Contemporary Physics and Free Will: An Application of Quantum Existentialism

Mind and Matter 7 (1):111-129 (2009)

Abstract

In the hard determinism of Newtonian physics all aspects of the universe are deterministic and therefore all future behavior in the universe is determined by its present state. Hard determinism is incompatible with the existence of free will, but not with the belief in the existence of free will. It is analyzed what is required from physics for free will to exist. It is detailed which conditions must be fulfilled for randomness to be suficient for the existence of free will, and it is argued that these conditions are valid in our physical universe. The approach to physics that is used is Zurek's information-based interpretation of measurement in quantum mechanics, called quantum existentialism. Zurek's approach is capable of describing the boundary between quantum physics and Newtonian physics in great detail. Belief in hard determinism increases the chances of feeling hopeless, and thus a direct consequence of the belief in hard determinism is a reduction of emotional well-being. The results obtained imply that the belief in the existence of free will is compatible with observed reality

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