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Why determinism in physics has no implications for free will

Esfeld, Michael (2018) Why determinism in physics has no implications for free will. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This paper argues for the following three theses: (1) There is a clear reason to prefer physical theories with deterministic dynamical equations: such theories are maximally rich in information and usually also maximally simple. (2) There is a clear way how to introduce probabilities in a deterministic physical theory, namely as answer to the question of what evolution of a specific system we can reasonably expect under ignorance of its exact initial conditions. This procedure works in the same manner for both classical and quantum physics. (3) There is no cogent reason to take the parameters that enter into the (deterministic) dynamical equations of physics to refer to properties of the physical systems. Granting an ontological status to parameters such as mass, charge, wave functions and the like does not lead to a gain in explanation, but only to artificial problems. Against this background, I argue that there is no conflict between determinism in physics and free will (on whatever conception of free will), and, in general, point out the limits of science when it comes to the central metaphysical issues.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Esfeld, MichaelMichael-Andreas.Esfeld@unil.ch
Keywords: classical mechanics, determinism, free will, functional reduction, Humeanism, physical laws, quantum mechanics
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Michael Esfeld
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 04:43
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2018 04:43
Item ID: 15424
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: 9 December 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15424

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