Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

All Activity

This stream auto-updates     

  1. Past hour
  2. Eiuol, I know that some philosophers - indeed, some exceptionally sharp and talented philosophers - would say that reasons are not shareable, but I have a difficult time seeing why anyone ought to believe that this is the case. So, suppose I believe that the fact that I find studying philosophy to be enjoyable counts as a reason for me to study philosophy. If someone else also enjoys studying philosophy, why wouldn't I be committed to the notion that that fact is minimally a pro tanto reason for her to study it as well? Sure, her situation may be such that it's not a sufficient reason to study philosophy, but it surely seems as if it's at least a pro tanto reason for doing it. After all, what basis would I have for the claim, 'the fact that I enjoy studying philosophy counts as a reason in favor of my studying philosophy, but the fact that you enjoy studying philosophy doesn't count as a reason in favor of your studying philosophy'? (Note that to say that R is a reason to A is not to say that R is a sufficient or overriding reason to A, but only to say that R counts in favor of A-ing, even if, given other considerations, one ought not to A. That is, that R may be a sufficient reason for me but not for you to A does not imply that R is not a reason for you to A.)
  3. Today
  4. This sounds very interesting. I argued for something like this once before, but for a discussion on free will. Namely, that whatever particular method one uses to make a decision, that method will produce the same outcome if the identical context is repeated. I take that view as something consistent with Rand, but it's hard to say. In some sense, moral action is universalizable even for Rand. Of course, she treats universals as something different than Kant. Even more, Rand cares about an interested perspective and including it as a necessary part of rational action. My knowledge about Kant is limited, but I do know that he pushes for objectivity in the disinterested sense.
  5. I thought I would point this out. These are often used as buzzwords or trigger words, and don't refer to anything in actuality. Dishonest about what? Evading what? What's unoriginal? What is strawmanned about the argument? Why would someone have an ulterior motive against you anyway?
  6. Sometimes it is necessary re-state the obvious. Everything in and about Objectivism is ... objective. Existence is met with the identifying consciousness which also has identity. No less, the ethics of rational selfishness, an ethics that isn't any arbitrary construct by Rand (because it makes an individual feel righteous, or superior, for example). That may initially 'put out' individualists to know that their egoism is derived from an "objective" standard of value - man's life, not 'a standard' inherent in themselves and by their own lives. What might ~appear~ compromising of and dismissive to each one's own, ultimate value, is the exact opposite. It affirms one's "ultimate value", incontrovertibly. Only a conceptual 're-alignment' is needed to straighten the misconception. Rand removed her ethics from any hint of the primacy of consciousness or mysticism - which is the nature of all other moral systems. This ethical code of values is uniquely all primacy of existence.
  7. Peikoff is no chump. I think what he did to change those formulations is objectively more correct.
  8. Yes. Each person has his own mind, but now ask the all important further question: what does a practical being (here 'practical' concerns reflection on how to act) do with its mind qua practical being? It adduces reasons for acting! And if reasons are inherently shareable, then you implicitly acknowledge reasons to which others can appeal when you adduce reasons for your own actions (which you do whenever you act). And if you recognize their legitimacy in your own case, then it's only on pain of irrationality that you can refuse to acknowledge their legitimacy when others (in relevantly similar contexts) make use of them. So if you take your reasons to justify your ends, then you must (again, in relevantly similar contexts) take the very same reasons to justify the ends of others (if they're genuine reasons). In short, duties are in a sense implied by the very act of adducing reasons for acting, which is what we all do whenever we act (qua human beings). That's fine, of course, but then you don't have the right to argue that Kant's philosophy implies such and such. For if you want to make such claims - which it seems to me you did above - then you have to get into the interpretation. That's why I tried to do so early on in this thread, when I was asking for a take on Rand's argument before I presented my criticism of it, so I could see whether my objections were targeted at Rand or at a strawman.
  9. Eric, I know the rigmarole involved in trying to argue against (or for, for that matter) Kant. What he said, what he meant, what one scholar interprets, or another. And so on. There's enough of that with a clear and forthright, objective philosopher, Rand. So I'm not going to delve back into Kantian scholars' writing again and certainly not going to painfully try to understand his premises from his perspective again. I'll argue from an objective pov. If one takes a step back and looks at this subject clearly, there is only one question: Why? Who declared, and by what moral right, that a man has any dutiful/inclined/assumed morality to another? In fact, to do ~anything~ for others? (Rhetorical. Enter whomever you like: Jesus, Comte, Rousseau, Marx, Kant...by God's orders, the Society's, the Universe's - etc. ) Does each individual have his own life and mind, or not? There's a ton of presumptions, based tacitly upon individual value,** in every ethics which - in any way or form - advocates or involves the "other". How to deal with, get on with, help (on occasions, by choice) etc. etc. - other individuals and people, is actually the easiest behavior to habitually practice. There is nothing to it but some simple good manners, basic respect and perceived individual value. Observing others' rights comes easy, too. Men don't need an ethical system for that. **Stolen Concept Fallacy; dependent on the concept "individual value" in order to undermine an individual's moral value in himself in favor of an automatic, moral value system for any and all collective "others"..
  10. I can't get the lines out of the last portion of that last post, whatever I try, and I'm not going to rewrite the post again! My apologies.
  11. Could you clearly lay out the premises and show how they lead to that consequence? Because none of the many Kant scholars I've read agrees with you. That doesn't make you wrong, of course, but it surely does put the onus on you to make the reasoning at the back of this claim - for so far, it is merely a claim - explicit. If I desire to help you - say, I enjoy helping others - and I help you only because I enjoy it, then I've acted from inclination - that is, from desire and emotion and etc. - and not from duty. For, as I said earlier, had I not desired to help you, I wouldn't have - indeed, had I rather desired to harm you, the implicit principle on which I've acted, viz. do what you enjoy doing, would have licensed my harming you instead. So it's not that "one's mind contort what an individual self-interestedly wants and chooses to do - into an act of "duty"", but that one recognizes that the moral worth of one's action depends entirely on one's reason for acting. And the fact that one enjoys phi-ing doesn't prevent one from realizing that one's enjoyment may not justify one's phi-ing, i.e. may not constitute a sufficient reason for phi-ing. The notion that we have to train our inclinations is as old as moral philosophy itself. It's central to Aristotle's account of ethics, for instance. Each act contributes to our constructing a character, which just is some combination of (a) a set of dispositions to find certain things pleasurable and painful and (b) the strength will to do what's right regardless of our inclinations. To the extent that we realize that each act constructs our character, we're responsible for considering the effects of our actions on the development of our character. The drug addict (often) has some responsibility for his addiction insofar as he knows that, with each use, he's forming a disposition to desire the drug, and so he has something akin to a moral duty not to form such a disposition.
  12. Well, you have to admit "a duty to cultivate our inclinations", is a massive self-contradiction. How does one's mind distort what an individual self-interestedly wants and chooses to do - into an act of "duty"? Similarly, how does a duty-bound individual fake himself into believing he's acting dutifully from "inclination"? Not for long, as we know from observation of mankind, benevolence cannot last under these conditions. 'Forced' good will. But one can see Kant's ultimate end, the collective good, his concept of a harmonious society: a control of men through their obedient self-control, iow self-abnegation. However Kant justifies all this, the premises and consequences of his doctrine are and will be self-lessness.
  13. When you properly allocate to man *an identity* and his existence, there's no such thing as the Form life. "Man's life" is then concrete, conceptualized - grasped - by a mind in the abstract. "Man" is every instance of those who have that identity ever possible, now, future and past. "Life" is every instance of "a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action". Put them together, man and life, "man's life".
  14. "Range of consciousness" - IS proportionate to the range of actions - actions, in man's case, which ARE necessary to the survival of "man qua man". Draw the connection yourself. Range of consciousness - range of action - man's consciousness - his range of action - therefore -man's survival (qua man not qua insect/beast). You were saying? 'Misconstrued' and 'misrepresented', yes: that should be the topic's title. Now you misrepresent my words, in order to pick at me. At least now you're endeavouring to accurately represent Rand.
  15. I agree that non-thinking things act in accord with their natures, but so do thinking things. I therefore don't understand the relevance of this point. I believe the relevant distinction here is that lower organisms aren't conceptually aware of their standard of value. They act to keep their lives (or not) automatically. Their automatic action, however, is not automatically beneficial to their lives. They might be an unfit mutant. Man, on the other hand, can be conceptually aware of his standard of value and can, as a maturing adult, learn to maintain his life by rational choice. (As a baby, he maintains his life by reflexes, and later mimickry, much like our primitive progenitors.) This view seems based on "standard" as merely an abstraction with no concrete units in reality. I could say that the lower organisms don't use food, because only humans have the concept of "food." But I would be wrong, because "food" refers to actual, particular things (leaves, bugs, mice, deer, wheat) that exist in reality and function as food relative to the user. The user needn't be aware of what humans call the thing in order to use the thing. And so a lower organism can use its particular life to react automatically without knowing that humans refer to its life as its standard of value in that context of acting to gain or keep something. I disagree. She repeated the exact same idea at least three or four times in the context of plants and lower organisms. I see no indication of metaphorical usage. She initially used it to refer to a particular thing (an organism's life), and later she used it to refer to an idea (man's life). Because man is conceptual, he has both standards, his own life and his concept of life. It is up to him to ensure that his concept does not contradict his reality.
  16. It's not arbitrary at all. Indeed, it seems to be part of the concept of a reason that reasons are shareable. So imagine that two qualitatively identical agents, A1 and A2, are in qualitatively identical contexts, C1 and C2. Further suppose that R is a reason for A1 to do some act A in C1. Now to say that reasons are not shareable is to say that, given all that, R may nonetheless not be a reason for A2 to do A in C2. But why think that?
  17. This seems like an arbitrary assertion on Kant’s part both in logic and reality.
  18. That's not 'the level of abstraction' at all. This is another very common misunderstanding of Kant's ethics. Recall that it's maxims that we plug into the CI, and so the consequences of the CI are always relative to a maxim. Applications of the CI never result in, 'it's never permissible to do such and such in any context', since every application of the CI will include a specific context. Now some means - such as lying - do seem to lead to maxim failure via a contradiction in conception regardless of the additional content (i.e. the ends and the context) the maxim contains, and so perhaps lying is always wrong (though it's surely false that every possible maxim of that sort has been tested!). So you can't squeeze 'never lie, full stop' out any application of Kant's CI, but only something like, 'never lie as a means to this specific end in this specific context'. It's critical to remember that Kant's ethics is an ethics of maxims; when we lose sight of this, we're liable to all sorts of misunderstandings of his work.
  19. If I mischaracterized them, then it is because you did a poor job writing it for what you were going for. I really was trying. I didn't write any dialogue for them. What I wrote is what I understood. If it's wrong, you can fix it. I'm not out to get you. We can talk about it. My bad that I somehow missed that you wanted to write the responses for the other characters. It's not that big a deal though because I didn't actually write any dialogue for them, and I tried to only include the information you already put (and notice that all I did is clarify their position, which is another way of saying what I understood their position to be).
  20. Why is the level of abstraction in the context of telling falsehoods at the highest noncontextual level of “lying to anyone for any purpose”? How would one decide the level of abstraction and context for moral questions pertaining to “cutting people”? Is it simply “Cutting anyone for any purpose” is either right or wrong or are we permitted more nuanced consideration of particulars and context here? If so, why are we permitted more precision wrt cutting compared with lying? If not, why not?
  21. DreamWeaver SoftwareNerd MisterSwig If any of you would like to have a 1on 1 or 4 way discussion on this topic, please PM me.
  22. No. You’ve taken over my characters and made them say what they would not say. This is not an honest discussion. It is a twisting of the position of my characters not a presentation of an alternative to both. You can’t say you disagree with both positions and then try to argue your case primarily by mischaracterizing those positions.
  23. A farmer overhears the discussion. Normally he would stay out of discussions, especially at a bar. In this case though, he is intrigued by the business opportunity. At the same time, he has an interest in philosophy. Probably because of his professional interest in business, he had insight to offer. He noticed that they were focusing on the wrong ideas. "Yeah, I know I'm interrupting, and I normally wouldn't do this, but I think both of you are looking at it the wrong way. "Sure, we can talk about the nature of trees. How they work without intervention, the range and form of their actions, the end in which trees grow towards. The trees don't need standards! I'm a farmer, so I think about these things everyday." The two friends both say something about how the farmer was missing the point of the exercise. They wanted a different way to think about an approach to defining what makes actions good or bad for an entity. "No, I don't think I was clear enough, sorry. I don't grow my fruit trees with the flourishing in mind necessarily. I don't have the time or ability to go through each and every tree and check each genetic difference and make a change for each and every tree. So what I do is maximize fruit production and flavor. That's my standard. Since I grow peaches, fruit production and flavor is in comparison to other peaches. To accomplish this, I actually acted against the flourishing of the tree - I have to prune it, I have to encourage it to put more energy towards growing fruits instead of leaves and branches." One friend mentions that he is only worrying right now about the one tree. He wants some code to take care of his tree, since only one exists in the world right now. "That's really interesting actually. But if I found out all the nuances of your tree, as a farmer, I'll be wondering how to grow more than one. If you want a forest, or if you want to farm, these are different things. I need something to guide my ideas. I need some idea to apply to all the trees. If I only cared about one tree, I wouldn't need an abstract code. Any rule I create wouldn't apply to other trees." The other friend mentions that the farmer is still talking about trees in general and their life. "It's not the same. You see, you aren't using standards correctly! You're all focused on the flourishing of a tree, but the whole reason to even talk about this is that we are growing trees. The code isn't about a tree, it's about a standard across trees, to attain the ultimate goal of growing fruit. My would I bother with the standards you want?"
  24. Yesterday
  25. I'm not persuaded that any account of normative ethics can accomplish this (which is to be expected, given that that's not (primarily) why we work on developing such accounts). That said, the best a Kantian could do, I think, is emphasize that whenever we act, we act for a reason - this is part of the concept of an action. Now the reason for which we act is either a genuine reason, or it is not, and if it's not a genuine reason, then we've failed to live in accord with the sort of being we are in some deep sense (here one could get into autonomy, but I'll shelve that for the sake of brevity). It's not that universality is 'intrinsically good', but that it's implied whenever we posit a reason for acting (which, again, we do whenever we act). Reasons - on this account of reasons - are inherently universalizable, which is why acting on an un-universalizable reason is to act on no reason at all. This, I take it, is what Kant means when he says that his CI just formalizes and lays bare what we all implicitly do whenever we exercise practical reason. That's a famous proposed counterexample to Kant's CI, and it fails for a pretty basic reason, viz. it's not a maxim. Rather, it's a command or a suggestion or something like that. Maxims satisfy the schematic form, 'I shall do act A for end E in context C', so clearly, 'compliment every etc.' is not a maxim. This is indeed a serious challenge to Kant's ethics, since his conclusion - namely, that lying to the murderer is immoral - seems both inescapable, given his ethics, and wrong, given our pre-theoretical intuitions. I've worked on an approach that grants Kant's conclusion, i.e. that the act of lying to the murderer is immoral, while excusing the person for having committed that immoral act. The argument makes use of complex and controversial concepts, like that of retroactive consent (e.g. you don't consent to my not giving you your gun in the moment when you're demanding it, but later you say, 'thanks, I needed that' for my refusing to give it to you then, which strikes me as a case of retroactive consent (your future self consents, though your past self did not)) and certain plausible suppositions of ignorance (e.g. is the murderer at the door likely to offer retroactive consent for my having lied to him?). It also makes use of the notion that in lying to the murderer at the door in part with his own best interests in mind, I've not made use of him - considered as some combination of his past, present, and future selves - merely as a means, though I may be using his present self merely as a means to aiding his future self. This is all super controversial and complex, but it does minimally show that there are ways to address this particular worry, which I grant, is a serious one. But, of course, there is no theory in normative ethics that is without similarly difficult and stubborn challenges.
  26. I know it's different. The quote you gave me is about a quantity, so that's what I addressed. I dealt with survival in a quantitative way. Range of action has some proportionality to survival, but isn't necessarily proportionate between species. I recognize that Rand doesn't get into the relationship between range of action and survival for lower animals and non-animals, but that's bracketed off as a different type of consciousness. This is the exact point I was making with Galapagos tortoises. Great, then you explicitly disagree with Rand, because she claims there is a correlation. To say that X is proportionate to Y is to say that X and Y correlate. You contradicted yourself though, because you just gave an example of a correlation: newborns and the elderly have reduced survival capacity than other stages of development. Humans have a huge range of actions because of their high degree of consciousness, so maximizing that range will result in maximal range of action, and minimizing that range will result in minimal range of action. Organisms with a higher degree of consciousness, not conscious organisms in general. So, it is limited to some birds and some mammals. Lower species are conscious, but only capable of sensation ["only capable of sensation" is technically inaccurate, but it is true they are only capable of associative learning aka their range of action is dependent upon stimulus and response]. If you show an entire page of an essay, you should expect discussion about the best way to interpret that essay.
  27. One of the criticisms of Kant is his application of the above to honesty, in particular lying to a murderer. Kant who heard of this example himself remained adamant that lying to a murderer to prevent them from finding their quarry was wrong, but silence was permissible. Do you believe this is a flaw in Kant's ethics? or Do you believe the ethics is fine but this result is flawed due to a mistake in the application (even by Kant himself) of his ethics because it wholly ignores context? or Do you believe this does not constitute any kind of flaw in regards to Kant's ethics? Thank you for the example. What about a maxim like "Compliment every first, second, and third person you see, and insult every fourth person you see." Is it moral, immoral, or neither? Why? I am not convinced that everyone intends every act to be moral, nor that every act is an implicit adoption specifically of Kantian ethics... in particular with regards to universality. Does Kant claim that universality is intrinsically good? Why? Finally, again if I were innocent of all morality how would you persuade me into adopting Kant's ethics for myself?
  28. The term 'efficacy' is understood in accord with its acceptation. So, if your proposed means to achieve your end (as expressed in your maxim) is a lie, then lying must be efficacious, i.e. it must genuinely be a means to your end. If universalizing your maxim renders your means - here, the lie - inefficacious (in the conceptual space of the world of the universalized maxim), then your maxim contains a contradiction in conception, and acting on that maxim is impermissible. (Our means are expressed in the form of hypothetical imperatives, viz. if you will such and such, then you must will so and so. Every maxim presupposes a commitment to a hypothetical imperative.) So, if you want to lie to obtain a loan, then your maxim is something like, 'whenever I am in need of money, I shall obtain those funds by borrowing them with a promise to repay, but I shall never repay the money'. This maxim, when universalized, is something like, 'whenever anyone is in need of money, she shall obtain those funds by borrowing them with a promise to repay, but she shall never repay the money'. Note that universalizing a maxim implies a universal acceptance of the legitimacy of the reasons for action expressed in the maxim. That is, the effect of universalizing my maxim is making 'needing money, but not wanting to repay it' a sufficient reason, for all rational agents, for the behavior, ' receiving money on the basis of a promise to repay it'. Now imagine a world where all rational agents accepted your maxim - would loans (as we currently understand them) exist in such a world? No, of course not. For the maxim on which lenders act is something like, ' whenever someone who can repay me, and promises to repay me, is in need, I shall make a loan so that I might receive my money back with interest'. But were my original maxim - the one we're testing - universalized, the lender would never consider adopting such a maxim. Why? Because in such a world, everyone knows that if you need money, you lie to obtain a loan - that's just what's done! But then no one would loan money in such a world (remember, the concept of a loan is the concept of letting someone else borrow money on the promise of repayment, but in the world we're considering, a promise to repay is understood by everyone - including prospective lenders - as a pronouncement that you'll never be repaid). Thus, in the universalized world, a lie - a false promise to repay - is not an efficacious means to achieve your end, i.e. getting the money. But then your maxim proposes a means - the lie - to obtain its end - the money - that would be rendered inefficacious if the maxim were universalized. Another way of putting it is this: your proposed reason for action could not be accepted by all agents in your circumstances, and so isn't really a reason at all (since reasons are by their nature shareable). That's a very quick and rough exposition of the way I've come to understand Kant's CI. (I don't have time right now to review it, so I hope it doesn't contain any errors.) "I was under the impression that a "Categorical Imperative" was absolute requirement that must be obeyed and is justified as an end in itself." The CI occurs in three to five (depending on how you count them) formulations, e.g. the universal law formulation, the formula of humanity, etc. What we then do is plug proposed maxims into the CI so that we might test them. (Kant doesn't think that any of us goes through this procedure explicitly, but he does think that he's formalized the sort of moral reasoning we all engage in whenever we think about what we ought and ought not to do.) The result yields (a) a maxim we cannot act on, or much more rarely, must act on (a perfect duty, which results when the maxim contains a contradiction in conception), (b) a maxim we must adopt, but with significant room for judgment regarding when and when not to act on it (an imperfect duty, which results when the maxim expresses a contradiction in the will), or (c) a merely permissible maxim to act on (the consequence of a maxim's passing the CI entirely), which we may act on or not as we please. "Does Kant say anything about the adoption of the CI by any person as itself being good "for" anything, a choice, or an intrinsic good?" Whenever we act, we behave in various ways for reasons (as opposed to when we merely behave some way without reason, e.g. a reflexive response). It's just what we do, given what we are, viz. rational beings, whenever we act. So the CI is just testing whether we're in fact doing what we (at least implicitly) claim to be doing whenever we act. We therefore implicitly adopt it whenever we propose to act, since all action is on a maxim, and maxims express reasons for action. But proposed reasons for action can fail to be genuine reasons for action, which is why we can fail to be rational/moral.
  1. Load more activity
  • Create New...