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William O

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  1. William O

    About Those 'Floating Abstractions'

    Interesting exchange, thanks.
  2. I find "A is A" helpful as a way of reminding myself to always accept reality, even if it's unpleasant. It helps me get past the feeling of "I wish things weren't this way" and focus on dealing with whatever problem I'm currently having. Good thread, it should be interesting to see people's responses.
  3. I'm not a Kant scholar, but I don't think Kant is making the same argument as Branden in that passage. He's just saying that a rational being has to regard itself as free (i.e., that it's a kind of "category"), not that determinism commits the fallacy of self exclusion. Here's the footnote he uses to explain the point: "I follow this route - that of assuming freedom, sufficiently for our purpose, only as laid down by rational beings merely in idea as a ground for their actions - so that I need not be bound to prove freedom in its theoretical respect as well. For even if the latter is left unsettled, still the same laws hold for a being that cannot act otherwise than under the idea of its own freedom as would bind a being that was actually free." I agree that it's an interesting similarity, though.
  4. Science can't establish that we don't have free will, because determinism is self refuting. If our conclusions were determined by the laws of physics, then we could never say whether or not any of our beliefs were true, only that these were the beliefs that had been forced on us by the relevant physical laws (just as the opposite beliefs had been forced on those who disagree with us by the same laws). But this would also apply to the belief in determinism, rendering it self refuting. I recommend reading Dr. Binswanger's senior thesis, which is available for free online, for an elaboration of this argument. https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/45195/26114938-MIT.pdf?sequence=2
  5. Thanks for the responses.
  6. 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.
  7. William O

    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."
  8. William O

    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).
  9. 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.
  10. William O

    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.
  11. William O

    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.
  12. 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.
  13. Here's the paragraph that got me thinking about this: Source: The Illusion of Determinism by Edwin A. Locke, p. 107
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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