Determinism 2

Not an answer to the problem posed at the end of my previous post of this title. Not a lot at all in fact. Background will probably be longer than post.

Am reading Ted Chiang‘s ‘Story of your life‘ from his book, ‘Stories of your life and others‘ and was intrigued by the mention of the variational principle in physics and its apparent teleological character. So looked all this up on wikipedia (see previous links) and followed link from there to stuff on quantum mechanics and the paragraph:

The Copenhagen interpretation, due largely to the Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr, is the interpretation of quantum mechanics most widely accepted amongst physicists. According to it, the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics predictions cannot be explained in terms of some other deterministic theory, and does not simply reflect our limited knowledge. Quantum mechanics provides probabilistic results because the physical universe is itself probabilistic rather than deterministic.

This led to my thinking that determinism is really only uni-directional (pretty much what I thought before but previous reasoning was based on the fact that we could never forecast the future since the forecasting would take longer to calculate than the future we were trying to forecast). But in a probabilistic universe, any given state of the universe can lead to a near-infinite number of future states because of that probabilistic nature. But once we are in that future state we can know that it was determined by the previous state.

I still don’t think this has anything to do with choice and responsibility. Personal choice cannot be squeezed out of the gaps in quantum probabilities and these would have the same effect on responsibility as a deterministic universe. Don’t think this gets me anywhere but worth slapping down.

Posted on May 7, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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