Abstract Details

A-theory: Toward a Quantum-physics-friendly Ontology of Free Will  Thomas Brophy (Integral Health And Sciences, California Institute for Human Science, Encinitas, CA )   C14

Scientific theories of consciousness traditionally held as axiomatic a notion that the physical universe is causally closed (e.g. Brophy 2017 TSC, San Diego). That axiom obviously restricts theories of consciousness to a domain where physically causal free will is impossible. However, the consensus of modern physics is causal closure is not necessarily entailed in the foundations of modern physics (e.g Rosenblum and Kuttener Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, 2011; and Brophy 2018 TSC Tucson). This release from causal closure of the physical liberates us to consider theories of consciousness that entail the possibility of free will. Textbook quantum mechanics involves two fundamental processes: a time evolution process wherein quantum states evolve according to the deterministic Schrodinger equation; and a nondeterministic state reduction process, "collapse". A fundamental postulate of quantum mechanics, the Born Rule, is the quantum state wave function represents the probability distribution of the state reduction result. All empirical observables, anything that actually happens physically are post-collapse, because observation (or knowledge itself) definitely reduces the quantum state. This paper continues the development of an event-based theory of consciousness called A-theory ("Actual theory") in which free will processes operating in a domain of consciousness enact physical events via the state reduction process. A-theory is contrasted with other quantum-collapse-related theories of consciousness: M property theory (e.g. Kelvin McQueen and David Chalmers) where a M-property triggers collapse; Orch OR theory (e.g. Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose) in which Platonic ideals guide the collapse result; GRW theories in which the Born Rule is an approximation to a more detailed theory. Given that Bell's Theorem and The Strong Free Will Theorem (Conway and Kochen, 2008) prove the state reduction process is necessarily non-algorithmic, a lemma to the possibility of free will, methods toward formalizing A-theory as a mechanism of free will are explored. Implications for experimental tests of A-theory are also considered.