Free will [was: Canine combustion [was: God, man and morality]]

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Sun, 2013-01-13 20:01

How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

Book of Daniel (NIV)

[Cross-posted from Eternal Vigilance.]


( categories: )

Here we go again!

Tom Burroughes's picture

Damian, you make one easily demonstrably false claim straight away: that only Objectivists and Goblinians believe in the existence of volition as a fact. But I cited at least two thinkers on my comments, such as John Searle, for one, who is plainly NOT, as far as I know, either overtly religious or an open admirer of Rand. And the list of people I linked to also contains dozens of secular thinkers, such as scientists of various kinds, who think likewise.

We can dance around this mulberry bush for a while yet but I think the problem is the reductionist fallacy here: you are right at one level that we are composed of physical matter, but I think where you go wrong is assuming that there is no emergent quality that comes through. For instance:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytim...

"These discoveries about how our brains work can also explain how free will works rather than explaining it away. But first, we need to define free will in a more reasonable and useful way. Many philosophers, including me, understand free will as a set of capacities for imagining future courses of action, deliberating about one’s reasons for choosing them, planning one’s actions in light of this deliberation and controlling actions in the face of competing desires. We act of our own free will to the extent that we have the opportunity to exercise these capacities, without unreasonable external or internal pressure. We are responsible for our actions roughly to the extent that we possess these capacities and we have opportunities to exercise them."

"Our studies suggest that people sometimes misunderstand determinism to mean that we are somehow cut out of this causal chain leading to our actions. People are threatened by a possibility I call “bypassing” — the idea that our actions are caused in ways that bypass our conscious deliberations and decisions. So, if people mistakenly take causal determinism to mean that everything that happens is inevitable no matter what you think or try to do, then they conclude that we have no free will. Or if determinism is presented in a way that suggests all our decisions are just chemical reactions, they take that to mean that our conscious thinking is bypassed in such a way that we lack free will."

"Even if neuroscience and psychology were in a position to establish the truth of determinism — a job better left for physics — this would not establish bypassing. As long as people understand that discoveries about how our brains work do not mean that what we think or try to do makes no difference to what happens, then their belief in free will is preserved. What matters to people is that we have the capacities for conscious deliberation and self-control that I’ve suggested we identify with free will.

As for Richard Goode having the temerity to accuse me, or anyone else, of "demonic" possession, given his own oft-stated beliefs in Supreme Beings and all the rest of that, well, all I can say is that this is as near a perfect example of projection as I have come across in years. What a weapons-grade berk you are.

Case closed.

Btw Damien

Jules Troy's picture

Try telling an Israeli that Islam is not dangerous..

Boogie Monsters

Richard Goode's picture

The Myth of the Internet Troll is a must read for all Objectivists.

Speaking of The Economist..

Jules Troy's picture

How come no one talks about money here?

Are you a day trader? Stock owner?  Anyone invest in ETF's?  Doom and gloom bullion speculators etc?

Richard. ..

Damien Grant's picture

Thank Allah I'm only a libertarian.

You know what I read in the economist this week? An article on the last Mali trouble. The reporter stated, matter of fact, most African Muslims oppose jihad.

This is an obvious truth. It does not mean Islam is not evil as some here claim, (all religion is evil) but it is a simple fact.

Lax gun laws lead to more gun violence. Does not mean gun control is moral. But it is a simple fact.

Obama is not trying to stop law abiding citizens buying guns. Maybe he wants to. Who knows. But he is not trying to do so. This is a fact.

Facts. Simple. Own them and then take a position of principle from there.

We are made of atoms that follow the laws of nature. Everything we do can be expanded from that. Only a catholic or an objectivist thinks otherwise.

odd. ..

Damien Grant's picture

Look.

I think what I think, but facts are facts.

You can argue Islam is evil, gun control is wrong, Obama is a bad president, whatever you want, but why dodge facts?

I do not understand. I seriously do not.

What is the point of trying to win a debate by ignoring reality?

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I am beginning to think that people are so set in the way folks see the world that reason, objective reason, facts, are discounted, ignored, rejected.

It's certainly true around here.

When it comes to Objectivism's cardinal sins—evasion, faking reality, blanking out, mysticism, etc.—Objectivists are the worst offenders!

I'm beginning to think that I hit the nail on the head when I conjectured that Objectivism is a form of demonic possession.

Well

Jules Troy's picture

Tonight it is -33c with windchill making it -45c.

It is colder than a nuns c#%t.  How is that for reality.

fake reality. ..

Damien Grant's picture

I am beginning to think that people are so set in the way folks see the world that reason, objective reason, facts, are discounted, ignored, rejected.

Stop trying to fake reality

Richard Goode's picture

You are a physical creature.

You live in a deterministic universe.

All your decisions and all your actions are causally determined.

All your decisions and all your actions are governed by the laws of physics.

For you to have chosen other than you did, under the same circumstances, would have been a violation of the laws of nature.

Free will is physically impossible.

Stop trying to fake reality.

"The import of it is that if

Tom Burroughes's picture

"The import of it is that if I choose A instead of B, the very fact of my doing so proves that I didn't and couldn't make a choice at all; the act of choosing proves that the fact of choosing is an illusion."

That is pretty much what these folk believe, Linz (although as I pointed out to a rather peevish Damian, these guys want to have their "brunch and keep it".)

I know that mention of her name gets some like Doug all irate, but Diana Hsieh and Greg Perkins have some good discussions of the free will/determinism controversy here:

http://www.philosophyinaction....

And she links to this essay - in the New York Times!!!! - here:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytim...

(I doubt that author is a Rand fan, so we can forget about "confirmation bias")

To hell with it, let's all

Tom Burroughes's picture

To hell with it, let's all have dinner.

So let me get this straight

Richard Goode's picture

Time for brunch. A number of possibilities, all of them in this world, as best I can tell. The fact that I might choose bacon and eggs doesn't mean toast has to be in a different world for my choosing between them to be real.

On the assumption that you had bacon and eggs for brunch, and not toast, are you saying that what makes it true that you could have had toast for brunch is simply that there is bread in your pantry and a toaster on your kitchen counter, etc.?

Linz

Rosie's picture

Time for brunch. A number of possibilities, all of them in this world, as best I can tell. The fact that I might choose bacon and eggs doesn't mean toast has to be in a different world for my choosing between them to be real.

Just mind you don't inadvertantly quantum jump to a world where you choose grapefuit! Eye

Well ... don't keep us in suspense ...

Richard Goode's picture

... what did you have for brunch?! (Inquiring minds want to know.)

Baade dream

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I seem to be in the middle of a baade dream in which I'm reading the following, on SOLO, by an entity purporting to be an adult person:

Possibilities are ways the world could be. But there is only one way the world actually is. All the remaining possibilities are ways the world isn't. They're not real.

Some philosophers seek to avoid this conclusion by claiming that all possible worlds are equally real. Each possible world is actual to its inhabitants. These philosophers claim that when you decide between toast or cereal for breakfast, the future history of the world literally bifurcates. There is one possible world in which you choose toast, and another, equally real, possible world in which you choose cereal.

I hope it goes without saying that a belief in an astronomical, ever burgeoning, number of possible worlds, each equally real, is lunacy. But the metaphysical reality of such possible worlds is what must be the case for it to be literally true that you could have chosen otherwise.

So you had toast for breakfast? You could not have chosen otherwise. No one ever has. The alternative universe in which you ate cereal does not exist.

I look forward to waking up and discovering nothing so cretinous has been posted here. The import of it is that if I choose A instead of B, the very fact of my doing so proves that I didn't and couldn't make a choice at all; the act of choosing proves that the fact of choosing is an illusion. Only BAG Baade could write something so militantly moronic. Oh, wait ...

Next thing BAG Baade will be arguing freedom means being free to do what a goblin has already secretly dictated one will do. Oh, wait ...

Or that one can be a moral agent without possessing volition. Oh, wait ...

Or that human beings don't have volition but are about to be overrun by robots who do. Oh, wait ...

On reflection, I now choose to apologise to cretins for associating them with anything so numbingly nonsensical. They are far too bright to deserve that.

Time for brunch. A number of possibilities, all of them in this world, as best I can tell. The fact that I might choose bacon and eggs doesn't mean toast has to be in a different world for my choosing between them to be real.

Pesky reality again. Always gets in the way of superstition, wishful thinking, charlatanism ... and plain ol' crap.

Tom

Jules Troy's picture

Richard has been chasing that god particle for years!

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

She pointed out that volition is a causal agent, and so resolved the free will/determinism controversy.

Sounds like compatibilism to me.

The claim

Tom Burroughes's picture

As far as I know, Richard, Objectivism does not make such a claim.

As for Damian's point about confirmation bias, well, all I can say to that is he should be aware that this is as much of a trap for a hard determinist as it is for someone who thinks that volition is real. Plenty of philosophers, such as John Searle, for instance, don't think they are trapping themselves into a confirmation bias.

Today's determinists are not much different, in some ways, from those old Marxists, who, when challenged, would pronounce that their disputants were just suffering from "bourgois false consciousness". Yeah, whatever.

And Damian, I genuinely urge you - and anyone else - to look at that collection of stuff this guy Doyle has put together. The line about Higgs Boson did actually make me smile.

Outside of physical matter

Richard Wiig's picture

Does Objectivism make this claim?

Not a compatibi list

Richard Wiig's picture

I find it strange that you deny Free Will and then raise compatibilism. If there is no Free Will, then there is nothing to make compatible. It seems to me that hard determinists are honest while compatibilists are not.

In regards to possiblities, of course no actions are real until they are made actual, but possible courses of action are certainly very real. Tomorrow I could go fishing, lie in bed all day, or go bike riding. They must be real, otherwise they are not possible courses of action.

volition exists

Damien Grant's picture

It might do Tom, but this does not mean it is not the creation of atoms doing their thing.

I believe because the outcome is great

A wonderful expression, I might use this in the future, I hope you do not mind. Brilliant.

I will read the links you have provided, but because I suffer from confirmation bias it is going to be hard to shift me from my existing views. I tend to only see the facts that suit my purpose.

Even though I know I think like this it can be hard to be objective.

However, I think that the free-will advocates need to first identify, scientifically, how free will can act outside of physical matter and then invest in a higgs boson research type project to find it.

thanks.

 

 

Once more into the breach, dear friends!

Tom Burroughes's picture

I am not going to rehash what I said in my previous comment but I want to make a couple of points and then link to some comments I have come across. Firstly, Damian thinks that I am overlooking the glorious complexity of the world as it is and that looking for free will/volition is just vanity, a sort of desire by humans to feel unjustly special. Well, I suppose I can see his point: part of the resistance to the ideas of evolution in biology, for example, can be explained in this way. (Of course some creationists might be entirely genuine and it is just that their science or reasoning is crap). We can argue that Creationists are trying to look for the hand of God so that they don’t feel so insignificant. And supporters of Rand’s ideas should not be blind to this sort of “I believe because the outcome is great” sort of thinking. (There is a lot that can be learned by the emerging disciplines of evolutionary psychology, for example.) But I think that Damian also is overlooking the rather obvious (well, it is obvious to me) point that the creations of humans, the choices we make, the decisions and plans we act on, are complexities too; volition exists. Introspection is a form of perception through which we observe the very act of our choosing and to deny that is to deny or doubt a fact of reality. To observe volition in action is hardly an attempt to simplify the world (as if that were possible anyway).

I also don’t really think that Damian has dealt adequately with my point that in condemning what someone else wrote on this board, he was, perhaps unwittingly, using the vocabulary of volition, engaging in “stolen concept” behaviour in presuming that someone whom he attacked could have acted otherwise than he or she did. A consistent determinist would at best only use morally charged language as a sort of tactic to make others do what they want (perhaps this is something we have evolved to possess as a behaviour over the centuries), but such a person has no grounds for being angry, or sad, or happy or exultant, that their persuasive powers have produced any effects, since that would assume that the persons they interacted with had the volitional powers of a free, “wilful” being in the first place. That is why I say that the whole vocabulary of humans acting/thinking intentionally is dead or questionable if we take the determinist point of view to its logical conclusion.

Looking at how other Objectivist forums have explored the free will/determinism issue, I came across this at the Objectivist Living site: http://www.objectivistliving.c...

“This argument confuses a necessary condition with a sufficient condition or with an equivalence (both necessary and sufficient). You need a nervous system in order to be conscious, but that doesn't make the two the same. You need tires in order to have a working car, but four working tires aren't a working car. The standard and, to me, quite satisfactory way of distinguishing the two is to point out that we use entirely different predicates to talk about each. Physiological events have electrical properties or consist of the reaction of certain elements, for example, while thoughts have consistency, insightfullness or wit. The nature of the nervous system may be to follow physical laws, but this doesn't prove anything about its activities or capacities. I didn't understand this until I studied data communications and learned what a layered protocol is. Consciousness is (is, not resembles or is analagous to) a layered protocol. It requires a working physical layer if the upper layers are to work, but the vocabulary of the lower layers is insufficient to explain the workings of the higher ones.”

And then there was this comment on the same site by a person called “Starbuckle”, and I think this gets to the crux of it pretty well:

“A volitional act is indeed caused; one's act of choosing among alternatives is one of the causes of one's action (but not the only cause). One can have motives to act one way and another set of motives to act another way, and then by an act of will choose to allow certain motives to be determinative. Only a notion of causality that would ban an entity from having certain attributes (like a self-regulatory consciousness) could support the conclusion that an entity "can't" be volitional. That volition is a fact is what we start with. We know by introspection that we choose. We can observe ourselves choosing. That's not all there is to be said about it, but a theory is not auspicious which begins by denying the existence of a capacity in ourselves that we directly perceive, and that is evidently limited by our nature and nonmagical. The faculty of volition itself has (biological) causes, and the exercise of volition is a cause.”

Finally, there is a website here which seems to have gathered together a huge collection of writings about free will and determinism from philosophers across the spectrum, ranging from hard determinists to libertarians. It is available free for download via Pdf.

www.informationphilosopher.com...

I did Rosie!!

Jules Troy's picture

(Smirks)

go for the hall pass!!

But remember this: Do unto others...

Rosie's picture

....as you would have them do unto you.

You haven't addressed my question to you concerning the silent husband and his adulterous wife.

Well, perhaps it is a pre-ordained test .

Rosie's picture

Patience is a virtue.

Rosie

Richard Goode's picture

Why on earth would you want him to be free to do anything else?

I guess I'm just getting impatient waiting to find out whether or not Linz is pre-ordained to answer my question. Smiling

Richard

Rosie's picture

But he has so far avoided answering my question.

Linz is free to do what he is pre-ordained to do.

Why on earth would you want him to be free to do anything else? Eye

Rosie

Richard Goode's picture

Because the non-cretins who affirm free will are conscientious objectors in the battle of ideas.

I was referring to Linz.

He's not a Christian.

He's not a dwarfed and deformed idiot.

He's not considered to be extremely stupid. (Except by the dear departed Leonid, who considers him to be of low intelligence.)

But he has so far avoided answering my question.

Conversations between cretins and non-cretins about morality

Rosie's picture

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition

cretin (ˈkrɛtɪn)

— n
1. old-fashioned a person afflicted with cretinism
2. offensive a person considered to be extremely stupid

[C18: from French crétin, from Swiss French crestin, from Latin Chrīstiānus Christian , alluding to the humanity of such people, despite their handicaps]

Word Origin & History

cretin
1779, from Fr. Alpine dialect crestin, "a dwarfed and deformed idiot" of a type formerly found in families in the Alpine lands, a condition caused by a congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones, from V.L. *christianus "a Christian," a generic term for "anyone," but often with a sense of "poor fellow."

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

You can't actually have conversations about morality with cretins who deny free will

Because the non-cretins who affirm free will are conscientious objectors in the battle of ideas.

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

I don't know why you call the "possibilities" we are confronted with, not real? Sorry for repeating myself, but how are those possibilities not there?

Possibilities are ways the world could be. But there is only one way the world actually is. All the remaining possibilities are ways the world isn't. They're not real.

Some philosophers seek to avoid this conclusion by claiming that all possible worlds are equally real. Each possible world is actual to its inhabitants. These philosophers claim that when you decide between toast or cereal for breakfast, the future history of the world literally bifurcates. There is one possible world in which you choose toast, and another, equally real, possible world in which you choose cereal.

I hope it goes without saying that a belief in an astronomical, ever burgeoning, number of possible worlds, each equally real, is lunacy. But the metaphysical reality of such possible worlds is what must be the case for it to be literally true that you could have chosen otherwise.

So you had toast for breakfast? You could not have chosen otherwise. No one ever has. The alternative universe in which you ate cereal does not exist.

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

Have you done as I suggested and familiarised yourself with the differences between the two views known as metaphysical libertarianism and compatibilism?

I think that Free Will might be nothing more than a consequence of our ability to conceptualise. Because we can think, that is, project into the future, we can choose. It's nothing more mysterious than that, which is not actually mysterious at all.

Because it seems to me that you are a compatibilist.

Free Will is the ability to focus the mind on a chosen goal. I don't see any reason why that must be independent of physical elements. In fact, to the contrary. It cannot exist without physical elements.

You think that free will is compatible with physical determinism. (You're not a loony libertarian like Linz.)

A loose idea

Richard Wiig's picture

I think that Free Will might be nothing more than a consequence of our ability to conceptualise. Because we can think, that is, project into the future, we can choose. It's nothing more mysterious than that, which is not actually mysterious at all.

Damien. Free Will is a characteristic of a healthy human consciousness, which, to my way of thinking, places it within the bounds of the laws of nature. That's what I was meaning in asking why you place consciousness as a whole, within those laws, but consider Free Will - an aspect of consciousness - to be something that could only possibly exist outside of them?

RW

Damien Grant's picture

I do not understand what you are saying.

consciousness is within the laws of nature. consciousness does not equal free will.

that is very funny

Damien Grant's picture

No one has ever chosen an alternative course of action.

I actually chortled. Outloud.

 

Damien

Richard Wiig's picture

I haven't said it's outside nature. It is most definitely part of the laws of nature so far as I am concerned. I'm wondering why you consider consciousness, as a whole, to be within the laws of nature, but for certain aspects of it, in order to exist, to be necessarily outside of those laws?

show me...

Damien Grant's picture

Why do you not see human consciousness, as a whole, to be outside the laws of nature,

Show me evidence of this Richard, or give me reasoned proof, that consciousness is outside nature, and I will listen to you.

You can tell me it is, but that is not evidence. I can tell you I am a Jedi. Does not make it true.

I don't know why you call the

Richard Wiig's picture

I don't know why you call the "possibilities" we are confronted with, not real? Sorry for repeating myself, but how are those possibilities not there?

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Did you choose to be Tom Burroughes?

Do you determine your actions or does someone else?

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

Just which universal law does the ability to choose among alternative courses of action violate?

The alternative courses of action you think you choose among are not real.

No one has ever chosen an alternative course of action.

Those atoms that are under

Richard Wiig's picture

Those atoms that are under the laws of nature produce consciousness. Why do you not see human consciousness, as a whole, to be outside the laws of nature, while selecting certain aspects of it to place outside the laws of nature?

You are still doing it: You

Richard Wiig's picture

You are still doing it:

You make my point for me.

You would fight against the truth because you value your 'freedom', over truth.

You haven't even asked me which alternative I'd take. I'd take the latter. You're doing exactly what you accuse others of doing. Desiring an outcome then selecting what is needed to support it. All I'd like is some good-faith discussion here. I don't like being misrepresented and mischaracterised. If you are merely having fun in trying to wind me up, then I guess it's back to a simple get fucked. I'm hoping that's not the cass, but perhaps I'm naive in thinking that a reasonable discussion is possible.

reason

Damien Grant's picture

Because a brain is made of atoms, Richard, subject to the laws of physics and other such natural forces of the universe.

The definition of free will, as defined by Objectivists and Catholics, is the ability of a brain to choose between two competing options given an identical situation, and that identical situation includes the atoms in the brain and the natural laws of the universe acting on the atoms of that brain.

This is why the free-will advocates talk of an Open Universe, and revert to the mystical properties of quantum mechanics, to try and introduce a degree of indeterminism into the universe, so that there is something outside the physical matter of the brain that can determine its path.

Woolly things, like Will and Character, (which are simply the manifestations of brain activity that can be reduced to atomic interactions) are called upon to explain how a brain can rise above its physical self.

Tom says Objectivism is not mysticism. Richard Goode, who knows a thing or two about mysticism and faith, calls a belief in free will a leap of faith, akin to a religion. I do not think I would call Objectivism a religion, but it is based on a concept that cannot be proved by either reason or science, so there is, I think, a degree of mysticism in Objectivism.

Not having a definite view on this matter until recently, I have formed one, based partly on the frustrated ratings of our own gobliniate, Dr Goode.

If you open your mind, Richard, sweep away your fixed assumptions, and look at the world with honest eyes, you will be surprised at what you can see.

Ayn Rand talked about the power of reason and its importance to humans as a means of survival.

I do not think she was not right in everything, but she was in most things, and this is one of those things.

 

Richard W

Damien Grant's picture

You make my point for me.

You would fight against the truth because you value your 'freedom', over truth.

There is no context I am avoiding, this is what you are saying, and continue to say.

You did the same thing in the other debate, refusing to accept facts because they did not support your views.

This is contemptible, but you do not need to worry. You are not alone in this. Many people engage in this sort of self-delusion.

Thinking is hard. If you want to understand, look up confirmation bias and the liar’s advantage.

Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do. -- Bertrand Russell

Outside the laws of the Uiniverse

Richard Wiig's picture

This is the achilles heel. Why do you say that Free Will is outside the laws of the Universe? Just which universal law does the ability to choose among alternative courses of action violate?

Dense

Richard Wiig's picture

I do not deny what I said, but I strongly deny the meaning you have attached to it. I was fantasizing about the consequences of a world without Free Will, about the position every freedom lover would be in - the alternatives they'd be faced with. They could continue to fight for freedom, which would necessarily be to fight against reality, because reality would not support freedom, or save themselves one massive headache and give up on freedom fighting altogether. Join the masses and look out for number one. That would actually be the sensible thing to do in a world without Free Will.

You turn that extrapolation into some kind of contemptible failing on my part, as if I have been dishonest for it. If there is a failing here it is your lack of making the effort to put it in proper context.

argument by intimidation

Damien Grant's picture

Argument by intimidation is the standard here Tom. Those who fall short of the desired level of purity are filth, irredeemable fuckwits, Islamapologists, et al.

The fatal flaw in your narrative is the inability to explain how a brain can act outside the laws of the universe. You are seeking to prove free-will by logical gymnastics, showing that I must believe in free will because I think Richard Wiig’s desire to suppress facts is contemptible and to convince me of the importance of free will existing by pointing out the negative effects of a lack of free will.

My believing in free will would not make free will real.

However, you are left with no ability to explain how a brain can act outside the laws of nature. The closest that the arguments come is the possibility of an open universe and impacts of quantum theory, but a logical analysis of quantum theory would tell you that the random movement of sub-atomic particles may mean that the brain’s decision is not pre-determined, but this does not give rise to free will unless some independent id is controlling the quantum jumps.

Everything that you reference, the brain choosing to focus etc, can all be explained by atoms doing their thing. Everything that we see in the human brain is consistent with the brain being a meat computer.

The challenge I laid down earlier in this thread, to explain how a brain, subject to the laws of nature and all of the previous decisions it had made up to that point, could over-ride its programming, has gone unanswered.

In order to show we have free will you need to point to something outside of nature, some explanation of how a complex organism can act independent of its component parts. You have not done this. No one has because I do not think it can be done.

But I really do not think it matters. Life and the universe is so complex that the non-existence of this element makes no difference.

Look at an ant colony. None of the individual ants understands what it is doing in full, no ant has a concept of the totality. They each go about their thing, like cells in a brain. The colony itself, however, moves with a purpose. It acts with what looks like reason, as if it is thinking.

It will react to stimulus. It is a brain of sorts. You cannot tell me it has free will because the whole is entirely dependent on the sum of its parts, and each of the parts both impacts on the whole and is impacted by it.

This is how I see a brain, (not just a human brain). It can transcend its component parts to think in higher and abstract thoughts, but this ability is driven entirely by the individual elements within in. It is not free of the cells, atoms and chemistry that makes it up, but it acts as an independent thing.

That should be enough, we should not have to try and ascribe to ourselves some additional ‘thing’ to make us feel special. We are not the centre of the universe. We are temporary things of great beauty.

cast off your caste Mr Wiig.

Damien Grant's picture

You do not deny what you said, you do not recoil from it.

I have not misrepresented you. Your stated intention to suppress facts that undermine your views.

Contemptible. Lower than a Dalit.

Absolutely superb, Tom!

Richard Wiig's picture

Absolutely superb, Tom!

No need to worry about goblins and fairies

Tom Burroughes's picture

Maybe, Damian, you are worried that that in supporting the notion that we have volition, aka free will, we are in danger of falling into the goblian pit. Rest your fevered brow, at least on my account. Free will, or whatever else we want to call it, is not a “gift from Jesus” or Aunt Ayn or some fairies at the bottom of the garden. As I said in my post, and supported by quoting the likes of Kevin Mcfarlane in his excellent essay, it is not a mental illusion to believe that one had genuine alternative courses of action and that one could have acted differently than one did. I emphatically contest that point. We are not trapped liked caged beasts.

Take an example from this comment thread: you could have chosen to respond differently than you did than call Richard “contemptible”. You could have been polite instead. “Contemptible” is a morally charged word – it implies that you think Richard could have acted differently than he did, since why else get angry at him? If you, being a consistent determinist on things, believe that we are constantly led to behave in a pre-determined way, why bother to work yourself up into a lather? By your own lights, they have no real choice in the matter. Your determinism also robs you of an entire vocabulary, or indeed any serious sense of an acting self, as the Kevin McFarlane essay explains:

“Virtually all of us believe in, or act as though we believe in moral responsibility. Now a person can only be morally responsible for his actions if he is able to act otherwise than he does. But what does that mean? Suppose a man has committed a crime. It means that given all the environmental factors unchanged he could still have acted otherwise. Because his action was caused, ultimately, by his will. He was free to do so/not do what he did. For a materialist there can be no logical grounds whatever to morally condemn any action no matter how despicable.”

”Anyone who uses words such as “action” and “will” to describe aspects of human behaviour is logically required to uphold the theory of free will. This is because words “action” and “will” presuppose the category of “free” in their meanings. If a man acts then he must act freely. Otherwise, he merely reacts. The point is that either his behaviour is wholly subject to external causal factors (in which case he reacts) or it is not (in which case he acts). The act presupposes that he initiates his behaviour. To speak of action which is caused by biology or environment is a contradiction in terms.”

Exactly. Believing what I do – that I do have volition – is not my wanting to support a “noble lie” without which I would be trapped in a fatalistic universe; I believe in it because through a mixture of introspection and observation I can see evidence that volition exists. Snorting “oh no it doesn’t!” hardly convinces me to change my mind. Yes, you cannot "see" and "measure" volition, but as I said, in my point about how a human being is more than the sum of his/her physical parts and environment, the personality, the "character" if you will, of a person, is an emergent thing (no goblins required); this person develops a will; their lives are a sort of "narrative" in which we get to write part of our story, rather than react.

In talking about moral codes and how and why morality comes to light, you rightly explain the importance of incentives. We all need to get along and leave in peace – there are plenty of good, consequentialist as well as other reasons for adopting moral codes. But if we doubt, or undercut, the reality of volition, the whole structure collapses. And this is not just speculation: look around you at what has happened in countries when ideas of individual responsibility, notions of blame, shame and praise, vanish or weaken. You cannot have a moral order and simultaneously sneer at the argument for free will. It does not work. (In fact, we have a classic case of Rand’s “stolen concept” fallacy at work.)

I can recommend philosopher John Searle’s lecture on this tangled issue. http://www.learnoutloud.com/Fr...

Finally, don’t try and shut down debate by claiming that this is like Medieval scholastics debating the number of angels that can dance on a pin-head. That sounds like argument by intimidation. When belief in volition dies, it is just “might is right”.

You make me laugh, because in

Richard Wiig's picture

You make me laugh, because in your charge of wooly thinking, you are yourself being a wooly thinker. You've caste me as you want to caste me and then make it fit the bill. What I actually mean, so far as you are concerned, does not matter to you.

This is not projecting Richard...

Damien Grant's picture

This is what you said:

Even if your view was correct, which it isn't, it would need to be opposed by everyone who values freedom.

I asked you if you understood what you said. Not only did you say yes, you went further and justified opposing the truth

If the facts of reality are such that it's a good thing to bash your wife, then everyone who opposed wife-bashing would have to oppose the facts of reality.

Your position is clear. If the facts do not support your position, you will oppose those facts. I can understand how you can get to this position but I cannot agree with it.

I do not have adjectives harsh enough to describe how I feel about your rationalisation, but I have the same views for the thought processes of socialists, believer’s in goblins, conservatives and a range of other stupid belief-based ideologies that people adhere to without actually thinking.

Woolly thinking. Contemptible.

I'm coming to the conclusion

Richard Wiig's picture

I'm coming to the conclusion that you do a lot of projecting, Damien. What you say below isn't what I said, but you seem incapable of understanding that. There are many things here that you twist so that they come out the other end out of whack from where they started.

It is akin to Richard Wiig saying he would suppress facts that he does not like if it compromises freedom.

In other words, there are

Richard Wiig's picture

In other words, there are aspects of Man’s behaviour which are caused, ultimately, neither by biological nor environmental stimuli but by the fact that he wills such behaviour.

This is where Objectivism and Catholicism depart from science, and indeed, from reason.

In regards to Objectivism, this parts from reason and science how? He's refering to observable aspects of human nature, not to some kind of floating abstract.

Peacocks are pretty, but they

Richard Wiig's picture

Peacocks are pretty, but they are not art. Unless of course you believe in a divine creator.

Lemmings don't have a choice

Richard Wiig's picture

Lemmings don't have a choice but to follow their noses. That is their nature.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

The human soul itself is no more and no less than a suite of software running on wetware known colloquially as "brains".

The same goes for cat souls.

but this is not mainstream Christian thinking

True.

But the phrase "immortal soul" is not found in the Bible.

Eternal Vigilance

Damien Grant's picture

Did I proclaim the benefits of my faith?

Richard, you have a blog devoted partly to your faith. I read it from time to time.

Cats have souls, too. (They're made out of meat.)

You may be right, (although I doubt it) but this is not mainstream Christian thinking, (what would Benedict say! Not your brand I know but you get the idea.) However, if humans have souls, given that human and cat brains are indistinguishable for the most part, I would assume that cat’s must also have souls. You can replace souls for free will in that sentence, unless you believe human souls are gifted to us by Jesus, or free will is gifted to us by Ayn.

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing

I was being dramatic for effect. And you know it; stop trying to wind me up.

Thanks for the morality examples. I am trying to will myself to focus hard enough to understand it.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

He is reciting the benefits of his faith, as you proclaim the benefits of yours.

Did I proclaim the benefits of my faith?

It is why Christians think we have a soul and our cats do not.

Cats have souls, too. (They're made out of meat.)

We are nothing.

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.

it isn't any good, Goode.

Damien Grant's picture

Tom's "reason" is saying why free will would be a good thing. He is reciting the benefits of his faith, as you proclaim the benefits of yours.

But fairies are good things. Does not make them real.

But in making this argument Tom mises a major fork in the road.

The brain responds to stimulus. If the brain learns that some actions, such as theft, create negative reactions, the brain will weigh this evidence when considering what to do next. It is still in my self interest to see some actions punished to create incentives on people not to do those things. This is not just a "narrow exercise in stimulating responses", it is defining what is considered moral and not moral. Morality is possibly learned behaviour. Settting the benchmark of what is moral and immoral is important as is the wider community debates that occur around these issues, as the debates themselves help define and educate what is considered 'good' and what is considered 'bad'. This is not, in my view, trivial, it is one of the building blocks of a functioning society.

He is also appears to be assuming that the universe is relatively simple. It isn't. The level of complexity in the universe, with its eighteen dimensions or whatever, is so unimaginable in its complexity that even though our brains are tied down by the physical constraints of the rules of nature, I do not think it makes any practical difference.

The desire to think we are special, something more than an evolved salamander, is natural. It is the idea of the earth revolving around the sun was resisted. It is why Christians think we have a soul and our cats do not.

It is hubris. We are nothing. The only thing special about us is our awareness of our insignificance.

We act as if we have free will. If there was some magical human-like creature that had a "free will" chip inserted in its soul, then it would be indistinguishable from us in the way it exercised its mind.

This debate, as I said at the start, is pointless. It is angels dancing on the head of a pin pointless.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

A moral code, if it is to make sense requires that the actor is free or not to follow it and that he or she understands what morality is for. Otherwise, how do notions of praise and blame make any sense? Why does it make sense, given your argument, to even try and cultivate a "good moral character", or self respect? Why would it make any sense to punish or reward behaviours other than in a very narrow exercise in stimulating responses from people as if they were lab rats?

This is the only argument you've so far presented that's any good.

Deliberation

Richard Goode's picture

When one deliberates, one considers possible courses of action. At the end of one's deliberation, one decides between the possibilities. Supposedly, such a process of deliberation culminating in a commitment to a given course of action exemplifies the exercise of free will.

But the possibilities are epistemic possibilities only, not metaphysical possibilities. The possibilities are all "in the mind". Outside the mind, the possibilities are not metaphysically real. You decide to have cereal for breakfast instead of toast. In the actual world, you eat cereal. The other possible world in which you eat toast instead does not literally exist.

While it may seem that you faced real alternatives, it always turns out that none of those alternatives was ever actually real except the one you actually chose.

The libertarian maintains that he could have chosen otherwise. He's wrong. He couldn't have chosen otherwise. It just seemed that way.

It's ironic that libertarians insist that what makes them free is a process of de-liberation.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Can I ask you to explain to a simple insolvency practitioner, (perhaps with an example) your distinction between categorical ought, with no antecedent, and a moral ought that is driven by some outcome, or preceding condition that, if I am reading you correctly, give the moral ought some intrinsic currency or value.

No easy task.

Let's recap.

7.2 Ought & obligation

It is commonly supposed that there are both hypothetical and categorical oughts. The moral oughts, on this analysis, are the categorical ones. This analysis is attractive in that it does offer a distinctively moral use of ‘ought’. A reason to want to reject the analysis is that it unfairly disadvantages the moral realist. It forces the moral realist to sanction “free-floating metaphysical requirements” in her ontology. Fortunately, the analysis is false. I shall argue that moral oughts are a species of hypothetical ought.

Could there be such a thing as a categorical ought? Ought in terms of a “hypothetical imperative” is uncontroversial. If I desire to study philosophy at university, then I ought to enrol. The ‘ought’ serves to highlight necessary and/or sufficient conditions of my requirements being met. The ‘ought’ is “indexed to a presumed but optional range of projects”. [Pigden 1991, p. 15.] But, according to moral philosophers such as Kant, there is also an ought simpliciter—the Categorical Imperative.

But the notion that there can be certain things which one simply ought to do, divorced from any explicit or implicit requirements, is unintelligible to many.

I think what you're asking is, what is the "presumed project" (or range of projects) to which moral oughts are indexed? In other words, what are the "explicit or implicit requirements"?

I suggest that the moral ought is a hypothetical ought where the antecedent is “Moral value is to be maximised (only if…)” or something similar. In moral ought judgements, such an antecedent is implicit. One reason, perhaps, why the very presence of such an antecedent is often overlooked is the widespread assumption that moral judgements and/or moral facts are inherently motivating. This being so, the moral antecedent is hardly worthy of mention. If I morally ought to do X, then of course I will have some inclination to do X. The moral ought is indexed to a presumed but non-optional project—that of seeing to it that the right thing is done, that moral goodness is maximised.

I think that the hypothetical nature of the moral ought is revealed in common usage of the term. “Why be moral?” is a vexed question if you are plumping for a categorical imperative analysis of moral ought judgements. When we explain to someone, “It’s morally wrong—that’s why you shouldn’t do it,” we are exploiting the hypothetical imperative nature of the ought judgement. An analysis in terms of categorical imperatives struggles to explain this locution, which it also trivialises.

I'm not sure I can do much better than that. Generally

If the right thing is to be done, if moral goodness is to be maximised, then one (morally) ought to do X.

For an Objectivist

If I am to live my life to the max, then I (morally) ought to do X.

For a Christian

If maximum compliance with God's dictates is to happen, then I (morally) ought to do X.

which is why Christians pray, "Thy will be done." (Matthew 6:10)

Jules

Damien Grant's picture

Dogs can drive cars. What does that tell you?

You are saying that there is a difference between human brains and animal ones because the human brain is more sophisticated than an animal brain.

But an animal brain is a lot more advanced than an insect’s brain. An advance in evolution does not confer free-will.

You need to demonstrate how a human brain can act independently from the natural laws of the universe to show how a Will can act outside the universe. The open universe vs the closed one.

You are becoming flustered and calling me names.

Come back to that question, how can a human brain act independently from the natural laws of the universe?

No Doubt Thomas

Damien Grant's picture

Taking the Kevin McFarlane piece first:

Free-will is the capacity of Man to initiate action solely on the basis that he wills it

This is the easy part. Defining free will.

In other words, there are aspects of Man’s behaviour which are caused, ultimately, neither by biological nor environmental stimuli but by the fact that he wills such behaviour.

This is where Objectivism and Catholicism depart from science, and indeed, from reason.

For a materialist there can be no logical grounds whatever to morally condemn any action no matter how despicable.

Typical Objectivist argument: Free will is a good thing, so it must exist. This is a statement of the author's wants, it is not reason.

Anyone who uses words such as “action” and “will” to describe aspects of human behaviour is logically required to uphold the theory of free- will. This is because the words “action” and “will” presuppose the category of ‘‘free’’ in their meanings.

This is the circular semantic arguments I was referring to earlier. Using linguistic tricks proves nothing, has no scientific basis unless you are studying language.

All action is subject to constraints, e.g., at least to the laws of nature, but also to the laws of Man.

The laws of man are a subset of the laws of nature. Man is not separate nor independent from nature.

Human theories and works of art are demonstrably not reducible to physics.

Really? Do I need to refute this? Ever seen a peacock? Ever seen the mating rituals of an Albatross or the nest of a bowerbird? Tell me this is not art.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

or this;

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-...

Sure, this stuff is not Picasso, but a bowerbird does not have opposable thumbs.

You said William Thomas did not suffer from a circular argument, but by far his most impressive argument was this:

Science is, first and foremost, a set of objective explanations of observable facts. Science explains observable facts; it does not explain them away. And free will is, indubitably, an observable fact.

But here is the problem. We do not observe free will. We observe thinking and decisions. Not free will. We assume the presense of free will but we do not observe it.

We see a blue sky, science tells us that colour is the refraction of light being interpreted by our brain, and different people see this colour differently. If I’m afflicted with red-green colour blindness, so my brain sees the world differently from you. What we see is decisions being made. Thinking occurring. We see the same thing in dogs.

Where is the 28 grams that separates a canine brain from a human one? Where is the id sitting in your open universe?

Quantum theory does not help the free will society, unless you are going to explain to me how free will can control the random movements of sub-atomic particles. If you are going to hang your hat on the random movement of quantum particles, well, for a start it is a very small hat and second the human brain (or its Will) would be controlled by the random movements of these particles and not the other way around.

Richard Goode makes the claim that Objectivism is a religion because the Objectivists are relying on faith for the existence of free will.

You dispute this, you seem to be saying reason can get us to free will, but it does not. At best, reason can give you some ambiguity, but that ambiguity is reduced to the random movements of quantum particles. Not much to go on, really.

But then you say this:

The determinist position - or at least the more strict versions of it, in my view, ends up with a sort of reductio ad absurdum: we end up with the position that human beings are not "really" choosing to do anything. They are just on a pre-determined flight path. This is like a sort of secularised version of Calvinist doctrine, where Man is predestined, according to the old brute from Geneva, to go to heaven or hell. Well, fuck that, quite frankly.

I think, Tom, that this is the very human reaction to things we do not like. It is akin to Richard Wiig saying he would suppress facts that he does not like if it compromises freedom.

Free will exists, or it does not exist. Our preference for its existence and our rejection of the idea of determinism, is not evidence either way, but it does lead me to suspect a strong confirmation bias present in the minds of the Objectivists who have based their belief system on a metaphysical concept that cannot be proved, either by facts, observation or reason.

For me I want to put my fingers in the side of free will before I will accept it is real, given the absence of evidence underpinning this most ethereal of concepts. 

Jules

Richard Goode's picture

We have the unique ability to adopt behaviors that are destructive to our well being and against our nature. Animals do not

Lemmings.

Tom

Jules Troy's picture

You my friend have a beautiful mind.

Damien?  I hope the self imposed determinist rat cage you have decided to live in at least comes with an exercise wheel...

You are stating that free

Tom Burroughes's picture

You are stating that free will OUGHT to be real, not that it is. The objectivist reasoning is a circular exercise in semantics.

Not so fast. That people have strong moral convictions and get exercised about such matters is a matter of fact, and that they think they are acting rather than puppets on a piece of string is a fact.

As for circular reasoning, I can easily throw that back at you and other determinists. You chose to sit down in front of a computer or whatever and type out the words you did. By your own logic of your argument, you did not "choose" but you were led to do so as if you are some sort of zombie. Crazy

Here is an argument from an old pal of mine, that makes a lot of sense to me:

Consider, now, the activity of reading, say, a philosophical treatise. One can have the conscious experience of reading through several pages of text and not making an effort to understand what is read. (Or one can have the unconscious experience of not having read anything at all, i.e., that of daydreaming.)

When, however, an effort is required it is clear that this necessitates voluntary action. If you are trying to understand vector calculus for the first time it is not “biology” or “environment” which enables you to do so. It is you. Similar arguments can be applied to the whole range of human experience. In general, new activities require voluntary effort to master them. It is only subsequently that these activities become automatised.

Materialists are unable to give a coherent account of human achievement or creativity by attributing them solely to electro-chemical reactions in the brain. They can point to no factors external to the human will which would enable them to provide a criterion of demarcation between action and reaction.

Here is the full linked essay, for those who want to take a look. http://www.libertarian.co.uk/l...

I think William Thomas's statement of the Objectivist view of free will looks pretty solid. I certainly don't see a lot of "circular" reasoning here:

http://www.atlassociety.org/ob...

"Many determinists see themselves as hard-minded advocates of the scientific worldview. But actually there is nothing scientific about rejecting free will. Science is, first and foremost, a set of objective explanations of observable facts. Science explains observable facts; it does not explain them away. And free will is, indubitably, an observable fact. We observe it through introspection, the inward perception of our own conscious processes."

Some may doubt that introspection can prove volition, but I don't see why not, unless you believe that we are living in some sort of permanent fog or dreamland. (This looks interesting: http://www.jstor.org/discover/...)

It could be argued, of course, that consciousness, and the development of a will, or sense of "I" is an emergent process, so the fact of a person being a physical object subject to the laws of nature in no way undercuts the possibility of people having volition.
The determinist position - or at least the more strict versions of it, in my view, ends up with a sort of reductio ad absurdum: we end up with the position that human beings are not "really" choosing to do anything. They are just on a pre-determined flight path. This is like a sort of secularised version of Calvinist doctrine, where Man is predestined, according to the old brute from Geneva, to go to heaven or hell. Well, fuck that, quite frankly.

Wrong again Damien

Jules Troy's picture

Just because we are biological and our brains are made up of grey matter arranged as it is in such a way is no refutation of free will.  We have the unique ability to adopt behaviors that are destructive to our well being and against our nature.  Animals do not, they cannot go against their instincts of survival, yet they too are made up of dna and their brains are ran by bio-chemical electrical impulses.  We can.  We also of course have the ability to learn through conscious effort and free will to either evade reality or to perceive and act upon that in a beneficial manor.

By attributing one simply being slave to one's dna/electrochemical impulses you can of course reduce yourself to being nothing more than a rat in a cage..carry on.

You haven't answered my

Richard Wiig's picture

You haven't answered my question. You've made a claim - that the chemical composition of the brain results in an inability to choose between alternatives - but you haven't explained why that must be so.

Richard

Damien Grant's picture

I answered your question below.

I put to you the same challenge I gave to Tom, answer my determinist question linked in my answer to Tom.

But as for this; Free Will is the ability to focus the mind on a chosen goal.

I would respond that your decision to focus or not to focus is something that happens as a result of chemical reactions and interacting atoms in your brain and that they are doing this as a result of what has happened before, leading to their current placement, and the forces acting upon them in the present.

If you want to think that a brain is driven by physical forces, as you say it is, then unless the brain can control the physical forces through telekinesis, then the decisions of the brain is a function of physical laws of nature.

We have as much free will as a falling rock.

 

Tom

Damien Grant's picture

You are stating that free will OUGHT to be real, not that it is.

The objectivist reasoning is a circular exercise in semantics.

If you wish to demonstrate that free will exists, as opposed to telling me why it should exist, answer the issue as I raised in the post below:

We would indeed all be no different to dogs.

The link you provided fails to answer the question of how can a physical brain made of atoms and subject to the laws of the universe do anything outside of these laws?

You cannot; without bland statements that could be cut from Catholic theology;

We can pay attention, or not. It would be out of place to ask for a proof of this fact

You claim “Rand holds, one learns it by direct observation.”

I believe St Paul had a similar revelation. Reason, Tom, is all I am asking for. I believe that is the currency of Objectivism.

For free will to exist there

Richard Wiig's picture

For free will to exist there must be some disconnect from the chemical, neurological, physical elements of our brain and some other something.

Why must there be?

The idea that there is ‘free will’, as imagined by Catholics and Objectivists, is that the physical brain is able to act independently of these natural forces.

Is that really what Objectivism says? Considering that Objectivism is very big on A is A, I wouldn't have thought so. Free Will is the ability to focus the mind on a chosen goal. I don't see any reason why that must be independent of physical elements. In fact, to the contrary. It cannot exist without physical elements. Objectivism is not mysticism.

Volition and morality

Tom Burroughes's picture

I fail to see how libertarians - or people claiming that tag - can dismiss as "vanity" the notion that humans possess free will. The "morality" of doing what you are told to do by authority - such as a state - or because it is pre-determined into us by the Universe, seems to be a contradiction in terms. A moral code, if it is to make sense requires that the actor is free or not to follow it and that he or she understands what morality is for. Otherwise, how do notions of praise and blame make any sense? Why does it make sense, given your argument, to even try and cultivate a "good moral character", or self respect? Why would it make any sense to punish or reward behaviours other than in a very narrow exercise in stimulating responses from people as if they were lab rats?

The Objectivist position, if I have thought it through right, is that it is a defining part of our identity as humans that we have volition, or the ability to choose to focus, or not, to concentrate and think, or not, to evade, or not. Volition, as it were, is part of what we are. To be a human is to be a "chooser".

Consider this argument: http://home.sprynet.com/~owl1/...

"Now the Objectivist theory of free will maintains the freedom of the will together with the law of causality, without resorting to the sort of redefinition of "freedom" that Locke, Hobbes, and others have found necessary. Objectivism affirms our freedom in the strong sense, in which "A course of thought or action is 'free,' if it is selected from two or more courses possible under the circumstances."(7) Unlike the previous views, however, the Objectivist theory does not assume this means our free actions are uncaused. Rather, when one performs a free action, the action is caused (generally, by one's values and factual beliefs), but other actions are still possible, because it is up to one which possible causes are operative in oneself."

And this:

One cannot deliberate about something, unless one thinks it is within one's power to do it or not do it; one also can not say that something 'should' or 'shouldn't' be done, unless it is possible for it to be done or not be done. Consequently, if one is deliberating about whether to believe in free will or not, then one is already committed to its existence. Nor can the determinist tell us that we should accept determinism. Nor can he claim that he is advocating determinism because it is true -- since on his view, he is advocating determinism only because some blind factors beyond his control force him to advocate it. Thus, the determinist's position appears to devolve into incoherence, as soon as he tries to assert it.(10) This is not, strictly, a proof of the freedom of the will, however.(11) What it shows is that, in order to argue about free will (even to deny it), one has to already implicitly know that one has it; therefore, one must have learned it by some means other than argument -- in particular, Rand holds, one learns it by direct observation.

So I dispute that the idea that we have free will is "of no consequence".

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

That was beautiful.

28 grams

Damien Grant's picture

And free will matters why?

One the most pointless philosophical debates of western thought.

For free will to exist there must be some disconnect from the chemical, neurological, physical elements of our brain and some other something.

Otherwise, the brain is just a collection of atoms reacting to the natural forces of the universe upon it.

The idea that there is ‘free will’, as imagined by Catholics and Objectivists, is that the physical brain is able to act independently of these natural forces.

Just as the Catholics could not explain how to reconcile an omnipotent and omniscient god with my power to defy the future that he already not only created but already knew, the Objectivists cannot separate the brain from the universe that the brain finds itself it.

If we have two identical universes, both of which Richard Goode is considering answering my request to elaborate on my give an example between a categorical ought and a moral ought, he can either to decide to:

a) Reply
b) Not to Reply

His brain, lacking a soul as it does, is a piece of meat made of atoms subject to the laws of physics and whatever natural forces exist in the universe.
If the laws of physics in one universe means he chooses A, then the laws of physics in the second universe will achieve the same result.

He may be conscious and he may think, he may, like me, be an Irredeemable Fuckwit, but his brain is made of atoms that are governed by physical laws.

But I do not know that it makes any difference. The idea of free will or no free will seems of no real consequence.

The heart of libertarianism, the non-initiation of force, seems unmolested either way. Free will is just an idea, remove it from all consideration and everything remains in place. People are good or bad, decisions are moral or immoral, actions still have consequences. Nothing changes, nothing turns on this point other than our vanity.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

You can't actually have conversations about morality with cretins who deny free will

You can and you should. I'm all up for a battle of ideas. Repent! Bring it on!

"Compatibilism" simply means you are, or should be, free to do what you are pre-ordained to do.

Why on earth would you want to be free to do anything else?

I know

Jules Troy's picture

That is why I asked the question in such a way that the ludicrous nature of gobbie is exposed for what it is- complete bullshit.

Jules ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I note that the ever-more-unhinged Baade, PhD and BAG (Born-Again Goblian), is repeatedly entreating us to "repent." Would you mind asking him, of what?

You might also observe that his much-vaunted "compatibilism" is no answer to your question. Whether you "repent" or not is pre-ordained, so there is nothing you can do about it. "Compatibilism" simply means you are, or should be, "free" to do what you are pre-ordained to do. What about someone who is pre-ordained to stop you? What about someone who is pre-ordained to commit murder? Blank-out.

You can't actually have conversations about morality with cretins who deny free will or barbarians who believe in eternal combustion of human beings. This thread and other current ones show that clearly enough, if logic didn't already.

Irredeemable fuckwits practising militant moronry and stinking, savage, superstitious sadism.

Jules

Richard Goode's picture

You are pre ordained to go to heaven or hell and there is nothing you can do about it?

You are pre-ordained to go to Heaven or Hell and there is everything you can do about it.

Repent!

There's no contradiction in what I just said. You determine your own final destination. Please familiarise yourself with the differences between the two views known as metaphysical libertarianism and compatibilism.

Soo richard

Jules Troy's picture

You are pre ordained to go to heaven or hell and there is nothing you can do about it?

Please explain

Richard Goode's picture

how you could have done otherwise.

NO ONE has EVER done other than what they ACTUALLY did.

There is NO evidence that we have free will. NONE WHATSOEVER.

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.

jt.

Damien Grant's picture

Much obliged.

Already written, already dead

Richard Goode's picture

You are invulnerable. Have they not granted you,
those powers that preordain your destiny,
the certainty of dust? Is not your time
as irreversible as that same river
where Heraclitus, mirrored, saw the symbol
of fleeting life? A marble slab awaits you
which you will not read—on it, already written,
the date, the city, and the epitaph.
Other men too are only dreams of time,
not indestructible bronze or burnished gold;
the universe is, like you, a Proteus.
Dark, you will enter the darkness that awaits you,
doomed to the limits of your traveled time.
Know that in some sense you are already dead.

— Jorge Luis Borges

I will

Jules Troy's picture

When I have some time, I still have to reply to an email here first.  I am balls to the wall flat out busy at work for the next few days.

flustered

Damien Grant's picture

when ever he gets flustered

I never get flustered. And I do believe, on the gun club thread, I sought out your views, Jules, without commentary or name calling, simply because I was curious, and clearly you have not read nor have you understood the entire nature of this thread and nor have you contributed to it. If you want to do something useful you can either go back to the gun club thread and look at my last post to Greg and answer his question for him, he seems to have abandoned it, or read the banter between me and RG on the moral obligations (or rights) of a moral agent to prevent another moral agent from burning a puppy.

If you simply want to belittle me for the pleasure it gives you, then I will not seek to deny you this pleasure, but understand this:

or calls people derogatory names when ever he gets flustered

He actually reminds me of a vulture.

And yes, I am a determinist, and no I have not used Hume to do anything, other to acknowledge the Is/Ought idea was.


Richard

Jules Troy's picture

He is a determinist, uses Hume to determine his subjective views of what reality is, attacks or calls people derogatory names when ever he gets flustered, and he has admitted that he is a statist who constantly attempts to rationalize government controls of one form or another to wittle away at our freedoms(or lack thereof), and accuses clear headed people of wooley thinking.

Waste of time- IMHO he is not actually interested in new ideas or understanding anyone else's point of view.  He actually reminds me of a vulture.

Just hand him a nice warm cup of "go fuck yourself" and move on.  He is not worth the aggravation. 

RW

Damien Grant's picture

In a world without Free Will, it's every dog for himself, facts of reality be damned. This isn't my doing, or my choosing... it's the consequences of no Free Will. A world to be ruled by elites, by virtue of their DNA.

Richard. There are two possible outcomes. Either free will exists, or it does not.

This is an either-or option. There is no middle ground (I think).

So, if there is no free will, then that is the nature of the universe. If you succeed in suppressing that fact from becoming common knowledge, that does not change the underlying universal constant. There is no free will.

 

Yes Jules

Damien Grant's picture

For you, debating with me would be a waste of time. A bit like your cat trying to understand algebra.

If you are out of your depth it is best that you refrain from interacting with me. I will not mind.

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