The Big Questions: Is the universe deterministic?
点击量： 时间：2019-03-15 07:07:00
By Vlatko Vedral New Scientist tackles eight of the deepest challenges faced by science – from reality and consciousness, to free will and death, in The Big Questions special features. WHEN I was a child I liked to ponder deep questions before falling asleep. One of my favourites was “Do we have free will?”. Shifting my mind back and forth between the possibilities served me well – it was a good technique for falling asleep. Now I am a grown man I am lucky enough to have a job that involves deliberating over questions like this. So what does a man of science have to say about free will? Most of us in the west are certain that we have free will, though how we reach that conclusion, and even what we mean by it, is far from clear. If we define free will in everyday terms – as the capacity that allows us to control our actions – the answer would seem to come down to one of two possibilities: “Yes, we do have free will”, or “No, we don’t”. Both, however, quickly lead us into contradictions. Suppose you answer with “yes”. How would you demonstrate the validity of this statement? You would need to act in a way that would not be predetermined by anything. But how can this ever be, when whatever you do can be traced back to some cause? Say you decide to prove your free will by acting out of character: having an introverted personality, you decide to start a conversation with a complete stranger on the street,