What is free will? In this episode of Yaron Brook’s Living Objectivism, Onkar Ghate, senior fellow and chief content officer at the Ayn Rand Institute, calls in to discuss Ayn Rand’s unique perspective on the nature of free will; the validation of free will; why determinism is self-refuting and incoherent; free will as axiomatic; why free will is associated with mysticism; Objectivism on materialism and idealism; the nature and significance of the primary choice, and other issues.
“Give me liberty or give me death.” This inspiring slogan from the American revolutionary period is all the more impressive when we remember that the revolutionaries were not trying to flee a totalitarian dictatorship but were rebelling against one of the freest, most prosperous nations of their age. There is an important insight here — American revolutionaries demanded, in full, the political freedom expressed in the Declaration of Independence as a matter of principle. What was the principle these revolutionaries held so dear and why don’t Americans see it the same way today?
The life of a creature without free will is determined by factors outside its control, so it is not responsible for what it does or what becomes of it. But because human beings have free will, the shape our lives take is up to us. True, we are born into circumstances that are not of our own making, and there are facts of nature that we cannot change, but there are countless lives possible to each of us, and by recognizing what you cannot control and taking responsibility for what you can, you can create a life of which you can be proud and in which you will be happy.
In a wide-ranging discussion, the panelists answer questions arising from their previous presentations on free will and its implications in issues such as immigration, free speech, Objectivism and foreign policy. This Q&A was recorded at Ayn Rand Student Conference 2016.
In this keynote talk by Yaron Brook, executive chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute and co-author of Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality, examines how the arguments of today’s critics of economic inequality rest on the denial of the individual’s power of choice.