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Rand on free will..begs the question?

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Ayn Rand defines free will as the freedom to think or not. But isn't it a circular argument to say that freedom comes from freedom? Where does the freedom come from? Is it outside of cause and effect? Or is man really a prime mover, who can create causes and effects? Thanks for you help.

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It would help to look at what Rand actually said. From Galt's speech:

That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call “free will” is your mind’s freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and your character.

If you read Rand's writing on the topic, you will notice that “free will” is not a central concept for Objectivism. Instead, we focus on the fact that man has a volitional consciousness. So, in fact Rand does not define free will. She identifies a fact about man's nature.

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Ayn Rand defines free will as the freedom to think or not. But isn't it a circular argument to say that freedom comes from freedom? Where does the freedom come from? Is it outside of cause and effect? Or is man really a prime mover, who can create causes and effects? Thanks for you help.

It is not a circular argument, because it is not an argument. It is an explicit description of an axiom. (It is an axiom because our volition is available to direct perception, i.e., it is perceptually self-evident.)

Where does the freedom come from? From the nature of man. A is A and man is man; it is in the nature of our consciousness to be volitional. Volition is an instance of the law of identity.

Is it outside of cause and effect? No, it is an instance of the law of cause and effect: man's volitional mind is the cause of his actions; our choices are the cause.

Here is a suggestion. First read everything by Ayn Rand and then read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff. The answers to almost all of your questions is and will be in the litterature.

Also, when you study the works of Ayn Rand and Peikoff, I strongly recommend you to use these questions to guide you to a proper understanding: http://www.oclubs.org/newsletter/2009/3/29...s-writings.html

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Well is it a circular definition, then? She's defining reality, but is it an appropriate term/view of reality to say that free will is a choice?

As knast said, it's axiomatic. Some things can not be proven, because they are the foundation of proof, so instead of being proven they are validated. Existence is validated by the fact that it's ever present. In effect, existence is above proof, because it is the means to proving. Ayn Rand said of axioms that "you have to use them to deny them." This was her way of validating them.

The same goes for freewill. It's accepted, because you have to use it to deny it.

Edited by Thales
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