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I've been trying to grasp the idea of volition atleast validate it to myself but I keep falling in to the idea that we are determined.

I accept that we choose, because I do experience that but I don't think introspection is enough to conclude that I'm not determined.

As far as I can gather, everything in general is determined, it acts according to what it is (a marble rolls on a slop when gravity is involved, while a box won't).

External existents act on other existents and a certain cause will always result in a certain effect.

It's what I think science depends on, to have a certainty that the physical world is determined otherwise we have no consistent reality.

(I think at least excluding human beings we can safely agree that they are deterministic according to objectivism.)

Yet when it comes to human beings I think it's more complex and what I'm trying to grasp is where free will takes its part.

To a certain extent our personalities are defined by our genes and then with our experiences.

We gain knowledge, make decisions from experience and genetics changes what I'm predispositioned to do (but not determined solely on genetics).

All I seem to get is that a human being is a being who is formed by their specific genetic predispositions and experiences in life.

These interactions are complex as one experience determines the next.

I don't think it's an easy task to say calculate the exact reason why I 'freely' chose to post on here, there are many factors to consider so I reject the idea that it is possible to predict actions of a human being without taking into consideration their predispositions and exact sequence of experiences which I don't think we can ever do.

If we suppose an exact copy of this universe were made (not that I believe this is possible), and we start at the same point in time, I know the same things, I am experiencing the same things in this same moment.

With my past knowledge, predispositions and the current situation at hand (this includes being drunk (impaires my ability to think), wide away, tired, under influence of some emotion e.g. anger), I choose to do an action either that be evade to think or think and form a step of actions then wouldn't both copies of me do the same?

(At least if I were to do the same thing, the universe would act the same way due to physical determinism)

If both me's in the two identical universes didn't act the same then what would cause this?

Either I base my decision on my past experiences, current circumstances and predispositions or something is done randomly? (Is there something wrong with my reasoning?)

I'm having trouble defining volition when it comes from a world that is deterministic.

I know I certainly choose but I question whether my choices are determined in the end.

I must choose from a limited set of options, based from my knowledge of reality and once I apply my values and weigh each action, I choose.

My values are there by my experiences and past rationalisations or mindless acceptance which reverts back to more choices back to my beginning as a baby.

In a simplistic model, deterministic input (experience) -> me x genetics -forms a choice-> volitional choice somehow

Sorry if this is all over the place but I am honestly trying to work it out in my head.

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I'm not going to help you a whole lot because I don't think volition in the sense that "Given exactly the same conditions of matter I might have done something different in a non-quantum-mechanically random way." While volition is a convenient shorthand and is a simple enough way to think about it, our understanding of physics points to a universe without a place for actual true volition in the sense I described above.

My reasoning for why it isn't necessary goes like this: It only matters on the level of epistemology. Morally, you either act in a way that supports your life or you don't, and therefore are moral or immoral, so I can still say that you are doing something wrong, irrational, etc. so long as I have a valid epistemological base. Epistemologically, volition is supposedly necessary for validation and logic. But the process by which someone goes about gaining knowledge if they had volition is precisely what you would expect a computer to go about doing something, it follows from the simple statement "you can make errors." From that statement, and the law of noncontradiction (and the other axioms), you can say that you have to integrate all your knowledge into a noncontradictory whole, and then check over it to make sure you didn't make any mistakes (and check any new information for problems, often by something similar to the scientific method). Then maybe have other people look at it, and always be on the lookout for evidence you may be wrong (and right too of course). Volition isn't necessary for that, because any assertion that a statement could be wrong simply because its deterministically drawn can be rebuffed with "what evidence do you have other than the fact that people can make errors? Do you see an error? If not, then be quiet."

So, yeah, that's why I don't think volition even matters in Objectivism. I think its either a shorthand, a holdover, etc. to describe the selection of a path from various seemingly plausible options. Or, alternatively, and I think more realistically, it is a result of Rand's limited experience with physics and a holdover from mysticism that even she couldn't shake off. I guess a world without a little man inside her head somehow above and beyond the rest of reality was too scary, and so it gets dismissed immediately as silly, arbitrary, etc. Its not a major problem in the end, but I do think it should be corrected (by Peikoff for instance).

I actually pointed out several portions of OPAR where Peikoff touches on the parts of this (dismissing assertions as arbitrary if there is no evidence of error, the process by which someone comes to know they know something, etc.) in an email, asking him to explain or try to help resolve my dilemma, and despite my email heavily referencing his own work to make my case, he had an assistant tell me the he can't explain it any better than he already has. Kind of annoying, since I used his writing to explain the problem.

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I've been trying to grasp the idea of volition atleast validate it to myself but I keep falling in to the idea that we are determined.

I accept that we choose, because I do experience that but I don't think introspection is enough to conclude that I'm not determined.

As far as I can gather, everything in general is determined, it acts according to what it is (a marble rolls on a slop when gravity is involved, while a box won't).

External existents act on other existents and a certain cause will always result in a certain effect.

It's what I think science depends on, to have a certainty that the physical world is determined otherwise we have no consistent reality.

(I think at least excluding human beings we can safely agree that they are deterministic according to objectivism.)

Science does not rest on a principle of determinism, but the principles of identity and causality. Certain causes are only associated with their related effects by a process of observation and inference. The observation comes first, then the inference. If you observe volition by experiencing making a choice then no inference you make should contradict that.

The laws of physics do not exist, so they cannot be causal agents.

Existence exists and statements about existence are acts of consciousness which derive their truth value from existence. This is the primacy of existence principle. If we experiment with dropping a ball bearing from a variety of heights and timing the duration of the fall, we will generate a number of facts that are correlations: 6 feet, 0.61 seconds; 12 feet, .086 seconds; 18 feet, 1.06 seconds. These facts can be integrated into an abstraction relating height and time into a formula: h=kt2. The truth of the abstraction still derives from the facts upon which it is based, and the facts are based on perceptions of reality. All of the laws of physics are derivative from facts in exactly this same way, the greatest abstractions simply rely upon a greater quantity and variety of facts.

Facts have an existential quality to them but principles derived from facts are wholly epistemic artifacts. The role of the "laws of physics" is not to instruct or govern or cause matter to behave in certain ways, but to instruct man what it is permissible to think. The laws of physics do not govern the universe they govern people the same as any other law.

The illusion of omniscience created by hindsight in conjunction with principles of physics causes the psychological plausibility of determinism. No matter what happened in the past there will always be a physical explanation of how it happened in terms of physical necessity. But the truth of the explanation derives from the facts, it is not the explanation that caused the facts. Logical priority and semantic meaning moves in the direction of from existence to consciousness. A physical explanation incorporates choices as facts; it is not a physical explanation that makes choices into facts. To think explanations or predictions can cause facts is explicitly an appeal to primacy of consciousness and is an error.

Norman Swartz (Department of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University (not an Objectivist)) has explained this issue clearly at Lecture Notes on Free Will and Determinism by way of the similarity between the errors made in physical determinism and logical determinism. Aristotle refuted logical determinism and the same argument is adapted to refute physical determinism. In chapter 10 of his book The Concept of Physical Law (the link is to the 25 pages of chapter 10 only) Prof. Swartz states "logical truths and contingent truths both take their truth from the way the world is" (pg. 138 or 23 of 25) which comes very close to identifying the same error Dr. Peikoff identifies in The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy in ITOE. I derive this explanation from Prof. Swartz' argument and recast it slightly to relate it to Objectivism.

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Certain causes are only associated with their related effects by a process of observation and inference. The observation comes first, then the inference.

Yes I agree

If you observe volition by experiencing making a choice then no inference you make should contradict that.

So the fact that I choose, doesn't mean my choice is determined by my experiences, situation and genetic predispositions?

What determines my choice if none of those?

If someone were to replicate the world precisely, what fact would change my action if all else is the same?

Existence exists and statements about existence are acts of consciousness which derive their truth value from existence. This is the primacy of existence principle. If we experiment with dropping a ball bearing from a variety of heights and timing the duration of the fall, we will generate a number of facts that are correlations: 6 feet, 0.61 seconds; 12 feet, .086 seconds; 18 feet, 1.06 seconds. These facts can be integrated into an abstraction relating height and time into a formula: h=kt2. The truth of the abstraction still derives from the facts upon which it is based, and the facts are based on perceptions of reality. All of the laws of physics are derivative from facts in exactly this same way, the greatest abstractions simply rely upon a greater quantity and variety of facts.

I agree, and under my understanding if we repeat those experiments with the relevant variables being the same, the outcome will be the same.

Facts have an existential quality to them but principles derived from facts are wholly epistemic artifacts. The role of the "laws of physics" is not to instruct or govern or cause matter to behave in certain ways, but to instruct man what it is permissible to think. The laws of physics do not govern the universe they govern people the same as any other law.

So if I understand you correctly, I made the mistake of believing that reality works the way it does because of the laws of physics?

Are you trying to say the laws of physics are flawed or potentially flawed therefore physical reality isn't deterministic?

The illusion of omniscience created by hindsight in conjunction with principles of physics causes the psychological plausibility of determinism. No matter what happened in the past there will always be a physical explanation of how it happened in terms of physical necessity. But the truth of the explanation derives from the facts, it is not the explanation that caused the facts.

So in hindsight there is always an explanation how something happened by physical necessity but this cannot be applied to current situations?

In hindsight we can see gravity working, but that is only a law from observation therefore we cannot say this rock I am holding will fall even if under the same conditions since the law doesn't enforce reality to conform?

Rather it's an observation that could change.

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First thought is that there is no way, if one could be taken back to infancy, one would end up in the same place one is today.

It is almost impossible to compute the vast number of factors that impact on one's life in just one week - plus the huge input of volition, and yes, I am arguing for volition as I see it.

But to argue against determinism is not to deny the effects of other elements, such as random accident and timing, one's genetic pre-disposition, one's character; the common mistake is to "either/or" this argument, and say we are either totally pre-disposed - or we have total control over our future.

The other error I have noticed in these debates is the propensity to consider THE SINGLE CHOICE, out of context. One is making simple, subtle or major choices continuously, and even not making choices- which is a choice in itself. These choices are going on in our consciousness constantly. The focused ones we call 'thought' - and many of these might not even eventuate in action, or many years later if they do. The unconscious ones also play a large role, and as we know from Objectivism, are often self-negating.

Life is long, and vast. Much longer and bigger than it is possible to absorb, (especially when we're young). Imagine a chess board, but this one measuring 1000's of squares deep and wide, and with 1000's of chess pieces; every move, and every counter-move, leads you to another near-infinite array of possibilities - here you are applying volition, based on Reality, towards a favorable outcome.

No one 'choice' is necessarily always the defining, winning, move.

It is the culmination of millions of choices; if these are built upon good (realistic) over-all tactics and strategy (philosophy), we will attain a series of major goals. i.e. self-determinism.

Anton, I am afraid I can't answer your frustration over determinism in any empirically, logical way. I am not sure it can be, as we've seen on other threads on this topic. Wish it could be!

All I know is that I intuitively reject the 'arguments from Particular Physics', without being able to refute them. Call this argument an 'argument from experiential, self-evidence', if you want.

Grames reminded me of a quote from Aristotle that seems appropriate to volition : "We are what we repeatedly do; Excellence is not an act, but a habit."

Don't know how volition works, it just does.

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So the fact that I choose, doesn't mean my choice is determined by my experiences, situation and genetic predispositions?

What determines my choice if none of those?

If someone were to replicate the world precisely, what fact would change my action if all else is the same?

I think it's important to recognize that experiences, the situation and even genetic disposition are reasons for doing something, but they aren't always a cause like volition. When you make a choice, -that- is when some action is caused.

The laws of physics do not exist, so they cannot be causal agents.

I'm confused what you mean by this. I think you mean that laws themselves don't exist in a concrete form, and that these laws merely describe attributes of reality? But volition is like that too; it doesn't exist in a concrete form but it describes how humans make decisions.

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First thought is that there is no way, if one could be taken back to infancy, one would end up in the same place one is today.

My question to this is why?

I'm assuming we accept the physical world is determined, that's what everything sits on.

If it happens not to be, then my idea fails.

The time before humans, the world still existed, and when the first choice was taken (the first so called human) it was reliant on physical factors.

Their actions seemingly non-deterministic because we can't possibly see all the subtle things that come into it, experiences as you've mentioned we only know subconsciously.

It is almost impossible to compute the vast number of factors that impact on one's life in just one week - plus the huge input of volition, and yes, I am arguing for volition as I see it.

Yes I agree it is impossible to calculate and determine the exact impact.

The reason I focus on one choice is that it's easier for me to visualise in smaller ways but our first choice must have been the way it was for a reason, whether purely random, a want, a feeling, rationalisation from what we know all influenced by outside factors which are deterministic.

Taking this first choice and its effect was an experience in itself and shapes future choices so on.

There are many possibilities on life I agree.

What I'm trying to get at is why we make a choice the way we do, I have a belief perhaps incorrectly that there must be a reason and all that I can see humans being is a collection of past experiences (this includes past choices, integrations so on), the current situation and predispositions.

I'm probably trying to identify something that is unknownable if it does exist, the very core of volition and why it works the way it does.

It feels as though I cannot reach the root of it.

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Morally, you either act in a way that supports your life or you don't, and therefore are moral or immoral, so I can still say that you are doing something wrong, irrational, etc. so long as I have a valid epistemological base.

Morality tells man what he should or shouldn't do. If man can't make choices, of what use is morality?

But the process by which someone goes about gaining knowledge if they had volition is precisely what you would expect a computer to go about doing something, it follows from the simple statement "you can make errors." From that statement, and the law of noncontradiction (and the other axioms), you can say that you have to integrate all your knowledge into a noncontradictory whole, and then check over it to make sure you didn't make any mistakes (and check any new information for problems, often by something similar to the scientific method). Then maybe have other people look at it, and always be on the lookout for evidence you may be wrong (and right too of course). Volition isn't necessary for that, because any assertion that a statement could be wrong simply because its deterministically drawn can be rebuffed with "what evidence do you have other than the fact that people can make errors? Do you see an error? If not, then be quiet."

You've got this wrong. Let's suppose that Man is determined: I'm sure you admit that man can make errors. So let's say you come to the conclusion that 2+3=4. You conclusion is just a product of your environment. Unfortunately, since you're determined, you don't have the ability to choose what information you regard as logical and which information you think is illogical. Your thinking would be automatic. And since it is possible for you to come to an illogical conclusion (such as 2+3=4), there is no way for you to objectively know any facts -including the idea that man is determined.

Volition isn't necessary for that, because any assertion that a statement could be wrong simply because its deterministically drawn can be rebuffed with "what evidence do you have other than the fact that people can make errors? Do you see an error? If not, then be quiet."

Such a statement is not enough. If you are determined, you will automatically hold certain ideas. Perhaps you are just programmed to believe that 2+3=4. There would be nothing you could do about it. The same is true for all other ideas you have. How could you tell which ideas are true and which ideas were false (but you were programmed to believe them). As I've already said, man is fallible and doesn't automatically apply reason without error.

Or, alternatively, and I think more realistically, it is a result of Rand's limited experience with physics and a holdover from mysticism that even she couldn't shake off. I guess a world without a little man inside her head somehow above and beyond the rest of reality was too scary, and so it gets dismissed immediately as silly, arbitrary, etc.

If you assume that man is determined, what happens to the concept of justice? Would it be fair to lock up criminals if they couldn't help it? You should really rethink your position on free will.

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I'm confused what you mean by this. I think you mean that laws themselves don't exist in a concrete form, and that these laws merely describe attributes of reality? But volition is like that too; it doesn't exist in a concrete form but it describes how humans make decisions.

Yes. Causality applies to entities acting, not actions causing other actions. Rocks and humans exist. The validity of the law of gravity and of volition are both established in the same way: observation. One principle is not more true than the other. The most that can be said is that in organizing and integrating knowledge it is discovered that volition is hierarchically prior to the law of gravity.

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Somehow I misquoted in my first post; After the gap was supposed to be my response to Anton : "I think it's important to recognize that experiences, the situation and even genetic disposition are reasons for doing something, but they aren't always a cause like volition. When you make a choice, -that- is when some action is caused."

Edited by Eiuol
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What determines my choice if none of those?
The question assumes determinism. You are thinking in circles.

If someone were to replicate the world precisely, what fact would change my action if all else is the same?

Again assumes determinism is true. If you deny volition is a fact then since you hypothesize that there no other facts that could change your action, the question has no answer.

So if I understand you correctly, I made the mistake of believing that reality works the way it does because of the laws of physics?

Are you trying to say the laws of physics are flawed or potentially flawed therefore physical reality isn't deterministic?

Not flawed, incomplete. The laws of physics are deterministic because they are about entities that are deterministic.

So in hindsight there is always an explanation how something happened by physical necessity but this cannot be applied to current situations?

In hindsight we can see gravity working, but that is only a law from observation therefore we cannot say this rock I am holding will fall even if under the same conditions since the law doesn't enforce reality to conform?

Rather it's an observation that could change.

It would be a contradiction of all prior observations to think the rock will not fall. All prior observations and the law that integrates them constrain what is permissible to think the rock will do. If the rock did not fall when released, then the only possible conclusion would be that some new unknown condition is present.

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Does the appeal of a conclusion make it any more or less true?

Of course not. Read the rest of my post for evidence. It was implied that nanite agreed with a lot of Objectivism and I was pointing out that the Objectivist concept of justice (and also morality) is incompatible with determinism.

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Of course not. Read the rest of my post for evidence. It was implied that nanite agreed with a lot of Objectivism and I was pointing out that the Objectivist concept of justice (and also morality) is incompatible with determinism.

Understood, and it is of course incompatible with Objectivism. I'm always confused about this part of Objectivism as well, maybe it just means my epistemology is weak. It seems to me like free will is the new God. People passionately dislike the notion of existence without it, claim life has no meaning in it's absence, and will defend it with their dying breath.

I'm also confused in a semantic sense. What does it mean for a will to be "free"? If it is more than sum of physical interactions, would a person under identical physical conditions make a different choice if the scenario was replayed multiple times? If it isn't guided by physical law, does a "real" choice happen in some sort of ether wholly outside our physical universe? If it doesn't, then what some are suggesting is that the universe "waits" for us to make a decision, and then that decision is manifested in resulting physical interactions. If true intelligence is created in silico (which is a deterministic system), would it simply be a simulation and not the real McCoy?

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I'm hesitant to get into yet another discussion of free will versus determinism, but the short answer is that you have free will because you are a human being and not a rock, a car, or a mouse trap. An entity is what it is, and has the capabilities it has because it is what it is, and acts the way it does because it is what it is. You are a human being, you are choosing to read this post and you will choose to reply or choose not to reply. I didn't make you read this and neither did your environment; and I nor your environment will lead you to post a reply. Determinism denies a fundamental fact about human consciousness -- and that is that we do have control over our consciousness, the individual directs nit, and the individual decides what to do with his information. You chose to do something with that information, it didn't just happen, like a rock rolling down a hill under no self-control.

But I have to agree with Grames that the laws of nature are not entities that make things do thing, since the laws of nature do not exist as existents that have causative influence. The laws of nature and the laws of physics are a human conceptualization of that which is observed, and it is not observed that all things are deterministic. What is observed is that a thing is what it is and does what it does do to it being what it is. You are a human being -- use your volition to question your philosophic mistake of thinking you don't have free will.

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If true intelligence is created in silico (which is a deterministic system), would it simply be a simulation and not the real McCoy?

Of course it is theoretically possible to develop a volitional system from parts, that is how people have the ability. Once you start up a system, I don't see why a system couldn't then make a truly volitional decision. Of course this is a scientific and theoretical question, but nothing that I've ever heard has suggested such a system to be impossible.

If a person was put in an identical situation repeatedly, I imagine someone would make the same decision. This is because people have a code of values and apply it to a situation. The point is a volitional is able to change this code of values, the decision making criteria.

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I'm hesitant to get into yet another discussion of free will versus determinism, but the short answer is that you have free will because you are a human being and not a rock, a car, or a mouse trap. An entity is what it is, and has the capabilities it has because it is what it is, and acts the way it does because it is what it is. You are a human being, you are choosing to read this post and you will choose to reply or choose not to reply. I didn't make you read this and neither did your environment; and I nor your environment will lead you to post a reply. Determinism denies a fundamental fact about human consciousness -- and that is that we do have control over our consciousness, the individual directs nit, and the individual decides what to do with his information. You chose to do something with that information, it didn't just happen, like a rock rolling down a hill under no self-control.

You are right, this has been talked to death. I just want to clear up one thing. From your perspective (Objectivism), one's will is "free" if an action happens that is not directly determined by physical law. Is this the correct definition? Whenever I hear "free will" (which is probably too loaded a term for me to use now) I imagine some sort of non-physical soul watching from the ether pulling puppet strings. It's hard for me to attach any sort of reasonable imagery to it.

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Morality tells man what he should or shouldn't do. If man can't make choices, of what use is morality?

I never said we don't make choices, we do but I was wondering whether those choices are volitional in their ultimate sense.

You've got this wrong. Let's suppose that Man is determined: I'm sure you admit that man can make errors. So let's say you come to the conclusion that 2+3=4. You conclusion is just a product of your environment. Unfortunately, since you're determined, you don't have the ability to choose what information you regard as logical and which information you think is illogical. Your thinking would be automatic. And since it is possible for you to come to an illogical conclusion (such as 2+3=4), there is no way for you to objectively know any facts -including the idea that man is determined.

Yes it would be a product of your environment (experiences, past determined choices so on).

Something such as 2 + 3 = 4 is learnt from reality, from experience.

If we experienced that 2 pencils with another 3 pencils made four pencils we'd be right in concluding 2 + 3 = 4 yet it does not.

Logic comes back to our observation of reality, our experiences.

We know something is valid by the experience it in reality and we can combine statements to form conclusions.

We'd quickly see our conclusion is false by observing reality or we could choose to ignore it.

In the case where we don't experience anything contrary to the idea that 2 + 3 = 4 then we will have no choice but to believe it.

Reality necessitates belief that 2 + 3 = 5, everything points to that conclusion and there is no evidence otherwise, we cannot simply choose to believe the opposite on faith, unless of course for some reason e.g. emotional we choose not to accept facts.

Yet that doesn't imply volition to me, it just shows there are other factors that overide our adherence to truth (reality).

Such a statement is not enough. If you are determined, you will automatically hold certain ideas. Perhaps you are just programmed to believe that 2+3=4. There would be nothing you could do about it. The same is true for all other ideas you have.

No I wouldn't have instant knowledge, I would have to experience reality so on to gain that knowledge.

I'm not saying we don't choose, just whether the root of our choices is really volition and what is volition.

If you assume that man is determined, what happens to the concept of justice? Would it be fair to lock up criminals if they couldn't help it? You should really rethink your position on free will.

If determinism leads to a faulty concept of justice then let's just forget about determinism because it shakes our view on justice.

I don't agree with this because just because it does create problems it doesn't necessarilty mean it is false.

I'm not interested in the possible negative ramifications if it is true, rather if it actually is true.

After that, then yes I will have to commit to untangling and reworking my view on justice.

Jane is my best friend, I don't want to see her in jail.

Some the evidence points to Jane but Jane in jail is a bad thing therefore Jane is innocent.

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The question assumes determinism. You are thinking in circles.

Again assumes determinism is true. If you deny volition is a fact then since you hypothesize that there no other facts that could change your action, the question has no answer.

Yes. Causality applies to entities acting, not actions causing other actions. Rocks and humans exist. The validity of the law of gravity and of volition are both established in the same way: observation. One principle is not more true than the other. The most that can be said is that in organizing and integrating knowledge it is discovered that volition is hierarchically prior to the law of gravity.

So what I can gather from this is, we observe 'volition' from internal observation and the law of gravity from external observations.

But what is observing volition?

I know that I choose and there may be reasons I choose things which I don’t consciously know and these reasons can be complex as they are ideas formed from other ideas by the form of abstractions.

There probably is no true way to dig all the way down in all of our choices why they happened the way they did because there are many complex factors but at the base of it all we are in the middle of the input and output equation.

The input is deterministic, it is the way it is and it couldn’t have been otherwise and there is apparently an element in us that takes account of the deterministic experiences we encounter and our deterministic physical bodies and goes beyond determinism.

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Morality tells man what he should or shouldn't do. If man can't make choices, of what use is morality?

Well, for the same reason if man has choices. With morality (namely, a code of rational values that furthers his own life) then his life is benefited, and without it he will have a higher likelihood of pain and suffering. That's the only argument there can be for morality. It isn't effected by determinism, because you can say "Man is a certain way, A is A, so man must behave rationally in order to survive." That statement is true. Want to live? Then behave rationally. Don't? Well then I won't be seeing you around for very long, will I?

So let's say you come to the conclusion that 2+3=4. You conclusion is just a product of your environment. Unfortunately, since you're determined, you don't have the ability to choose what information you regard as logical and which information you think is illogical. Your thinking would be automatic. And since it is possible for you to come to an illogical conclusion (such as 2+3=4), there is no way for you to objectively know any facts -including the idea that man is determined.

Except when I'm trying to build my doorframe, add 2 and 3 feet together, get 4, then when I put it all up I end up being a foot too short. The point is that reality is noncontradictory, so if I make a mistake, I will run into it eventually, as I must. If I hit a problem, then I have to go try to look again. Your complaint can be redefined this way: "What if someone thought 2+3=4, and then chose to ignore evidence otherwise or was too dumb or lazy to find his error when he tried to figure out what went wrong with his door-building project?" That is, after all, exactly what would have to occur for someone to miss their mistake over and over en perpetuity as you suggest is possible for a deterministic being. Well, what if? Then they'll die pretty quickly, and it'd be their fault. After all, they were the ones who kept missing the error.

How could you tell which ideas are true and which ideas were false (but you were programmed to believe them). As I've already said, man is fallible and doesn't automatically apply reason without error.

No, you're right, he starts with self-evident things, percepts, then integrates them into very very basic concepts, then builds on those to get to lofty ideas like justice and quantum physics, constantly checking himself all along the way. How do you know you haven't made an error? There isn't any evidence you did, right? You keep checking and checking, and life has borne you out, correct? Well, same thing would apply for a determined person. And if you continually hold wrong ideas, reality will kick you in the face sooner or later.

If you assume that man is determined, what happens to the concept of justice? Would it be fair to lock up criminals if they couldn't help it? You should really rethink your position on free will.

Alright, let's say Billy kills Jean. Should Billy get locked up? Well, he initiated force against Jean, which means that he violated her ability to survive (killing her actually), and so rejects morality and his right to his own life as a logical consequence. People who reject morality and adopt death as their goal have no rights, and so, since no moral person would want them around, we can lock them up in order to keep everyone else safe. So, yes, of course you can, even if they couldn't help it.

Justice is about serving my own life by rewarding or punishing moral and immoral behavior. Assuming my above argument about morality not depending on volition is accepted as true, then it immediately follows that volition has no relation to the Objectivist idea of justice either.

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I never said we don't make choices, we do but I was wondering whether those choices are volitional in their ultimate sense.

How can a choice not be volitional?

In the case where we don't experience anything contrary to the idea that 2 + 3 = 4 then we will have no choice but to believe it.

So you've never seen a man believe something illogical?

I'm not saying we don't choose, just whether the root of our choices is really volition

I think you need to define your terms.

I'll try to put my earlier statement in a different way. Free will is axiomatic. Determinism is self defeating and here's why: Man is fallible (notice in your above statement, you assume that man will automatically believe the logical ie. 2+2=4) Assuming determinism, man can't choose the ideas in his brain. They are merely a product of his environment/society. When you act irrationally or evade information -you HAVE to do it. It's automatic and you had no choice. If such a thing were true, you couldn't use your own judgment. How could you know whether your ideas were logical, or whether you simply HAD to believe them? Knowledge would be impossible to you. Including, of course, the knowledge that you are deterministic.

If determinism leads to a faulty concept of justice then let's just forget about determinism because it shakes our view on justice.

I don't agree with this because just because it does create problems it doesn't necessarilty mean it is false.

I'm not interested in the possible negative ramifications if it is true, rather if it actually is true.

After that, then yes I will have to commit to untangling and reworking my view on justice.

Jane is my best friend, I don't want to see her in jail.

Some the evidence points to Jane but Jane in jail is a bad thing therefore Jane is innocent.

I clarified the intent of my statement several posts before this one.

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Well, for the same reason if man has choices. With morality (namely, a code of rational values that furthers his own life) then his life is benefited, and without it he will have a higher likelihood of pain and suffering. That's the only argument there can be for morality. It isn't effected by determinism, because you can say "Man is a certain way, A is A, so man must behave rationally in order to survive." That statement is true. Want to live? Then behave rationally. Don't? Well then I won't be seeing you around for very long, will I?

If I'm determined, I can't choose life as my ultimate value. I was either going to do it or not do it anyway. I'm not going to bother studying morality if I can't choose to accept or reject it. Is this not reason enough to never look at the subject of ethics again?

Except when I'm trying to build my doorframe, add 2 and 3 feet together, get 4, then when I put it all up I end up being a foot too short. The point is that reality is noncontradictory, so if I make a mistake, I will run into it eventually, as I must. If I hit a problem, then I have to go try to look again.

Your position amounts to man being infallible. Have you ever seen someone do something irrational? Not everyone looks again after they hit a contradiction. Both you and Anton's response to the issue can be restated this way: "But a man will automatically notice his mistake and correct it." We have several thousand years worth of evidence to dispute that.

Well, what if? Then they'll die pretty quickly, and it'd be their fault. After all, they were the ones who kept missing the error.

People who do something irrational don't just die. There are plenty of irrational people who live very long lives. Hell, look in a church.

And if you continually hold wrong ideas, reality will kick you in the face sooner or later.

Once again, you are trying to claim that if a man makes a mistake he will automatically correct it because reality "kicks him in the face." This just isn't true. Why haven't old people automatically corrected their belief in god?

Alright, let's say Billy kills Jean. Should Billy get locked up? Well, he initiated force against Jean, which means that he violated her ability to survive (killing her actually), and so rejects morality and his right to his own life as a logical consequence. People who reject morality and adopt death as their goal have no rights, and so, since no moral person would want them around, we can lock them up in order to keep everyone else safe. So, yes, of course you can, even if they couldn't help it.

How do you attribute responsibility to someone for a crime they couldn't help but commit? Billy had no more choice about it than Jean did. It would make as much sense to attribute responsibility to Jean. Neither could control anything in the situation and thus neither were responsible for the crime. If your going to go around and blame people for crimes who aren't responsible for them, it's just as logical to blame you for the crime.

Justice is about serving my own life by rewarding or punishing moral and immoral behavior. Assuming my above argument about morality not depending on volition is accepted as true

Furthermore, what do you think you're going to accomplish by rewarding or punishing immoral behavior? If people act automatically, a reward or punishment is not going to have any effect on their decisions.

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You are right, this has been talked to death. I just want to clear up one thing. From your perspective (Objectivism), one's will is "free" if an action happens that is not directly determined by physical law. Is this the correct definition? Whenever I hear "free will" (which is probably too loaded a term for me to use now) I imagine some sort of non-physical soul watching from the ether pulling puppet strings. It's hard for me to attach any sort of reasonable imagery to it.

There you go again. "Laws" don't determine anything, identities do. "Free" does not refer to an escape from identity and causality because there can be no such escape. It is also wrong to regard identity and causality as somehow coercing people against their will. "Free" means not subject to external control especially from other people.

Furthermore there is no valid distinction between being directly and indirectly determined.

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So what I can gather from this is, we observe 'volition' from internal observation and the law of gravity from external observations.

But what is observing volition?

Volition always exists in the form of an action, a mental action first and then a corresponding physical action.

Put your hand in front of you, observe yourself make a fist then open it. Volition is behind control of the voluntary muscles.

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I have a question for you determinists: Where did you get the idea of determinism from? Was it your high school teacher or you college teacher? And what material was read and who wrote it? The reason I'm asking is that for the past several years the arguments for determinism have been rather consistent -- as if you are all being taught by the same person or at least the same source.

But really, you have a problem with your conception of causality. What causes you to make a choice? You do! It is you qua individual that makes choices. It is not some ineffable "spirit self" that is in there directing you, you do that. It is not your environment that dictates that you reply to this post. You choose to reply or not to reply -- or you decide to go watch TV or listen to music or whatever. You do that of your own free will. Volition means that you have control of your own consciousness -- of what to bring into your range of awareness. You can bring philosophy into your range of awareness or you can decide not to put forth the effort. You can take all of the facts into account -- including introspection -- or you can choose not to bring all the facts into account. You do that -- not this post or your environment. Many of you even concede that you make choices, but you wonder if it is a real choice. Well, what do you mean by a real choice? There have been those who claim we don't have real choices because we cannot turn ourselves into basket balls, which is a ludicrous approach to volition. You direct your own mind and you direct yourself -- to reply or not to reply. It's that simple.

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