# Does Physics disprove the existence of free will?

Although the universe appears to be deterministic, quantum probabilities mean the universe evolves statistically in a local-time sense, albeit its global structure now could also be said to have a history which is fixed, thus determined at the BB.

Hawking said something like the apparent fixed past is actually us creating a particular history out of the probabilities (also present since particles appeared). The universe and determinism are weirder than we thought.
Or to paraphrase, we have the freedom to choose a past by measuring quantum states "from" the past, this is the conjectured invariant which is true "in or at" every now (is true locally and globally). As for any "now" we have only quantum uncertainty, so we can only create a past and assert that it's fixed.

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Predetermined to have the ability to do otherwise, where everything is predetermined?
Wow.
We have certainly been predetermined to think that we are able to do otherwise, I'll grant you that much.
Just re-read what you wrote, let it sink in, and then I hope you sit back and have a good laugh about it.
'Cos if you're still being serious after then... wow.
..................

Although the universe appears to be deterministic, quantum probabilities mean the universe evolves statistically in a local-time sense, albeit its global structure now could also be said to have a history which is fixed, thus determined at the BB.

Hawking said something like the apparent fixed past is actually us creating a particular history out of the probabilities (also present since particles appeared). The universe and determinism are weirder than we thought.
Or to paraphrase, we have the freedom to choose a past by measuring quantum states "from" the past, this is the conjectured invariant which is true "in or at" every now (is true locally and globally). As for any "now" we have only quantum uncertainty, so we can only create a past and assert that it's fixed.
As I look at the above post it seems to gel with my thoughts although mine follow a different path

Looking at the Butterfly effect in reverse

Track the cyclone back to its origin. Follow it back until you reach the wing of the butterfly which started the domino event

Now can you go further back? I would contend no. Even if possible surely you would bump into, as above seems to imply, quantum uncertainty

Can it be said quantum uncertainty is determined, as to the way it will go?

YES - so where is uncertainty?
NO - becomes certain only AFTER the fact

From that it appears to me quantum uncertainty really is the end of the line resulting in billions of pockets of isolated reality (ie it happened)

The last part of the puzzle with this thread appears to be - how does this fit into free will?

Still thinking on that

YES - so where is uncertainty?
It is uncertain until it happens. However Bohm proposes that what may appear uncertain to us, actually forms earlier as an abstract "implicate" (a potential), and that is a probabilistic scenario, depending on prevailing a priori potentials, which ultimately determine the result.

It is uncertain until it happens. However Bohm proposes that what may appear uncertain to us, actually forms earlier as an abstract "implicate" (a potential), and that is a probabilistic scenario, depending on prevailing a priori potentials, which ultimately determine the result.
Is this a way of saying WE don't know the outcome until it happens but it has already been determined as a POTENTIAL?

I trip up over POTENTIAL

If it is only one POTENTIAL then it would be DETERMINED

Numerous POTENTIALS brings in the uncertainty

Again how this gels with free will???

I'm looking at the subconscious

They are not "possible" alternatives, as explained twice now.
They are only imagined / believed to be possible.
Hence the term counterfactual.
At what point in time does ANY choice be anything other than imagined?
You seem to think that it is only the choice taken that wasn't imaginary.

There is no better example of freewill than the choice of WHEN.
"When, if ever."

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Is this a way of saying WE don't know the outcome until it happens but it has already been determined as a POTENTIAL?
Essentially, yes.
As I understand it, Bohm professed a hierarchy of potentials.
a) pure energy
b) pure potential
c) focused compound potentials (Implicate)
d) expression in physical reality (Explicate)

which to me present this hierarchy of probabilistic functions.
a) possibility (superposed yes or no)
b) probability (greater or lesser mathematical permissions.)
c) Implicate (formation of an emergent focused predictive mathematical pattern of potentials).
d) Explicate (unfolding of a physical pattern based on the sum total of contributing potentials.
e) In quantum, it is the threshold event, where superposed possible states are resolved by in a probabilistic framework at a quantum instant.
I trip up over POTENTIAL
I see this simply as that which may become reality, a generic statement.
If it is only one POTENTIAL then it would be DETERMINED
True.
Numerous POTENTIALS brings in the uncertainty
But some potentials reinforce each other and create a greater probability, an implicate.
Again how this gels with free will??? I'm looking at the subconscious
There it is.....do we have any control over the external potentials? IMO, no.

However, humans have the ability for abstract thought and thereby "model" a possible pattern of potential and use our predictive abilities to "plan" an action accommodating or preventing a future possible event, based on the "known" extant potentials. Do we have any control over global warming? If yes, why have we not yet acted in our best interest?

Definition of Potential; That (ability) which may become (expressed in) Reality.

IOW, humans are capable of spontaneously creating potentials, beneficial or detrimental..

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Write4U said:
Again how this gels with free will???
Really well...
QQ, this question was asked by Michael ......

But I agree, therein lies the crux of the matter.

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There is no better example of freewill than the choice of WHEN.
"When, if ever."
You mean, we have no control over "when"??

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But some potentials reinforce each other and create a greater probability, an implicate.
But ending in only one reality, the one which finished with the most reinforcement?
OK
There it is.....do we have any control over the external potentials? IMO, no.
However, humans have the ability for abstract thought and thereby "model" a possible pattern of potential and use our predictive abilities to "plan" an action accommodating or preventing a future possible event, based on the "known" extant potentials.
Got it

Still thinking

But ending in only one reality, the one which finished with the most reinforcement?
OK
Got it.
Still thinking.

This may be of interest;
Bohm pointed out that the smallest detectable distance in physical experiments is about 10-17 centimeters, (cm), whereas the smallest distance beyond which space no longer has any meaning is an extremely tiny 10-33 cm. This leaves an unknown realm that spans sixteen orders of magnitude in relative size, which is comparable to the size difference between our ordinary macroscopic world and the smallest detectable physical distance [10-17 cm]. Having no empirical knowledge of this realm, we cannot dismiss the possibility that causal factors could be operative in this realm.
The notion of a "potential" is commonplace in physics; for example, the gravitational potential of the Earth tells about the potential energy available at each point in the gravitational field.
However, the quantum potential differs in that it has no known physical source, which is one reason that physicists object to it.
Even more unacceptable, the action of the quantum potential depends only on its form and not on its intensity, which means that its effect does not diminish with increasing separation in space or time. The form of the quantum potential gives information that is communicated instantaneously, which appears to violate Einstein's Limit of the speed of light for travel of signals. Thus, the quantum potential could be seen as providing information from a meta-physical realm, in the sense that it is beyond ordinary space and time altogether.
Though Bohm did not emphasize this aspect in his early work during the 1950s, it became evident later in his concept of the implicate order. Indeed, the theoretical impetus for the implicate order was the quantum potential, which is a mathematical version of the implicate order in the Schroedinger equation.
http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/science/david_bohm.htm

They are not "possible" alternatives, as explained twice now.
They are only imagined / believed to be possible.
Hence the term counterfactual.
Irrelevant.
"Possibility" is a deflection from the matters at hand.
Hence the error of describing what other people post as "counterfactual", on such grounds.
You have yet to explain, in any of your posts, how the logical levels have any bearing on the matter in hand.
If they don't, why do you keep waving them away? Why not acknowledge them in your posts, and quit talking about bricks and Teslas?
How they turn something that has no possibility of selecting other than the one it does (I.e. not free) into something that does.
"Possibility" is irrelevant. The assumption that this excludes freedom is the supernatural assumption, of course.
They make no claim as to whether that process is free with regards being able to do otherwise at the moment of choice.
This muddled language is symptomatic (if the "process" only has the relevant attributes at the moment of choice, it does not include what is observed in the driver approaching the traffic light - make up your mind. If you insist that entities are either free or not free, like a lightbulb being on or off, you beg the question - as well as reveal the crippling effects of making the supernatural assumption).
We certainly do, in the same way that a thermostat does.
Only we call our process "decision making".
Otherwise it is fundamentally the same.
It is fundamentally different from the point of view of its degrees of freedom. (It responds to information, acts on a different logical level, etc.)
The selection, however, is not free.
The deciding entity possesses degrees of freedom.
It has no ability to select, at the time it does, anything other than the one it does,
But it does have that ability up to that moment. That's why we call it a "decision".
In the absence of randomness you could run that simulation at any time and it would play out the same way and it would behave exactly the same way, precisely because it is not free.
That's inverted from your other posting. Elsewhere you are claiming it is "not free" (your misleading choice of label) because it would behave exactly the same way - because its behavior is determined. Best not invert your own argument - especially if trying to claim one is a consequence of the other, rather than an assumption of its own.
If you're content with your hollow notion, a sense of "free" that, as relevant to the process of choice, is available to any process that assesses what it considers are possible futures before making its predetermined move,
It's not a "sense" of "free", it's an observation of an ability to do otherwise.
Every time you interchange "ability to do otherwise" and "free", every time you drag in "sense" or "feeling", every time you blow off degrees of freedom and logical levels as handwaving, you invoke the supernatural assumption you claim you are not making.

But it does have that ability up to that moment. That's why we call it a "decision".
Seems to me the decision has been made long before you, with the installation of traffic lights, taking away the need to make a decision when approaching the intersection. The traffic lights make the decision for you as well as for the traffic to your left, right, or across the intersection. It is a controlled intersection, the lights placed there with the expectation that the implied commands will be obeyed, on pain of accident or ticket.

It allows for an orderly traffic flow, without questions about right-of-way or some other perceived right which does not exist in relation to other commuters.

Seems to me the decision has been made long before you, with the installation of traffic lights, taking away the need to make a decision when approaching the intersection. The traffic lights make the decision for you as well as for the traffic to your left, right, or across the intersection. It is a controlled intersection, the lights placed there with the expectation that the implied commands will be obeyed, on pain of accident or ticket.
Traffic lights can't decide whether you stop your car or go through. It requires an act of will on your part to do that. Nobody makes the ultimate decision other than you, which is why we say it is an exercise of your free will.

Traffic lights can't decide whether you stop your car or go through. It requires an act of will on your part to do that. Nobody makes the ultimate decision other than you, which is why we say it is an exercise of your free will.
Then why do all cars stop on red? Where is the exercise of free will, when the option is to wait and pass safely or disregard red and die trying? That would indicate insanity and that is not free will either. That's chaos.

And after a few have died while trying to jump red, an orderly pattern following the instruction provided by the traffic light will emerge from the chaos and traffic will once again flow smoothly and safely.

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At what point in time does ANY choice be anything other than imagined?
You seem to think that it is only the choice taken that wasn't imaginary.
Imaginary as in not counterfactual.
In terms of how we picture each option, yes they are all imaginary, but at most only one is not counterfactual - i.e. Does not correspond to fact.

Irrelevant.
"Possibility" is a deflection from the matters at hand.
Hence the error of describing what other people post as "counterfactual", on such grounds.
No, the question of possibility is entirely relevant, for reasons given.
If they don't, why do you keep waving them away? Why not acknowledge them in your posts, and quit talking about bricks and Teslas?
I wave them away precisely because they have no bearing.
You offer them up by name only, no accompanying explanation other than the odd vagueness, and so I dismiss them because you have not offered one shred of explanation as to their relevance beyond that which can be dismissed by reference to Teslas and bricks.
"Possibility" is irrelevant. The assumption that this excludes freedom is the supernatural assumption, of course.
Possibility is entirely relevant, for reasons given.
This muddled language is symptomatic (if the "process" only has the relevant attributes at the moment of choice, it does not include what is observed in the driver approaching the traffic light - make up your mind. If you insist that entities are either free or not free, like a lightbulb being on or off, you beg the question - as well as reveal the crippling effects of making the supernatural assumption).
There is no muddle, other than perhaps in your understanding.
The process is not free at any stage.
That includes the moment of actual choice.
And there is no question begging, nor assumption of anything supernatural.
Care to try again?
It is fundamentally different from the point of view of its degrees of freedom. (It responds to information, acts on a different logical level, etc.)
Ah, more handwaving about logical levels.
Other than having more degrees of freedom, and being somewhat more complex, how are they different?
How are the fundamental nature of the processes any different in this deterministic universe?
They both provide output corresponding to the input,
And the output of each system is determined entirely by the totality of the inputs.
Any process does the same, all having greater or fewer degrees of freedom.
But whether I have one or a billion of them, the process is still determined by the inputs, and can do nothing other than as dictated by the inputs.
That is what it means to be determined.
And given that the universe is deterministic (in this discussion, at least) the universe is predetermined from this initial state.
Every moment.
All the inputs.
And if the inputs are predetermined, the output is predetermined.
If the output is predetermined then any other alternative perceived notion of what the future may hold is necessarily counterfactual.
[qupte]The deciding entity possesses degrees of freedom.[/quote]Thermostat.
But it does have that ability up to that moment. That's why we call it a "decision".
Sure, and that's why your notion of "free" is based entirely on appearance.
Imagine a simple process that outputs a number between 1 and 10 based on what the exact time is.
If you take a reading, analogous to a decision, at 12:01 it reads 6 - and has no ability to do anything else at that time.
If you take a reading at 12:01 less a second it reads 2 - and has no ability to do anything else at that time.
But per your perspective: "Oh, look, it has degrees of freedom.... It's making a decision!... If it makes a decision at any other time other than 12:01 it clearly has the ability to do something else!"
Great, so you've just swapped one decision-making point for another, both of which are as predetermined as the other.
Each decision, each moment, is as predetermined as every other.
One moment it had no other option other than to do the one thing it did.
Any other moment, yes, what it does may be different, but it still has no option about what it does at that time.
To look at a decision at time X and say that up until that point you had the ability to do anything else is simply to consider counterfactual alternatives.
You didn't do anything else.
You only think you could have done.
Thus any notion of "free" resulting from this is judged on appearance only.
That's inverted from your other posting. Elsewhere you are claiming it is "not free" (your misleading choice of label) because it would behave exactly the same way - because its behavior is determined. Best not invert your own argument - especially if trying to claim one is a consequence of the other, rather than an assumption of its own.
???
I think you're losing it, iceaura.
So you say that elsewhere I claim it is "not free" because it's behaviour is determined?
Yet here I say that it is "not free" because if you run the simulation again it will behave the same way, right?
And previously you understood determinism to at least include the notion that the same inputs always lead to the same outputs, right?
So what am I missing that you now think what I have above is anything other than consistent?
It's not a "sense" of "free", it's an observation of an ability to do otherwise.
I certainly have a sense of being free in my thoughts.
Don't you?
But yes, we certainly observe what we think is an ability to do otherwise, if that is judged on the basis of counterfactual alternatives, and judged by appearance.
That's not disputed.
The question has always been whether what we observe matches what is really going on.
So merely retreating to the fact of observing a process is not going to get you anywhere.
Every time you interchange "ability to do otherwise" and "free", every time you drag in "sense" or "feeling", every time you blow off degrees of freedom and logical levels as handwaving, you invoke the supernatural assumption you claim you are not making.
There is no assumption.
There is a notion of free, that is all.
If the conclusion is that that notion can only exist via the supernatural then so be it, we have agreement.
But that is still not an assumption, no matter how desperately hard you want it to be.
The rest is then just establishing that your preferred notion of "free" is hollow, based on nothingbut the appearance of being able to do otherwise, judged via reference to counterfactual examples, and that you have no interest whatsoever in finding out whether, at the root of it all, you could have actually done otherwise.
And yes, before you hark back to observations in a lab, we all agree that the process exists.

Then why do all cars stop on red? Where is the exercise of free will, when the option is to wait and pass safely or disregard red and die trying? That would indicate insanity and that is not free will either. That's chaos.

And after a few have died while trying to jump red, an orderly pattern following the instruction provided by the traffic light will emerge from the chaos and traffic will once again flow smoothly and safely.
seriously?