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The Free Will Problem: Insights from Physics
February 16, 2015 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Elliot Tammaro, PhD
Assistant Professor of Physics, Chestnut Hill College
We, as humans, feel that we have complete freedom in our choice of action. So strongly do we believe that we have freedom of choice that we deem ourselves morally responsible for our decisions. However, classical physics, the physics of Newton and Einstein, purports that all physical systems evolve deterministically. That is to say, the initial state of the system fixes the future state. We, as humans, are physical systems. It is evident that we are made from the same protons and electrons that compose all physical systems. This implies, however, that we are bound by the same deterministic laws that govern matter, so that who we are and how we act, indeed, all the decisions we have ever made were already determined.
Does determinism, so successful a paradigm, fail just for us? How can we, as physical systems in a deterministic universe, feel so free in the choices we make? In this lecture we will visit the problem of free will, argue for its importance on a personal, moral, and scientific level, and reveal some surprising ways out of this conundrum.
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Below is a video of the lecture: