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William O

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William O last won the day on March 12

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  1. This is a pretty simple question - did Rand actually say that you should create your own philosophy? If so, where? I've seen Objectivists make the claim, but Google does not turn up a source.
  2. Why follow reason?

    To my metaethical ear, this is pretty depraved. It gives moral license to all kinds of wicked behavior, so long as it's what someone really "wants." Your metaethical ear is conditioned by Christianity and Kant. This is just another way of saying "without God, everything is permissible."
  3. Determinism and free will

    Moral blame has an effect on how we view and treat other people, and it presupposes the existence of free will. If I view a thief as a moral agent who is responsible for his actions, then I will take a harsher view of him than I would if I were a determinist (in which case I would explain his actions based on his genetics and upbringing).
  4. My understanding is that the New Humeans read him as a naturalist rather than a skeptic. That is, they think that Hume held that causality is real, and that we know that it is real, but that this knowledge is not based on reason but on another source ("instinct, habit, or custom"). If you're coming at this from an Objectivist point of view then it does sound as though he was a skeptic, because the Objectivist account of knowledge is dependent on reason. It's been a while since I studied Hume, so I could be wrong.
  5. Questions about Free Will and Morality

    You are simply incorrect here. The definitions of determinism and compatibilism are nowhere near as controversial as you suggest. I have given authoritative definitions for these terms previously. Nobody, or almost nobody, takes determinism or compatibilism to include agent causality. A philosopher might distinguish between different types of determinism, but if so he would use appropriate labels, like "logical determinism" or "physical determinism." Determinism simpliciter is not used in a whole bunch of mutually exclusive ways like you're claiming. First of all, Rand was very clear about the fact that she was redefining those terms. From what I've seen, you are content to describe the Objectivist position as "determinist" and "compatibilist" with no further explanation, which is not an objective way of communicating. Someone who reads your posts will come away with the wrong idea about what Objectivism says about free will - that's not really debatable. Second, Rand's goal in redefining those concepts was to clarify their meanings and separate out the respective package deals that they were involved in. The concept of determinism is clear, and there is no package deal involved. I cannot see that your redefinition clarifies Rand's position on free will - as StrictlyLogical points out, I still don't know what your position on free will is, really.
  6. Questions about Free Will and Morality

    The problem is that the terms you and 2046 are using - primarily "determinism" and "compatibilism" - already have perfectly clear meanings in academic philosophy (and even in the Objectivist literature, which to my knowledge always uses them the same way academics do). As they are traditionally defined, neither of those terms are consistent with Objectivism. If you continue to describe Objectivism as a deterministic / compatibilist philosophy, you will mislead and confuse people about what Objectivism says. You claim that there isn't anything else to say and that Objectivism is neither determinist nor non-determinist, but this is simply incorrect. There is something more to say - that Objectivism accepts agent causal free will - and Objectivism is a non-determinist philosophy. If you deny this, I refer you to my previous posts in this thread. "Weak determinism" isn't a term that is used in academia or in the Objectivist literature, to my knowledge.
  7. Thanks, this might be useful. But does he discuss the connection to free will, or is his discussion confined to the science alone? I'm glad someone else has that reaction too. This is basically why I started this thread - to try to find answers to some of those questions.
  8. Here's the paragraph that got me thinking about this: Source: The Illusion of Determinism by Edwin A. Locke, p. 107
  9. I should probably make it clear at this point that I accept the Objectivist account of free will, and that I do not take the laws of physics to refute it. My phrasing might not have been ideal. I might elaborate more on my question tomorrow, when I am not tired.
  10. I'm just asking whether there is literature (books or articles) on a particular topic. I do not claim that physics contradicts the Objectivist view of free will. If there is no such literature then that is fine.
  11. Objectivism affirms the existence of libertarian free will - that is, it affirms that we have free will and that free will is incompatible with determinism. I am curious whether any attempt has been made in the literature to reconcile free will with the laws of physics, particularly the second law of thermodynamics. The only attempt I am aware of is Edwin Locke's very recent book The Illusion of Determinism, which spends one paragraph on the issue. You can assume that I am already familiar with Rand's work, as well as the discussions of free will in OPAR and Binswanger's book How We Know.
  12. Avoiding the pitfalls in learning philosophy

    The main piece of advice I would give you is that you need to take notes on anything you want to understand and remember. This opinion is widely shared among people who have studied philosophy formally. If you're just reading for fun then it's fine to not take notes and just enjoy the prose and the ideas, but if you want to remember what you're reading then taking notes is necessary. It's a good idea to start out by reading a book that covers the entire history of Western philosophy. Peikoff's course is enjoyable, but he has a polemical goal in presenting these ideas, so you might not get a sense for why people would accept the ideas that he covers. A couple of more orthodox presentations of the history of philosophy are A History of Western Philosophy by W. T. Jones (Objectivists tend to like this one) and A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny. By contrast, Bertrand Russell's history of philosophy is probably not a great starting point, since he has a reputation for being inaccurate and biased.
  13. From the Guidelines: What kind of post falls under these rules? I've seen fairly rude posts here that weren't moderated.