Famed physicist Penrose has an interesting albeit speculative theory that tiny structures in the Neuron facilitate conciousness beyond the way we currently think neurons work.

Whether he's right or wrong isn't a topic for this site. What I'm interested in is even if our conciousness is deeply rooted in a non-deterministic system, how would quantum uncertainty create free will? It's unclear to me whether the options are just random outcomes vs deterministic outcomes.

Can someone explain how quantum randomness could create free will?


3 Answers 3


Randomness alone does not provide free will.

"In the present state of knowledge, it is certainly beyond our capabilities to understand the connection between the free decisions of particles and humans, but the free will of neither of these is accounted for by mere randomness."



Quantum indeterminacy has no effect on free will. We need some source of randomness for creativity and imagination.

Free will is our ability to make decisions. Decisions are immaterial information that is made independently of any physical process. They are not caused by prior events.


The fact that quantum mechanics is inherent probabilistic doesn't take away the free will. Brain processes dont't happen randomly. Neurons still fire in coordinated ways. Which of the possible paths this process takes might be dependent on chance but this doesn't take away the fact that they are happening. You can even say that you are more free because there is nothing determining your tthought flow. But you can't choose either. So making a choice can be pure probabilistic but this doesn't mean that you are not free. Others will not be able to predict your behavior, which will make you even more free. If someone prohibits you to act in accordance with your choice ((be it a deterministic probabability based on, like in QM,, or a deterministic one, like in classical mechanics) you should feel deprived of free will. Unless your actions are malevolent somehow...

So the free will can lead to random choices (though making a truly random choice is difficult!) or determined choices but it can only be tramped on by other people.

  • 1
    "The fact that quantum mechanics is inherent probabilistic doesn't take away the free will." That doesn't necessarily mean it provides free will.
    – Sandejo
    Jul 7, 2021 at 19:29
  • 1
    You misunderstood the question entirely.
    – armand
    Jul 7, 2021 at 20:04
  • @armand No. You have misunderstood. I know exactly what you mean by free will but that is not my view. I involve other people and you involve some absract notion of it. Maybe that is the standard view on free will but I dont want to conform to that view. Maybe we are directed by physical laws, unconsciouss drives, or chance processes, but who cares. Free will has to do with being able to express your will (by whatever it is caused) freely. Jul 7, 2021 at 20:10
  • @sandejo Exactly. It doesnt provide and it doesnt take away. It merely is a process in the brain. Only other people can take your free will away. Your mind has to function in some way. Be it probalistically or be it deterministically. Why should your will not be free if these processes go on freely? Jul 7, 2021 at 20:15
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    But that's not what OP is asking about. They're asking how randomness in QM can create free will, and you are explaining how it does not prevent it.
    – armand
    Jul 7, 2021 at 22:16

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