Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
SelfishRandroid

How does Objectivism refute Compatibilism?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

3 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Keep in mind, in the case of heart beat you have an influence, you can slow and speed it up, but I don't think you can stop it by conscious will.

The most useful manifestation that I have seen is controlling blood pressure ... via breathing techniques. Here is one reference, there should be many since it has been around for at least 50 years.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4104929/

Thanks. I wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding heartbeat. I think we are.

On 2/16/2020 at 1:35 PM, Easy Truth said:

The struggle that I have with all this is: When is an automatic action "my automatic action" vs. "an automatic action". The reason for the focus is the attempt to discover the moment one chooses life. (or what is the nature of this choice) Is it when the heart started beating? Was it the first moment one felt pain and wanted to avoid it? Was it when one learnt about death and consciously chose to live.

In order to choose life, I think one must first become self-aware and at least implicitly grasp the concept of life. Becoming self-aware might actually be the same thing as implicitly grasping and choosing life, since you are a living organism, and you are differentiating yourself from other things in that first instance of self-awareness. And as long as you continue choosing self-awareness, you're essentially choosing life--your life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/12/2020 at 9:04 PM, SelfishRandroid said:

I would love to read a scholarly essay or direct writings from Rand on the subject of Compatibilism. I've seen several posts on this forum that claim that Objectivism is "closer to" or "basically the same as" Compatibilism, but I don't think that's true in a strictly "orthodox" reading of Objectivism's position on free will. Based on my nascent understanding of free will, and someone please correct me if I'm wrong, Objectivism acknowledges the Law of Causation, but rejects the Compatibilist view that, although human beings can act freely, the basis of the will to act is determined by antecedent events. Objectivism instead holds that will is entirely volitional. 

Here's a related quote from Rand: "Man exists and his mind exists. Both are part of nature, both possess a specific identity. The attribute of volition does not contradict the fact of identity..."

Anyway, I mostly shared my interpretation to make this post more substantive. What I'd really like is an in-depth informational resource or explanation on how Objectivism refutes Compatibilism. Thanks!

There is no such resource. Objectivism only touches tangentially on the issue; most issues of metaphysics are not addressed in a philosophically serious way. You will find a wide variety of answers from "Objectivists" on issues such as free will and the metaphysics of consciousness, ranging from reductionist materialism to outright dualism, and various things in between, but there is no "official" answer and nothing definitive written by Rand.

I would personally argue for a strong libertarian free will stance, arguing along the lines that the contrary is absurd, incoherent, and impossible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SR, there was an extended article on compatiblism in my journal Objectivity by George Lyons in 1995, and there is further discussion in Eilon v. Boydstun 1997.

My first degree was in physics, my second in engineering. I continued to study physics (and philosophy) through the decades. The idea that all future formations of each molecule and each galaxy are fully determined in their inanimate course of nature is false. So I say with Aristotle and with Peirce, and say against Leibniz, Laplace, and (more ambiguously) Rand/Peikoff. It is due to the free play, the contingency, within the course of lawful classical inanimate nature that engineerings are possible. The natural organization that is life is like an engineered system, of a sort. It requires contingency (and lawfulness) specifically of its inanimate surroundings and its own material and energy transformations to maintain itself and its kind. Consciousness able to range over the actions possible to its full organism and select trials is free to the extent of that consciousness, I'd say (with J. Enright *). More such power, more such freedom. For the human animal, such is free will and not compatibilism. For the compatibility of engineering-type organizations, including their instrumentation and control systems, with deterministic physical law is not, as I understand it, the compatibilism pushed by Hobart et al. Furthermore, free will as evident in one's first-person perspective on oneself is not one bit at odds with whatever science one brings to bear on one's third-person view of oneself, provided one gets unblindered as to the full setting of those sciences within their zone of nature. Writing large to all that is physical the narrow aspects of the physical world for which we discovered continuous deterministic mathematical characterization was and is unwarranted, vastly so.

Professional up-to-date layout of compatibilism is here.

Edited by Boydstun

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Freely available on the Ayn Rand Campus website is the article "The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made", the first article that came to mind as I began to look over Section 1 at the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

The following excerpt hones right in on the essence of this thread:

Any natural phenomenon, i.e., any event which occurs without human participation, is the metaphysically given, and could not have occurred differently or failed to occur; any phenomenon involving human action is the man-made, and could have been different.

After hundreds of years of bare sustenance, what has changed? Man is still man, the man-made bare sustenance comes from the same source that the things we enjoy now are generated by. Does Compatibilism need more evidence then that to be refuted?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

After hundreds of years of bare sustenance, what has changed? Man is still man, the man-made bare sustenance comes from the same source that the things we enjoy now are generated by. Does Compatibilism need more evidence then that to be refuted?

Well, yes. Partly because the foregoing wasn't an argument. It's a distinction. One that is commonly made (eg,. in JS Mill) to understand what "nature" means, as opposed to "artificial" or man-made. But that doesn't tell us anything about whether everything occurs applies to human agents in the same exact way or not, and what relevant sense this is supposed to mean, or what causal capacities we do actually have are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, 2046 said:

Well, yes. Partly because the foregoing wasn't an argument. It's a distinction.

Fair enough. More broadly, the fact that there is disagreement suggest that folk get to choose what they believe, and to argue that they are wrong presupposes that that the arguer thinks folk get to choose what they believe as well in the form of changing their mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If one views free-will/focus/choice as a sub-type of causality, how does doctrine of determinism square with this?

The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. Determinism applies this to every action, including the action of choice, which fundamentally is to focus, an exercise of free-will. The contradiction arise when one considers the action of choosing performed by a mind as preordained by antecedent factors.

If the action of an entity is determined by the entity which acts, the complication arises when one cannot physically identify an entity called the mind, much less the action that asserted to arise from it. And while a refutation on the terms set by those who claim to be the gate-keepers of such matters has not been identified, the opposing horn of the dilemma has been well established, demarcating morality as physical actions arising such as to be judged as good or evil.

Results, such as inexcusable deaths in Nazi concentration camps are easy enough to categorize as evil. Individuals have been held accountable in numerous court trials for actions taken under the guise of following orders. Such verdicts grant credence to a sub-type of causality operating within the wider theater of inanimate materialistic causality.

A rock, rolling down a hill, crushing a carload of occupants has no moral culpability. An individual, leveraging a rock to roll down a hill in order to bring about that same result (knowingly or unknowingly) is the basis of the differences between homicide, negligent homicide, etc.

Under societies familiar with how varying nuances can color the moral character of the actor, the choice/focus/free-will as agencies available to a mind of a conceptual being should be guiding the verdict accordingly and give its rightfully deserved consideration.

The metaphysical basis of morality was not articulated clearly and concisely until Miss Rand explicitly provided the correlation between the two. If you grant the validity of her discovery, then it was true in every philosopher's time from before Thales, and even beyond.

 

There is something amiss (or inherently wrong) with the notion that assertions need be refuted. The onus of proof lay on he who asserts the positive, comes to mind. If an onus of proof has been met, then those who fail to accept it should fall suspect, not the one that supplies the criteria necessary.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/11/2020 at 7:13 PM, dream_weaver said:

A rock, rolling down a hill, crushing a carload of occupants has no moral culpability. An individual, leveraging a rock to roll down a hill in order to bring about that same result (knowingly or unknowingly) is the basis of the differences between homicide, negligent homicide, etc.

This is in a social context where if you are sleepwalking, you are still responsible. But is this "action" a form of choice or will? (if it is, the choice to live may fall under that category)

On 3/11/2020 at 7:13 PM, dream_weaver said:

If the action of an entity is determined by the entity which acts, the complication arises when one cannot physically identify an entity called the mind, much less the action that asserted to arise from it.

Ultimately is this an argument for a non-physical basis for freewill? Or when we discover what the mind is, whatever "it" is, will be bound by causality?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

This is in a social context where if you are sleepwalking, you are still responsible. But is this "action" a form of choice or will? (if it is, the choice to live may fall under that category)

A correction needed: An individual, leveraging a rock to roll down a hill, in the event, brought about that same result (knowingly or unknowingly) is the basis of the differences between homicide, negligent homicide, etc.

Why do some sleepwalk? If it can be shown to be the result of ideas accepted earlier in life, would you have a lead to unravel further?

20 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Ultimately is this an argument for a non-physical basis for freewill? Or when we discover what the mind is, whatever "it" is, will be bound by causality?

This doesn't follow. Where the corpus delicti is, in the case of a corpse, the mind isn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:
21 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

This is in a social context where if you are sleepwalking, you are still responsible. But is this "action" a form of choice or will? (if it is, the choice to live may fall under that category)

A correction needed: An individual, leveraging a rock to roll down a hill, in the event, brought about that same result (knowingly or unknowingly) is the basis of the differences between homicide, negligent homicide, etc.

Why do some sleepwalk? If it can be shown to be the result of ideas accepted earlier in life, would you have a lead to unravel further?

From a third person perspective, one sees another sleep walk. In his sleep he breaks your window. You have a right to get compensated. That alone is the acknowledgement of his free-will. There may be thoughts he had before that can justify this judgement, but even without knowing the actual reason, one will still hold him responsible. And again, this conclusion is in a social context.

In a personal, first person perspective, context, the sleepwalker has no memory of breaking the window. So it is not reality to him, there was no choice that he remembers. So the issue of free will is invisible until you tell him what he did etc. (social context).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

From a third person perspective, one sees another sleep walk. In his sleep he breaks your window. You have a right to get compensated. That alone is the acknowledgement of his free-will. There may be thoughts he had before that can justify this judgement, but even without knowing the actual reason, one will still hold him responsible. And again, this conclusion is in a social context.

In a personal, first person perspective, context, the sleepwalker has no memory of breaking the window. So it is not reality to him, there was no choice that he remembers. So the issue of free will is invisible until you tell him what he did etc. (social context).

Let me rephrase my question.

Some people sleep walk. Other people do not. All S is P does not apply to sleepwalking in that "all people sleepwalk", or "all people do not sleepwalk."

Why are there two groups? What cause lies at the root separating the two groups?

Could a chosen idea lie at the root of either 'those who do' or 'those who do not' sleepwalk?

 

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Could a chosen idea lie at the root of either 'those who do' or 'those who do not' sleepwalk?

Yes it could. And this would imply that sleepwalking is chosen in that way (when conscious).

It seems that the argument boils down to: some sleepwalk and some don't, that implies that a choice took place. (maybe, just trying to understand your argument)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

It seems that the argument boils down to: some sleepwalk and some don't, that implies that a choice took place. (maybe, just trying to understand your argument)

People have a nature.

  • Some people sleep walk.
  • Some people just sleep.

Is this just a derivation in the nature of human beings, or is there an antecedent causal factor that determines this particular fork in the breakdown in this reasoning, or even: am I looking at this wrong?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Apparently some medications can cause sleepwalking.

Does this follow then?

People have a nature.

  • Some people just sleep.
    • No people who just sleep take medications that have been determined to cause sleepwalking.
  • Some people sleepwalk.
    • All people who sleepwalk take medications that can cause sleepwalking.

The broader point is with regard to compatibilism. Objectivism holds that choice is a subtype of causality. Compatibilism seems to hold choice as an aberration, a role of the dice, rather than self-governance of a mind with regard to what it accepts and does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...