the forest for the trees'.)

@Wholely: Two words come to mind, forced medication.

Comment by All And One on January 30, 2012 at 4:34pm

Sean is talking about liquid hydrogen (existing like confetti) and there is an area for this life inside of what is holes (it is an for separation having many presentations) purposeful for breaking down life that will not use itself whole continuously.

There is not a way to lose information which is communication. Information exists either whole as knowledge or broken in piece and placed within divided branes (see M-Theory)

Relating to terrorism ARCus, there is an area for that. You are interested in seeing Noah's activity within a current presentation. See if you can come together with a whole knowing about what was being done and said within that creation happenstance that is happening here.

Comment by Arcus on January 30, 2012 at 4:48pm

@Isaac: The argument you made I was referring to was:

"Brains are essentially large systems of atoms, which mean that what's going on there is all chemical and must obey the laws of physics."

I did note that you didn't use determinism, and I agree that the best starting point is to draw no firm conclusions as to the underlying laws of nature in regards to this. My argument was that even if the laws of nature are deterministic it does not immediately exclude free will.

Comment by Sean O' Byrne on January 30, 2012 at 4:53pm

@Wholey - I was talking about electron-positron pairs as proposed by Dirac, not hydrogen. As for the rest of your piece I'm lost as to understanding the point your trying to make. And especially about information existing as knowledge or broken in pieces and placed within divided branes. M-theory is an extension of string theory and considering that according to this theory strings are the fundamental components of particles, how can a fundamental particle be refereed to as knowledge or broken knowledge?

Comment by All And One on January 30, 2012 at 4:56pm

Relating to virtual particles or liquid hydrogen which moves about within holes that are not being provided any light. When an awareness is moved there these are called string experiences where there is no orientation given to an existence within an experience that is not tolerable. Under these conditions what is a separated consciousness that was understanding parts of something called nervous system information through integrations, is repositioned to what it can always see and know about completely.

If you can imagine holes that are filled with communication life that is arranged perfectly uniting all of your interests conducted to you when you see what is interesting now within the experience of truth (the opposite of string experience, liquid hydrogen when it is not in pieces), this is how you will always know something within the continuous universe.

You don't know how to "tell yourself something" and participate in seeing and knowing about your interests that will be added to perpetually. In other words, a quiet central nervous system is the required operating system. The experience "upstairs" of, "There is nothing happening not the same as before."

Comment by All And One on January 30, 2012 at 5:06pm

Sean, It is liquid hydrogen or negative energy that exists in what is called black holes. Liquid hydrogen or negative energy is the smallest unit of broken and breaking life. Back and forth it can be caused to understand a communication, but this is not knowledge. Life comes to united knowing about their interests and experiences through a process of relating information together across activity places where they understand to go. Some have refereed to this as sagacity, however, within what is written about that and how to use yourself within it, it is not complete. United knowing is only placed within your ability to go over to an interest that is experienced positively and is able to be related to what you have understood before completely and then built upon.  Within this you are then participating within the continuous circumstance. This is discussing understanding ability and you would have to be able to use the information where you are to experience it as interesting and able to be done. 


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