The term “free will” is an umbrella term that has a whole lot of added abilities under it that cannot be easily partitioned away from the minds of the majority. It is a term that is simply too baggage laden. This means that it can be used in a narrow way, but those narrow ways do not remove the excess metaphysical abilities that are often inherent in the term.
Warning: This “free will” post is for those interested in quantum mechanics, and who have a general understanding of the field and terms used within it.
If there was one theorem that has driven physicists to accept an indeterministic model of quantum mechanics the most, Bell’s theorem would be on the top pedestal. With the acceptance of such a theorem, certain quantum events simply cannot have a local “hidden variable”. This means that if one is to suggest a cause that we cannot “observe” for the event (a “hidden” variable), the cause has to be “non-local”. This idea of a non-local cause means that there is instantaneous action at a distance, something Einstein labeled as “spooky action at a distance”. And though quantum entanglement has been “demonstrated” (but with the loophole I’ll be discussing below), many physicists prefer different quantum interpretations that do not rely on non-local hidden variables, and tend to lean toward indeterministic models which says that there actually is nothing that determines the event. A less common leaning is toward a deterministic model that postulates an almost infinity of invisible worlds. The least common, though still accepted by many, are non-local hidden variable “deterministic” models such as pilot-wave theory (Bohmian Mechanics) – a model I have great appreciation for.
Online debates happen both intentionally and unintentionally. I’ve had my fair share of ’em, in fact I’ve had too many debates to keep track of. Many are on the free will topic, and many are on other topics. I still have them but only when I can find the time, something limited. They are a great tool to get feedback and to provoke other thoughts or ways to go about addressing a topic of concern. They can also be a great tool for spreading information to others.
It is interesting the hoops compatibilists will jump through in order to qualify their definition of free will in an attempt to make it coherent given any number of counter-points. These qualifiers almost always miss the point entirely.
If you are unfamiliar with the term compatibilist, it’s just someone who thinks “free will” is compatible with determinism. In other words, regardless if the universe is entirely deterministic, or has some indeterminism, free will is something that is entirely compatible with causal processes. Compatibilists build this compatibility by a semantic shift, meaning they change the definition of free will to something that is actually compatible with determinism. Some compatibilists might argue that they have the “true” version of free will, but when they do this, it is done ignoring the abilities the common layperson actually thinks they and others have.
I am going to start a “Bad Free Will Logic” series of articles, this first starting with a sort of “responsibility therefore free will” argument.
For each article I am going to point to either part of an argument that has been made by some free will proponents, or an entire argument. A single “Bad Free Will Logic” post may only address one part and why it is illogical, or if the argument is condensed enough I may be able to complete the entire criticism in one post. There also may be different versions of a similar argument that will be addressed in individual posts.
I’m a proponent for the logical case that if one is postulating a cause and effect relationship, without any non-caused event interaction, then what I call “must lead to” causality follows logically if the cause itself is not to hold a contradiction. “Must lead to” causality is, in formal language, called sufficient causality (a term I’m not fond of), which means that if a cause takes place, it must lead to a specific effect and no other effect instead.
There seems to be an irony that often occurs when someone moves away from their free will belief. It’s often an unexpected irony that takes place after going through several phases of misinterpretation, denial, acceptance, and eventually a full-fledged understanding of why free will doesn’t exist and what that implies.