The description of time in Physics is known as block time. According to this definition, time is like any other constraint in Physics, with no underlying movement and with no major distinction between the future and the present. However, such an observation of time is in disagreement with our natural knowledge of time.
In the past, Physicists concluded the time was a human delusion in two steps. According to Einstein’s theory, the initial step was the dispute from the legitimacy of the special theory of relativity to the approval of the block universe as a philosophical result of relativity (Fischer 55). This step relied on Minkowski’s formulation of the idea of space-time. This idea founded itself and many books on relative theory apply it. The second step emerges from the concept of a block universe to the approval of an idealist perspective of time. It was feasible to support an idealist view of time without approving the block universe. However, it was hard to support the block universe without endorsing an idealist view of time.
The Minkowskian idea of space-time backs up the idea of the universe as being a block universe. Idealist notions of time follow the same path. The Minkowskian idea acts as a stand for evaluating the philosophy of being. In addition, the space-time theory is compatible with a philosophy of becoming. The two philosophies have been declared as the philosophical result of the special theory of relativity under the Minkowski understanding (Weinert 89).
Einstein and the idea of the Block universe
At first, Einstein had no comment concerning the idea of a block universe but later acknowledged the idea. In his article on the General Theory of relativity, he commented that the need for general covariance denied the idea of space-time of the last remains of physical truth. Einstein had a varying perception concerning the idea of causation in quantum mechanics. He claimed continually that physical science could not leave the idea of causation. On the other hand, the idea of time was not essential (Price 58). This emerged as a problem found in the space between science and philosophy. Then again, philosophical assumptions must be ready to be modified in case of new discoveries.
Einstein believes that the relativity of simultaneity refers to a philosophy of being. Relative simultaneity creates the static picture to be more objective. The physical universe can be symbolized as a block universe. However, Einstein does not approve of the idealistic idea of time. With his assertion, that time cannot be altered Newton is suggesting a diverse view of time (Fischer 58). Yet, approval of the notion of a block universe includes an idealistic view of time. It also consists of determinism.
The ideas of free will and determinism in the Block View of Time in Physics
Determinism informs one that the state of the universe at a time determines everything else, including the past and future. The test to free will from determinism has not originated from Physics, but instead from the union of deterministic physics and the idea of time. The concern is that the past influences our actions now. Why is “now” not determining what happened in the past? There are two solutions to this question. First, we unknowingly presume an abstract depiction: we imagine the past as real, static, or determinate, the present as real, but the future as indeterminate. As the now progresses into the future, it is the future that is becoming determined, not the past. As soon one reveals this abstract picture, its insignificance becomes clear (Price 60). Physics has no marks with any of it and is perhaps incompatible with it when thought to use physical events.
From the block universe view, the past does not determine the future and the present; instead, the vice-versa is true. When we consider the notion of events now influencing the past, we become anxious because it appears as though we are suggesting backward causation (Kane 56). Therefore, if I declare that my actions are free and determined only by my own will; and that in a deterministic universe, that may include results about the past, however, it appears as though I am suggesting backward causation, and authorizing myself to determine the past. This is assumed to be insupportable on the solid physical ground.
The notion of freedom from the inside out states that we are entirely justified in observing our own actions not as determined by the pastor as influenced by the future, but instead influenced by ourselves, by our own thoughts. This implies that they need not be observed as influenced by the matters of the block universe. Rather, our own actions and events influence the physical events outside ourselves to the past and future of our deeds, in the block universe (Petkov 77).
We accept the view that the determination or account that is significant is from them in (of the block universe, where we stay) outer, instead of from the external (the condition of things in the past) in. And we approve the perception of downward causation, discerning our selection and objectives as key reasons for our physical deeds, instead of allowing microstates of the world to seize this function. We are free to accept views because physics is completely compatible with them.
The idea of past actions influencing and explaining future actions, and the reverse direction of explanation being incorrect originates from a union of deterministic physics and A-series time. The error is normal and comprehensible, since the A-series controls our lives, particularly our thoughts. A deterministic physics provides a rational relation of determination, not a temporal relation of determination. In the block universe one can observe a slice now, or a future slice, as reasonably influencing the rest. Physics does not choose any to be more significant, rather allow people to disregard them on the issue of causation and explanation of essential things in our lives, creating room for downward causation (Weinert 99).
This is not the manner we are used to believing in determinism. We live in an A-series view of the universe; silently joining determination with casual explanation and our deeds being clarified by our choices. The first solution to this error would be to remember that physical determinism fits only in the B-series of the universe. To break the union between determination and casual explanation, aids in remembering that deterministic physics equally permits the future, however it does not explain whether the future determines the past (Fischer 74). The complete solution can be known by looking at the results of an inside-out view on determination and ensuring they are valid both physically and for good judgment.
The smaller forms of determinism compared to the Newtonian type create less risk to free will. Past-future determinism only implies that the future-past connection permitted by the law is one-many, while the past-future connection is one-one. These connections are still, however, rational instead of informal or descriptive. As long as Physics stays completely articulated in phrases of B series time, and has no use of the A-series time, the one-way quality of their determinism does not imply that the past is static, nor do past events become someway reasonably prior to present and future events in the block (Weinert 105). It is right that the past involves our present events, and cannot any longer make them allege concerning the future.
Distinctions between determinists, determined and determinism
In a Quantum mechanical world, the world has to be distinct every time it is observed. If there is a probability of time-traveling, if one moves from time T1 to T2 then, T2 to T1 and repeats this action again, physical laws of nature assure one to observe the universe differently than before. The condition of the universe at T1 will be different compared to the last time of observation. The world is actually a deterministic place. However, the way it is determined is completely distinct from the way determinism defines it (Petkov 80).
There is also a distinction between neo-determinism and traditional determinism. In neo-determinism, each condition in the world is determined by the immediate condition of the world before it, there is no negotiation concerning this. Neo-determinism acknowledges that, if the world is placed in its initial conditions at a specific time, it will move to another direction regardless (Kane 66). This is totally deterministic. The result is definite; in theory, the result is what physics orders. This is a total determinism. There will be no traveler’s contradiction, and no free will dispute. No amount of consideration can alter the direction of actions that make the two visits distinct. Then the state of the earth cannot be not-otherwise in each effort. It will be otherwise even if the state of the earth were produced the same. The otherwiseness of the actions is deterministically ordered by the laws of physics.
The next state of the earth, no matter the result, will be determined by the quantum mechanical laws ordered by the nature of the universe to all things fixed in it. However, whatever the next state of the universe turns out to be, the laws state that it will be different the next time, if the action is repeated again.
Compatibilism and how free will
It is feasible for human free will to occur even if the future is static. A static future means that plans regarding the future are real in the present and have always been real. The kind of compatibility described in this description depend on a specific metaphysical analysis known as the four dimensional theory of time, which imply that time is to be recognized perspectivally: past and future are basically connections between an observer and a time frame, not natural behaviors of states in time. Freewill is the skill to do without one’s deeds being influenced by anything from the outside. There is a disagreement unto whether the idea of freewill is logical, as long as people have freewill; such freedom is not refuted by the determinacy of the future (Price 63). The issue of freewill being compatible with determinism is linked to causality than with time.
There is a universal idea of time and human events according to which people may act freely as long as the future is indeterminate. Free will depends abstractly on the non-existence of a definite future state of events. This is because a determined future is impossible for human’s power to change (Petkov 99). What an individual performs cannot be performed freely if it was previously planned he would perform it. In such a situation, it appears; the individual could not do the contrary, and so is forced to do as he actually does. The compatibility subject hidden here may come to the light of rational determinism, the theory that the future is rigid in quality of the irreversible reality of plans regarding the future; or it might appear in a theological perspective concerning human free will versus irreformable divine intuition.
Determinism and freewill
Determinism is a very crucial aspect in philosophical debates regarding free will. Determinism can be viewed as the argument that at any time the world has precisely one physically feasible future. Anything is deterministic if it has one physically feasible result. The description of determinism is an account of how things would appear if they were deterministic. It does not stick to the world being deterministic. It only describes a phrase, and the phrase may never be used in the world we dwell in.
Many physicists and philosophers believe the world is not determinist; however the technical subjects are very difficult. Yet, if we approve that the world isn’t deterministic there are valid excuses to consider the compatibility of free will and determinism (Kane 79). First, it could end up that upcoming physicists deduce that the world is deterministic, against the agreement about at least quantum mechanics. It is extremely hard to establish how upcoming science will end up, and it might be helpful to have solutions to queries prior to scientific matters. Second, even though the world was not completely deterministic, determinism might prevail locally. Third, we could be concerned on whether free will is compatible with a wide scientific image of the universe. Because some concepts of the universe are deterministic while others are not, a question arises on the compatibility of free will and the universe.
One significant subject for philosophers concerned about free will is if free will can exist in a deterministic universe. Usually, incompatibilists believe that free will is incompatible in a deterministic universe. Compatibilists believe in the compatibility of free will in a deterministic world. It is crucial to know that the compatibility subject is different from the topic of whether free will exists. One could be an incompatibilist, and think there is free will or no free will.
In philosophical studies, libertarianism is the notion that free will exists and is incompatible with determinism. Hard incompatibilism is a term used to support the opinions that hold that: incompatibilism is true and free will does not exist. In the past, hard incompatibilists were referred to as hard determinists. Hard determinists believe there is no free will regardless if the universe is deterministic or not, and opinions that state that even if freedom might not be actually incompatible with determinism, we simply do not possess it (Petkov 112).
Challenges to free will
According to libertarians, free will that is incompatible with determinism is needed for people to be completely accountable for their deeds, so that true moral accountability, along with free will, is incompatible with determinism. True free will could not occur in a universe that was completely determined by God or fate, or the laws of physics and so forth. This view of free will has been in disagreement for many years when philosophers have tackled the issue of free will and determinism.
Those who oppose this concept of free will believe it to be outmoded, incoherent and it has no position in modern sciences (Fischer 88). The first point of the current attack of libertarian free will emerge from compatibilists, who claim that, regardless appearances to the contrary; determinism does not actually disagree with free will at all. They state that freedoms we identify and wish for in normal life are actually compatible with determinism. Even if the universe would end up being completely deterministic, compatibilists state there would be a great distinction between individuals who are free from limits on freedom and those not free from such limits of free will. The second prong of the current assault on libertarian free will claims that libertarian free will is impractical and has no say in the recent scientific universe. There claims are linked to an olden dilemma: if free will is not compatible with determinism, it does not appear to be compatible with indeterminism either.
Refuting the idea of Newtonian or absolute time, in the block and how this absolute view of time is what causes problems with compatabilism
According to Newton, absolute time occurs freely of any event in the world. Newton thought absolute time was invisible and could be realized mathematically. As said by Newton, people are only able to distinguish relative time, which is a measurement of distinctive matters in motion (Kane 94). These ideas mean that absolute space and time do not rely on physical events. Therefore, everything has an absolute state of motion relative to absolute space, thus something is either in a state of total rest, or travelling at some absolute speed.
The conclusive rejection of Newton’s idea of time is portrayed by Einstein. There are two aspects of Newton’s idea of time, which were carefully observed. Newton’s perception of time is both absolute and universal. Newton makes time free of any material processes in the world, making it absolute (Price 65). It is universal, because for Newton as well as other observers positioned on the earth, calculate the same time and length differences. On the other hand, Einstein views time to be relative.
Our perspective of time is that, it is alike for all observers. This observation is in disagreement with that of Newton, which states that there is no absolute reference frame, relative to which all activities can be thought to be occurring (Petkov 135). Likewise, there is no absolute spatial reference frame, which Newton refers to absolute space. The Newton’s laws of motion are meaningless without considering the time and spatial aspects to which they denote. Newton needs a referential frame so that his laws can be valid. According to Newton, there are specific frames in which the laws of motion can work. These laws do not work in accelerated structures.
The idea of absolute time causes various problems with compatibilism. Absolute time, being not affected by events and things in time is not real. Furthermore, if we thought of absolute space we must think of our body being removed from the world. However, there is no other physical world into which we might go to. Therefore there is no absolute space (Kane 114). In addition, because absolute space does not affect the sense, it is inadequate for the recognition of motion. Consequently, absolute time also becomes impractical. The main idea is that when discussing issues regarding time, the observer cannot be excluded.
Fischer, John. Four views on free will. USA: Blackwell publishing, 2007.
Kane, Robert. Free will. USA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2002.
Petkov, Vesselin. Space, Time, and Spacetime: Physical and Philosophical Implications of minkowski’s unification of space and time. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2010.
Price, Huw. Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1996.
Weinert, Friedel. The scientist as philosopher: philosophical consequences of great scientific discoveries. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2005.