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Free Will, Moral Responsibility and Quantum Mechanics

Posted on March 31, 2017 — 2 Minutes Read

One quirk of quantum mechanics is that, in the realm of elementary particles, things are probabilistic. Knowing that everything in the empirical world, mind, body and everything that arises out of them, are made of these elementary particles; perhaps this probabilistic nature of them provides a basis for free will, albeit a notion of it with a touch of arbitrariness that some may find as troubling as without, and for moral responsibility despite a deterministic world.

Things may be deterministic, in the sense that whatever we choose to do or not do, is caused, and arguably controlled, by an earlier event, and it by another. All of which are beyond us. It is then unclear how we can be responsible for our decision given that we are simply one part of a deterministic casual chain. For we can always soundly reassign our responsibility to an earlier event that determine our action. If our mind and body, and eveything in between, like all else in the universe, are made of particles which are probabilistic in nature, this would mean that every part of the deterministic casual chain has a say in how the next event unfolds. Probabilistic may it be, if we claim ownership of our mind and body, it seems inescapable that, regardless of all of the previous events in the deterministic casual chain, we shall bear responsibility for whatever number the roll of dice our mind and body land on. To be, or not to be, that is the particle.