Talk to the Rand

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Sat, 2007-12-15 02:26

The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world.

One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.

But to pronounce moral judgment is an enormous responsibility. To be a judge, one must possess an unimpeachable character; one need not be omniscient or infallible, and it is not an issue of errors of knowledge; one needs an unbreached integrity, that is, the absence of any indulgence in conscious, willful evil. Just as a judge in a court of law may err, when the evidence is inconclusive, but may not evade the evidence available, nor accept bribes, nor allow any personal feeling, emotion, desire or fear to obstruct his mind's judgment of the facts of reality—so every rational person must maintain an equally strict and solemn integrity in the courtroom within his own mind, where the responsibility is more awesome than in a public tribunal, because he, the judge, is the only one to know when he has been impeached.

[The virtue of Rationality] means one's acceptance of the responsibility of forming one's own judgments and of living by the work of one's own mind (which is the virtue of Independence). It means that one must never sacrifice one's convictions to the opinions or wishes of others (which is the virtue of Integrity)—that one must never attempt to fake reality in any manner (which is the virtue of Honesty)...

A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest—but if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.

The Ayn Rand Lexicon


( categories: )

Headless scientists

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Brant:

"[...] the scientists have had their heads cut off."

Some of them are becoming aware of the predicament. Eye

Ellen

There simply

Brant Gaede's picture

is no Objectivism without morality. The best you can come up with is science. The problem with that is the scientists have had their heads cut off.

--Brant

Dick...

Jameson's picture

"How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?"

A judgement without reason is a whim; is that how you make your moral judgements, Goode?

"Most people have what it takes to process moral principles..."

Jameson's picture

If morality is so intrinsic, Goode, how do you explain an entire culture that does this?:

Your turn

Richard Goode's picture

Alright: one cannot pronounce moral judgement if one does not have the rational faculty to process the moral principles.

Glenn, the question was not,

How can one pronounce moral judgement if one does not have the rational faculty to process the moral principles?

It was,

How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?

Most people have what it takes to process moral principles, that is, to derive specific moral judgements from general moral principles. For example, from the general moral principle, "It's wrong to steal," and the recognition that taxation is theft, we can derive the conclusion that taxation is morally wrong.

The problem is that the general moral principles themselves have no rational justification.

It's still your turn.

Wow

Brant Gaede's picture

I just noticed that I hadn't read the last 605 posts to this thread. Wow.

Rosie can love Herman Goering? I guess she can shovel in Hitler too. Rosie, don't "love" me too!

~flush~

I had too many posts to review in too little time. Is Goode a homophobe?

~flush~(at least for other reasons)

--Brant
janitor for a day

Nice one, Jameson

sharon's picture

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

Dick: "I'll answer your questions when you answer mine."

Jameson's picture

Quid pro quo, Dr. Lecter.

Reed

Leonid's picture

"If human life is the standard of good then allowing a billion to die to save one can not be good."

First, Rand referred to human life as standard of value, not as standard of good. They are to different concepts.

"“Value” is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. The concept “value” is not a primary; it presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? It presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieve a goal in the face of an alternative. Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible." (“The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 15.)
Life is standard of value because only living thing can valuate. Man may valuate many things more than his own life-for example life of his teammates. But to do so first he has to be alive. Standard of value is NOT moral prescription, it's precondition of any moral judgment, objectivist or otherwise. The morality is based on the answer to the question "value to whom and for what?"-in other words, who is the proper beneficiary of moral action? Rand's answer is-the agent himself.

Second, Good according to Rand is all that which is proper to the life of a rational being. "allowing a billion to die to save one can not be good"-because it's improper to the life of a RATIONAL being. One simply cannot make such a decision on rational basis.

Third, as before your premises are incorrect and as before you run into contradictions.

A problem with two.

Kasper's picture

Firstly my prime responsibility is to my child not to one billion people in the world. The term 'allowing' may hint an onus of reponsibility to save the billion people instead of the child, when there is none. Secondly, using examples extrapolated from fantasy such as in your example is hardly a refutation of ethics.

It would be wrong to sacrifice anyone for a value of mine. Killing a billion people to save my child would be wrong.

Don't confuse fantasy with metaphysics - even when trying to prove your point because the objective basis of ethics works on two identities. That of human beings and that of a stable reality which is the norm.

Emergency situations are not normal and the decisions made there are the decisions calculated by individuals in extremem conditions. There are no ethical tools or codes that can accurately guide the actions and decisions of an individual in those situations to a point of life affirmation and nobility.

What we do know is that we repair to our own code of ethics, to heroism or to our animal instict of fight or flight when faced in an emergency. In other words people do the best they can.

Objective ethics does not mean omnipotent morals that can guide man through absolutely everything. To be objective does not mean infallible. A normal code ethics may very well fail in an emergency but so what? It doesn't go to prove ethics to be non-objective.

Is "human life" the standard of good?

reed's picture

Ok Leonid thinks that your life is not the standard of good - it's difficult to tell if anyone else here agrees with him.

Is "human life" the standard of good?

1. If human life is the standard of good then allowing a billion to die to save one can not be good.
2. Allowing a billion to die to save one can be good.
Therefore
3. Human life is not the standard of good.

Leonid makes it easy.

Ptgymatic's picture

The key-word confusion typical of Leonid is well demonstrated in his preceding post, aimed at me.

Mindy

Reed

Leonid's picture

I do not agree with 1, 2, and 3.
I already explained my reasons, but I can summarize them.
1. Objectivism is talking about human life. I think you'd agree that human life is different from plant or animal life. If somebody turns human life impossible, then jumping on grenade could be an act of affirmation of human life values.

2. Life-boat situations are temporary and unnatural. People don't live in water or fire. One cannot construct ethical theory based on such situations. If one attempts to do this. it would mean that his major concern is not about how to live his life but how to sacrifice it. He's guilty of major evasion.
3. Since you employed wrong premises you've got contradictory invalid conclusion.

You're muddying the waters Reed

gregster's picture

It's already been put by me on this thread, and you will remember:

Submitted by gregster on Thu, 2009-08-20 04:54.

2. Sometimes jumping on a grenade is good.

If to save the life of a loved one, and this could be done by wounding or sacrificing oneself, then that is moral. That's what Reed means by good.

A person's automatic emotional response is formed over time by the integrations of his values.

If it has been arrived at that to live without one's spouse, for example, would be a lesser value than to risk one's life in attempting to save this valued person, then that is moral.

You're not serving any use with this circularity Reed. Lately you're resembling Dr No Goode, or is it vice versa?

Leonid and fans - Your

reed's picture

Leonid and fans -
Your objection appears to be that "life" is not "life" and/or that there are no ethics in "lifeboat situations".

If jumping on a grenade can be morally good then there are ethics in "lifeboat situations" and your "life" (i.e. well being or staying alive) is not the the standard of that morality. Note: in this example Monsoor had a choice - he could save his own life or save his teammates.

1. If life is the standard of good then jumping on a grenade cannot be good.

2. Sometimes jumping on a grenade is good.

therefore

3. Your life is not the standard of good.

Assuming an ordinary definition of "life" that simply includes the concepts of "well being" and "staying alive"...
Do you agree with premise 1?
Do you agree with premise 2?
Do you agree with the conclusion?
Do you agree that the argument is valid?

A question

Leonid's picture

"thing's identity is set by how it acts under a given set of circumstances,"
That what Mindy brings as Objectivist definition of identity. I cannot even start to guess how one makes such a bizarre conclusion and claims that it based on Rand's philosophy. According to Rand, identity is axiomatic concept, a primary fact of reality on which all other facts depend. It cannot be "set" by anything. But, obviously , if one accepts wrong premises, one always ends up with contradictions, like circularity and that exactly what happened to Mindy. Free Will is part of man's identity. It is also property which allows man's choices and therefore actions. If Free Will as part of man's identity is set by how man acts, then it is meaningless circular arbitrary concept. Free Will which is set by man's action and Free Will which allows man's choices how to act is contradiction in terms.

Final cause, goal or purpose is the cause of man's action. Free Will is modus operandi of final cause.

The question is: what Mindy's failure to understand all this has to do with Israel and Middle East politics?

Still Watching

Jeff Perren's picture

Can't remember where Mr. Goode said to "watch this space" for his explication and defense of ethical intuitionism, but I'm still watching (and searching). I have an important question: Just how long should I watch?

Dick: "I'll answer your questions when you answer mine."

Jameson's picture

"How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?"

Alright: one cannot pronounce moral judgement if one does not have the rational faculty to process the moral principles.

Your turn.

Leonid's Indiscriminations

Ptgymatic's picture

I identified a specific circularity, between the definitions of identity and causality, as given in Rand's formal philosophical statements. The circularity comes in the definitions, not in the phenomena. Leonid doesn't regard such niceties. I can't fathom why he doesn't, but it is certainly a long-manifest trait.

My statement was not that the phenomenon of free will implied some circularity. Yet that is what Leonid took me to task for saying, grouping me with Goode's arguments about the implications of "Bell's Theorem" for uncaused events. How he could even get circularity out of Goode's argument is a puzzle. Similarly, how his reference to Aristotle's four causes answers the problem of defining a thing's identity in terms, partly, of what it does, of its causal relations, and also defining cause in terms of a thing's identity, how "final cause" addresses that puzzle is a blank.

Finding the words "free will" and the word "circularity" in a single sentence seems to be sufficient to set Leonid off on such a line of thinking, independent of what has come before, of what the post as a whole says. It reminds me of that commercial about the new search engine, one that is supposed to help one decide? In that commercial, a kid's parents parrot a string of wildly loose associations to arbitrary terms in the last statement they hear, much like the range of things a search engine dredges up to key words. Ask it about rocks, and it will tell you about rock and roll, etc.

Months ago, I refused to endorse a poster that said "Israel against the world." I happen to be a part of the world outside Israel. I'm not in favor of some movement defined as "Israel against the world." Nevertheless, Leonid excitedly lectured me about the justice of Israel's cause. All my efforts to point to the slogan itself, and its explicit meaning fell on deaf ears.

I bring that up to show I am not over-generalizing Leonid's problem with making appropriate responses to posts. He has a blind spot the size of a continent. Only so much can possibly be due to writing in a secondary language.

Mindy

Linz

Ptgymatic's picture

Are you suggesting we play Point Out the Other Guy's Grammatical and Spelling Errors? You certainly don't find anything to praise in my posts, so I think jibes about a spelling error are an indulgence you can't afford.

Mindy

Richard

Leonid's picture

"I did that, and concluded that ethics has no rational basis.How, then, can I pronounce moral judgement?"

You can, if you don't mind to make meaningless statements. Moral judgment which is based on irrational ethics has nothing to do with morality or judgment. So, if you honest and really believe in your conclusion, you would do much better if you'll avoid any moral pronunciations

Richard

Leonid's picture

So one can and must pronounce moral judgement without impunity, if one believes that ethics has no rational basis. What's the risk?

There is no risk, and this is not a question of impunity. Simply, such a statement wouldn't moral and wouldn't be judgment. It would be arbitrary statement and should be simply ignored. Whatever is accepted without evidence should be dismissed without evidence, like your statement "jury returned the wrong verdict" To start with, you don’t have any rational basis to define “wrong” and to distinguish it from “right”

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

Rand's statement in essence means that one must never fail to use one's mind, that it-to employ one's rational faculty.

I did that, and concluded that ethics has no rational basis.

How, then, can I pronounce moral judgement?

Richard

Leonid's picture

"One must never fail to do that which one cannot do."-Rand's statement in essence means that one must never fail to use one's mind, that it-to employ one's rational faculty. If one fails to do that, like in your example, then he cannot do anything.

Here's how this is going to work

Richard Goode's picture

I'll answer your questions when you answer mine.

"You tell me, asshole," doesn't cut it.

What's the risk?

Richard Goode's picture

One can't with impunity, but it doesn't stop one.

So one can and must pronounce moral judgement without impunity, if one believes that ethics has no rational basis. What's the risk?

Okay then, Goode...

Jameson's picture

Richard: "Jesus says, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Leonid: "[David Bain] has been found not guilty after long and complicated retrial. So he is NOT a murderer."

Richard: "The jury returned the wrong verdict."

1) Do you concur with Jesus?
2) Do you concur with Rand in the passage of your original post?
3) By what method did you arrive at your judgement of David Bain?
4) If Bain is guilty of murder does that make him immoral?

One can't but it doesn't stop one ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?

One can't with impunity, but it doesn't stop one. For instance, your judgement of David Bain.

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

"How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?"-one cannot

One must never fail to do that which one cannot do.

Simple answer

Leonid's picture

"How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?"-one cannot, and that exactly what Jesus prescribed. Apparently, like you, he also didn't believe that ethics has rational basis.

The big question

Richard Goode's picture

Rand says,

One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.

How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?

Mindy

Leonid's picture

" I didn't say free will implied circularity. "

While discussing Free Will and causality you said:

"There is a possible circularity in Objectivist metaphysics on causality and identity, as I understand it, because a thing's identity is set by how it acts under a given set of circumstances, but how it acts is explained by its identity. I may be missing something in this regard..." That implies circularity of Free Will as well. Your self-denial fools nobody. Your conclusion is a result of your bizarre premise that “a thing's identity is set by how it acts under a given set of circumstances," and it means that if thing doesn't act, it has no identity. With you, as usual, "confusion is masterpiece".

But you do believe

Jameson's picture

as Rosie does, that one should judge the crime and not the criminal?

Uncommon candour

gregster's picture

Well done Richard.

Not yet

Richard Goode's picture

Do you believe in God?

Not yet.

Rosie

sharon's picture

“One Part per subject. My (minor) dilemma at the moment is whether to wait until it is completely finished and post each separate Part at one time or whether to post as I finish each Part. Any preference?”

Post it when it is completely finished. That’s my suiggestion. It would be easier to follow for those who are interested.

C'mon, Goode

Jameson's picture

Show us of what you're made; are you man enough to stand by your convictions—the way your girlfriend has done—or not?

God is Goode that baaad?

gregster's picture

So far, a mighty YES.

Aw shucks ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Perfection you have reached, master Perigo

Gee, it was nothing Hilton. I just couldn't help it.

May the force be with you

I am The Force. Keep up!

Depends what you mean by

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Depends what you mean by "supreme," "being," "creator" and "ruler of the universe."

You guys aren't seriously expecting good faith from Goode are you??

OMG! We crossed posts

HWH's picture

Perfection you have reached, master Perigo Smiling

May the force be with you

'Dr No' Goode

gregster's picture

Do you believe in the "supreme being, creator and ruler of the universe?"

Sharon

Rosie's picture

Yes - it is coming, it is coming! Because it would otherwise be so long and complicated to reply to in an orderly fashion, I am going to divide it into separate subjects or Parts to avoid future confusion. One Part per subject. My (minor) dilemma at the moment is whether to wait until it is completely finished and post each separate Part at one time or whether to post as I finish each Part. Any preference? The downside about posting as I complete each subject is that I may get distracted with replies before completing the next subject...

I remember writing my views about Original sin but I can't remember where precisely. It was in response to a question from you. (I don't recall any question from Linz about Original sin?)

(Just have to put my boys to bed etc... back soonish)

Do you believe

Jameson's picture

there was a divine creator of all things?

Oh my God!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I swear Goode's reply and mine crossed!

Ha, Glenn!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Riddler-Wriggler will reply, "Depends what you mean by God."

I do wonder if creatures such as he have any idea how ghastly they are.

God only knows

Richard Goode's picture

Do you believe in God?

That depends on what you mean by 'God'.

Goode

Jameson's picture

Do you believe in God?

Rosie

sharon's picture

I am waiting. I am waiting for you to start a thread presenting your case for the existence of God. (I haven’t read any post by you about original sin. I may have missed it. Sorry. But it sounds interesting).

edit: Sharon - are you implying my earlier statements regarding Original sin were lip service?

Clarification: I am saying that the belief in original sin as presented by theologians contradicts the philosophical meaning of free-will as presented by philosophers who argue in favour of it.

Ahem

Rosie's picture

I note the Christians denying free will.

Lindsay, I have not denied free will. I do not believe Reed has denied free will.
Please keep up.

Sharon - are you implying my earlier statements regarding Original sin were lip service?

Quite right Sharon

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The belief in Original sin is a denial and abnegation of free-will, Christian lip service to the contrary notwithstanding.

Indeed. Please note that I asked Rosie about this several times. We still await her big apologia for her stinking, stupid superstition. But here (or maybe on some other thread—I can't keep up with my own forum) both Reed and Goode are calling free will improbable or some such. So why does Goode have a bee in his bonnet about Bain? Guess he just can't help it.

Mr. Perigo.

sharon's picture

"I note the Christians denying free will."

The belief in Original sin is a denial and abnegation of free-will, Christian lip service to the contrary notwithstanding.

Kasper darling

Lindsay Perigo's picture

We'll have to have dinner again so that I may bring your form into line with your substance. (How's that for a pick-up line? Evil )

Well, anything is permissible on a thread where Mindy says "perpetural."

I note the Christians denying free will. Yet one of them has a bee in his bonnet about David Bain. Now, if Bain couldn't help it, why is he a bane?

Arguments are valid or

Kasper's picture

Arguments are valid or invalid; propositions are true or false.

Do I really need to go into this?? Just because a conensus amongst philosophers who believe reason to be impotent, ethics to be arbitrary and humanity guided by forces pre-determined and therefor ultimately beyond his control, believe that truth and falsehood is not the same as logically true or logically false. No surprises there. I don't believe I'll get any traction on this one. My truthful evidence of this is the ethics debate but I'm sure you find that invalid Eye

Leonid's perpetural confusion

Ptgymatic's picture

...strikes again. I didn't say events were causeless, and I didn't say free will implied circularity. Over and over, Leonid, you DO NOT GET IT. Perhaps you could just leave me out of it?

Mindy

Helpless

Jeff Perren's picture

"There's simply no need to have any knowledge whatsoever of Ayn Rand or Objectivism to have a fruitful discussion of free will. Why muddy the waters?" [Goode]

I guess I just can't help myself. After all, "Free will isn't possible as far as we know" [reed]

Seriously, I agree one can have a fruitful discussion of the topic knowing nothing whatever of Objectivism, just as one could fruitfully discuss a great deal of physics before Maxwell. But since her theory solves the 'problem' in an elegant way, she deserves a place at the table, at minimum. Especially, echoing Brant for the first and last time in my life, this is a forum grounded on her philosophy.

The title of the thread is "Talk to the Rand" after all.

----------------

Addendum: By the way, forty-five years after its introduction, Bell's Theorem is still controversial, not universally accepted among QM theorists, and its implications not well understood.

Bell's Theorem: A Critique
Clover, Michael
eprint arXiv:quant-ph/0502016

" By implicitly assuming that all possible Bell-measurements occur simultaneously, all proofs of Bell's Theorem violate Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. This assumption is made in the original form of Bell's inequality, in Wigner's probability inequalities, and in the ``nonlocality without inequalities'' arguments. The introduction of time into derivations of these variants of Bell's theorem results in extra terms related to the time order of the measurements used in constructing correlation coefficients.

Since the same locality assumptions are made in the Heisenberg-compliant derivations of this paper, only time-independent classical local hidden variable theories are forbidden by violations of the original Bell inequalities; time-dependent quantum local hidden variable theories can satisfy this new bound and agree with experiment. We further point out that factorizable wavefunctions have been used to describe some EPR experiments and can be used to describe others. These will generate local de Broglie-Bohm trajectories in the description of the data. This second, independent, line of argument also shows that violation of Bell's inequality is only evidence that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle cannot be ignored."

and

Bell's theorem: Critique of proofs with and without inequalities

"Most of the standard proofs of the Bell theorem are based on the Kolmogorov axioms of probability theory. We show that these proofs contain mathematical steps that cannot be reconciled with the Kolmogorov axioms. Specifically we demonstrate that these proofs ignore the conclusion of a theorem of Vorob'ev on the consistency of joint distributions. As a consequence Bell's theorem stated in its full generality remains unproven, in particular, for extended parameter spaces that are still objective local and that include instrument parameters that are correlated by both time and instrument settings. Although the Bell theorem correctly rules out certain small classes of hidden variables, for these extended parameter spaces the standard proofs come to a halt. The Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger (GHZ) approach is based on similar fallacious arguments. For this case we are able to present an objective local computer experiment that simulates the experimental test of GHZ performed by Pan, Bouwmeester, Daniell, Weinfurter and Zeilinger and that directly contradicts their claim that Einstein-local elements of reality can neither explain the results of quantum mechanical theory nor their experimental results."

and

Bell's Theorem:
What is Bell's Theorem?Bell's theorem is a logical argument in support of the completeness of quantum theory. The theorem argues against the existence of any hidden or unknown variables that might deterministically explain otherwise seemingly random events predicted by quantum mechanics.

Bell's theorem was devised in 1964 by British physicist John Stewart Bell. Sometimes known as Bell's inequalities, in quantum mechanics the theorem is an analysis of a paradox first advanced by physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) in a 1935 Physical Review article titled "Can Quantum Mechanical Description of Physical Reality be Considered Complete?" As a consequence, Bell's theorem is used to argue against any incompleteness or hidden variables in the quantum mechanical description of nature.

Bell's theorem examines the expected results of EPR-type experiments when it is assumed that particle properties such as momentum and position have real values prior to measurement. This assumption is made by the hidden-variable theories that have been advanced as alternatives to quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. The theorem demonstrates that hidden-variable theories give results that are consistent with quantum mechanics in special cases, but that in more general experimental situations, hidden-variable theories predict results that are inconsistent with quantum mechanics.

For example, examining the correlations between measurements of the two particles in an EPR-type experiment gives statistical predictions of the outcome. By comparing the statistical predictions of a quantum mechanical model of the experiment with the predictions of alternative models that assume variables (e.g., momentum and position) have values prior to measurement, Bell's theorem shows that the predictions of the two models differ by a significant amount unless it is assumed that measurements on one particle can affect those on the other particle instantaneously, no matter how far apart they are separated. Since this condition would involve faster-than-light travel, it would violate special relativity, and thus it suggests that the criticisms of quantum mechanics in the EPR paradox do not seriously threaten the validity of the uncertainty principle.

Experiments by physicist Alain Aspect and others have tended to support Bell's theorem and strengthen arguments particles cannot have simultaneous values for complementary properties such as position and momentum unless physics is non-local and permits particles to interact instantaneously regardless of how far apart they are. David Bohm (1917-1992) and others have constructed such non-local hidden-variable theories, but they have not been widely accepted. Because the quantum mechanical description of nature is so different from everyday experience its interpretation continues to be a subject of debate, and Bell's theorem raises deep questions about the physical world that have yet to be completely answered.

Richard, Mindy

Leonid's picture

"We have good reason to believe that there are uncaused events, e.g., Bell's Theorem."
Bell's Theorem supports non-determinism of QM. Determinism is a concept which designates chain of antecedent interactions between two or more entities. All biological processes don't have any antecedent causes, but that doesn’t mean they are causeless. Cause doesn't have to be antecedent. In Aristotle's Metaphysics, there are four main causes of change in nature: the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause, and the final cause. Final cause, or telos, is defined as the purpose, the good, or the end of something. Since biological processes are goal-orientated, they are driven by final cause, that is-goal or purpose. In human beings this final cause represented by Free Will, its function to project goals into the future and to allow man to act in order to achieve them. There is no circularity.

Causality as internal vs. external

Ptgymatic's picture

A window broken by a baseball breaks due to an external influence. A choice made by a person of which of two manifest subjects he will pay attention to is internal. Leaving aside the influence of extreme circumstances, which can make unusual demands on attention, the person enjoys a degree of freedom in wielding his own attention the glass could never have.

Free will, in this scenario, is free in being independent of all external influences. That doesn't make it a random event. It is interesting to try to find comparisons to this in computational devices, other animals, etc.

There is a possible circularity in Objectivist metaphysics on causality and identity, as I understand it, because a thing's identity is set by how it acts under a given set of circumstances, but how it acts is explained by its identity. I may be missing something in this regard...

Mindy

Kasper

Richard Goode's picture

So a proposition can be true without being valid and a false propisition can be false yet still be valid?

Arguments are valid or invalid; propositions are true or false.

It appears to me that you don't know the first thing about logic. Of course, you are maintaining a long tradition among Objectivists of not having even a passing acquaintance with basic logic, but that's no excuse.

Please take a paper in basic logic.

Validifed™ - sounds like a children's night time cough syrup.

Kasper - ... if not

reed's picture

Kasper -
... if not validified in reason, can't be validifed in anything at all....... It follows then there is no free will and therefore there are no objective ethics.
Here your meaning is about validating or proving a proposition. Nothing follows failing to prove something. Truth is not dependent on proof.

So a proposition can be true without being valid ...
Here your meaning is about a proposition being logically sound.

... and a false propisition can be false yet still be valid?
And this is true although you probably intended for it to be false.

It appears to me that when I'm plastered I still make more sense than when you're sober
Drinking won't make it so. Eye

Ha,

Kasper's picture

So a proposition can be true without being valid and a false propisition can be false yet still be valid?

It appears to me that when I'm plastered I still make more sense than when you're sober Mr Reed which is a slight irony Eye

Kasper - Were you drunk on

reed's picture

Kasper -
Were you drunk on Friday night when you wrote your "here we go" post?

I hope you now realise that failing to validate (AKA validify) a proposition indicates nothing of its truth or falsehood.

Cheers,

Reed

Jeff - Free will isn't

reed's picture

Jeff -
Free will isn't possible as far as we know - IMO objectivists evade this and pretend that a non deterministic whole can be built from deterministic parts.

I was already aware of the "free will is man's nature" argument.

What would you think of an existent having a "random nature"?
This would allow for causelessness in the same way that objectivists allow for free will.

I'd expect an objectivist to respond that "a random nature would contadict the law of identity" while ignoring "man's nature" contradicts causality.

Jeff

Richard Goode's picture

it becomes increasingly clear that you truly are ignorant not only of Objectivist ethics, but its metaphysics and epistemology, as well. Have you any intention of changing that? I ask because it would be so much more efficient to discuss with you if you had even the most rudimentary knowledge of Objectivism.

There's simply no need to have any knowledge whatsoever of Ayn Rand or Objectivism to have a fruitful discussion of free will. Free will, determinism and related ideas were discussed for millennia before Ayn Rand. The best book I've read on the topic - Elbow Room by Daniel Dennett - doesn't mention Rand. Why muddy the waters?

The Law of Causality, according to Objectivism, states in essence that things do what they do because of what they are; their actions follow according to their nature. In short, the Law of Causality is the Law of Identity applied to action. Since the Law of Identity holds everywhere at all times (to assert otherwise is to assert a contradiction), then there are no exceptions to the Law of Causality. I.e. there could be no such thing as an "uncaused event."

We have good reason to believe that there are uncaused events, e.g., Bell's Theorem. We should reject the Law of Causality, according to Objectivism, since it implies the false proposition that there can be no such things as uncaused events.

Study Recommendations

Jeff Perren's picture

Reed,

I say this with no intended insult in my tone or words. When you make assertions like:

"If pure causality is true then outcomes are certain."

it becomes increasingly clear that you truly are ignorant not only of Objectivist ethics, but its metaphysics and epistemology, as well. Have you any intention of changing that? I ask because it would be so much more efficient to discuss with you if you had even the most rudimentary knowledge of Objectivism.

I'll just give you the briefest possible statement here - knowing that it's no substitute for greater depth of knowledge - of how your assertion is false:

The Law of Causality, according to Objectivism, states in essence that things do what they do because of what they are; their actions follow according to their nature. In short, the Law of Causality is the Law of Identity applied to action. Since the Law of Identity holds everywhere at all times (to assert otherwise is to assert a contradiction), then there are no exceptions to the Law of Causality. I.e. there could be no such thing as an "uncaused event."

If, then, it is a metaphysical fact that humans possess free will, this is not a violation of causality but an instance of it. But whether or not something is a fact, and a fortiori a fact of human nature, can only be known by reasoning based on observation. The fact of free will is directly observable introspectively (though identifying it requires reasoning).

Your view takes one classic position, one that creates ineradicable dilemmas. In effect, you're implying that free will is only (logically) possible if it's equivalent to an Epicurean "random swerve."

(That view isn't even applicable to certain purely physical systems, such as atoms and molecules, but let's not go down that road just now.) One of the truly innovative things about Objectivism is how it dissolves that dilemma, by taking a more Aristotelian view of causation.

I urge you to spend some time studying the basics of Objectivism, even if you choose not to agree with it in the end.

Why.

reed's picture

Jeff -
If pure causality is true then outcomes are certain.
Adding uncaused events won't make free-will.

Sharon, there are more options.

Ptgymatic's picture

There could be no "free will," yet quantum indeterminabilty, for example. Regarding humans, your dichotomy works, either we are free or not. But the others you are talking with are not limiting themselves to that context.

I'm just pointing out possibilities, I'm not taking a position.

Mindy

Free Will Logically Impossible?

Jeff Perren's picture

"I believe in free-will although logically it appears to be impossible irrespective of causality." [reed]

Why?

Reed

sharon's picture

"Your dichotomy is false because it doesn't follow that not believing in free-will means you must believe in determinism i.e. it could be that some events happen without cause."

Yes, I hear you. A person may not believe in free-will because of a limited understanding of the term, feeling that a gun to the head, say, violates his "free-will". And one may have no training in philosophy or, at least, have little or no exposure to the study and therefore will not even know what determinism is! Fine. But it does follow that free-will and determinism are irreconcilable ideas. That is the dichotomy; it is one or the other.

Sharon - I believe in

reed's picture

Sharon -
I believe in free-will although logically it appears to be impossible irrespective of causality.

Your dichotomy is false because it doesn't follow that not believing in free-will means you must believe in determinism i.e. it could be that some events happen without cause.

I didn't answer your question before because I was avoiding widening the thread topic even further.

Richard

sharon's picture

the question: Let me ask you: Do you think human beings have free-will, or are you a determinist?

Richard: The question is a false dichotomy.

No, the face off between free-will versus determinism is not a false dichotomy any more than is theism and A-theism, not historically or philosophically. I can’t believe nobody called you on this. Anyone can consult a philosophical dictionary and the clash will become clear.

Riddler's Riddle Cracked!!

Jameson's picture

"Like the "Piled higher and Deeper" post - a self-effacing and acronym-type reference to his Ph.D. "

"The Big Question" = Teen Bible Quiz

Dick

Jameson's picture

"How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?"

You tell me, asshole—I'm not the one who thinks ethics has no rational basis.

Evil Dr. Riddler Unmasked

Jameson's picture

"No, I took it upon myself NOT to answer the question."

You really are a cartoon, Evil Dr. Riddler. But at least you've finally answered the big question and revealed—though not admitted—you too are the subject of Rand's thesis, responsible for all the blood that's spilled in the world.

"Going by this dictionary definition of 'moral' - "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior" - I take it that Rand is saying that one must never fail to judge people's acts as right or wrong."... "Judge not [the man], lest ye be judged."

Correct, Rand did mean we should judge acts, but she didn't mean for the judgement to stop there. To judge the act and not the agent is a wholly impotent judgement; one cannot sentence the act to incarceration where it will no longer harm innocent people. In your refusal to condemn the man who commits evil, you let the agent of evil off the hook.

...............................................................................................................

"The precept: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” . . . is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.

There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.

The moral principle to adopt in this issue, is: “Judge, and be prepared to be judged.” ~ Ayn Rand

...............................................................................................................

Curious you would post Rand's thesis on the moral imperative of passing judgement without making the rather important distinction that she was only referring to evil acts, and not evil men. It begs the question: Why did you publish this passage, Goode?

"Rosie already answered your question; now I've answered it too."

Yes, WE KNOW, Dick – that was over a week ago. Now, repeat after Rosie:

"I can love Hermann Goering."

The big question

Richard Goode's picture

Rand says,

One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.

How can one pronounce moral judgement if one believes that ethics has no rational basis?

If you're going to answer any of my questions, please answer this one.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15

Richard Goode's picture

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

No

Richard Goode's picture

The question is, Goode, does that make her one of those responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world?

No.

Rand says,

One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.

Going by this dictionary definition of 'moral' - "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior" - I take it that Rand is saying that one must never fail to judge people's acts as right or wrong.

Jesus says, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," and goes on to say, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

You should take your Matthew with a little John. In John, the measure to be meted is death by stoning. Judging someone's actions as wrong is distinct from judging the agent as evil, and certainly distinct from stoning them to death.

Rosie already answered your question; now I've answered it too.

Free will and determinism

Richard Goode's picture

Okay, so it was a question Sharon asked of Reed... which you took upon yourself to answer with all the mighty smarminess you could muster.

No, I took it upon myself NOT to answer the question.

Let me ask you: Do you think human beings have free-will, or are you a determinist?

The question is a false dichotomy.

You can think human beings have free-will and that all events are causally determined. This position on free-will and determinism is called compatibilism.

Or you can think (as I'm inclined to) that human beings don't have free-will and that not all events are causally determined.

Clever Dick

Jameson's picture

Okay, so it was a question Sharon asked of Reed... "Let me ask you: Do you think human beings have free-will, or are you a determinist?" ... which you took upon yourself to answer with all the mighty smarminess you could muster.

Quid pro quo, Dr. Lecter.

What was the question?

Richard Goode's picture

The question is, Goode, does that make her one of those responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world?

No, Glenn, I meant, what was the question you allege I cherry picked?

Perhaps I'll answer your questions when you answer mine.

Lindsay

Leonid's picture

"but it wasn't you who changed my mind, it was Goode himself."-for this I gladly give intellectual rights to Goode.

Ha!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Leonid, I hate to break it to you, but it wasn't you who changed my mind, it was Goode himself. I've never seen such brazen vileness as his recent posts.

Lindsay

Leonid's picture

"And I've changed my mind. If that's all right by you."-this is great with me. That was my intention.

Lindsay

Leonid's picture

"And I've changed my mind. If that's all right by you."-this is great by me. That was my intention.

Leonid ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"Don't you believe me that he's a piece of shit?"-really? Before you said he's freedom fighter.

And I've changed my mind. If that's all right by you. Too bad if it isn't.

I have a long track record of giving people the benefit of the doubt long after they deserved it. So shoot me.

Lindsay

Leonid's picture

"Don't you believe me that he's a piece of shit?"-really? Before you said he's freedom fighter.

Glenn ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

A case of Shiraz says Goode will continue evading as before. Don't you believe me that he's a piece of shit? Smiling

QuestionS

Jameson's picture

Starting with this one:

And then there are all those that Lindsay has repeatedly asked you:

"Questions for Goode ... again!
1) Is eating bad according to you? Or does it have no moral significance?
2) If man's life is not the standard of value for you, what is? If your life is not the standard in your case, why are you reluctant to jump off a tall building?
3) Do you believe in God?
4) Do you subscribe to Rosie's stinking, stupid superstition—Christianity?
5) What is your Credo?"

What was the question?

Richard Goode's picture

Of all the questions you've been asked, Goode... that's the one you cherry pick?

What was the question?

Sharon

Leonid's picture

Sharon, please! I don't have your obsession of winning arguments.

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