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Everything posted by Prospectivist_Objectivist

  1. Vigilantys: Grames already pointed out your logical errors, but going further, I think the major issue is your assumption (!) that cause and effect applies at the singularity (the first instant of the Big Bang) the same way it applies later in the universe. Cause and effect imply a linear concept of time (special relativity complicates this but doesn't undermine it), but since there was no time before the first instant, causality runs into trouble there. Of course, the "first cause" argument probably has been refuted more thoroughly than I just did.
  2. Makes sense-- it's probably reasonable to assume most Marxist, etc. proponents have had their errors pointed out to them at least once (probably more). Thanks!
  3. What you've each said makes sense and squares perfectly with something Rand said in a 1971 issue of "The Objectivist"
  4. I'm referring to the essay "Fact and Value" by Peikoff: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...=objectivism_fv This paragraph makes perfect sense: "Just as every “is” implies an “ought,” so every identification of an idea’s truth or falsehood implies a moral evaluation of the idea and of its advocates. The evaluation, to repeat, comes from the answer to two related questions: what kind of volitional cause led people to this idea? and, to what kind of consequences will this idea lead in practice?" But I'm unclear as to the epistemology which allows Peikoff (or anyone) to reliably draw conclusions like the following: I) "Now we must note that falsehood does not necessarily imply vice; honest errors of knowledge are possible. But such errors are not nearly so common as some people wish to think, especially in the field of philosophy. In our century, there have been countless mass movements dedicated to inherently dishonest ideas—e.g., Nazism, Communism, non-objective art, non-Aristotelian logic, egalitarianism... The originators, leaders and intellectual spokesmen of all such movements are necessarily evaders on a major scale; they are not merely mistaken, but are crusading irrationalists." II) But now I understand the basic cause; I see the attacks’ philosophic meaning. In the minds of the “tolerance”-people, there are only two possibilities in regard to moral judgment: moralizing or emotionalism, dogma or whim, i.e., intrinsicism or subjectivism. Such people literally have no concept of “objectivity” in regard to values. Their accusations, therefore, are expressions of their own actual philosophy and inner state. The typical (though not invariable) pattern in this kind of case is that the accuser started out in Objectivism as a dogmatist, cursing or praising people blindly, in obedience, as he thought, to his new-found “authorities.” Then at last his pent-up resentment at this self-made serfdom erupts—and he becomes an angry subjectivist, denouncing the “excessive anger” of those who make moral judgments. The swing from intrinsicism to subjectivism, however, is not a significant change; these philosophies are merely two forms in which the notion of “non-objective value” rules a man’s brain. As much respect as I'd like to have for Peikoff, this all strikes me as unsupported psychobabble. It seems to me that assertions from psychology always fail for two major reasons. First, the (nontrivial) psychological motivations of an debater necessarily have no relationship with the logical validity or invalidity of his/her argument. Second, assertions from psychology cannot ever be supported by meaningful evidence, so they cannot be accepted or refuted on the basis of available evidence. It makes sense only to dismiss them entirely. Can anyone defend Peikoff's epistemology here? Seems hopeless to me.
  5. I appreciate the fact that you understand my position. Most who have argued here have immediately switched into must-prove-determinism-false mode, and consequently their arguments have not addressed the issues I put forth originally (for example, see post #114 by hunterrose-- since the paradox is "if-then" and since the "if" conditions are not assumed, his accusation of an "unsupported paradox" is meaningless). I'm also a fan of Dennet's compatibilism, and I think Grames's contention that "dependence on initial conditions" does not imply "determined" would ultimately have come around to something similar (maybe he advanced it to that point in his other thread? I haven't gotten there yet). Miovas's robotic repetition of the same unsupported contention-- and his glossing over the fact that if he was organically determined as such, then he would not be able to distinguish between that condition and his asserted reality-- probably was not deliberately self-satirizing, but picking on him isn't fair.
  6. It isn't my theory, and the purpose of this thread was never to promote it (see my original post). This is the third time in this thread you have demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding about what is going on (see posts #70 and #77 for the other two). Since this is the third time, I offer the following unsolicited advice: it might benefit you to make sure you understand both the topic of discussion and the claims of other posters before posting yourself.
  7. "First" and "Third" are irrelevant because the original addressee of the quote is irrelevant; the point is that I asked the author to further substantiate his claim and he repeatedly failed to to so. "Second" is irrelevant because I did not accuse the author of attacking Crizon's moral status. My reference of the other article had to do solely with arguments from psychology. The ensuing straw-manning is irrelevant. "Fourth" assumes a conclusion which has not yet been demonstrated. "Fifth" straw-mans (see "second") and so is irrelevant. "Sixth" fails to demonstrate how "dependent on initial conditions" is disconnected from "determinism," but since a new thread has been created, I have no reason to push this point. It follows that the author's original claim remains badly unsubstantiated. (His claim that my post is "laughable" clearly does him no favors in light of this fact.)
  8. Several times I asked the author of this post to give clear examples of systems which are not dependent on their initial physical conditions, and he/she repeatedly refused to do so. His failure in this regard renders this argument regrettably unsubstantiated. Additionally, the straw-manning of requests to give clear examples of systems which are not dependent on their initial physical conditions into claims that all reality might be understood as one-variable linear equations is irrelevant, as are misrepresentations of any argument. Most importantly: the claim that understanding volition requires a non-elementary understanding of causality thoroughly refutes the claim that volition is axiomatic. Finally, the other day I was wondering why Objectivism has not gained more traction either in academia or with the public as a whole. I stumbled across an outstanding explanation, which can be read in full here: http://www.jeffcomp.com/faq/wrong.html . The author of that article (rightly) criticizes a fallacy which dominates the above-quoted argument: the fallacy of assertions from psychology. This fallacy lives in such assertions as "The answer is the a priori conceptual framework you bring to the issue..." "You have learned and automatized the perspective of a solver of physics problems so well you cannot conceive of causality in any terms other than..." Assertions from psychology always fail for two major reasons. First, the (nontrivial) psychological motivations of an debater necessarily have no relationship with the logical validity or invalidity of his/her argument. Second, assertions from psychology cannot ever be supported by meaningful evidence, so they cannot be accepted or refuted on the basis of available evidence. It makes sense only to dismiss them entirely. It follows that the above-quoted argument is not productive. (The author's attempts at condescension clearly do him/her no favors in light of this fact.)
  9. That is not the claim of determinism. Please read back, as this has already been discussed at length.
  10. But that's just it: it isn't a contradiction. In the language of free will, we hope you will change the methodology of your own thinking, and every time you choose not do so and make one of your "smart ass" remarks, you only demonstrate your own failure to understand the complexity of the question at hand. In the language of determinism, we hope your cognition has been determined such that you will recognize the errors in your previous method of (determined) argument, and every time that appears not to be the case, we are disappointed. To claim an "obvious contradiction" is to showcase your unfortunate lack of understanding over and over again. Of course, picking on you isn't fair. Contentions ought to be treated according to presentations of their best arguments, not according to presentations evidently lacking in understanding. Grames has a better grasp of what's going on, and we've been having a more productive discussion. You're welcome to join us at any time.
  11. You're just accepting the same unsupported assertion. A determinist would argue something like this: "the fact that we had to learn to use the brain to understand its true nature does not imply that we fully understood how the brain works when we were learning to use it. It is entirely possible that we can use our minds to discover that our cognition is fully determined; no contradiction follows." (Of course, the paradox I illustrated still presents problems, and Grames has been the only possibly-effective challenger of the determinist position so far.)
  12. So why couldn't determinism follow from the epistemological concepts of past and future?
  13. This is where your explanation goes wrong-- if the universe is determined, then you can't ever say that you may have made a different decision. (Or you could, but you'd be wrong.) Ever since the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle became cannon, no legitimate determinist has argued that we will ever be able to model the universe in a way which will predict what is going to happen to very complex systems with precision. That is not the determinist position. Hence I agree that even if determinism is true, it doesn't really help us with our day-to-day lives because it adds no element of predictability or guidance. (This is what Mr. Movias failed to understand about the determinist position earlier in the discussion.) But I'm not ready to concede that it would have absolutely no philosophical consequences-- that's a discussion for another thread, though. Please clarify this point. Are you talking about special relativity, i.e. the "present" is only arbitrarily defined across different inertial frames? If so, you may have a point. But I'm not sure that's what you're saying.
  14. Ok, I agree with everything you've said here, but all you've argued is that we will never be able to amass all the data required to figure out what exactly will happen to this very large and complex physical system at some later point in time. By your own argument, the system is still determined-- i.e. its (massively unknowable set of) conditions at any point in time still completely determines its state at any later point in time. Your own argument supports the determinist position. I'm not even actually trying to advocate for the determinist position-- I'm trying to work out the paradox I illustrated at the outset of this discussion. Your last post sounded like you had examples of physical systems which were not completely determined by their conditions at a particular instant in time, but unless I misunderstand your argument here, you seem to be making precisely the opposite contention.
  15. On the contrary, yours is simply false. There is never a reason to reject a proposition out of hand unless it would cause a contradiction (perhaps with existing evidence). Of course, we can't promote a proposition beyond the relatively weak stage of possibility without evidence. This doesn't matter so much, though. I'm waiting for elucidation on Grimes's point.
  16. A proposition is "possible" if it can be true without contradiction. A priori, it is possible that choice is illusory and that we could not actually make any choices other than those we make-- that we experience the sensation of choice, not actual choice. There is no contradiction here, and your contention that "all you need to validate the axiom of volition is to observe it introspectively" does not show that lack of free will is impossible a priori, which undermines your assertion that free will is an axiom. This does not rule out free will. It just means free will is not an axiom. Your repeated assertions that it is an axiom thus smack of bad philosophy. I'm still most interested in Grames's examples of physical systems which have been shown to act independently of pre-existing physical conditions. If he can support that point, he'll undermine the paradox I brought up at the beginning of this discussion.
  17. If you're saying some physical systems are not determined by their initial conditions, then I'm interested and I'd like to learn more. Please talk about (or link to) some examples which clearly illustrate your point.
  18. You've muddled the point by injecting the word "choice" where it doesn't belong. Accepting a false proposition constitutes fallibility. Choice is irrelevant in this respect, ergo fallibility does not imply free will.
  19. Your argument was trivially incorrect for the same reason I discussed above. However, in your case, the weakness in your argument was so explicit (via misunderstanding the determinist argument) that I opted to let you figure it out for yourself. But now that another post motivated me to explicitly describe the problem, I'm not sure why you think re-asserting the same invalid argument makes it any more useful. Please be more productive. Moreover, volition simply is not self-evident via introspection, since there is no indication that we could actually have done anything but what we chose to do. For a more explicit treatment of this point, see the longish post by nanite1018. It is a hallmark of bad philosophy to assert some point as "obvious" even when it has been demonstrated to be nontrivial. Productive comments still appreciated.
  20. You did not read carefully. My claim is that volition could only be self-evident as an axiom under those circumstances. It can still be demonstrable otherwise. The rest of this is just re-asserting the same nontrivial claim. I'd still love for you actually to defend this position and not just assert it repeatedly.
  21. nanite1018: Great points. I would contend that "choice" implies that a person could have done something other than what they did, but regardless, you're right that we have to keep definitions straight to have a meaningful discussion. I agree with most of what you say here; however, I still worry that the paradox inherent in concluding determinism undermines all knowledge, including supposed knowledge of determinism. This does not follow at all. By "fallible" I mean "drew the wrong conclusion" about some facet of reality, which is primary.
  22. You continue simply to assert this nontrivial conclusion. The only way free will could be axiomatically "self-evident" is if we could (and this is obviously impossible) play reality over again and witness people doing different things under the exact same initial conditions. Since we can't do that, free will is much more problematic, because we have no means of showing trivially that someone can do something other than they did. A determinist would remark that you would not be conjuring up an illusion. You would be doing the only thing you could do, and so would I. "Illusion" is a euphemism for our mistaken perception that we have volition. I encourage you to recognize the weaknesses of this philosophical premise and treat it more rigorously. All manner of philosophers attempt to mock those with whom they disagree, yet such an approach is ineffective without a complementary rigorous argument.
  23. Thank you for a relevant reply. How is this the fallacy of composition? The argument is not that people behave the same way as atoms. The argument is that if everything in the mind is reducible to physical processes, and since we know all physical processes depend entirely on the initial conditions of a physical system, then the mind also must be such a physical system, so it must be determined by its initial conditions just like any physical system. If this is still fallacious, please explain how. For the second part-- you're right, I'm making the supposition that science will eventually be good enough to show this. If science can't ever do that, the conclusions which follow are false. But the trend seems to be that each decade, science explains things where until recently were considered well out of humanity's reach. Consequently, this assumption may not be so far out.
  24. This is an observably false inference since people "change their minds" all the time. A determinist would remark that you could still convince me, even though the sequence of events which led to my being convinced and the illusion of choice I experience while changing my mind were determined. The epistemology to which you (allegedly) subscribe dictates that higher-order knowledge may only be gained through reason. Is it really so much for me to ask that you defend your contention? I'm not sure how confident I would be in my own philosophical premises if I elected not to defend them when challenged, but it's naturally your decision (speaking in non-deterministic language). I'm not just calling on Mr. Miovas. I encourage anyone here to consider what seems a rather legitimate challenge to both free will and determinism. Obviously. Please connect this to the question at hand.
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