Quantum Foundations of Free Will


This paper is intended to persuade an uncommitted audience that free will is illusory. I examine free will through the lens of three interpretations of quantum theory: dynamical collapse theories, hidden variable theories, and many-worlds theories. Dynamical collapse theories, hereon called collapse theories, are the primary focus of this work since they are the most widely accepted in the current philosophy of physics climate. The core postulations and mechanics of the collapse theories are articulated. Accompanying these postulations are a few assumptions regarding the role quantum mechanics may have in one’s decisions. The postulations and assumptions together lead to the conclusion that agents are not free in the collapse theory framework. Then, I anticipate and respond to the following objections. First, that agents are at least partially free through their ability to control and change personal dispositions. Second, that the psychological level is the most appropriate scale for discussions regarding freedom. Finally, I extend my argument against free will to the hidden variables and many-worlds theories. (Note that this work is in its early draft stages - later versions will be updated and revised).

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Logan Carter
Florida State University


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