Science of Consciousness  2018


Tuesday Morning April 3 (Session 3) 

9:00 am – 12.30 pm 

Grand Ballroom B


Free Will, Quantum Causality and Consciousness

Paavo Pylkkanen,  Jan Walleczek, George Musser, Ron Chrisley


Causation remains a profoundly puzzling philosophical problem in contemporary philosophy. Some say that causation can only take place at the fundamental physical level, while others say that causal notions cannot play a role in fundamental physics. Where does this leave consciousness and free will? If we assume (as many philosophers of mind do) that causation can only take place at the physical level and that consciousness is non-physical, then conscious free will is left epiphenomenal. Those who assume that causal notions cannot play a role in physics often think that causality applies in the special sciences, which opens up the possibility of a causally efficacious conscious free will. But is it really plausible that causal notions cannot play a role in fundamental physics? This workshop explores these issues from a quantum perspective. First of all, we will explain the reasons why some philosophers think that causation only takes place in physics, and why others think that causation does not play a role in physics. We will then consider these views from the perspective of quantum theory. For example, we will explore whether the usual interpretation of quantum theory implies that causality cannot be eliminated from fundamental physics. We will further explore Bohm’s causal interpretation of quantum theory and see whether it has room in it for a causally efficacious conscious free will. We will also consider what implications quantum non-locality might have for the debate.


Paavo Pylkkänen

Paavo Pylkkanen

Dept of Philosophy,

History and Art Studies

University of Helsinki

Image result for jan walleczek

Jan Walleczek

Phenoscience Laboratories



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George Musser


Contributing Editor

Scientific American

New York


photo of Ron Chrisley

Ron Chrisley

Dept of Philosophy

University of Sussex






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