Has the Free Will Theorem of Conway and Kochen been taken seriously by the philosophical community? Is compatibilism still considered a valid approach to free will?

  • 7
    welcome! Do you think you could provide a little more context here?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 15:12

2 Answers 2


That theorem (overview) is often taken out of context. His suggestive naming of the behavior or elementary particles as "free will" irked a lot of people, especially as the connection to what we consider free will is phenomenally vague. It's almost akin to noting that Heisenberg Uncertainty suggests a lack of determinism (for the more quantum-mechanically literate, look into Bell's Theorem).

So the theorem is taken very seriously, but not necessarily having anything to do with what we consider free will.


Mixedmath's answer is a good one. I'd also like to add this supplementary data from a physicist point of view. As Sheldon Goldstein said: "We point out that for stochastic models this conclusion is not correct, while for deterministic models it is not new."


Besides, even if you stick to the non-compatiblist world view there are other points to be made for freewill than just indeterminism. I've written a bastardised argument in my blog for a general target audience.

  • Can you link directly to the argument in your blog? I don't think people on here are going to go to the effort to look for it.
    – Muhd
    Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 4:24
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    @Muhd I took the liberty to find Sina's argument and adjust the link
    – artm
    Commented Jan 19, 2013 at 16:37

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