Tag Archive: Dennett

Free will in the multiverse

Another mental attribute that is somehow associated with consciousness is free will. Free will is also notoriously difficult to understand in the classical world-picture. The difficulty of reconciling free will with physics is often attributed to deter­minism, but it is not determinism that is at fault. It is … classical spacetime. In spacetime, something happens to me at each particular moment in my future. Even if what will happen is unpredictable, it is already there, on the appropriate cross-section of spacetime. It makes no sense to speak of my ‘changing’ what is on that cross-section. Spacetime does not change, therefore one cannot, within spacetime physics, conceive of causes, effects, the openness of the future or free will.

Thus, replacing deterministic laws of motion by indeterministic (random) ones would do nothing to solve the problem of free will, so long as the laws remained classical. Freedom has nothing to do with randomness. We value our free will as the ability to express, in our actions, who we as individuals are. Who would value being random? What we think of as our free actions are not those that are random or undetermined but those that are largely determined by who we are, and what we think, and what is at issue. (Although they are largely determined, they may be highly unpredictable in practice for reasons of complexity.) [338]