RSalar

Objectivist view of volition

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I was told that I may be confused about the Objectivist position on volition and need to start a new thread, so here goes ...

First let me state what my view is (this is a closed book explanation) so that someone smarter than I can point to my error: Volition is the act of making a conscious choice. Rational animals make choices by identifying the issues, defining the desired outcome, and projecting various potential outcomes based on various scenarios to see which one is the best. Then once this analysis is complete the rational animal takes action. After taking action he looks to see if the action resulted in the outcome he intended. If not, he re-analyzes and acts again based on his objective reasoning. The first and most important decision (volitional act) that a rational person makes is to choose to be rational. He knows that reason is his only means of identifying the real world--and knowing what reality is the only consistent way for him to get what he wants. The rational animal must also decide what it is that he wants--this too is best decided on based on reality and by being totally objective-- and it too is an act of volition.

So the bottom line is that volition is choice but it is not necessarily "non-random and non-deterministic" as Lee Pierson was trying to establish in his paper, "What is Consciousness For?" Here is why:

The point I was trying to make in the posts that were rejected is this: Logic is like math -- 2 plus 2 always equals 4. If a person uses logic to come to a conclusion, his conclusion should be the same as any other person's logical conclusion. Everybody should come to the same logical conclusion when presented with identical facts. this occurs for the same reason that everyone comes up with the same answer to the 2 +2 math problem.

Therefore, if all rational and logic people will always come to the same conclusion based on the same facts, their conclusion is deterministic (in the context of the facts involved). The more accurately we identify the facts and the more consistently we apply logic, the more deterministic we become. If we we had a perfect understanding of reality and could apply perfect logic every time we would be perfectly deterministic.

We are conscious and we make conscious choices (we have volition) but some of the choices we make are consciously deterministic, because logic dictates that we choose the correct answer. I say that Pierson's view (that volition is "non-random and non-deterministic choice"), is flawed. I don't know what the name for it is but it is not appropriate, when debating, to redefine terms, because the definition used for the term is critical to the logic. It's like trying to say that not all 2's are equal, so 2 + 2 does not always equal 4. The only way that I can prove that you are wrong is to point to the fact that you have redefined what 2 is. Once I show this, I have proven that your logic is flawed--and you should admit it, not argue that I lack understanding of the true meaning of 2. 2 is 2!

Please help me see the flaw in my thinking. (I say help, but I am willing to trade my ideas for yours.)

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RSalar,

You are confusing what determinism means, and you are not clear on what volition is. Determinism is a theory that hold that man (as well as all entities) is not volitional and that all actions, both past and future, were and are necessitated by previous, inevitable factors. The Objectivist view of volition pertains to the choice to think or not, to use reason or not, to activate the conceptual faculty or not. The issue of "making a conscious choice" can only be understood within that context. There is no other conscious choice available to us.

You state, "if all rational and logic people will always come to the same conclusion based on the same facts, their conclusion is deterministic (in the context of the facts involved). The more accurately we identify the facts and the more consistently we apply logic, the more deterministic we become. If we we had a perfect understanding of reality and could apply perfect logic every time we would be perfectly deterministic." You are ignoring the REASON people are coming to the same conclusion. The fact is that there is no necessity involved in coming to the same conclusion when it is based upon the same facts. I can state that "2+2=4" a thousand times, and each one is a volitional act that I have to grasp volitionally (assuming of course that I am not just parroting sounds without referents to the concepts involved). When a million people grasp that "A is A," it is not determinism but volition on their part to understand what is involved and keep their knowledge in context. If you maintain that it is determinism when "all rational people always come to the same conclusion based upon the same facts," then you have to maintain that it is determinism when any one person comes to any conclusion based upon the facts.

The fact that there are reasons why people reach certain conclusions does not imply determinism in the conclusions. The reasons for reaching those conclusions are volitionally achieved.

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Logic is like math -- 2 plus 2 always equals 4. If a person uses logic to come to a conclusion, his conclusion should be the same as any other person's logical conclusion. Everybody should come to the same logical conclusion when presented with identical facts. this occurs for the same reason that everyone comes up with the same answer to the 2 +2 math problem.

I added the bold to your "should" to underscore the fact that the actions of a volitional consciousness could have been otherwise. Given the same facts and same knowledge of logic, since man is not infallible one person may make an error in his reasoning, and another may not be in full focus and consequently reach the wrong conclusion.

Therefore, if all rational and logic people will always come to the same conclusion based on the same facts, their conclusion is deterministic (in the context of the facts involved).

One fact not being considered is that the higher-level reasoning processes involving logic are dependent on the more primary mental state of focus, which itself is achieved by volitional choice. There is never a guarantee as there is in deterministic action that any given man will remain in full focus from one moment to the next. That being the case, whatever occurs could have been otherwise; volitional and deterministic action are the two mutually exclusive fundamental actions known to man.

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The first and most important decision (volitional act) that a rational person makes is to choose to be rational.

Man's volition is an attribute of his consciousness (of his rational faculty) and consists in the choice to perceive existence or to evade it.
The rational animal must also decide what it is that he wants--this too is best decided on based on reality and by being totally objective-- and it too is an act of volition.

Actually, it is one of the consequences of the choice to perceive reality -- specifically, the choice to be aware of values.

So the bottom line is that volition is choice but it is not necessarily "non-random and non-deterministic" as Lee Pierson was trying to establish in his paper, "What is Consciousness For?" 

Lee is using certain words in non-standard and unique ways, but this is how I use those crucial terms which, I think, is more in line with common usage. "Random" means uncaused. A random action cannot be predicted, but the reason why is that it does not follow from the nature of the entity that acts. Ayn Rand held that the Law of Causality is a corollary of the Law of Identity and that entities always act in accordance with their natures. Therefore, there is no such thing metaphysically (in the real world) as "random."

"Volition" and "deterministic" are opposites and mutually exclusive. "Determined" means "lacking volition."

 

The point I was trying to make in the posts that were rejected is this: Logic is like math -- 2 plus 2 always equals 4. If a person uses logic to come to a conclusion, his conclusion should be the same as any other person's logical conclusion. Everybody should come to the same logical conclusion when presented with identical facts. this occurs for the same reason that everyone comes up with the same answer to the 2 +2 math problem. 

This is true only of formal deductive logic. Given certain premises, the conclusion must follow.

When it comes to induction, it is much more complex and there are many more options and "right answers." An ordinary question like, "What should I have for lunch?" can't be reduced to only one conclusion by a syllogism.

Therefore, if all rational and logic people will always come to the same conclusion based on the same facts, their conclusion is deterministic (in the context of the facts involved). The more accurately we identify the facts and the more consistently we apply logic, the more deterministic we become. If we we had a perfect understanding of reality and could apply perfect logic every time we would be perfectly deterministic. 

We are conscious and we make conscious choices (we have volition) but some of the choices we make are consciously deterministic, because logic dictates that we choose the correct answer.

But this doesn't apply to most thinking, which is inductive. Also we have to choose to be logical even in applying deductive logic.

I say that Pierson's view (that volition is "non-random and non-deterministic choice"), is flawed. I don't know what the name for it is but it is not appropriate, when debating, to redefine terms, because the definition used for the term is critical to the logic.

The logical fallacy of using a term to mean more than one thing in the same argument is the informal (inductive) Fallacy of Equivocation. (click here)

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-----------------------

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I say that Pierson's view (that volition is "non-random and non-deterministic choice"), is flawed. I don't know what the name for it is but it is not appropriate, when debating, to redefine terms, because the definition used for the term is critical to the logic. It's like trying to say that not all 2's are equal, so 2 + 2 does not always equal 4. The only way that I can prove that you are wrong is to point to the fact that you have redefined what 2 is. Once I show this, I have proven that your logic is flawed--and you should admit it, not argue that I lack understanding of the true meaning of 2.  2 is 2!

   

Please help me see the flaw in my thinking. (I say help, but I am willing to trade my ideas for yours.)

I was also involved in that thread with Pierson, and repeatedly pointed out that he redefined the concept of volition and urged him to select a different word for his concept. He only answered that he was using his definition of volition. He's entitled to his definition, as long as everyone else recognizes that there is no basis in reality for that definition. I agree with your comments above. The fallacy he was using is called equivocation which is a method of using more than one definition for a single concept in the same context, i.e., he relies on one definition in order to sneak in issues under another definition of the concept.

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I added the bold to your "should" to underscore the fact that the actions of a volitional consciousness could have been otherwise. Given the same facts and same knowledge of logic, since man is not infallible one person may make an error in his reasoning, and another may not be in full focus and consequently reach the wrong conclusion.   

Would you agree that if man could reason perfectly, using perfect deductive logic, his conclusions (based on the facts involved) would be deterministic and the only randomness would be caused by his flawed reasoning (assuming the pertinent facts are known to be 100% accurate)?

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Also we have to choose to be logical even in applying deductive logic.

(click here)

By what means to we choose to be logical? And the corollary: By what means do we choose to be rational?

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By what means to we choose to be logical? And the corollary: By what means do we choose to be rational?

By what means did you choose to ask those questions?

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Would you agree that if man could reason perfectly, using perfect deductive logic, his conclusions (based on the facts involved) would be deterministic and the only randomness would be caused by his flawed reasoning (assuming the pertinent facts are known to be 100% accurate)?

First, there is no godly standard of perfection to apply to man. A man can be perfectly rational and still be in error. Second, if rational men reach the same conclusion, one which corresponds to the facts of reality, that does not mean that the process by which they reached that conclusion was deterministic. Reasoning is a volitional process, as one can introspectively discern, and predicting the outcome of that process is not a proper epistemological standard to apply when seeking to understand the nature of the process. As I keep saying in post after post, unlike deterministic behavior, volitional action could be otherwise.

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I was also involved in that thread with Pierson, and repeatedly pointed out that he redefined the concept of volition and urged him to select a different word for his concept.  He only answered that he was using his definition of volition.  He's entitled to his definition, as long as everyone else recognizes that there is no basis in reality for that definition.  I agree with your comments above.  The fallacy he was using is called equivocation which is a method of using more than one definition for a single concept in the same context, i.e., he relies on one definition in order to sneak in issues under another definition of the concept.

I note that although some have alleged equivocation in my usage of term "volition," no one has shown an actual instance of it.

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By what means did you choose to ask those questions?

My guess is that rationality is a human trait and even if we may choose not to use it to it full potential it is part of our nature.

I hesitate to say that we use our rational minds to choose to be rational -- but by what other means can we choose to do something?

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First, there is no godly standard of perfection to apply to man. A man can be perfectly rational and still be in error. Second, if rational men reach the same conclusion, one which corresponds to the facts of reality, that does not mean that the process by which they reached that conclusion was deterministic. Reasoning is a volitional process, as one can introspectively discern, and predicting the outcome of that process is not a proper epistemological standard to apply when seeking to understand the nature of the process. As I keep saying in post after post, unlike deterministic behavior, volitional action could be otherwise.

Why does perfection have to be "godly?" Reality is perfect. The perfect result when you add 2 plus 2 is 4. Math and deductive logic, when performed properly, results in a perfectly correct answer.

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Therefore, if all rational and logic people will always come to the same conclusion based on the same facts, their conclusion is deterministic (in the context of the facts involved). The more accurately we identify the facts and the more consistently we apply logic, the more deterministic we become. If we had a perfect understanding of reality and could apply perfect logic every time we would be perfectly deterministic. 

First of all, as has been stated, human application of reason is not infallible, and mistakes do not necessarily render a person immoral (providing it was not willful neglect of his rational faculty). Secondly, again as has been stated, tastes differ and when the choice is between large tomatoes and cherry tomatoes reason isn't a necessary or applicable tool.

The other day I got myself thinking about how it is that intellectuals of the left and the right stake a claim to reason. Well, I reasoned, the left can claim a degree of rationality - its decisions are a logical extension of its basic principles. Leftist philosophers assume human nature is deterministic. Now, when forming an opinion on a specific issue they will do it with regard to society - but if each member of society is deterministic - that is, the sum of the effect of everyone else thats influenced them/all their experience, then as everyone is connected through such a web to everyone else their 'society' is universal. It includes all humanity. So rational decisions are made with regard to the welfare of the entire human race. As this society seldom fares well - with its members fighting, suffering and exploiting each other - the general 'moral standpoint' of the left is disgust - its solutions pipedreams based on ill-founded assumptions. See, very few people see themselves as human in the universal sense - they define themselves though their nationalism, their religion, their culture, their ideas and in this neck of the woods themselves. Even the religious nut can act out the logical extension of his believe in a mystical entity, although these beliefs vary with the different sects and scriptures of the major faiths.

However, those in the business of defining themselves place one value over another - for some its work, other its family - maybe its money, maybe its spreading a philosophy - the point is that beyond the common factor, a desire for survival, the values by which a freethinking individual defines them self are diverse, and the rational decisions that I make with respect to myself, may differ to those you make for yourself. Compare this to the deterministic universal society of the left, or the dogma of any religion and observe their reason demands fairly uniform conclusions.

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First of all, as has been stated, human application of reason is not infallible, and mistakes do not necessarily render a person immoral (providing it was not willful neglect of his rational faculty). Secondly, again as has been stated, tastes differ and when the choice is between large tomatoes and cherry tomatoes reason isn't a necessary or applicable tool. 

 

No one is arguing the fact that people make mistakes--this is a given. I am asking about those times when people do not err, those times when they flawlessly apply deductive logic and know all of the pertinent facts. At those times when the choice is clear; when picking A will result in death and picking B will result in life; is the outcome deterministic?

Take a million PhDs in mathematics and ask them what 2 + 2 is. 100% of the them will answer 4. That to me is deterministic. Not every problem and decision we make in life is that cut and dry. We all know that ... and we all know that people make mistakes ... but it is equally clear that some decisions are deterministic--the more rational and logical we are the deterministic we become; the more irrational we are the less deterministic we are.

Let's face it there is no way to predict how an irrational individual will react to a given situation, but we know how a rational person will react. Reason and logic play no part in choosing between a cherry tomato and a regular tomato, but it plays a huge part in choosing between a tomato and an unfamiliar wild mushroom.

If it makes it any easier, I am not trying to prove that humans do not have volition, I am instead trying to illustrate that volition is not always, "non-deterministic and non-random." Because there are times when a volitional consciousness is deterministic proves that Pierson's definition of volition is not accurate.

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I note that although some have alleged equivocation in my usage of term "volition," no one has shown an actual instance of it.

If it is not equivocation, what do you call it when a person defines a term differently than the established and accepted definition? Clarifying and expanding a definition so that the meaning is not changed but it more accurately describes reality is useful, but when the meaning of a word is significantly altered the effect is detrimental to understanding. One instance of that is when you define volition as non-random, non-deterministic choice. How is it possible for there to be even one volitional deterministic choice, if volition is non-deterministic?

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I was also involved in that thread with Pierson, and repeatedly pointed out that he redefined the concept of volition and urged him to select a different word for his concept.  He only answered that he was using his definition of volition.  He's entitled to his definition, as long as everyone else recognizes that there is no basis in reality for that definition.  I agree with your comments above.  The fallacy he was using is called equivocation which is a method of using more than one definition for a single concept in the same context, i.e., he relies on one definition in order to sneak in issues under another definition of the concept.

Thank you for the term and the link (great site). The Pierson thread is an interesting study in reasoning, logic, and debating. If you allow a person to redefine terms, it is possible for that person to make a logical argument (using the new definitions) to prove something that does not follow logically from the original definition of the terms involved. For example:

If I define consciousness to mean any form of sensory awareness of the physical world I can show that plants are conscious. If I define volition to mean any beneficial action performed by a conscious entity I can show that these conscious plants are endowed with volition. Now that I have conscious plants with volition I will next assert that plants have rights.

That's why I brought up the point that there is an inherent "conflict of interest" when the same person proposes a hypothesis and proves it with his own definitions of the critical concepts.

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RSalar, 

 

You are confusing what determinism means, and you are not clear on what volition is.  Determinism is a theory that hold that man (as well as all entities) is not volitional and that all actions, both past and future, were and are necessitated by previous, inevitable factors.  The Objectivist view of volition pertains to the choice to think or not, to use reason or not, to activate the conceptual faculty or not.  The issue of "making a conscious choice" can only be understood within that context.  There is no other conscious choice available to us. 

 

 

 

Let's say we programmed a robot to do certain tasks around the house. The programming instructs the robot how to respond to various encounters. As its programmers, we know exactly what the robot will do when it encounters a dirty dish or a misplaced shoe, etc. Every action is "determined" by its programming. Does the robot have volition? No. Why? because it does not "decide" what to do, we, as programmers, decided what we wanted the robot to do. I would say the robot's "decisions" and "choices" are not volitional but rather deterministic. How am I wrong?

Human's make many conscious choices that involve things other than "to think or not, to use reason or not, to activate the conceptual faculty or not," all the time and some people never consciously choose the things you mention.

You said, "The Objectivist view of volition pertains to the choice to think or not, ..." How does a person go about deciding not to think?

When a human is faced with a decision he automatically thinks (conceptual thinking is part of his nature). He doesn't say to himself, "Let's see, that bison is charging me, now ... should I think about what to do or should I not think about what to do?" He thinks! And he thinks fast! He looks around, sees a big tree ten feet away and a river 100 yards away. Based on a quick calculation he decides the river is too far away and offers little protection, the tree on the other hand can be reached before the bison strikes, so he runs to the tree and gets behind it.

Basic thinking/reasoning is normal human behavior. When a baby figures out that the whirl going past is its mother he was thinking. No one tells the baby that it needs to think (even if you did it wouldn't understand you unless it was already thinking).

I may be in disagreement with Rand on this point but I believe we don't choose TO think we only choose when we will not think about something. Humans are naturally curious and want to understand how the world works--it's our means of survival.

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The post from which I am quoting, below, was a little confusing to me. So, perhaps I am misunderstanding you. However, I would like to point out potential problems.

   

You said, "The Objectivist view of volition pertains to the choice to think or not, ..." How does a person go about deciding not to think?

By evading, that is by choosing, first, to not increase his level of awareness when facing a problem, and, subsequently, choosing to not focus on a particular object and to not select a particular method for approaching the problem. In other words, the fundamental choice facing every man every moment he is awake is to manage the level and direction of his awareness.

For anyone new to Objectivism: "Evasion," The Ayn Rand Lexicon, provides several excerpts from Ayn Rand's writings. See also "Free Will" (volition) in the same book.

When a human is faced with a decision he automatically thinks (conceptual thinking is part of his nature).

Based on my observations of others and on introspection, I know that your statement here is false. Some individuals evade.

I may be in disagreement with Rand on this point but I believe we don't choose TO think we only choose when we will not think about something. Humans are naturally curious and want to understand how the world works--it's our means of survival.

I am confused. In the middle quote, you say we automatically think. But immediately above, you say we can choose not to think. Which is it -- a matter of choice or automatic? Am I misunderstanding your position?

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Take a million PhDs in mathematics and ask them what 2 + 2 is. 100% of the them will answer 4.

<snip>

Let's face it there is no way to predict how an irrational individual will react to a given situation, but we know how a rational person will react.

This is an old canard: a rational man will always choose the rational answer, and thus be determined because his choice is predictable. But, in fact, "predictable" and "deterministic" are not the same. First, predictability does not mean determinism: just because one answer or action is overwhelmingly the correct one, does not make the person who answers or acts correctly deterministic. If he could have chosen otherwise, then it was volitional. Even if he never does in a million years, that just makes him consistent. And, in fact, we see people make the wrong choice all the time in such cut-or-dried situation. I suspect you would say they make the wrong choice because they are irrational, but of course that's part of what volition implies: the choice to be rational or irrational.

Second, unpredictability does not mean volition, either. For all intents and purposes, the sequence of numbers generated by a pseudo-random number generator on a computer are entirely unpredictable (in fact, the security of all online transactions rests on this fact). Unless you know the computer's starting point and its algorithm, your accuracy at guessing the next bit produced (0 or 1) would be 50%--exactly the same as guessing. But of course a computer is not in the least volitional. (The answer "but if we knew everything about the computer" does not counter this point.)

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But, in fact, "predictable" and "deterministic" are not the same....

After posting this, I realized I could make my point with far fewer words. Determinism and volition are issues of metaphysics, or of "what is": does this entity have free will or is it determined? Predictability and unpredictability are issues of epistemology, or of "what we know": can I know enough about this entity to tell what will happen in the future? While these two are clearly related, they are not the same issue, so showing a high rate of predictability is not the same as showing it is determined.

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I am confused. In the middle quote, you say we automatically think. But immediately above, you say we can choose not to think. Which is it -- a matter of choice or automatic? Am I misunderstanding your position? 

 

We automatically think so in order not to think we have to choose not to.

In other words our physical brains are wired to process sensory data and form concepts. No one has to be taught how to form a concept (we can learn techniques that will result in more accurate abstract concepts but that comes later). Once this process of concept formation has developed during childhood to the point where the individual starts to integrate concepts and draw conclusions about what is going on around him, then he can chose not to learn any more, not to think about things any more, and to avoid scary thoughts.

Volitional choice requires thinking so it is impossible to "choose" not to think. In other words, you have to think in order to choose not to.

(This next idea is mine and may not be an Objectivist one—I am not arguing for or against any stated position.) "Evasion" is like an addiction to booze--you choose to take the first drink and you choose to take subsequent drinks, but you do not choose to become addicted to the booze. Once physically addicted the addiction causes you to think that you choosing to drink--you think it would be pleasurable to have a drink so you have one. It is pleasurable because your mind/body craves the booze. Evasion works the same way. The first evasion is chosen as a way to avoid emotional discomfort--you consciously decide to "not go there.' The evasion serves the same purpose as the booze and it works--you feel better temporarily. After a while evasion becomes a normal thinking pattern and you no longer have to choose to evade because it has become a habit.

My point is that thinking is normal and we have to do something to stop ourselves from thinking. Not thinking can easily become automatic but it took a conscious decision to not think the fist time.

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I note that although some have alleged equivocation in my usage of term "volition," no one has shown an actual instance of it.

If a concept is properly defined, it makes clear what its referents are. If a concept is used consistently, it is possible to infer its definition from the context.

Observe, however, that after 400 postings on the "What is Consciousness For?" thread, and despite, requests for definitions and clarification, so many of us still don't have a clue as to what Lee means by "volition."

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Take a million PhDs in mathematics and ask them what 2 + 2 is. 100% of the them will answer 4. That to me is deterministic. Not every problem and decision we make in life is that cut and dry. We all know that ... and we all know that people make mistakes ... but it is equally clear that some decisions are deterministic--the more rational and logical we are the deterministic we become; the more irrational we are the less deterministic we are. 

If it makes it any easier, I am not trying to prove that humans do not have volition, I am instead trying to illustrate that volition is not always, "non-deterministic and non-random."

Given: the more rational and logical we become the more predictable our decisions in specific situations will be. But we determine our level of rationality; the fact that I am the sort of person who can be expected to react in a certain way is a result of my past decisions & actions - that doesn't make my expected action deterministic. What I don't deny is that there are survival instincts/reflexes, that although can be overcome by freewill, will often take a person down a course of action without his choosing (eg. ducking an object coming at your head) or just plain innate behaviour ( babies WILL cry for attention - they don't think about it, its just a predetermined biological fact). In conclusion there are no times when a volitional consciousness is deterministic; there are only instances where previous acts of volition determine likely response to future actions; an action is only determinsitic when it is non volitional, in, for example, evasion, reflex or innate behaviour.

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We automatically think so in order not to think we have to choose not to. 

This is the opposite of the Objectivist view, as I understand it. Thinking takes a positive, deliberate, effortful act of will.

Irrationality is a state of default, the state of an unachieved human stature. When men do not choose to reach the conceptual level, their consciousness has no recourse but to its automatic, perceptual, semi-animal functions.
In other words our physical brains are wired to process sensory data and form concepts.  [...] Volitional choice requires thinking so it is impossible to "choose" not to think. In other words, you have to think in order to choose not to.
The actions of consciousness required on the sensory-perceptual level are automatic. On the conceptual level, however, they are not automatic. This is the key to the locus of volition. Man's basic freedom of choice, according to Objectivism, is: to exercise his distinctively human cognitive machinery or not; i.e., to set his conceptual faculty in motion or not. In Ayn Rand's summarizing formula, the choice is: "to think or not to think."

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If it is not equivocation, what do you call it when a person defines a term differently than the established and accepted definition?

It is not equivocation if the non-standard term is used consistently to always refer to the same referents. It is equivocation if the meaning of the term switches so that the referents change or are not clear.

Clarifying and expanding a definition so that the meaning is not changed but it more accurately describes reality is useful, but when the meaning of a word is significantly altered the effect is detrimental to understanding. One instance of that is when you define volition as non-random, non-deterministic choice.

The problem here isn't that this is a non-standard definition, but that it is a bad definition.

"It is the principle of unit-economy that necessitates the definition of concepts in terms of essential characteristics," (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (P. 65). This definition of "volition" doesn't.

It doesn't state what the essential characteristics are, but what they are not). To say that volition is "non-random" simply means that it is caused. According to Objectivism, all actions in reality are caused. To be "non-determined" says nothing by itself, because "determined" only has meaning as distinguished from the volitional. Thus, defining "volition" as "non-random, non-deterministic choice" is exactly equivalent to "caused, volitional choice."

Ayn Rand wrote "The purpose of a definition is to distinguish a concept from all other concepts and thus to keep its units differentiated from all other existents." (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (P. 65)). Does "non-random, non-deterministic choice" fulfill that purpose?

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