Free Will

Abstract

A criterion for the existence of human free will is specified: a human action is asserted to be a manifestations of human free-will if this action is a specific physical action that is experienced as being consciously chosen and willed to occur by a human agent, and is not determined within physical theory either in terms of the physically described aspects of nature or by any non-human agency. This criterion is tied to the structure of a physical theory. It is noted that the orthodox quantum mechanics that flows from John von Neumann’s analysis of the process of measurement in quantum theory is described in terms of three processes that are effectively based on a three-level conception of reality. Von Neumann’s “Process 2” is the deterministic evolution, via the Schroedinger equation, of a physically described aspect of reality, the quantum state. His “Process 1” is the physically described aspect of a psychophysical probing action whose psychologically described aspect is an increment in the knowledge of a probing agent/observer. Process 3, in Dirac’s words, is “a choice on the part of nature” of the response to such a probing action. It is argued here that all three levels of this quantum structure, the physically described quantum state, the probing knowledge-acquiring agents, and the response-choosing nature, are all best conceived as idea-like in character. Quantum mechanics, though puzzling when viewed from the inappropriate perspective of the mechanistic classical physics, becomes rationally coherent when the underlying reality is conceived to be not a physically described classical monism, but rather an ideabased quantum triality. This idea-based conception of reality evades the pitfalls of nonphysics-based idealism by being erected directly upon the basic concepts of pragmatic empirically validated quantum mechanics. However, the dynamical structure of quantum theory contains certain causal gaps..

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