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Does free will violate the laws of physics? | Sean Carroll

0 Views· 11/17/22
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Sean Carroll: We might solve free will one day. But here’s why I doubt it.

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Debates about the existence of free will have traditionally been fought by two competing camps: those who believe in free will and those who don’t because they believe the Universe is deterministic.

Determinism is the thesis that every event — from when a volcano erupts to what cereal you buy at the supermarket — is a theoretically predictable result of the long chain of events that came before it. Free will, it was long thought, cannot exist in a world where all events are already causally determined.

But free will and determinism aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. As physicist Sean Carroll told Big Think, the compatibilist conception of free will argues that it makes sense to conceptualize ourselves as able to make free decisions, regardless of whether the Universe is deterministic or indeterministic.

Why? The main argument centers on the phenomenon of emergence.

0:00 Free will vs. determinism
0:27 Determinism
0:51 The biggest mistake in the free will debate
1:07 Libertarian free will
2:39 Compatibilist free will
4:01 Objection to compatibilism
5:06 The experience of free will

Read the video transcript ► https://bigthink.com/series/de....vils-advocate/3-free


About Sean Carroll:
Dr. Sean Carroll is Homewood Professor of Natural Philosophy — in effect, a joint appointment between physics and philosophy — at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and fractal faculty at the Santa Fe Institute. Most of his career has been spent doing research on cosmology, field theory, and gravitation, looking at topics such as dark matter and dark energy, modified gravity, topological defects, extra dimensions, and violations of fundamental symmetries. These days, his focus has shifted to more foundational questions, both in quantum mechanics (origin of probability, emergence of space and time) and statistical mechanics (entropy and the arrow of time, emergence and causation, dynamics of complexity), bringing a more philosophical dimension to his work.


Read more of our stories on free will:
Why free will is like whiskey
Do the laws of physics and neuroscience disprove free will?
Superdeterminism: To better understand our Universe, ditch the idea of free will


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