There are several philosophical pillars upon which Western society is built on, pillars which I believe are not all too stable. Western thought has
progressed off of these unstable pillars and weak foundations, and I have made it my undertaking to identify these pillars. Read on, and risk having
the foundation of your views taken out from underneath you. Choose to stop reading, and be forever enshrouded in curiosity and/or ignorance.
had to do with our conception of Nothingness and how our potentially faulty
conception of Nothingness could destroy the foundations of science and logic. Part two is about the illusion of free will.
After centuries of debate the problem of free will still remains unresolved with no end in sight. I cannot say one side is definitively right, but I
do believe that our evidence almost exclusively points towards the deterministic side being right. Despite not being able to know with certainty that
there is no free will, I think we may have sufficient evidence to believe that it does not exist. Here is why.
The basic argument against free will is the notion of cause and effect. Everything we do can be traced back to a string of events that caused us to
act in a certain way. Despite our hope that free will exists, it seems that people act according to situational influences and not according to free
However, the basic argument is certainly not a strong enough argument to throw away the possibility of free will; I will delve into quantum mechanics
to do this.
Basic Math of Quantum Mechanics
A recent theory of quantum mechanics called Many-Worlds Theory, introduced by a Princeton graduate student named Hugh Everett, explains that the
existence of parallel universes fits perfectly with the fundamental mathematical equations of quantum mechanics (namely Schrodinger's Equation). This
theory is superior to other theories of quantum mechanics such as Bohr’s theory of Waveform Collapse in that it explains the mysterious workings of
subatomic particles without straying from any fundamental equations. The controversial result of Many-Worlds Theory is that all possible futures exist
and will happen.
Cat lives in one world, dies in another
If you accept Many-Worlds Theory it serves as a short term solution to the problem of free will. Here is my argument in standard form that explains
In order for humans to possess free will, there can only be a single future.
In Many Worlds Theory there are multiple (possibly infinite) futures.
Conclusion 1) Since Many-Worlds Theory has multiple futures, based on Many Worlds Theory there can be no free will.
Many Worlds Theory is currently the most plausible explanation of quantum mechanics because it does not stray from the fundamental
The mathematics of quantum mechanics has never failed experimentally.
Since the mathematics of quantum mechanics has never failed experimentally, this is the most appropriate theory to use in describing
the true nature of reality.
Conclusion 2) The most plausible answer to the problem of free will is that there is no free will.
*Just a few notes on my argument, the term “single-future” has a wider meaning than normal in the context of this argument. If free
will exists there could be parallel universes as long as one of the universes is the actual universe. This distinction of elevating the importance of
one universe over others leaves room for the existence of free will. However, if the idea of actual and non-actual universes is incorporated into the
mathematics of Many-Worlds Theory it causes waveform collapses which is exactly what we are trying to avoid. Therefore, there can be no actual future
that is more actual than any other future, and therefore there is no room for free will.
*Another consideration is I am not entirely sure whether Many Worlds Theory supports Determinism, or whether it is a separate stance from
both Free Will and Determinism. The question here is whether Determinism requires a single future just as free will does, but I leave open the
possibility of an extreme form of Determinism where all possibilities happen and have been pre-determined.
Because this is a deductive argument, if you accept these premises it guarantees that the conclusion is true. Admittedly these conclusions don’t
give us certainty that there is no free will, but I would say it provides us with overwhelming evidence. Since we have overwhelming evidence and not
certainty, and since there is a chance that some future experiment will disprove quantum mechanics, I classify this as a short term solution. If
future experiments continue to confirm the Many Worlds Theory, it may then serve as a long term solution to the problem of free will.
However, even if we one day accept with certainty that there is no such thing as free will, there are still significant obstacles we have to overcome
in order for this idea to gain widespread acceptance. The implications of us not having free will are so monumental that it seems impossible that
people would drop the notion of free will on a large scale. If you think about it, our entire lives are structured around the assumption that we have
free will. Without free will, people don’t have the ability to make choices themselves. Without the ability to make a choice, a person cannot have
any moral responsibility for their actions. Our law system is entirely based on the assumption of free will, and if we can justify all of our actions
through past causes our sense of moral responsibility disappears and it would be impossible to attribute fault to anyone for their crimes.
Result of no moral responsibility
So the obstacle that we have to overcome in order to achieve widespread acceptance of the illusion of free will is the destruction of the pillar upon
which the United States government, and most Western governments are based on. Perhaps this is why the debate on free will still rages… because no
matter how convincing the Deterministic side is, it is still nearly impossible for us in a practical sense to give up our notion of free will unless
we tear down the structure of Western government and rebuild it without a sense of free will. But from a practical sense, it seems much more dangerous
to have a government based off of Determinism than a government based off on free will, so the practical implications of accepting Determinism also
seem to be working against it.
Now say you accept that free will is in fact an illusion. Will you live your life any differently? I would argue no… I think you would still live
your life based on the illusion of free will because it is easier to accept our society’s assumption of free will and get on with our lives than it
is to act on our belief in Determinism.
edit on 4-12-2013 by Wang Tang because: ATS
edit on 4-12-2013 by Wang Tang because: can't center align
edit on 4-12-2013 by Wang Tang because: oh well