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May 30, 2016


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Hi Brian,

If an action is determined then presumably it is the only possible outcome in the circumstances. Alternative outcomes would not be possible and therefore would not result in world fission. The idea that choices with multiple theoretical outcomes must lead to multiple universes in which all these outcomes are realised would suggest that choices are freely made.

In both his "Brief History" and "In a Nutshell" (certainly the former, and probably the latter as well), I remember Hawking referring to the multiverse theory as merely a poetic representation of the anthropic principle. In its literal sense, he seemed to regard multiverses as an exotic hypothesis that has by no means been proved (to the extent that science does "prove" stuff). [But of course, both those books are pretty old, and he may have changed his views since then I suppose, as he famously did with black holes.]

I shan't comment on "no free will" all over again [ :-) ], except to quote Hawking (not in words, which I don't remember, but an idea I remember reading him expressing, in one of those two books of his) : It is meaningless to think of scientific hypothesis as "real" or "unreal", or as "correct" or incorrect", or to ask if they "make sense" -- the only meaningful question to ask of scientific hypotheses is whether they can make predictions, and whether these predictions hold up when put to the test. (He was talking in reference to the weirdness one comes across in physics, like quantum mechanics and negative time and string theory.) I suppose we can accept no-free-will in the same spirit that we accept other counter-intuitive hypotheses like quantum mechanics, and an apparently arbitrary limit to how fast stuff can go, as well as Einstein's four dimensions, if the no-free-will hypothesis passes that test : but does it?

David, here's my take on your view that the Many Worlds theory supports a belief in free will/choices. This doesn't make sense to me. In the traditional view of quantum mechanics, the wave function (which evolves in a deterministic fashion) somehow "collapses" when an observation or measurement is made.

In other words, many possibilities, some of which are more possible than others, collapse into one actuality when an observation of a quantum system occurs. Of course, there is a lot of debate about what an observation/measurement consists of, and what the role of consciousness is in all this.

Regardless, one thing ends up happening in the traditional (Copenhagen) viewpoint. So this seems to support, albeit weakly, a belief in free will. I decide to observe a photon as a wave and it appears as a wave. Observe as a particle and it appears as a particle. In some sense I choose, and the choice has a single real consequence in the world.

But the Many Worlds theory does away with the wave function collapse. As noted in this post, everything that could happen, does happen -- in parallel universes. So it is difficult for me to see how this supports a belief in free will. Under the Many Worlds theory, everything that is allowed to happen by the quantum wave function DOES happen. And it happens deterministically, I'd assume, given that this is a characteristic of the wave function.

Here's a link to a piece about implications of the Many Worlds Interpretation that says "You still have free will." But the reasons given actually imply the opposite. I'll share that section after the link.

"Given that all possible decisions will be made by different versions of you, the MWI makes it difficult to reconcile the issue of free will. If all options of a choice are selected in alternate worlds, then why go through all the trouble of weighing all the evidence before choosing? The collective fate of our totality, it would seem, has already been determined.

But as MWI expert Michael Clive Price points out, while all decisions are realized, some are realized more often than others. In other words, each branch of a decision has its own "weight" that's enforcing the usual laws of quantum statistics.

Also, the MWI would imply a certain indeterminism to existence, albeit in an unintuitive way. Whenever we ask ourselves, "Could I have chosen a different course of action?," the MWI would strongly imply that the answer is most definitely yes. What's more, not only could you have chosen a different course of action, an alternate version of you actually did! As for why you chose differently, or why you fared a certain way on a test or sporting event, it all boils down to how the quantum events affected objects at the classical scale — including the cogitations of your brain."

After reading the last free will chapter again
and most f us agree on almost zero free will here , . .
my mind came up with the following :

What's nicer (to clear things up ) , . . makes more sense :

A creation without a perfect God in human Form

With such a phenomenon


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