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The Fallacy of Composition

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Tell your interlocutor of the separation of those two issues, ie demonstrate that ignorance of the HOW does not interfere with the certainty in the THAT, then make your judgement of your him if he persists in conflating the two.

Ignorance of how does interfere with the certainty of that. If you can't fit it into a noncontradictory whole with all of the rest of your knowledge, you may very well be misinterpreting something.

As an example, we observe that the Sun rises and sets each day. You can say "we don't know how, but the Sun rises above the horizon and sets below it each day." And then ignorance of how doesn't seem to interfere with the certainty of that. But it does. Because you are leaving out an important part "it appears that the Sun rises..."

In exactly the same way, it appears that we make free decisions and could have chosen otherwise given precisely the same conditions. But people on the pro-volition side of the argument want to turn that into "we do make free decisions..." which is an entirely different matter. All we know is that it appears to be so. It also appears the the Sun rises, or that the Earth acts on the Moon by spooky action-at-a-distance, or that light travels infinitely fast. None of those are in fact the case, but it seems like it given the inaccurate tools of perception we humans have. It is only through science that we can be sure that what we are seeing or experiencing actually is what we think it is.

If logic is the art of noncontradictory integration of information, then how can anyone integrate free will with physics? It is impossible, and to be honest the only solution I see is a soul or spirit. I reject that possibility immediately, and so I'm left with the determinist position.

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The concept of a law of nature that is neither deterministic nor non-deterministic is an absolute conceptional non-existent.

Ah, I see. You're conflating non-deterministic with non-causal. I took non-determinism to mean that, since that is what you were implying, and proceeded accordingly. That just means, then, that 'non-deterministic' is either that which is non-causal or that which has a cause but which isn't total determinism. Fine by me.

The point is that there is no possible natural force that would satisfy your definition of what makes volition possible.

You accuse me of making bare-faced assertions? I don't claim to know what the nature of what is required may be, other than that it can be neither totally deterministic nor supernatural. The law of excluded middle applies only at the level of the statement "action either has a cause or it does not" while leaving totally open the issue of what kinds of causality may exist. There is no law saying that it has to be totally deterministic.

Only a supernatural, magical mind-force would make it possible in your view.

Hence my suspicions.

This is the fundamental incorrect assumption in your logic, and it shows a lack of understanding of emergent behavior of complex systems.

That's a caltrops-on-the-road attack I am not even slightly impressed by.

JJM

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Ah, I see. You're conflating non-deterministic with non-causal.

There is no such thing as "causal" but not "deterministic." There is no such thing as "caused" but not "determined."

Causation absolutely implies and requires determination because they mean exactly the same thing.

Non-causation implies and requires non-determination either in whole or in part.

Only caused (deterministic) actions and non-caused (random) events may even be conceived of. There is no other possibility other than magic or contradiction.

You accuse me of making bare-faced assertions? I don't claim to know what the nature of what is required may be,

You're asserting an absolute logical impossibility. You're evading the reality of that by believing that pleading ignorance absolves you from contradiction.

other than that it can be neither totally deterministic nor supernatural.

So you're saying that non-deterministic random behavior of subatomic particles could make volition possible? No, you're not. Lack of determinism is not enough to satisfy your view at all. Randomness does not enable volition. You're requiring the existence of the supernatural mind-force then turning a blind eye to that fact.

That's a caltrops-on-the-road attack I am not even slightly impressed by.

Instead of using a non-meaningful quip you should try replying to that part. Very few people can truly wrap their heads around the concept of emergent behavior of complex systems. It is the fundamental nature of consciousness and volition, so I suggest you look here instead of evading the concept. This concept implies that there can be such thing as choice and volition (but not the rationalistic concept of "free will" as I previously defined) in a "billiard ball" deterministic system.

Edited by SuperMetroid
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Is there any doubt that a man is more than the sum of his parts? If one denies this, one cannot be a philosopher in the first place. ie, one could be a student of philosophies; but to choose and be guided by one particular philosophy implies self-consciousness, and self- determinism. [i think]

Determinism - 'pre'-determinism - raises the query " By whom ", " by what "?

So we can dismiss the supernatural. Leaving us with what ? particle Physics and the law of Causality?

All the particles that compose me are pushing/dragging me in some unknown direction?

For me Life all about us is comprised of a vast amount of action and reaction, a vast amount of chaos, and yes , randomness. This doesn't frighten me; the fact that I can choose to think, and choose what to think, as do you, can and does balance the chaos.

The physical sciences will bring us closer to the understanding of Nature, but as long as they decree that Man's consciousness is merely 'Natural', and dependent on Laws of Nature, they will let us down.

How about all studies start with a given: self-determinism is self -evident (although its nature is not fully understood yet), and where do we go from there?

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The way to integrate one's knowledge of physics with one's knowledge of volition is to realize that the billiard ball conception of causation does not cover everything and that an entity is what it is and does what it does because it is what it is. You, those of you taking the deterministic approach, are one entity -- you are not merely a collection of subatomic particles, and qua entity you have certain capabilities that are natural and non-mystical in nature. Until you check those premises, your capabilities that you try to derive from physics will seem a mystical mystery. Look in a mirror and introspect -- that is what you are, you are that entity staring back at you and you have the capability of being self-directed. In other words, make an observation! For that is the only way out of your philosophical mind trap.

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Consciousness: Awareness and self-awareness.

Volition: The ability to make choices.

Volitional consciousness: An aware and self-aware entity that can make choices.

Free will: A rationalistic concept created by assuming that the directly observed volitional consciousness of the human mind must result in there being an infinite set of possible future events resulting from the range of "possible choices" that the human mind can consider.

I've always been under the impression that free will is synonymous with volitional consciousness (as you defined it), at least when the term is used by an Objectivist. Clearly, there could not -be- an infinite set of possible future events. For some reason, I don't think you're arguing against the right thing. Either that or I've misunderstood the Objectivist position on free-will.

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The way to integrate one's knowledge of physics with one's knowledge of volition is to realize that the billiard ball conception of causation does not cover everything and that an entity is what it is and does what it does because it is what it is. You, those of you taking the deterministic approach, are one entity -- you are not merely a collection of subatomic particles, and qua entity you have certain capabilities that are natural and non-mystical in nature. Until you check those premises, your capabilities that you try to derive from physics will seem a mystical mystery. Look in a mirror and introspect -- that is what you are, you are that entity staring back at you and you have the capability of being self-directed. In other words, make an observation! For that is the only way out of your philosophical mind trap.

There is no evidence that anything else has any properties that are not simply an emergent property of its parts (which still are behaving deterministically). A table is a table, but in order to know what it will do in all situations I need to understand it at the level of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. To have a complete understanding of a thing, it is necessary to look at what it actually is (a certain collection of particles) rather than as an entity with independent existence. An entity is nothing more than the sum of its parts (if you also account for emergent properties, which really is a rather unexpected sum of the constituent parts, but a sum just the same). There is no evidence that anything else in the universe is more than the sum of its parts. I do not see any reason to think people are any different.

Perhaps making a simple observation would be useful, but only if it wasn't an introspective observation. Introspection is inherently inaccurate because you can't check your observation, and it is an entity trying to twist around and understand itself. That is impossible because in order to do so you would need to look at all of you mental content, which would take up all your mental space, leaving none for the abstraction and integration processes. Introspection isn't completely worthless, but its value is severely limited. External reality and the workings of my body are the only things I can examine with any amount of accuracy I desire, and as a result are the only basis for a meaningful understanding of the world.

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Perhaps making a simple observation would be useful, but only if it wasn't an introspective observation. Introspection is inherently inaccurate because you can't check your observation, and it is an entity trying to twist around and understand itself.

I don't see why introspection is inherently less accurate than an observation of external reality.

That is impossible because in order to do so you would need to look at all of you mental content, which would take up all your mental space, leaving none for the abstraction and integration processes.

I see no need to examine all of my mental content simultaneously for introspection. When we make an observation about external reality, we do not examine all of reality simultaneously. An observation (internal or external) requires examination of a limited number of factors and attributes, followed by "checking" against other factors and attributes.

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Perhaps making a simple observation would be useful, but only if it wasn't an introspective observation. Introspection is inherently inaccurate because you can't check your observation, and it is an entity trying to twist around and understand itself.

Introspection is a learned skill, and it can be very accurate as to what is on your mind and why you did what you did -- and in deciding what you are going to do of your own free will. I never made the claim that free will gives us an infinite amount of choices -- you only have the choices that you can think of in any given moment, not necessarily everything that is even possible for you to do in a given circumstance.

So, become more introspective and then you can become much more precise as to your motivations and your reasons for doing certain things (past and present). No, you can't put a force meter or a ruler in there, but you can have explicit standards for your actions and gage your thoughts and decisions according to those standards. Your disdain for introspection is why you are not so good at it.

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There is no evidence that anything else has any properties that are not simply an emergent property of its parts (which still are behaving deterministically). A table is a table, but in order to know what it will do in all situations I need to understand it at the level of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. To have a complete understanding of a thing, it is necessary to look at what it actually is (a certain collection of particles) rather than as an entity with independent existence. An entity is nothing more than the sum of its parts (if you also account for emergent properties, which really is a rather unexpected sum of the constituent parts, but a sum just the same). There is no evidence that anything else in the universe is more than the sum of its parts. I do not see any reason to think people are any different.

Something being a "the whole is equal to the sum of its parts" is probably the wrong idea. The parts may simply be additive, but their interactions are not always. A chemical reaction is not simply putting two things together. The whole can ALSO be greater than the sum of its parts. A whole does not simply consist of the number of particles. Is a friendship just 1 person plus another person? The sum is two, but the whole is more than just two people. How about a non-conceptual example. Take two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom. When you put them together, it's not just two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom. You'd have water. I'm not familiar with all the ways hydrogen and oxygen react, so I'm not saying that putting them together will always create water. Water has many unique properties not present in oxygen and hydrogen alone, but none of them contradict physics.

From my understanding, free-will is made possible through deterministic means, in the sense its presence is not up to you or anyone else. My point is really just that free-will doesn't contradict anything about physics or anything in science. As long as your neurons in your brain are "turned on", it is certainly possible the system can control itself. Since I see philosophically why free-will exists, and also that it doesn't contradict anything I know about reality, I simply need to find out how free-will happens, not if it does.

Edited by Eiuol
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From my understanding, free-will is made possible through deterministic means, in the sense its presence is not up to you or anyone else. My point is really just that free-will doesn't contradict anything about physics or anything in science. As long as your neurons in your brain are "turned on", it is certainly possible the system can control itself. Since I see philosophically why free-will exists, and also that it doesn't contradict anything I know about reality, I simply need to find out how free-will happens, not if it does.

Good job, Eiuol, you get it. But you're going to have an extremely difficult time convincing anyone else of this stance. In my experience, almost everyone dismisses the possibility of volitional consciousness as a property of any possible deterministic or non-deterministic physical system. They really have no concept of emergent behavior within complex systems, so they resort to metaphors like "more than the sum of its parts," which is absolutely a contradiction of "A is A."

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Good job, Eiuol, you get it. But you're going to have an extremely difficult time convincing anyone else of this stance. In my experience, almost everyone dismisses the possibility of volitional consciousness as a property of any possible deterministic or non-deterministic physical system. They really have no concept of emergent behavior within complex systems, so they resort to metaphors like "more than the sum of its parts," which is absolutely a contradiction of "A is A."

But I did use that metaphor. It is not a contradiction, and I explained why. It is a very good metaphor and it describes many systems pretty well. Some systems are literally just a sum though, with no new properties. But those systems are not very advanced. I do hope someone responds to my first post on this page, it seems you're just arguing over a definition that you misunderstood, or my understanding of free-will is misunderstood.

Edited by Eiuol
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There is no evidence that anything else has any properties that are not simply an emergent property of its parts (which still are behaving deterministically). A table is a table, but in order to know what it will do in all situations I need to understand it at the level of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. To have a complete understanding of a thing, it is necessary to look at what it actually is (a certain collection of particles) rather than as an entity with independent existence. An entity is nothing more than the sum of its parts (if you also account for emergent properties, which really is a rather unexpected sum of the constituent parts, but a sum just the same). There is no evidence that anything else in the universe is more than the sum of its parts. I do not see any reason to think people are any different.

The whole idea behind using summation as a mathematical analogy to the relation between a whole and its parts is that no new terms appear when terms are combined. But new attributes do appear when entities are closely related, which is why the analogy fails. Unexpected sums are impossible by definition.

All subatomic particles are the same whether they make up a table or a chair or a puddle of water. At the level of subatomic particles, the table no longer exists as a table. The descent to the level of subatomic particles discards important information. To be specific, it discards every attribute which is a relation between parts and not itself a separable part.

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But I did use that metaphor. It is not a contradiction, and I explained why. It is a very good metaphor and it describes many systems pretty well.

It is a contradiction. A system is the sum of its parts and they interact as the sum of its parts. It is not "more than" the sum of its parts. Any new attributes that arise because of the particular arrangement of atoms is solely as a result of their physical interactions with one another observed on a larger scale.

It's a metaphor that doesn't describe reality, but makes reality easier to understand for those who lack a proper grasp of emergent behavior.

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It is a contradiction. A system is the sum of its parts and they interact as the sum of its parts. It is not "more than" the sum of its parts. Any new attributes that arise because of the particular arrangement of atoms is solely as a result of their physical interactions with one another observed on a larger scale.

It's a metaphor that doesn't describe reality, but makes reality easier to understand for those who lack a proper grasp of emergent behavior.

New attributes don't arise from summation.

In the Objectivist epistemology, all attributes are attributes of entities. Furthermore, entities don't merely have attributes, they are those attributes.

Consider a salt molecule of Na-Cl. The interatomic distance between the two nuclei is 0.279 nm. according to this reference

Of what entity is this relationship an attribute? It would be wrong to say either atom is the distance between two atoms. But we can say the interatomic distance is the salt molecule, in the same manner in which salt is sodium and chlorine. It makes no difference whatsoever that the interatomic distance can be explained based on physics. The interatomic distance is real, it is an existent, it is an attribute of the whole referent of the concept salt and not of the parts.

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It is a contradiction. A system is the sum of its parts and they interact as the sum of its parts. It is not "more than" the sum of its parts. Any new attributes that arise because of the particular arrangement of atoms is solely as a result of their physical interactions with one another observed on a larger scale.

It's a metaphor that doesn't describe reality, but makes reality easier to understand for those who lack a proper grasp of emergent behavior.

I'm not sure you read my post. I don't think anyone actually takes the metaphor that literally. The idea is really just that things can interact, and sometimes, they produce something new that is very different and capable of very different things. I'm not saying 2+2=5. The "greater" is simply that the system as a whole is capable of a lot more than each part taken separately and alone.

Edited by Eiuol
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I'm not sure you read my post. I don't think anyone actually takes the metaphor that literally.

I do. It is not even a metaphor, it is an accurate mathematically abstract way of describing the (faulty) method at play in asserting that all things are merely juxtapositions of subatomic particles which never produce anything not attributable to a particle.

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The correct way of looking at the issue is that a human being is one entity; and as one entity he has certain capabilities. Those of you wanting to reduce everything to atoms, particles and quarks are not realizing that in certain configurations those particles do not exist as particles -- that it creates a greater whole that is not just a conflation of particles whizzing about haphazardly, like a cloud of sub-atomic gas or something. That which you observe on the perceptual level are entities -- cats, dogs, bicycles, cars, humans, trees, frogs, rocks -- these are all entities. So you have a metaphysical problem on several levels: You don't know what an entity is, and you don't know that an entity does what it does because it is what it is. It's not just a sub-issue in the philosophy of science (determinism wrongly conceived as being causation), it is the wrong metaphysics.

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There is no such thing as "causal" but not "deterministic." There is no such thing as "caused" but not "determined."

You can keep on making assertions, and try to ascribe ideas to me that I don't in fact hold, until the cows come home. I, on the other hand, don't subscribe to what is essentially Pythagorian mysticism - the assertion that the only fundamental reality is quantifiability and rigid adherence to numerical series and sequences. So long as what happens is in fact logically identifiable, I see no reason why there can't be explanations that are perfectly reasonable yet not expressible in numbers and tidy formulae.

Instead of using a non-meaningful quip you should try replying to that part. Very few people can truly wrap their heads around the concept of emergent behavior of complex systems. It is the fundamental nature of consciousness and volition, so I suggest you look here instead of evading the concept. This concept implies that there can be such thing as choice and volition (but not the rationalistic concept of "free will" as I previously defined) in a "billiard ball" deterministic system.

I dismissed what you said with contempt because you just said "ner ner, you're ignorant." Pfeh.

I know very well there are emergent properties of systems, but those properties are always traceable back to the integration of the constituents. The actions of a star are emergent properties (eg the six-minute pulsing cycle exhibited by the sun) - but the whole of a star's actions, the kind of reactions it will generate, its length of life, and ultimate mode of death, are both traceable back to the properties of subatomic particles and were fully determined right from the first moment it ignited, to be altered only by outside influence (usually another star, which system will exhibit another emergent property).

You are trying to invoke the principle of the emergent property of a system to deny the consequences of the existence of properties of that system's components. You are trying to say that what a man does is not already totally determined by past conditions, while using the concept of emergent property to gloss over the fact that you are then calling volition a mere illusion. Certainly, life in general is not made an illusion by determinism, as it is as real as stars are. Similarly, consciousness in general is likewise not an illusion even with there were only determinism - but if all there is is determinism then volition is an illusion, and you're effectively reducing choice to just theatre.

Grames: I finally got around to reading that link you posted. Fascinating stuff - similar conclusions as I drew, though I don't know enough about Godel's theorem etc to judge the concretes used in the approach.

JJM

Edited by John McVey
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The correct way of looking at the issue is that a human being is one entity; and as one entity he has certain capabilities. Those of you wanting to reduce everything to atoms, particles and quarks are not realizing that in certain configurations those particles do not exist as particles -- that it creates a greater whole that is not just a conflation of particles whizzing about haphazardly, like a cloud of sub-atomic gas or something. That which you observe on the perceptual level are entities -- cats, dogs, bicycles, cars, humans, trees, frogs, rocks -- these are all entities. So you have a metaphysical problem on several levels: You don't know what an entity is, and you don't know that an entity does what it does because it is what it is. It's not just a sub-issue in the philosophy of science (determinism wrongly conceived as being causation), it is the wrong metaphysics.

Entities behave the way they do because they are what the are. They are a certain pattern of various sub-components, which at the most basic level are subatomic particles. So it is not invalid to examine entities at the level of parts, in order to figure out how the whole does what it does.

Many people have talked about "the brain controlling itself", both in this discussion and others. If that is what people think free will is, namely, that you (i.e. your brain) makes decisions because of itself and not external forces (beyond the obvious fact of the input of certain stimuli from the senses) that control you, than there is no issue. The brain makes decisions, it decides to focus or not, to value or not, what to value, etc. No one denies that. Its obvious. My argument is that the brain does not have the magical power to do different things given a certain state (beyond what quantum mechanics allows, which in a system such as the brain, may be quite a lot). When you decide to post on this forum, it wasn't the outside world that made you post, it was the various values that you have, your emotional state, your plans for the day, etc. All of those things are in your head. Just as "red", and all measurements of any kind, can only be discussed in relation to man, so can the results of a certain state of things can only be discussed in relation to the goings on in man's mind.

When you make a decision, you made it. It does not matter whether given precisely the same situation and state of your mind you could have done something else. Regardless, you still made a choice, and the consequences are yours to bear. Your brain must understand reality properly in order for your life to continue to function, the only way to do that is through independent thought and careful mental effort, and if you don't do that then things will go badly for you. I see no moral/ethical problems with this position, and I don't see a problem epistemologically.

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When you make a decision, you made it. ... I see no moral/ethical problems with this position

I don't think you realise how catastrophic the concept of unrelieved particulate determinism is. Nobody here is arguing that determinism via reference to particulate determinism makes plausible the crude claims of determinists who spout garbage about men as social products via language blah blah blah. The real issue is, how do you, as an individual, treat another, as an individual, when you have to respond to the actions of that other individual?

The moment you state that at the particulate level there cannot be any reason for particle behaviour other than pure determinism then you are obliterating the very idea of there being any such thing as a choice to focus. If that is accepted then the entire system of morally condemning a man for failing to do so, or praising a man for doing so, falls to the ground. You then have no comeback against the claim that "a man, fundamentally, is not responsible for what he does" with all that implies about the propriety of a variety of moral and social structures.

Of course, if determinism is true, then I had no choice but to write that, and you have no choice but to reply how you will.

JJM

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i.m.o., a "Choice" is a single instance of the larger concept of self-volition. Now, it seldom happens that one 'makes a choice' in total seclusion of what has gone before - one's previous thoughts,experiences, and choices. A choice, then is never just one choice.

Which must mean that a completely rational man would be 100% consistent in morality and action, a man of total integrity if you like. And a man of mixed premises would still fall back on previous experience, to choose right now - but with less conviction.

The first man is the complete self-determinist; he has 'self-programmed' his mind to follow what he's established as the correct path. (We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.- Aristotle ) The other is a partial- self-determinist, with the potential of future growth.

I view thought and choice as something akin to a man walking up a hall-way in which there are 100 doors; each door leads to another hall-way, with another 100 doors, and so on.. which one now, where does he want to go, or does he just want to make random selections for the hell of it, and see how a thought turns out? The possibilities are almost endless.

This metaphor isn't as far out as it seems at first. When one considers the brain's neural pathways, is it not possible that we are doing exactly this with thought? Branching out, deliberately, or whimsically,into further, unexplored areas of the Mind? Except that it's the brain's neurons that we are directing through the 'doorways', and of course, whether electrical, or chemical, these are atomic particles.

So I've come back to Particle Physics!

Isn't this exploratory process the growth of consciousness, and isn't this, in turn, the "missing element", when we say 'Man is more than the sum of his parts'?

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Many people have talked about "the brain controlling itself", both in this discussion and others. If that is what people think free will is, namely, that you (i.e. your brain) makes decisions because of itself and not external forces (beyond the obvious fact of the input of certain stimuli from the senses) that control you, than there is no issue. The brain makes decisions, it decides to focus or not, to value or not, what to value, etc. No one denies that. Its obvious. My argument is that the brain does not have the magical power to do different things given a certain state (beyond what quantum mechanics allows, which in a system such as the brain, may be quite a lot).

Who said that there is an unknowable force that enables free-will to exist? No one ever said there is a magical power. SuperMetroid defined free-will almost completely wrong by the Objectivist conception of free-will. That a system is made possible to run by deterministic parts does not have to mean that every process within the brain is deterministic. A brain (or some similar system) controlling itself and controlling its actions independent of any external force is free-will, actions are caused by the self. This whole system that enables thinking is called the mind, and free-will is one characteristic of the mind. The mind would need to be "turned on" so to speak (this probably would be whatever point the brain starts working), of course, and that specifically would be deterministic, but once it is on, action can be self-caused. This is my understanding of what free-will is from a scientific viewpoint. Free-will can exist without having to do something impossible.

Edited by Eiuol
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