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Author:  Goethe [ Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:55 am ]

My apologies Andrewg, I thought an explanation by Michio Kaku one of today's most preeminent theoretical physicists would be far more convivial.
Incidentally, I am not kidding my good polemicist fellow. I am using a reference to some empirical evidence laid out by particle physics observation and experimentation to add weight to the crux of YOUR argument on "free will and determinism."
I simply thought a video description might be of more value to you or others interested in the argument, as Kaku explains it so brilliantly in under 2mins.

I detest how the determinism and free will are pitted against each other. It ought to be "determinism vs indeterminism" and "free will vs no free will".
We're conflating issues here.
At any rate, I shall explain laboriously in layman's terms the world of theoretical physics...
Prior to Hisenberg's Uncertainty principle the Paradigm on indeterminism and determinism in the Physics realm at least was that of Newtonian Determinism.
Newtonian Determinism basically says that the universe is a big clock that is wound up at the beginning of the universe and has been ticking ever since in time with Newton's laws of motion. So all events (including your actions) beginning with "the big bang" up until the present and into the future adhere to Newtons laws of motion (and all other physical laws i.e chemical, biological etc..)
For example all your "free will" decisions or what is thought of as "free will" actually occur because of each an every past event. Free will is an illusion. Each event has occurred because of the antecedent event and so on and so forth.

Black Swan events also adhere to Newtonian determinism. That "random" volcano erupts because of all historical physical laws of the universe acting on it prior to its cataclysmic explosion.
Free will, thought, expression are all part of these same physical laws at the chemical, evolutionary, and neurological level. All physical matter and laws have led us up to this point in one long progressive motion...

On the most basic level, imagine some decision. ALL past events and experiences (environmental factors) combined with the physical make up of the individual (genetic expression) completely influences that decisions at that moment in time both unconscious (for example did Mr Chigur get enough hugs from his mummy?) and consciously.

Einstein was a determinist, he reasoned this from his theories on the nature of the universe. The physics paradigm at this time was, at least epistemologically, was a Newtonian deterministic Universe.

Then came the study of Quantum Mechanics and Hisenberg's uncertainty principle HUP. At the Quantum level Hisenberg found that particles such as the electron could appear in space at one point in time and/or another point in time simultaneously. There became uncertainty in the universe.
This of course Einstein hated and in reference to the field of Quantum Mechanics publicly saying the famous "god doesn't play dice with the Universe".

Modern Quantum physics has shown Einstein to be wrong. Every time an electron is observed it moves and there is uncertainty and complete randomness as to where it actually is. HUP merely opens up the possibility that past events and laws don't effect everything in the known universe and (without getting to far down the rabbit hole and making an incredible leap of inference) ALLOW for indeterminism and thus Free will.

Author:  andrewg [ Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:14 pm ]

Hi Goethe, thanks for a terrific post. I'll respond when I've got a bit more time to consider the issues you've raised.

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