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Compatibilism Through the Lenses of Social Science, Moral Philosophy, Theology, and Quantum Physics

Author: Bao "Tintin" Nguyen (University of Arizona)

  • Compatibilism Through the Lenses of Social Science, Moral Philosophy, Theology, and Quantum Physics

    Articles

    Compatibilism Through the Lenses of Social Science, Moral Philosophy, Theology, and Quantum Physics

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Abstract

In the essay Historical Inevitability, social theorist and philosopher Isaiah Berlin asserts that if historians believe our world is deterministic, that is, events are bounded by predictable chains of causality, that moral implications are profound. He comments that in a deterministic framework, humans lack free will due to the causal arrangement of events that already occurs before one exists, which frees mankind from any moral responsibility and makes any judgment of “right” and “wrong” meaningless. In what follows, I argue that cause-and-effect historical research can imply a softer probabilistic version of determinism rather than hard determinism suggested by Berlin, and this model further amplifies our free will rather than the opposite case. I also contend that the assignment of moral responsibility to an individual is a spectrum depending on how much control one believes one possesses, even in the context of determinism and the lack of free will. From discussing Berlin’s work, I expand the discourse to other ideas of compatibilism — the compatibility between free will and determinism — in theology and interpretations of quantum mechanics. I argue that predestination due to omniscience can allow free will and moral responsibility. I introduce recent research on the possible quantum effects in biochemical processes of decision-making and the implications of two different interpretations of quantum mechanics in free will and determinism. In particular, I argue how in quantum mechanics, the Copenhagen interpretation supports indeterminism and the lack of free will while the many-worlds interpretation supports both determinism and free will. Overall, this article explores the ideas of compatibilism in philosophy, theology, and physics.

How to Cite:

Nguyen, B. "., (2023) “Compatibilism Through the Lenses of Social Science, Moral Philosophy, Theology, and Quantum Physics”, Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 9, 47-63.

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Published on
23 May 2023
Peer Reviewed