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New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

Q&A on Free Will vs. Determinism with Ben Bayer and Mike Mazza

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer, Mike Mazza and Sam Weaver address questions about free will submitted by the podcast’s audience.

Among the topics covered:

  • Ayn Rand’s view of free will as the choice “to think or not”;
    • The importance of this view for the rest of Objectivist philosophy.
  • How does metaphysical libertarianism differ from the Objectivist view of free will?
    • How it contrasts with compatibilist attempts to reconcile free will and determinism;
    • How Objectivism is a significant improvement on mainstream metaphysical libertarianism;
    • Why free will is not magical but causal.
  • What are some misunderstandings of the meaning of “free will”?
    • Why free will doesn’t mean the unlimited power to choose anything or create oneself out of nothing;
    • False views of free will adopted by compatibilists and determinists;
    • Whether animals have free will;
    • Do some people have more free will than others?
    • Why free will is not the same as attention;
    • The difference between having free will at all and the ability to exercise it at different times.
  • How is free will different from rationality?
    • Why free will is presupposed by the ability to be self-consciously rational.
  • How much control do we have over our emotional states?
  • What is the Objectivist response to Calvinist predestinationism?
    • Why free will is antithetical to religious worldviews.

Mentioned in the discussion are the Ayn Rand Lexicon entry on “Free Will,” Leonard Peikoff’s book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Onkar Ghate’s talk Seize the Reins of Your Mind,” and Onkar Ghate’s chapterA Being of Self-Made Soul” in A Companion to Ayn Rand, and Harry Binswanger’s book How We Know.  

This episode was recorded on October 21, 2022. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch previous episodes here.

If you’d like to ask a question to be answered on a future episode, please send an email to newideal@aynrand.org with “Podcast question” in the subject header.

Podcast audio:


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Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz, PhD in philosophy and formerly a professor, is a visiting fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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