Free will paradox

I have been thinking a lot about whether we have a free will lately, and now I’ve come upon some kind of paradox; say that everything is predetermined and every atom (I say atom because I do not know what the smallest particle is) can only go an absolutely determined path forever. If this is true, then if you knew the exact location and direction of everything there is, you would be able to know what is going to happen in the future, and therefore free will would exist because you can do the opposite of what you know would happen.

Though, this is not true, because you can’t know where a certain atom is without changing it’s speed and direction.

Uhm, okay, I don’t know where I’m going with this. Is there someone here good at physics who can help out. I’ve read that there is an uncertainness in photons, so that you can’t determine exactly where it is until you actually observe it. It’s like a cloud of probability or something. If this is the case it should grant free will too, right?
I won’t settle before I’ve proven free will to myself.

this is not necessarily a paradox. you wrote that everything is predetermined. in that case your choice to do “otherwise” was also predetermined and hence not a choice at all. basically what you wrote ammounts to determinism. as for physics, prevailing quantum theory holds that nothing is determined. the best we can do is calculate probabilities. for instance, it is not impossible that i can walk through a brick wall, it is just highly improbable.


Your idea is not new, it’s called “Laplace’s demon”.

But atoms can never have anything to do with freedom. Freedom belongs to human existence, that is a totally different sphere.

Sounds like more of a question of science and/or physics than of philosophy to me. :confused: :wink:

Yep, what you’re talking about is Determinism. ‘Hard Determinism’ to be exact, and it’s something I subscribe to. It’s true that quantum theory suggests that there is a certain amount of randomness in the behavior of subatomic particles, but I feel that one day quantum theory will make such advances as to account for this. I just have a hard time believing that the secret to man’s free will lies locked up in the behavior subatomic particles. If it were true, it would mean that our ‘souls’ are somehow influencing these subatomic particles in astronomically complex ways that we aren’t even aware of, and that’s how we are able to make choices. Sounds pretty farfetched at best.

On the flip side, it’s unlikely we’ll ever get around to building that computer capable of predicting the future, because in order for it to work, it would have to be powerful enough to run a simulation of the entire universe, including itself. And since the simulated version of the computer would have to behave exactly like the original, then it too would be running a simulated version of the entire universe, including itself. And so on and so forth. So really, all we need is a computer with infinite computational power, and we’ll be all set. :wink:
Oh, and also we’ll need to know the exact location and energy value of every subatomic particle in existance. Might be easier to just call Miss Cleo or something…