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  1. Yesterday
  2. Almost exactly two years ago, I ran across Derek Lowe's explanation of the government's role in causing high prices for or shortages of some off-patent drugs. A recent story in the New York Times -- about hospitals manufacturing their own drugs -- reminded me of his explanation of how perverse regulatory incentives were distorting this market. Unsurprisingly, and as I hoped he might, the pharma blogger weighed in soon after the Gray Lady: Without government meddling in the economy, cronyism such as his wouldn't be possible. (Image via Wikipedia)... if you're going to start your own generic manufacturing effort, you have to get in line for the FDA to review your application to sell the compound(s). And that's one of the logjams -- one that will not be fixed by jamming another log into it. The article, though, mixes several problems together. You have the not-enough-players-making-cheap-drugs problem (which can happen through several means, regulatory approval not least among them), and you also have the only-one-manufacturer-eat-my-dust problem, which also takes many forms. In some cases of the latter, you have old, off-patent, formerly cheap compounds where one supplier has been granted market exclusivity (and the ability to raise prices and drive everyone else out of the market). How does this happen? Deliberately by design of the FDA: there are incentives to bring older drugs into the modern regulatory framework, and if you do the tests needed, you get a very, very nice reward. Too nice, from my point of view, but that's how the law is written. In other one-manufacturer cases, people have bought up the only supplier of a small drug and then taken it into "restricted distribution", which basically keeps any other potential competitor from running the comparison trials needed to even get in line at the FDA to sell the drug, too. That's the Martin Shkreli playbook (although he's not the only one), and it also takes advantage of FDA regulations about how and why distribution of a drug can be so restricted. Want to change these? Change the law. [emphasis in original]Lowe mentions that eliminating the "logjam" is a high priority of the current head of the FDA, and that is potentially good news in the short term. But I cannot agree more with Lowe's last sentence, although I know I would take it much farther than he would. We must ultimately abolish the FDA, devolving whatever legitimate functions it performs either to legitimate governmental agencies or to non-governmental watchdog groups (depending on whether these are the business of the government) and altogether ending its innovation-killing, health-threatening stranglehold on the drug market. The FDA prevents desperate patients from trying new drugs even when they have nothing to lose, slows down or stops the introduction of even less speculative or cutting-edge drugs, and, as we see again here, threatens the availability of familiar drugs. -- CAV Link to Original
  3. Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You

    Just saw a summary of Jordan Petersen's 12 rules for life: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/jan/21/jordan-peterson-self-help-author-12-steps-interview (some just for fun, but the first 10 are good advice) Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient) Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t Rule 10 Be precise in your speech Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
  4. Universals

    I already said I'm not saying universals don't exist. I know the usage here is non-standard (i.e. Rand's meaning), but you certainly can see what I mean. I keep going to the binding part, because it's the only way I can explain why I don't reject universals. If 1) I point to the world, 2) bind particulars, and 3) the particulars ALL share some feature, this is a universal. The only non-standard part seems to be that I think 2 is epistemic, but that doesn't hurt it. If you don't get what I mean, just ask. Or just expand on how universals work (it might end up that there's a terminological difference but not one of meaning). Make a positive case so I can analyze an alternative.
  5. Last week
  6. Universals

    That's the wrong question to ask. If you want me to understand your arguments against the existence of universals, you're going to have to use the word "universals" in its standard sense. Why not read Aristotle, if you really want to know?
  7. A Complex Standard of Value

    True (philosophically speaking), but (psychologically) the way that one does not care is by not "knowing" the higher value of an alternative. This is a psychological perspective in that consciousness has different levels. In Philosophy you either know or don't, you are "conscious of" or you are NOT "conscious of". In psychology, you have a continuum of consciousness, from "sort of" knowing to "fully knowing". As in sleeping (unconscious) to fully awake. When an alcoholic takes the first drink, he loses the ability to know what is enough. A non-alcoholic "knows".
  8. Universals

    You'll have to go deeper than that because "anything" can represent anything. In other words, anything can serve as a symbol. What do you see the role of consciousness as? Objectivism provides a description of consciousness as active and processing that determines universals. Intrinsicisim does not and there is no clarity on how consciousness behaves in an intrinsic model. Is it only like a mirror? As in what "is", gets into consciousness. (things just are) That philosophy/abstractions/universals are in effect "perceptual"? If so how do you explain different perspectives on the same thing? Are different ways of looking at the same thing "out there"? In other words are ways of looking at things "out there"?
  9. Universals

    Why can't they be? I mean, the word seems fine, if it really is fine to say universals bind particulars.
  10. A Complex Standard of Value

    I think everyone knows what is enough. It's really a problem of not caring.
  11. Universals

    I think you are seriously confused. Universals can't "represent" anything. They aren't symbols.
  12. Universals

    Why people disagree varies a lot, and for many possible reasons. One reason might be lying, another might be lack of knowledge, another might be that people can't find out the truth. Intrinsicism might refer to an ethical theory, in which case that would mean something like there is intrinsic goodness in some things without reference to an individual. Rand didn't support this at all. But it also might refer to theories where intrinsic properties exist. Rand didn't show that she rejected this idea, I don't see a reason to say she rejected all intrinsic theories.
  13. Objective Black and White Ideals

    Productiveness is simply acting on rationality. Not much use in BEING rational, if you don't DO anything rational. Reason is our tool for understanding and evaluating the world. Understanding how the world is, and how it should be (what are the circumstances that further one's life). Productivity is making what should be, happen. For a basic example, if you're on a desert island and you are able to figure out that you will need long term shelter, water supply and food supply, to live, productivity is actually getting those things. There is nothing in Objectivism to support this arbitrary claim (that you are making because you misunderstand biology).
  14. Universals

    For now, I am willing to assume that you are correct. Then can you back it up by mentioning what in fact is the fundamental argument against intrinsicism. My understanding is that Rand did not choose it as her model as it did not correspond to reality because it especially falls apart when trying to integrate "intrinsic value".
  15. Universals

    Well, I just mean it's a bad argument, it doesn't show anything about the nature of the disagreement.
  16. Universals

    Are you saying that when people disagree about the beauty of something, it necessarily indicates an error? What happened to the "for whom" and "for what purpose" argument of values? Other than that, what do you consider as being the fundamental argument against intrinsic universals?
  17. Universals

    I didn't say universals don't exist. I said universals represent facts, implying also that facts are about the world. As representations, they are at most epistemic - representations are of the mind. It's a misunderstanding of my words to say I think universals don't exist. I'm fine saying that there are facts about things, and that things can exist identically in terms of value ranges. I don't want to call this a universal, because I'd say universals imply a binding that makes particulars cohere together. If this idea is wrong, I'd like to see how. If that's all you mean, this would be epistemic, no? That's all I'm really saying, and that metaphysical is not clear to convey what you mean. This is not a good argument. Human error does not tell us that intrinsic things don't exist.
  18. Objective Black and White Ideals

    This moves out of the philosophy and into biology. In fact, obliquely, this illustrates the point I made in my post: that one does not starts with some abstract principle and reason one's way to concretes.
  19. Universals

    Doesn't a problem start emerging when one includes value judgements like "beatiful", "important", "terrible", "admirable". If these were intrinsic, and consciousness was not active with individual filters stc., then all should see the same thing. All should be attracted to the same thing. After all the beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder in an intrinsic world, the same beauty is out there for all to see. Then when two people disagree with the beauty of something, how can it be intrinsic?
  20. Objective Black and White Ideals

    First and foremost Ayn Rand lists life as an end in itself. Her argument in The Objectivist Ethics is that: That is, moral principles derive from the nature of Man, because is implies ought. It's not just limited to life, she goes on: So you can derive a list of specific, objective values and ideals by reference to the nature of Man, and what it means to live like a man - and that means all the characteristics of man's nature - not just his survival as a living organism or his rational faculty. Ayn Rand lists seven major virtues in Atlas Shrugged: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride. Another more specific example like "life", would be one's sex, which means a couple of key things, like living as man or a woman accordingly, and learning to follow the principles of masculinity and femininity. It also means pursuing the ideal of heterosexual marriage and procreation. These are objective moral principles and ideals, guidelines for how to live, and how to give emphasis, optimization, beauty, etc, that follow from important aspects of human nature and identity. These would be like any other aspects of morality, they are not optional, or dependent upon someone's subjective whim, and going against them would be immoral and self-sacrificial.
  21. Universals

    Of course I agree that would would be a contradictory position to hold, if you are also assuming that the only thing that exists are concrete, physical objects extended in space. My claim here goes against that assumption. I am arguing for the metaphysical existence of universals, i.e. existents which are not concrete, physical objects extended in space. You are asserting the opposite position that I am taking. I've made a number of arguments for my position throughout this thread, so please take a look and let me know what you think of them. SpookyKitty seems to be the only one who has clearly understood what I'm saying so far.
  22. Donald Trump

    Now Trump is setting up a special department to police employer's against whom Christians make civil rights complaints. The GOP somehow has this image of being against the government imposing itself on people's decisions, but I think that's mostly because the Democrats use that image as a way to critique the GOP. So, the GOP gets away with wanting the government to be big and intrusive, just because the Democrats want it to go further. Who'd have thought that a basically secular centrist like Trump would end up being the champion of the religious right. Not surprising, ofcourse, because he is pragmatist first and everything else way, way later. For more info on the types of laws this new department will police, with their threats of jail, and guns and violence: https://www.hhs.gov/conscience/conscience-protections/index.html What's next? Trump going gang-busters appointing judges. Probably picking a few idiots like this, if if gets him some votes: http://www.statesman.com/news/crime--law/texas-judge-interrupts-jury-says-god-told-him-defendant-not-guilty/ZRdGbT7xPu7lc6kMMPeWKL/
  23. Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

    The counter to that definition is the argument that there is no objective way to draw the boundaries. So, the definition above speaks to outcomes, but a good definition would be something like: drawing the boundaries in violation of this principle ... . But, then, what is that principle against which we can measure, to know if we have gerry mandering? One principle could be that the distribution of legislators in a state (or whatever other larger geographical unit) should reflect the distribution of their support in the overall population. If that's the principle, some European countries have that already, in the form of proportional representation. There are countries where voters specify their first, second and third choices -- again based on some principle about the outcomes of a good voting system. One has to start with some principle about the good system before " gerrymandering" becomes a useful concept. If you start with the principle of geographic representation: i.e. where voters are grouped together by geography and where that combined geographical group makes some decisions as a group, then you would need to add on some second principle to distinguish between better and worse geographic slicing. Just looking at flat space, none of these three divisions of an area into flat space is better than the other, unless we can add some other principle to determine that.
  24. Objective Black and White Ideals

    Good question. Most people are cool with Reason/Rationality: it seems too obvious -- it is even implicit in asking for reasons in the first place. (Self-esteem/Pride is usually the tricky one to grasp.) Context - life and the pursuit of happiness: Before addressing purpose/productiveness, one has to remind oneself of the larger context: why are we asking about Ethics in the first place? We would start with a non-mystical assumption: in other words, we throw God and other superstitious causes out of the window as a starting point, and think of it as a naturalistic/biological issue. That starting point eventually leads us to conclude that our rules of what we should pursue should be based on asking what makes our lives good, fulfilling and happy. This would also include considering the social context: the value and happiness we get from friends, family, etc. This too is part of the basic biological context in which we live and can flourish or not. Thinking about values: If these are good things, they should further our life. Not just make us live a few more years, but should make the years we do live into better, happier years. One can go about figuring this out in two ways. The obvious way seems to be by asking : "what are the things that can improve my life?" A second possible approach is to ask: "What makes me happy?" The objection to the second approach is: just because something makes you happy, it does not necessarily mean it is good. For all you know, it could be killing you on the inside! Reason/rationality are the tools we ought to use. Rand says "emotions are not tools of cognition", but this is a poor formulation. Yes, of course, emotions won't tell you if something is really good or bad for you, but they're typically the catalyst to the question. We might try something and either love it or hate it. If we love it, we still do need to think about whether it is good for us in the long term. Maybe it is great now, but will reduce the quality of our lives for decades, when its ill-effects kick in. Or, we might hate something, but we recognize that if we go through with it, it will improve our lives for years. We are animals, and being animals, we have to resist the "more animalistic" follow-through. Or, more accurately, we should use our brains -- the "rational" part of being "rational animals" -- and not be driven purely by emotion. Still, without the emotion, we would never be asking the questions and looking for answers. An analogy to astronomy: We can do the math, and realize that a planet (Uranus) must exist at a certain place in the solar-system. Or we can scan the skies looking for planets. Indeed, the math of the first approach would not be possible if we did not have a lot of data in the first place. So, the same with asking what will make us happy in the long term: start by asking what makes you happy. Then, ask what makes other people happy -- just as a biologist's opening presumption is that what sustains one amoeba would sustain another. That's a super-long intro But, it is really necessary if you want to grasp the idea with both body and soul. Purpose/Productiveness: Put on your scientist's lab-coat and looking for observations look all around you, and across the world for examples of people getting happiness from some purpose and from productiveness. If you know actual people to think about -- dead or alive -- that's ideal. Maybe you know someone who was very driven and purposeful in his work, and seemed to enjoy it. And, another person who worked a lot, but the work depressed him. Why?What was different? Were either of them pursuing purpose and productiveness? Or, think of simpler examples: a kids and his parents are at the bottom of a hill, and there's a long stairway leading to the top. Tourists climb up and and get a great view. Taking the child's hand, one parent says: "let's count the steps", and up they go. All that effort for a view the kid does not even care about, and is just a few minutes for the parents. Yet, if they come back in a few years, they might happily do it again! Why? What triggers the emotion? As a scientist from Mars, can you see a link between this and their flourishing as a species? Or, even consider something that seems to be completely unproductive: a kid sitting in his room all day, playing video games. One can ask if that';s the choice that will make him most happy in the long term. But, just as interesting is to ask: why does this make him happy, in the first place? And, more specifically, what is it about this video game, compared to others that makes him happy? Even within the same genre, what is it about this good game and this other boring one? Even if the purpose and output from a game is "not real", it can give one clues to the link between purpose and productiveness (in this virtual world, that would be the achievement of the goals of the game) on the one hand, and happiness on the other. Also, look at what other philosophers and self-help folk say about happiness: Pastor Rick Warren uses "purpose-driven life" as his catch-phrase, and it clicks with a lot of people. Are they, and Dale Carnegie fans on to something? Regardless of what you think of their overall message, have they identified some truth about human life? Those are some places to start, but as you ask these questions, try noticing the pairings of purposefulness and happiness all around you. Maybe a cousin is telling you that he is so happy that he quit his corporate job and joined the peace corp two years ago. If you take that at face value, how would an alien scientist reason about that? One can only really understand the value of this via induction: by starting with a lot of data and reasoning from there. Otherwise, any little chapter on why -- in abstract -- having a purpose and being productive will make you happy is not going to be convincing.
  25. Universals

    I was referring to actual birds, not the word "birds". The concept of "nothing" is not a universal since it can't be predicated of anything. Probably not. @human_murda You are confused about what a universal is: You are confusing universals with pluralities. When talking about the universal which is found in all humans, it is better to use the word "manness" rather than "man". "Manness" more closely captures the idea behind a universal. Note that it makes no sense whatsoever to say that "'manness' itself died" but that it does make sense to say that "All of humanity died". tl;dr: You have to be careful to always distinguish between a plural subject and a predicate. The comparison is about the relation of facts to kinds of statements and has nothing to do with universals.
  26. Universals

    Evidence for the correct meaning of 'universal' already exists in the English language (or any spoken language). The universal length refers to the length of a specific object. The universal 'man' refers to a specific man. Consider the differences in meaning of the sentences 'man died' and 'the man died'. The former comes across as an invariant fact applicable to all men (and may be true for particular men). In the latter, the universal has been instantiated (which is necessary because individual men have specific measurements. When you're referring to specific men, you cannot continue talking as though any measurement is possible [or as though the individual has no specific measurements]. You have to instantiate the universal: the universal does not refer to an abstract universal that exists in specific objects). Similarly, when talking about specific entities, you speak about 'the length' instead of just 'length' (similar is the case for any concept or attribute). Just as AR said, the universal (such as "manness") does not exist "inside" an object/aspect. That's not the way universals are used in language. Universals do not refer to universals that exist "inside" an object. Universals refer to specific instances. If it's a concept, it refers to the whole of an object, not some part that resides within it. If the universal is an attribute, it refers to all aspects of the attribute as it exists. You talk in terms of universals ("man is evil") is you want to omit particular measurements (and are talking about invariant facts). You instantiate the universal ("the man died"), if you want to talk about someone in particular. The comparison isn't equivalent: because the universal exists as a specific instance (just, not as a universal).
  27. Universals

    Isn't birds (plural) about (referencing)"many" birds. A single bird is the concrete, not an abstraction about "many" What about the concept "nothing"? In what context does that exist in? (Doesn't it have to be epistemological since metaphysically "nothing" does not exist). At one point you had said "The reason you are making this error is because you are failing to differentiate between a relation of identity and a relation of definition". Does that have any relevance here?
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