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The Fallacy of Composition

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Finally, someone came out and said it. You believe in the magical mind-force.

OK, I get it, you believe in magic. There's not much point in arguing with a mystic, now is there?

Actually, no. The poster specified 'consciousness' as the 'governor' toward self volition. Just as the other 'introvert- based' thinkers have been advocating on this thread.

I consider rational thought to be all-consuming of all outward, deductive reasoning, and a simultaneous inner awareness. But it strikes me increasingly over time that there are those who are more practised at the latter; and are more happily at home with their own consciousness.

For something we can't fully explain yet to be casually relegated to mysticism, is an obvious and unjust irrationality. With certain entities, one must look at the whole first, and then, and only then start narrowing one's gaze. Otherwise we are all just blind men feeling different parts of the elephant, and trying to establish what it is.

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I've been saying that volitional consciousness exists and is compatible with deterministic physics the whole time.

The only difference is that you insist on the rationalistic concept of multiple possible futures combined with the magical mind-force, in order to satisfy your ignorance as to how volition and consciousness could exist in a deterministic system.

I've avoided engaging you because seemed to have a beef with some bizarre strawman argument. But since you directed this comment at me, I'll have to follow up and ask: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

There is no magical mind force, nor did I ever say or imply there was. Volition exists, physics appears to determinist, and as John McVey pointed out we just don't yet know the full reconciliation between the two facts. Pretending one of the facts does not exist is not a solution. The idea that the material analogs of thoughts, of motivations and the very will to know are not as fully determined as subatomic particles would be a solution.

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The only reason I participate in these threads anymore is in the hope that there exists an honestly mistaken determinist out there. Someone with a rational argument who, when confronted with the evidence, has the ability to admit that they were mistaken.

Maybe we haven't provided a sufficient answer for an honest interlocutor, (if such exists as I've never seen one) but it is obvious that we aren't dealing with honest people. When one devolves into a simpering crybaby, throwing bombs in order to get attention, it is clear he has lost control of himself. And when the other backs up his argument by saying "it is obvious" what is obvious is that he has no argument.

To Supermetroid:

End your childish tantrum. If you are frustrated because no one understands what you are saying, then say something intelligible. It is impossible to figure out your position. You have formed some sort of a dichotomy between the concepts volition and free will where none exists. Then you want to deny some property of free will that you attribute to Objectivists but no one has proposed such a property. If you want to understand the Objectivist position on free will then I suggest you read something by Ayn Rand, if you don't own a book then at least go to the Ayn Rand Lexicon and look it up there. If you still disagree with Ayn Rand then come back here (or start a new thread) quote the part you disagree with and explain concisely and clearly why you disagree and propose an alternative. If it helps: volition, free will, reason, rational faculty, and conceptual consciousness all refer to the same thing, they may be defined in slightly different ways but they are just different aspects of the same phenomenon.

To nanite:

There is an easy way to show you how nonsensical your position is. Let us accept your most recent proposition: in theory it is possible to predict all behavior using determinist calculations; and let us perform a thought experiment.

Let us construct this super determinist future predictor, we'll call it the crystal ball. You go to visit this crystal ball and you ask it to tell you your future. It tells you that when you leave the building you will be hit by a bus.

The question is: can you avoid the bus?

Your answer to the question should tell us everything we need to know about how honest you are. Either you will admit the err in your thinking, which is unlikely since if you were being honest you would think that there in no way to change your mind, you are determined to believe in determinism.

More likely is that you will either: cop out by saying that the machine is impossible to build (which of course has no bearing on the thought experiment); or acknowledge choice while denying it by saying "of course you can avoid the bus, I never said you didn't have a choice" (which of course would cause the crystal ball to explode); or you will have some sort of rationalistic explanation which involves you explaining the actions of humans by looking at the actions of quarks whose properties you admit not knowing (you are certain that humans act deterministically while not knowing whether quarks act deterministically or non-deterministically).

Good luck.

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However, clearly, nanite is arguing against the Objectivist conception of volition, which is synonymous with free will, which is requires multiple possible futures, indeterminacy, and the mystical brain-force.

Why do you make silly assertions like this? Objectivism explicitly rejects mysticism on every level. Why don't you try to quote some Objectivist literature and point out any mention of this so called "mystical brain force?"

Closing comments: This thread has highlighted that Objectivism as a philosophy still relies on some rationalistic, unnecessary concepts and mysticism when it comes to the human mind. (This is not surprising considering that Rand herself didn't even acknowledge evolution as certainly being the way humans came into being.)

"Objectivism as a philosophy" (as opposed to Objectivism as something else?) does not rely on mysticism. You're clearly not familiar with Objectivism. Maybe instead of telling everyone that they can't understand your argument because they lack "understanding of emergent behavior of complex systems," you should actually learn Objectivism's position on free will and stop offering uneducated opinions regarding its validity.

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And when the other backs up his argument by saying "it is obvious" what is obvious is that he has no argument.

Actually this is what the introspective-volitionists do all the time, and volitionists seem to generally. So that really isn't an issue that I alone have. Also, you are oversimplifying my post in order to make it sound absurd, which can be done with almost anything.

Let us construct this super determinist future predictor, we'll call it the crystal ball. You go to visit this crystal ball and you ask it to tell you your future. It tells you that when you leave the building you will be hit by a bus.

The question is: can you avoid the bus?

Well, that depends on what you mean about the nature of the device, really. If it is simply a computer which knows everything about everything except itself (meaning, it calculates the universe without taking into account the consequences of its answer), then obviously the answer would be you could avoid the bus, since your foreknowledge of the event would not have been included.

Now, if your crystal ball could somehow (magically we'll say, since that's the only way its possible) know everything about the entire universe with absolute precision, and could include its own functioning into its program (again, magically), and thus actually creating a perfect roadmap for the future, then I suppose that is not actually possible for you to miss the bus. After all, the crystal ball already took your knowledge into account when giving the prediction, the changes in your behavior, and your reaction to its new prediction, ad infinitum until finally it ended up with this final, stable, prediction. Such a case would be similar to the consequences of time travel in the newest movie version of The Time Machine, where the man repeatedly tries to change the future (to prevent his fiancee's death, and he only tries once, which is an issue with the movie), and ends up being unable to. Everything he does to avoid the fate simply causes it to happen a different way.

Actually, your thought experiment sets me up to give the above answer, as there is no other possible answer to give. "If you had a machine that could predict the future perfectly, could you do something other than what it predicts you will?" obviously has the answer "no." Also, later on in your post you talk about me not knowing whether quarks behave deterministically or nondeterministically. They behave deterministically, according to the quantum wave function (that is, the wave function is deterministic, their actual movement is stochastic and guided by the wave function). My main point is that they do not behave volitionally.

I have given this issue a large amount of thought in my (albeit short, I'm only 18) life, and I have come to my position as a result of it. Your declaration that I am not being honest can just as easily be applied to you as well. You are obviously dead-set to believe in volition, apparently no matter what argument is given. I am certain of my position, because I have thought about it. I come here to see if I am correct by interacting with other people of opposing viewpoints, and as yet I have not found any problem with my position I have not been able to answer to my satisfaction. That is why I am, as you say, determined to believe in determinism (though that isn't strictly true).

To Grames especially, though everyone more generally as well:

If every interaction between every particle and every other particle (and between every set of particles) in the universe can be described by a set of deterministic equations, such that given an exact state of the universe (which the universe is in, say, now), then there is only one possible future. Volition requires that not be the case. Volition requires that something in that set of assumptions be incorrect. The only solutions volition has are either that there is no such set of physical laws (in which case I'm not sure how the universe could continue to exist), or there is something magical that makes particles behave in a different way which cannot be characterized in any fashion by any mathematical abstraction even in theory. To me, the two options seem virtually the same, and both seem fundamentally opposed to the proposition that the universe is knowable.

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To Grames especially, though everyone more generally as well:

If every interaction between every particle and every other particle (and between every set of particles) in the universe can be described by a set of deterministic equations, such that given an exact state of the universe (which the universe is in, say, now), then there is only one possible future. Volition requires that not be the case. Volition requires that something in that set of assumptions be incorrect. The only solutions volition has are either that there is no such set of physical laws (in which case I'm not sure how the universe could continue to exist), or there is something magical that makes particles behave in a different way which cannot be characterized in any fashion by any mathematical abstraction even in theory. To me, the two options seem virtually the same, and both seem fundamentally opposed to the proposition that the universe is knowable.

You have been glossing over the distinction between deterministic and stochastic processes. I have gone along with it because I well understand how the "random swerve" is not a form of volition. But I am not going to agree with any statement that there is only one possible future if any existent is truly stochastic. If there is indeterminism then your theory does not even hold for inanimate particles, let alone whatever it is conceptual consciousnesses do.

I would also point out that your deterministic universe is completely time symmetric, and if everything is truly locked-in then it makes as much sense to say a later state causes an earlier state as the usual earlier to forward causation. Clearly something is missing from the theory because only one of these happens.

I have also explained elsewhere how this so-called physical determinism is no better than the logical determinism refuted by Aristotle. The so-called laws of physics are artifacts that take their meaning from observations and conclusions made by physicists with a certain context of knowledge. As artifacts, they do not govern matter so your model of existence as governed by those laws is contrafactual, and pointless.

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Perhaps it is wrong to say that volition is stochastic, or like a random variable. Perhaps it just is its own entity that should not be identified as randomness. As an analogy, people often think of evolution as a random process, but I don't that statement truely captures it. It is a specific process: natural selection. Saying that evolution is a random, chance process is overlooking its identity.

Edited by Dingbat
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Actually this is what the introspective-volitionists do all the time, and volitionists seem to generally. So that really isn't an issue that I alone have.

Well, at least you admit that you have an issue, that is a start.

With this admission and with your other answers and the fact that you say you are 18 I've decided to cut you a little slack. However, I expect the same -- your first response to me on this forum in the other thread on determinism was extremely rude and dismissive, I trust we won't have that problem again.

Now, if your crystal ball could somehow (magically we'll say, since that's the only way its possible) know everything about the entire universe [...]

Interesting, in this thought experiment I have made the crystal ball to your specifications and you say the only way for it to work is magically. Does this tell you anything about your position? Besides do you really need to know everything about the quarks existing 200 million light years away to determine my behavior right now? (Please don't answer that, it is rhetorical).

I suppose that is not actually possible for you to miss the bus.

This is a serious problem for you, you know that this reaction does not comport with human nature. You know that you would avoid the bus. This is one red flag that should cause you to rethink your position.

After all, the crystal ball already took your knowledge into account when giving the prediction, the changes in your behavior, and your reaction to its new prediction, ad infinitum until finally it ended up with this final, stable, prediction. [emphasis added]

Look closely ...... you have lost the argument. Do you see it? How about with the added emphasis, do you see it yet? What caused you to "change" your behavior? You can't change your behavior, everything is determined, your actions could not have been otherwise. As you said, the crystal ball has already taken the new knowledge into account. You cannot change your "fate". Your "fate" is to be hit by a bus, even if you know exactly when and where this is to happen.

Everything he does to avoid the fate simply causes it to happen a different way.

This is a self-contradictory statement. Fate means that it couldn't have happened a "different" way. Besides, doesn't the word "fate" give you the willies? Are you comfortable using that word in an intellectual discussion about human nature? Doesn't that contradict everything you know about the way you act? It rings a religious tone to me. You don't believe in god too do you?

Also, later on in your post you talk about me not knowing whether quarks behave deterministically or nondeterministically. They behave deterministically, according to the quantum wave function (that is, the wave function is deterministic, their actual movement is stochastic and guided by the wave function). My main point is that they do not behave volitionally.

This is also a death knell to your theory. This thread is about the fallacy of composition and you assert that it is not a fallacy. Your proposition is that all particles in the known Universe act deterministically and therefore everything must act deterministically -- your above statement refutes your own theory. You say that quarks act stochastically, which means randomly, which means that they do not act deterministically. Your way out is to say that their wave function is deterministic. Don't you see that you have contradicted your whole theory? You say all particles act deterministically so everything acts deterministically but you admit that quarks don't act deterministically.

In other words you say that large groups of quarks act differently, in a fundamental way, than individual quarks. How can this be? According to you the whole must act as the parts act. This contradicts your theory.

I have given this issue a large amount of thought in my (albeit short, I'm only 18) life, and I have come to my position as a result of it. [...] I am certain of my position, because I have thought about it.

I'm glad to hear you have thought about it. What have you read on the subject? Is there a philosopher you have consulted on the nature of man? In particular, since this is a forum dedicated to the study of Objectivism, have you read Ayn Rand? If so what have you read? It would be fruitful for you to quote some passages of hers with which you disagree and tell us why. Can you do that? An easy way to do this would be for you to go to the Ayn Rand Lexicon .

Edited by Marc K.
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Interesting, in this thought experiment I have made the crystal ball to your specifications and you say the only way for it to work is magically. Does this tell you anything about your position?

Not really, since I have never really claimed you could literally predict the future course of all events in the universe. My main point is that the future is static (or the range of possible futures is static, as is required by quantum mechanics). Our decisions obviously make it what it will be, but our decisions aren't a different form of causation since they are the result of the actions of the matter which makes up our brain and bodies.

Look closely ...... you have lost the argument. Do you see it? How about with the added emphasis, do you see it yet? What caused you to "change" your behavior? You can't change your behavior, everything is determined, your actions could not have been otherwise. As you said, the crystal ball has already taken the new knowledge into account. You cannot change your "fate". Your "fate" is to be hit by a bus, even if you know exactly when and where this is to happen.

I changed my behavior because the result of my interaction with the crystal ball will change my future courses of action. Everything is determined, and the crystal ball obviously determined that telling me I will get hit by the bus will ultimately lead to me getting hit by the bus at the appointed time, somehow. It can, after all, "see the future" for all intents and purposes, including its own actions.

This is a self-contradictory statement. Fate means that it couldn't have happened a "different" way. ...You don't believe in god too do you?

Perhaps that is another rhetorical question, but no I do not believe in god or gods, I haven't at all for at least 6 years (and was off an on before that for another two or three). Fate is an appropriate term for an event of the future which, by definition, is inevitable. The only way for me to do something different than what the crystal ball predicted is to have some of the matter in my brain behave differently than the laws of physics allow, and so either physics must always be incomplete or I have a soul.

This is also a death knell to your theory. This thread is about the fallacy of composition and you assert that it is not a fallacy. Your proposition is that all particles in the known Universe act deterministically and therefore everything must act deterministically -- your above statement refutes your own theory. You say that quarks act stochastically, which means randomly, which means that they do not act deterministically. Your way out is to say that their wave function is deterministic. Don't you see that you have contradicted your whole theory? You say all particles act deterministically so everything acts deterministically but you admit that quarks don't act deterministically. In other words you say that large groups of quarks act differently, in a fundamental way, than individual quarks. How can this be? According to you the whole must act as the parts act. This contradicts your theory.

There are many interpretations of what quantum mechanics means. My personal favorite is the Bohm interpretation, which is effectively a hidden variable theory and which behaves deterministically. So, the path of any given subatomic particle is absolutely defined but our ability to have knowledge of that path is limited, thereby resulting in the stochastic results of quantum mechanics. Even the traditional Copenhagen interpretation still prohibits volition though. The only way the predictions of quantum mechanics would hold is if the collapse of the wave function was truly random. All the evidence suggests it is (if you go in for the idea of a collapsing wavefunction in the first place). Now, the only way choice comes into the picture is if somehow a conscious entity could affect the collapse of the wave function, an ability which cannot exist according to our knowledge of physics and which would require something nonphysical in order to allow it. Again, I reach the choice between magic or reality and I choose reality.

Is there a philosopher you have consulted on the nature of man? In particular, since this is a forum dedicated to the study of Objectivism, have you read Ayn Rand? If so what have you read? It would be fruitful for you to quote some passages of hers with which you disagree and tell us why. Can you do that?

I have not read any philosophers really, except Rand. I have purchased two books on the nature of consciousness and volition from other people (both are scientists and one is a philosopher as well), but have not read them yet. I have read Rand, not all (though I have purchased them all), but ITOE, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, and OPAR (not Rand, but still a major work in the philosophy). I will do that, but in a separate post, as this one is already veering a bit long.

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All quote material is from the Ayn Rand Lexicon's page on Free Will.

To think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call “human nature,” the open secret you live with, yet dread to name, is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not. In any hour and issue of your life, you are free to think or to evade that effort. But you are not free to escape from your nature, from the fact that reason is your means of survival—so that for you, who are a human being, the question “to be or not to be” is the question “to think or not to think.” “A being of volitional consciousness has no automatic course of behavior. He needs a code of values to guide his actions.--Galt's Speech

The above quote seems to boil down to the idea that man does not have any instinctual guides to behavior and must think in order to decide what course of action he will take. That is obvious and I don't disagree. My point of contention is that when you make your decision, that you could have behaved differently. Your brain has to do something in order to think, you have to put an effort forth, if you don't you won't think. The heart functions without thought, the brain does not. The definition of "automatic" in the above seems to be "that which functions without thought", and the definition of "volition" is "that which thinks." I think those terms imprecise and ill-defined, but if that is all Objectivism thinks on the issue, then I too am a volitionist.

Man’s consciousness shares with animals the first two stages of its development: sensations and perceptions; but it is the third state, conceptions, that makes him man. Sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically, by the brain of a man or of an animal. But to integrate perceptions into conceptions by a process of abstraction, is a feat that man alone has the power to perform—and he has to perform it by choice. The process of abstraction, and of concept-formation is a process of reason, of thought; it is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. The pre-conceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional; volition begins with the first syllogism. Man has the choice to think or to evade—to maintain a state of full awareness or to drift from moment to moment, in a semi-conscious daze, at the mercy of whatever associational whims the unfocused mechanism of his consciousness produces.

I agree with this as well. Man has to decide to start thinking in order to think conceptually. It doesn't happen without that choice, and it isn't instinctive or infallible. "Automatic" in the sense I defined above is by definition not compatible with thought. Involuntary, in the sense that the man was forced to do so (coercion, not laws of physics forced) or that he didn't think about it (like the beating of his heart), is also not compatible with thought. Still, that does not preclude the possibility that he could not behave a different way (more importantly, it doesn't mean he somehow changed the outcome of whatever random event in his brain might have been the deciding factor).

Next is a long quote from "The Objectivist Ethics" which I will only quote a portion.

A process of thought is not automatic nor “instinctive” nor involuntary—nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. He has to discover how to tell what is true or false and how to correct his own errors; he has to discover how to validate his concepts, his conclusions, his knowledge; he has to discover the rules of thought, the laws of logic, to direct his thinking. Nature gives him no automatic guarantee of the efficacy of his mental effort. Nothing is given to man on earth except a potential and the material on which to actualize it. The potential is a superlative machine: his consciousness; but it is a machine without a spark plug, a machine of which his own will has to be the spark plug, the self-starter and the driver; he has to discover how to use it and he has to keep it in constant action. The material is the whole of the universe, with no limits set to the knowledge he can acquire and to the enjoyment of life he can achieve. But everything he needs or desires has to be learned, discovered and produced by him—by his own choice, by his own effort, by his own mind . . . .

Where, in the above, does it imply that he must be able to have behaved differently given the conditions for it to be valid. The means by which you gain knowledge obviously have to be learned, but that doesn't have anything to do with volition. Obviously he has to learn, discover, and produce everything he wants by his own choice, because if he didn't decide to it wouldn't happen. But where does that require him to have possibly decided differently? Again, I don't really see any issue with my position in the above, because it doesn't address the core issue. Being "free to focus or unfocus" one's mind doesn't have anything to do with epistemology or ethics.

Nature is a noncontradictory whole. Logic is the art of noncontradictory identification, and conceptualization is the integration of one's knowledge into a noncontradictory whole. If you do not focus your mind, then you will likely have more errors than if you focused, and therefore have more contradictions, which will result in a worse life for you then if you had focused. To claim knowledge without checking yourself, without focusing, is absurd, because you have no idea of whether or not you have made a mistake, you haven't even tried to find out. Knowledge requires focus and self-checking (and ideally checking with others as well, just to make sure you aren't missing something for some reason). Man has no instincts, he has to think in order to survive. If you don't think, if you don't focus, then you are undermining your own life and acting against the requirements for your own existence, that is anti-life and as a result immoral. I do not see where the ability to do something different given the same conditions comes into play in any of the above, and yet it is a rough sketch of epistemology and ethics in Objectivism. You have to decide to focus or not, and the decision bears consequences, but you do not have to have been able to make the other choice for the rest of Objectivism to be complete, as far as I can see.

The rest of the quotes revolve around the ability to force a man to think or not. Obviously you cannot force a man to think if he does not decide to. Why? Because his decision is necessary for him to think. It is the starting point of thought. In that sense you might say it is a form of self-causation, but I do not see why that means that he could have decided otherwise.

In fact, my whole problem with volition is not the idea that someone has to decide to think, and that starts off all the rest of his actions and cognition, the application of reason and all the rest. The decision to focus or not to focus is the first decision and is apparently "self-caused." Obviously it was caused by the motions of matter in his brain since matter is first, then life, then mind, but that does not really have any bearing on it. My problem is with the idea that a person could have decided to unfocus rather than focus his mind. That is my point of contention, and I have seen nothing in any of the stuff on the Lexicon or in any of the books of Rand's, or on these forums, which makes me see why that assertion is necessary for any of the rest of Objectivism to remain perfectly intact.

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My point of contention is that when you make your decision, that you could have behaved differently.

Do you understand what it means to make a decision or to choose something? To choose is to "select from a number of possibilities." If I select an option from a number of possibilities, I could have very well selected a different option.

The definition of "automatic" in the above seems to be "that which functions without thought", and the definition of "volition" is "that which thinks." I think those terms imprecise and ill-defined, but if that is all Objectivism thinks on the issue, then I too am a volitionist.

Yes those are ill-defined but remember that it was you that defined them imprecisely. Those are not Rand's definitions. Automatic means "occurring independent of volition." Volition is "The act or an instance of making a conscious choice or decision." These definitions are from dictionary.com and fit well with the passage you quoted.

Still, that does not preclude the possibility that he could not behave a different way (more importantly, it doesn't mean he somehow changed the outcome of whatever random event in his brain might have been the deciding factor).

Once again, to choose means to select an option from a number of possibilities.

Where, in the above, does it imply that he must be able to have behaved differently given the conditions for it to be valid. The means by which you gain knowledge obviously have to be learned, but that doesn't have anything to do with volition.

Yes it does. Free will is axiomatic: Man is not infallible as evidenced by the fact that man can make mistakes. You believe in determinism. Therefore you believe that you don't have the ability to choose what is logical or not. Your ideas (you believe) are the result of "random events" in the brain/your environment. If this is so, how are we to know that your belief in determinism is objectively true and not just a series of random brain events? You would have no way to reject determinism as illogical. You're going to believe in determinism automatically. You have no choice in the matter. Thus it is impossible to know if determinism is really true. Determinism is self defeating.

Being "free to focus or unfocus" one's mind doesn't have anything to do with epistemology or ethics.

Of what use are ethics without free will? Why bother studying "a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions" if man can't choose or even control his actions.

My problem is with the idea that a person could have decided to unfocus rather than focus his mind. That is my point of contention, and I have seen nothing in any of the stuff on the Lexicon or in any of the books of Rand's, or on these forums, which makes me see why that assertion is necessary for any of the rest of Objectivism to remain perfectly intact.

Without the ability to choose between the logical and the illogical, there would be no way to know anything. Do you understand now why volition is a prerequisite for objective knowledge (and therefore Objectivism)?

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Do you understand what it means to make a decision or to choose something? To choose is to "select from a number of possibilities." If I select an option from a number of possibilities, I could have very well selected a different option.

When you make a choice you come up with a range of "possibilities", things which at first glance seem like something that might be what you want to do. Then you go through some process to whittle them down to one course of action, then do it. The only reason there are possibilities in the first place is because you have to have some options in order to go through a process of selection on, without creating some options your selection process has nothing to process on. A better term might be "conceivable courses of action" rather than "possible courses of action", since conceivable simply means that you can think that you might do them, whereas possible implies that you may very well actually end up doing them (even with perfect knowledge of the universe).

Yes it does. Free will is axiomatic: Man is not infallible as evidenced by the fact that man can make mistakes. You believe in determinism. Therefore you believe that you don't have the ability to choose what is logical or not. Your ideas (you believe) are the result of "random events" in the brain/your environment. If this is so, how are we to know that your belief in determinism is objectively true and not just a series of random brain events? You would have no way to reject determinism as illogical. You're going to believe in determinism automatically. You have no choice in the matter. Thus it is impossible to know if determinism is really true. Determinism is self defeating.

If you focused as much as you know how, rechecked your reasoning several times for errors, and no one else can find an error either, and you don't end up having any problems in reality when you act on your conclusion (which is the final test for the correctness of a proposition), then what evidence do you have that you are incorrect? The only thing that matters is the process of gaining knowledge. If it is logical it conforms to reality, if it is illogical it does not. If I never see any contradictions with reality, then it is as far as I or anyone else can tell logical. I know my proposition is true because I don't see any errors.

What is it about the ability to do something different (or more importantly, to somehow stand outside reality and select from among a set of truly possible courses of action in the future) that allows you to have knowledge? In my mind, knowledge is the result of a certain process, and that process does not involve the possibility of a different course of action.

Of what use are ethics without free will? Why bother studying "a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions" if man can't choose or even control his actions.

Because with it you are more likely to survive? Without a code of values you will die. Without thought, you will die. Just because I can't do differently than what I end up doing does not mean that I am destined to live without effort. If I want to live I have to try to do what is necessary in order to do so.

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Because with it you are more likely to survive? Without a code of values you will die. Without thought, you will die. Just because I can't do differently than what I end up doing does not mean that I am destined to live without effort. If I want to live I have to try to do what is necessary in order to do so.

If you cannot choose your values, values would essentially be subjective. They would not be based on some objective fact, your values would be what they are. There wouldn't be a need to explain them, since it's not up you. It would be "up to you" in the sense that there is an option A and an option B, A would be chosen because B is not how the particles would react given whatever first set them in motion, exactly like a computer's decision making mechanism. Without free-will, you cannot have a code of ethics; either morality is an illusion as much as free-will is, or all morality is subjective.

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Exactly, and all science has ever found are nonvolitional causes (either stochastic, like quantum mechanics, or deterministic, like newtonian mechanics;

Leaving aside of course experimentation, right? You know, the whole: proposing a hypothesis, designing an experiment, controlling for variables, conducting the experiment, dropping balls down an incline, tabulating results, calculating findings, deciding where errors could have been made, calculating experimental error, figuring out calculus ... etc. OK leave that all aside. How about the science of economics? or, I hate to say it, psychiatry?

All the evidence of the physical world suggests every single phenomenon is nonvolitional at the most basic level.

Well, even if you don't allow for the possibility of volition, you must at least admit that there is evidence that "suggests" that we do possess free will. In fact you admit it a few sentences later:

On the surface it could appear not to be [...]

Nondeterministic/nonstochastic phenomenon (in the absolute sense) cannot possible arise from deterministic/stochastic phenomenon. [...] If every single piece is deterministic, if every interaction is deterministic, then the whole must be deterministic. [...] Determinism is something that must carry over.

Just thought I'd point out some bald faced assertions without evidence to back them up. It sounds like you feel these things "must" be true. You must have a lot invested in this point of view. "It must be so, it must be so, otherwise I'm wrong about everything."

Our senses are not perfect. I cannot see an atom with my eyes.

Well if this is your standard of perfect, then you are right, it is not attainable. We are all imperfect from birth (hmmm, again rings of mysticism and religion doesn't it).

In order to do so I have to build instruments and get increasingly accurate equipment, all eventually tied back to man's senses.

Yes, so somehow our imperfect senses enabled us to build perfect machines? Seems unlikely.

But the point is that our senses and common sense explanations are often incorrect.

No, you are combining two things into one there. Explanations can be incorrect, the senses cannot be incorrect. The senses sense reality and give it to use as it is and if they didn't then there would be no way to determine what was correct or incorrect.

I am still waiting for you to provide a concrete example of the senses being incorrect, you can't do it.

The two are intimately related in the subject of free will, to the point where almost everyone blends them together into a single thing.

That is what you have done above but I haven't done it. Besides, I thought you didn't believe in free will?

My purpose in pointing to the Sun going round the Earth as an example is that for centuries that was the generallly accepted explanation for the observation, so much so that it was deemed obvious and self-evident.

This is an example of the explanation being incorrect and obviously, not everyone believed it. And certainly you aren't contending that the observation was mistaken, right? People did actually see the Sun moving through the sky, right?

Blending "I see an object called the Sun moving in the sky" with "It must be going round the Earth" is what volitionists do when they say "I observe myself making decisions and choices from various options" and "I must have been able to do something else." They are analogous.

Your two quotes attributed to volitionists say the same thing. If I choose from amongst various options, I must have been able to choose something else, otherwise there was no choice. If two cupcakes are put in front of me and you say choose and I choose one, I could have just as easily chosen the other one. If there was no possibility that I could have chosen the other, then I had no choice -- that is what the word choose means.

Now, let's examine what your conception of man says. It says: "I observe myself choosing from various options but my observation is unreal. I never had a choice, it was all an illusion, crafted by the forces of determinism ... somehow". In other words: "My senses are fooling me, I think I see the Sun moving through the sky but I don't, it is all an illusion. There is no Sun and there never was, it was an illusion crafted by the forces of determinism to make me believe there is a Sun when in actuality there is not."

These forces of determinism almost seem volitional, they want me to believe in something that isn't there, some supernatural force. What is the explanation for why completely determinist forces have engendered in me the illusion of free will?

I have described that the method by which you gain knowledge is exactly the same for volitional and nonvolitional conscious entities, that the morality remains the same, etc.

So in your view there is no difference between a dog and a man and in fact you think dogs are moral animals, I guess that means you think they should have rights then. Does this comport with your observations of reality?

I have never observed that I make choices that could have been otherwise given exactly the same conditions. [...] I can think of no experiment that would show that I would have made a different decision given exactly the same conditions.

Perform the wiggle your finger experiment I elucidated in the other thread. When I ask you to wiggle your finger x times whatever number you stop on you know it could have been one higher or one lower or ten higher very easily. You also know that there was no mysterious force compelling you to stop on any certain number (don't even count them if you want), it was you who controlled it when you told yourself to stop. It was you who chose to perform the experiment or not, it was you who even considered doing it.

Perform any random muscle movement, which forces compelled you to do it? I suppose the same ones that want to continue promulgating the illusion.

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How about the science of economics? or, I hate to say it, psychiatry?

They aren't natural sciences, they are the study of human behavior. The study of how people make decisions and why they make the ones they do is perfectly legitimate. Neither of those has ever found any evidence that given exactly the same conditions a given person would make a different choice.

Just thought I'd point out some bald faced assertions without evidence to back them up. It sounds like you feel these things "must" be true. You must have a lot invested in this point of view. "It must be so, it must be so, otherwise I'm wrong about everything."

I do have a lot invested because in my mind the alternative is determinism or magic, and if its magic then there's no point in anything. However, my point in the area you quoted was saying that determinism has to carry over because it logically does. If I were to build a computer advanced enough to model a system with all deterministic subcomponents and had perfect precision with the starting conditions, then it would always churn out the same result every single time. Why? Because a system completely composed of deterministic subcomponents which interact in deterministic ways is deterministic. They do it in chaos theory all the time, in fact chaos theory is at least in part the study of how sensitive to initial conditions and complex the behavior of a deterministic system can be.

Well if this is your standard of perfect, then you are right, it is not attainable. We are all imperfect from birth (hmmm, again rings of mysticism and religion doesn't it).

Yes, so somehow our imperfect senses enabled us to build perfect machines? Seems unlikely.

Our senses don't let us see everything at all scales. And so we have to build machines which allow us to see more and more and more. So yes, our "imperfect" senses allow us to build, while not perfect, more "perfect" machines. It is a shame we don't have better eyes, ears, etc. I hope one day we will rectify that. But the whole reason for instrumentation is to allow us to see what we cannot, to allow us to interact with and control that which we cannot with out bodies directly.

I am still waiting for you to provide a concrete example of the senses being incorrect, you can't do it.

Schizophrenia, LSD, sleep deprivation, heat exhaustion, etc. etc. etc.

That was sooooo difficult. Now you could say "well no, that's in our brain", but really all our senses are in our brains, all the important parts, and if there is anything wrong with the brain it can impede the functioning of our senses and literally have us see, hear, touch, smell, and taste things which are not there and do not exist.

Now, let's examine what your conception of man says. It says: "I observe myself choosing from various options but my observation is unreal. I never had a choice, it was all an illusion, crafted by the forces of determinism ... somehow". In other words: "My senses are fooling me, I think I see the Sun moving through the sky but I don't, it is all an illusion. There is no Sun and there never was, it was an illusion crafted by the forces of determinism to make me believe there is a Sun when in actuality there is not."

I've never said that. My explanation for the origin of our sensation of having free will is that prior to making a decision we come up with a few seemingly plausible courses of action. At that time, we think that we could very well end up choosing any of them, and of course that is what we would think (and in fact, for all anyone can know at the time, it is a correct feeling). We then go through a selection process, and end up with our final decision. My point is that the nature of the brain, and any computational system, is that it cannot know its result until it goes through the process to get there. However that does not mean that the process was not deterministic, it simply means that you must go through it to see what the answer is. That in no way is "volitional deterministic forces", it is embedded in the nature of any computational system, such as the brain.

So in your view there is no difference between a dog and a man and in fact you think dogs are moral animals, I guess that means you think they should have rights then. Does this comport with your observations of reality?

Dogs are not conceptual, they cannot apply reason, and as a result do not have rights.

Perform the wiggle your finger experiment I elucidated in the other thread. When I ask you to wiggle your finger x times whatever number you stop on you know it could have been one higher or one lower or ten higher very easily. You also know that there was no mysterious force compelling you to stop on any certain number (don't even count them if you want), it was you who controlled it when you told yourself to stop. It was you who chose to perform the experiment or not, it was you who even considered doing it.

It was I that decided when to stop wiggling my finger. But I am my body, I am a system of particles which behaves deterministically. You seem to insist on having an "I" that is not physical, and thereby requires an external force to make it do something. I decide when to stop, but that is the same as saying that the system of particles that makes me up went through a process which eventually led me to stop wiggling my finger after x times.

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My main point is that the future is static (or the range of possible futures is static, as is required by quantum mechanics). [...]

I changed my behavior because the result of my interaction with the crystal ball will change my future courses of action. [...]

Fate is an appropriate term for an event of the future which, by definition, is inevitable.

You'll have to tell me how you reconcile all of these views. They all seem mutually contradictory.

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You'll have to tell me how you reconcile all of these views. They all seem mutually contradictory.

Different contexts? The first is my primary view. The second was talking about your crystal ball thought experiment, in which I stated that the ball would calculate everything without its prediction, then include its prediction, see how it changes things, then include that one, etc. etc. etc. on and on until finally it reaches a stable future prediction. It essentially was about the method by which the crystal ball would go through in order to reach its prediction, not an actual statement about the future state of the universe. The third was talking about the definition of fate and why it is apt in the discussion of a crystal ball which gives predictions about the future having already taken into account how you would react to the prediction, thus making it inevitable that the event would occur.

They aren't at all contradictory, except perhaps so far as the crystal ball is impossible to build and how its existence might cause problems, but I don't think even then.

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The only difference is that you insist on the rationalistic concept of multiple possible futures ...

This indictment of multiple possibilities as rationalistic is itself rationalistic, as it is completely incompatible with measurement. In measurement, one establishes a variable as having one particular value from among a range of possible values. In information theory the unit of measurement is the bit, a binary digit which is a measurement of a variable that has only 2 possible values. The entire mathematical edifice of information theory is utterly practical and vindicated in experiment and daily use and it treats possibility as real.

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They aren't at all contradictory, except perhaps so far as the crystal ball is impossible to build and how its existence might cause problems, but I don't think even then.

A crack in the armor: "might cause problems" why? But you "don't think" so, think again.

Of course they are contradictory listen to your description below:

The second was talking about your crystal ball thought experiment, in which I stated that the ball would calculate everything without its prediction, then include its prediction, see how it changes things, then include that one, etc. etc. etc. on and on until finally it reaches a stable future prediction.

This isn't determinism. Determinism means that the crystal ball can't change anything because nothing can be changed, the future is determined, we have no choice. The crystal ball is essentially just a read-out of the predetermined future events that are inescapable. Already figured into the calculations are the fact of the crystal ball's existence, you going to it, which question you will ask it, what its prediction will be, what happens in your mind and what the outcome will be.

Determinism says you can't change your fate, it is predetermined, which is why you should be questioning it since you know that there is no fate. You can change your course of action, you have that ability. Try again.

But just in case you didn't have your contradictory bases covered this should do it:

My main point is that the future is static (or the range of possible futures is static, as is required by quantum mechanics).

To paraphrase: "there is either one future or there are many", he said with an evil laugh contemplating how many would fall for him taking no position whatsoever.

If you allow for multiple futures in a determinist universe are you conceding the argument?

Schizophrenia, LSD, sleep deprivation, heat exhaustion, etc. etc. etc.

That was sooooo difficult. Now you could say "well no, that's in our brain", but really all our senses are in our brains, all the important parts, and if there is anything wrong with the brain it can impede the functioning of our senses and literally have us see, hear, touch, smell, and taste things which are not there and do not exist.

Obviously it is difficult since you still haven't done it.

In all of those cases you cited do you think it is the brain or your senses which are affected? Like the bent pencil in water your senses are still giving you some very important information about reality, the reality of the state of your brain. Try again.

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The crystal ball is essentially just a read-out of the predetermined future events that are inescapable. Already figured into the calculations are the fact of the crystal ball's existence, you going to it, which question you will ask it, what its prediction will be, what happens in your mind and what the outcome will be.

And I was describing the process by which the crystal ball would go about doing that. Obviously it would have to include the effects of its predictions in its calculations, which would tend to cause an infinitely long recursive loop (each prediction causes events to change, causing a different prediction, which changes events, etc. etc. etc.). The only solution to it is if it were able to formulate a prediction or vision of the future which could not change. I don't know if that is possible, it would seem to be in a state of constant flux.

This does not mean that the future isn't determined however, it simply means that you can't know what the future will be. Since your crystal ball cannot exist, any problems which arise with it are likely due to the fact that we are stipulating the existence of something which cannot exist, rather than in the thing we are trying to examine through it. Btw, having something simply do something other than any prediction we make about it isn't really evidence for free will, as I can make a short program that will spit out a number other than the one you predict it will say. That isn't hard at all.

If you allow for multiple futures in a determinist universe are you conceding the argument?

My argument is that we cannot violate the laws of physics. Physics is deterministic (even quantum mechanics if you take the wave function as reality). As a result, the future is determined. It doesn't even matter if there are multiple possible futures, because my point is that there is no little man standing outside the universe selecting one path over another, somehow controlling the future course of the universe. We are a part of the universe, and we act in the way all things in the universe act. We make decisions, and can even be said to have "free will" because we do decide from various conceivable options, and even it might be possible that we could have selected a different flavor of ice cream other than chocolate had the quantum stuff worked out differently. My point is that free will requires that there be something nonphysical, something nonstochastic and nondeterministic and outside of physics, which somehow interacts with the universe in order to select one path over another. Otherwise it is simply a result of the laws of physics playing themselves out.

The whole point of physics is that it tries to explain how all the constituent pieces of everything in the universe act. Those laws are all deterministic (or maybe stochastic, though I don't think that's a good interpretation of quantum theory). Either physics controls everything in the universe or there is extra-physical (i.e. supernatural) force which exists in people which embues them with free will.

In all of those cases you cited do you think it is the brain or your senses which are affected? Like the bent pencil in water your senses are still giving you some very important information about reality, the reality of the state of your brain. Try again.

Your brain and your senses are intimately linked. If you are presented in your mind with an hallucination, then your senses are lying to you. The whole point of hallucinations is that they seem as real as your normal interaction with reality, they exhibit themselves as from your senses. Your eyes are nothing if you have no visual center in your brain. If that center is affected somehow by something, causing its functioning to change, then your senses are actually lying to you. They are showing you something which does not exist, a figment of your diseased/impaired brain, not reality.

Talk to any schizophrenic or LSD user and I'm sure they'll tell you that your perceptions can lie to you.

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nanite1018 your idea of causality is "small things cause big things" as much or more than it is "past causes future". Size doesn't matter in causality, at all. Causality is about identity and time.

Big things are made up of small things. We can make generalizations about the big things, come up with laws (for example Newton's laws), but there are certain cases where they are not fully applicable, such as at the level of the extremely small or when something is moving extremely fast. But if you want to know how an object will behave under any and all conditions, then you have to examine it with the finest lens you have, otherwise you will miss things.

You are right that causality is about identity and time. However part of the identity, in fact the thing which makes up all other components of an objects identity, are its constituent parts and the nature of their interactions. A man cannot jump off the Empire State Building and be expected to survive. Why? Well, yes, its because he is "man" but more specifically it is because the enormous force of his landing will shatter his bones and tear most of the tissues in his body, and it will do that because of what those tissues and bones are composed of etc. etc.

I have just reread OPAR's section on volition, and while I understand most of Peikoff's points, I cannot reconcile science and volition. To be self-caused in the strictest sense of the term (that is, to be untraceable, even in theory, to anything else, ever) is a fundamentally anti-science mystical position. The mind and brain (more generally the body but particularly and most importantly the brain) are one and the same in Objectivism. In order for one to make a choice which could have been otherwise, then the rules governing the actions of the particles in the brain must allow for multiple possibilities. That can, probably, be reconciled with science (though I'm more comfortable with the idea that our knowledge is inherently limited and as a result multiple futures are possible given our knowledge). However, the part which cannot be, as far as I can tell, is the idea that somehow the mind is able to pick one over the other for a reason other than random chance. The mind is the brain. And so basically Objectivism is saying that the particles of the brain do something as opposed to other possible things because they just did, but it isn't random. That doesn't make sense, and the only way it could is if there is some "other" force, which cannot be examined by the natural sciences ever, and as a result is supernatural.

I have a question about the argument for volition from an epistemological viewpoint:

What about the ability to choose enables you to know that you are adhering to reality, that you actually legitimately know something, etc.? I understand somewhat why determinism might not be fully compatible with knowledge, since you can't help but thinking what you are thinking and so how do you know you are adhering to reality? But I want to turn it around and see why volitionists know they are adhering to reality, just because they think they are choosing to. Then I would be in a better position to compare the two.

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To be self-caused in the strictest sense of the term (that is, to be untraceable, even in theory, to anything else, ever) is a fundamentally anti-science mystical position.

Actually you can always find just such an explanation traceable in the trajectories of particles, but only in hindsight. But explanations are not causes, they are the story of what happened. What you will not be able to do is project forward in the manner of a prediction.

I have a question about the argument for volition from an epistemological viewpoint:

What about the ability to choose enables you to know that you are adhering to reality, that you actually legitimately know something, etc.? I understand somewhat why determinism might not be fully compatible with knowledge, since you can't help but thinking what you are thinking and so how do you know you are adhering to reality? But I want to turn it around and see why volitionists know they are adhering to reality, just because they think they are choosing to. Then I would be in a better position to compare the two.

Ultimately what enables you to know that you are adhering to reality is the evidence of the senses, but you have to choose to make that comparison between an idea and the evidence of the senses.

There is a specific technique available to verify a concept is not a floating abstraction but instead adheres to reality. It is called "reduction" and fulfills the role of a proof for induction by tracing an idea down through its hierarchically prior components all the way down to the perceptual level. It is a tremendous obstacle to this conversation that there is no presentation in writing of the Objectivist theory of induction and its validation, but I intend to do what I can about that by posting my notes on Peikoff's audio course on "Induction in Physics and Philosophy". Reduction appears in chapter 4 of OPAR and Rand reduced "justice" in ITOE, and there are additional examples in the "Art of Thinking" course (notes for that are linked in my sig).

There is a particular methodological argument/explanation of why primaries exist and why there are limits to knowledge, it comes from the 'Principles' lecture of "Art of Thinking"

1) Principles make generalizations retainable

2) Principles make observations intelligible

3) Principles enable predictions about the future, because they abstract away time measurements.

Positivism - "wheat requires water" and "pineapples require heat" are unintelligible concretes, combining them just makes one giant unintelligible concrete. -August Comte

In Objectivism, understanding is integration. There is no other mystical light that comes on. Principles integrate concretes to one another, and they thereby become mutually illuminating. One table is an unintelligble unique concrete, but several tables and chairs and beds allow one to perceive the pattern that is table. [similarity requires multiplicity, multiplicity creates need for economy, economy is based on the similarity- my comment]

Basic facts of the universe are unique; there are no other facts to integrate them with. This limits understanding, prevents explanation. "The little stuff" has nothing prior to or fundamental to explain it.

"The little stuff" is posited ultimate constituents of matter, smaller than even subatomic particles - function was to free thought from content of physics.

Why is "A is A" true? Can't say because "A is B" and "B is A" therefore "A is A". There is no B.

All understanding and explanation is starting with observations and taking it back one step at a time reducing back to ultimate laws and metaphysical primaries, creating relationships between observations. Science explains everything there is to explain, but there are irreducible facts it cannot explain.

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And I was describing the process by which the crystal ball would go about doing that. Obviously it would have to include the effects of its predictions in its calculations, which would tend to cause an infinitely long recursive loop (each prediction causes events to change, causing a different prediction, which changes events, etc. etc. etc.). The only solution to it is if it were able to formulate a prediction or vision of the future which could not change. I don't know if that is possible, it would seem to be in a state of constant flux.

Nope, sorry, you don't understand determinism. The crystal ball already included the effects of its predictions, it already knew what those predictions would cause and what those predictions would cause etc. etc. etc.. The future doesn't change, as you say "as a result, the future is determined". Try again.

And what do you mean "I don't know if that is possible"? You said you were certain of this theory of yours.

This does not mean that the future isn't determined however, it simply means that you can't know what the future will be.

Another bald assertion, did you just make that one up now? How do you know that you can't know what the future will be? Is that another of those deterministic laws of physics?

Since your crystal ball cannot exist, any problems which arise with it are likely due to the fact that we are stipulating the existence of something which cannot exist, rather than in the thing we are trying to examine through it.

You mean thought experiments are invalid? Tell Einstein.

I don't think you have considered all of the possibilities in the crystal ball experiment. Rather than something being wrong with the experiment, it is much, much more likely that the problems are with your view of reality and man's nature. This experiment highlights those problems. You see, you know that there is something wrong with your theory because notice, you aren't arguing that you can't avoid the bus (which would be a determinist's position) because you know that you would avoid it, because you know that you have free will. So instead you change your stance (of which you were once so certain) or call foul. You are trying hard to evade those problems and when someone evades reality that hard they are either afraid of reality or they are playing a joke. Which is it?

Btw, having something simply do something other than any prediction we make about it isn't really evidence for free will, as I can make a short program that will spit out a number other than the one you predict it will say. That isn't hard at all.

Again, are you proposing the existence of God, the all powerful programmer of human nature and choice? It sounds like it.

It doesn't even matter if there are multiple possible futures, because my point is that there is no little man standing outside the universe selecting one path over another, somehow controlling the future course of the universe.

Well, no little man, but according to you the laws of determinism are controlling the course of the universe and we are all fated to live out our days with no choice in the matter. And no one proposed a little man except you above. I hate to keep harping on it since you have denied it but still, you should know the company you are keeping. It is only religious nuts and mystics who believe as you do in a predetermined fate for man. Your arguments give them support.

We are a part of the universe, and we act in the way all things in the universe act.

Yes, we act according to our natures, that is the law of causality, and our nature is that of a volitional consciousness.

and even it might be possible that we could have selected a different flavor of ice cream other than chocolate had the quantum stuff worked out differently.

You mean to say that potentially if some quark had interacted differently with a positron in alpha centauri I might have chosen chocolate instead of vanilla? It had nothing to do with my preference?

The whole point of physics is that it tries to explain how all the constituent pieces of everything in the universe act. Those laws are all deterministic (or maybe stochastic, though I don't think that's a good interpretation of quantum theory).

"Or maybe stochastic"???? I thought you were certain of this theory of yours? How can you be certain of the way these tiny particles interact if you don't know how they act?

More importantly, your view of how physics works is mistaken. Physicists deal with causal laws. They try to discover the causes behind the effects that they witness and they do this mostly through induction by observing that which they can observe. They don't start with particles they have no way of manipulating and rationalistically try to derive everything else. They start with the macro world (and in fact most of the causal laws of physics were discovered on this scale), manipulate it via experimentation, abstract and then test those abstractions. They don't guess at the laws and then see if those guesses match reality. If a physicist was studying the essentials of human behavior he wouldn't chop him into a million pieces and then proclaim that humans aren't alive and in fact they act like steaks.

Your brain and your senses are intimately linked. If you are presented in your mind with an hallucination, then your senses are lying to you. The whole point of hallucinations is that they seem as real as your normal interaction with reality, they exhibit themselves as from your senses. Your eyes are nothing if you have no visual center in your brain. If that center is affected somehow by something, causing its functioning to change, then your senses are actually lying to you. They are showing you something which does not exist, a figment of your diseased/impaired brain, not reality.

Here is another chink in the armor: you acknowledge the presence of the "mind", hooray. In the other thread all you talked about was the brain/body dichotomy, you never acknowledged the mind. But considering some of the other things you say in this post can you tell me what your conception of the mind is? From whence does it come? What is it made of?

Your senses aren't lying to you, they don't have that ability. You are sensing the hallucination and it is telling you something about your brain, something very important. Hallucinations don't seem real at all, that is why they are scary and that is your signal of danger. Your senses are telling you that there is something really wrong with your brain, it is real. Would you call the bent pencil in water a hallucination?

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