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  1. 2 points
    Respectfully, I think this is the wrong methodology. When two authors disagree, the right reaction isn't to decide ahead of time that one of them is right and the other is wrong just because of who they are. Instead, I think we ought to study each author carefully until we have a solid grasp of what each respectively is saying, then compare the two positions to determine which has better evidence and arguments in its favor.
  2. 2 points
    It seems like you're pointing to an apparent conflict between the following claims: Full validation only requires reduction and integration. Full validation requires induction. Induction is distinct from both reduction and integration. The solution will require rejecting or modifying one of these three claims somehow (probably the third).
  3. 1 point
    Rand was successful at explicitly blasting false dichotomies and reusing language to her own purposes ("morality" being the perfect example). I find her use of the phrase "end in itself" makes complete sense to me in the context of a "self", whose end IS itself, but makes little sense to me when referring to something other than the self. X can be an "end in itself" to itself, but I cannot find the conceptual basis in reality for what anyone could mean (Rand included) by an "end in itself" for anything other than that "self". A fly is an end in itself to the fly, but to the sun, the universe, or to me... it is a fly (which I could still love and value... but "it" is not "me"). I find Rand's use of the term "end in itself" (hopefully a re-use of the term which I cant quite put my finger on) not as illuminating as her retooling of other various terms, which clearly have been given a meaning by her markedly different from the standard meanings accepted by the culture. I also suspect there is a sort of false dichotomy of "means" and "ends" in certain contexts (voluntary contexts?) which allows Rand to use terms such as "end in itself" when relating disparate identities without implying intrinsicism. [If I know anything about Objectivism, it is that Rand was not an intrinsicist.] If I "use" a person in ways which are voluntary and desired by them, to mutual benefit, they are not "abused" by me and hence are conceptually "means" to my end only in a benevolent sense of the term. Rand's holding that there are no conflicts among rational men, implies that on some level "means-ends" (as commonly interpreted and implied in popular moral hypotheticals) IS a false dichotomy, and the false dichotomy only arises when one colors the term "means" with "abuse" rather than a mutually beneficial and desired "use". When I am asked to act as a means to someone else's end to which (and possibly with which) I agree and during which they act as a means to my ends, and I note that mutual benefit occurs, then the act of being means (acting to benefit) repeatedly becomes an end... and the repeated completion of those ends (mutual benefit) becomes a means to life. There are no ends, which are not means, TO (and FOR) the self. Any such purported end would not be an end. So for X to be an "end in itself" to me, means the same thing as "X is an end to and FOR me (my life)", but any apparent dichotomy between means and ends is illusory (in that instance). IF this last is so, I could conclude, my son is "an end in himself" to me, BUT I could not ever conclude that a complete stranger is an end in himself to me, precisely because my son is my life, but a stranger is not.
  4. 1 point

    OCON 2018

    I think it is funnier (and more likely true) the other way around.
  5. 1 point

    OCON 2018

  6. 1 point
    It might be worth distinguishing between the cost to oneself and the benefit to another. I'm reminded of Rearden's thought in some cases when dealing with businessmen he respects, but who are not on his level. "it's so much for him, and so little for me."
  7. 1 point

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Thank you for your post, Stephen B. I will comment on one part of it. I think that interpretation is consistent with most, but not all, of what Ayn Rand wrote. I think my clause "but not all" can be based on a number of things she wrote, but I will limit myself to two. One is the passage in VoS quoted in the third post of this thread. Two is from Atlas Shrugged, p. 29, as follows. Taggart Transcontinental has lost a shipping contract with Ellis Wyatt to a competitor. Dagny Taggart: "We've lost the Wyatt oil fields" (p. 16). Dagny Taggart: "Ellis Wyatt is not asking anybody to give him a chance. And I'm not in business to give chances. I'm running a railroad." James Taggart: "That's an extremely narrow view, it seems to me. I don't see why we should want to help one man instead of a whole nation." Dagny Taggart: "I'm not interested in helping anybody. I want to make money." How is it that Dagny is not interested in helping Ellis Wyatt? She wishes that Taggart Transcontinental still had Ellis Wyatt as a customer. If that were still the case, her making money is helping herself, and she would be helping Ellis Wyatt achieve his goals. Returning to your passage I quoted, I like a little different wording, indicated by brackets: "an egoism in which some right actions are not [solely] for the actor’s [benefit], only [partly] so. [Partly], they could be for the [benefit] of one not oneself, nonetheless count as egoistic." While X can help Y when X and Y are trading partners, X rationally helping Y is not limited to trading. For example, X and Y could be co-workers for the same firm Z. X and Y each have the same goal of Z's goal/success. Similarly, in basketball player X could assist his/her teammate Y to achieve their mutual goal of their team winning the game.
  8. 1 point

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    . A Rejection of Egoism —Excerpts from this linked article: The first strand in Rand’s move from agent egoism to beneficiary egoism was the thesis that if one does not hold one's own life as the motive and goal of one’s actions (at least indirectly), one is acting in a self-destructive way. The second strand, wound together with the first, is that if one does not hold one’s life as the motive and goal of one’s actions, one is acting in a disintegrated way, and integrated life is better life. . . . The third strand in the cord by which Rand ties beneficiary egoism to agency egoism is the stress she lays on the self-sufficiency of organisms in general and individual humans in particular. . . . In the Strand One section, I interpreted Rand as holding to an egoism in which some right actions are not directly for the actor’s sake, only indirectly so. Directly, they could be for the sake of one not oneself, nonetheless count as egoistic. By this interpretation, Rand’s type of ethical egoism would fall outside Kraut’s exceptionally restrictive definition. “Egoism holds that there is only one person whose good should be the direct object of one’s actions: oneself” (WGW 39). My interpretation of Rand on this point is in some tension with her text that I quoted (AS 1059–60). Further tension is added by other text of Rand’s: “The rational man . . . . recognizes the fact that his own life is the source, not only of all his values, but of his capacity to value. Therefore, the value he grants to others is only a consequence, an extension, a secondary projection of the primary value which is himself.” (VoS 46–47) She goes on, in that 1963 essay, to quote Nathaniel Branden: “The respect and good will that men of self-esteem feel towards other human beings is profoundly egoistic; they feel, in effect: ‘Other men are of value because they are of the same species as myself.’ In revering living entities, they are revering their own life. This is the psychological base of any emotion of sympathy and any feeling of ‘species solidarity’.” (VoS 47) Rand’s contrast of secondary to primary might suggest the contrast of indirect to direct. I think, considering the layout of the psychology to which Rand points, that suggestion should be rejected. Rand in Full —Excerpts from this linked article: Catherine Halsey learns to greatly curtail her personal desires and to devote her efforts to helping others. This she does because she wants to do what is right and because she accepts the idea that selfishness is evil (ET XIII 384). Catherine also accepts the idea, advocated by Toohey (ET XI 342), that selfishness leads to unhappiness. I have been unable to recall or locate any major thinker who advocated this proposition, but it will follow from the premises that happiness requires morality and that selfishness is immoral. Catherine’s success at unselfishness makes her unhappy and resentful. She speaks with her Uncle Ellsworth about it. She acknowledges that he is much brighter than she and that “‘it’s a very big subject, good and evil’” (ET XIII 384). Rand then uses their dialogue to argue the incoherence and pointlessness of absolute unselfishness. Rand’s lead into her case for the goodness of pure selfishness consists of the sensibleness and pleasure of having personal desires (together with having one’s own thoughts and choices) and guiding one’s own actions. (ET XIII 384; GW II 454). We have seen this way of entering the case for egoism before, in the development of Andrei after he meets Kira. After her deep conversation with Uncle Ellsworth, Catherine gets together with Peter Keating. He is feeling dirty because of his testimony against Roark at the court case over the Stoddard Temple. Peter and Catherine reaffirm their love, which is a first-hand personal preference satisfying their own identities. They kiss. “Then he did not think of the Stoddard Temple any longer, and she did not think of good and evil. They did not need to; they felt too clean” (ET XIII 391). This suggests that at least one reason the concept of good and evil is needed is the human potential for betraying egoistic innocence. . . . I should pause over the necessity of intended self-benefit for correct values. Not all of one’s potential selves are worth benefitting. Among those who are, Rand maintains that only potential selves whose every value is intended to benefit themselves hold entirely correct values. “Concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence, and . . . man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions. / The actor must always be the beneficiary of his action” (VS ix–x; also OE 46–47). One is a beneficiary in ways other than by one’s resulting positive feelings, because one is a self that is not only feelings. Man’s self is “‘that entity that is his consciousness. To think, to feel, to judge, to act are functions of the ego’” (HR XVIII 737). It is the self—one’s soul—that has thoughts, meaning, will, values, desires, and feeling (GW II 454). Roark loves the buildings he designs not only because of the positive responses they elicit in him. Dagny loves diesel-electric locomotives and the minds that create them not only because of the positive responses they elicit in her. It is not plausible that when she finds that man at the end of the rails, the one for whom she has longed since her youth, she will love him only because of the positive responses he evokes in her. There is, however, a thread of subjectivity in Rand’s conception of value and love and normative selfishness that is puckering up the fabric. In my judgment, that thread is unnecessary and should be removed. Speaking metaphorically, the solemnity of looking at the sky does not come only from the uplift of one’s head (HR V 598). In extreme desire for another person, the other does not recede in importance compared to the desire (GW IX 539). A rational desire to help someone in need is animated not only by “your own selfish pleasure in the value of his person and struggle” (AS 1060, emphasis added). Rather, it is enough for rational egoism that, by design, no actions be contrary self-benefit (of a self worth benefitting). The requirement that all actions should intend primarily self-benefit should be dropped. In this way, one can love persons simply for the particular ends-in-themselves that they are. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Those linked articles (and those excerpts just shown) are old one's of mine (2010). I've still some settling out to do, particularly on what are the most liberal restrictions on what could still be called ethical egoism, consistent with the long history and varieties of it in ethical theory.
  9. 1 point

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    I don't think there's a diplomatic way to say this: given the nature of the discussion and the types of things Merlin decided to focus on, no, it doesn't sound like it's worth my money to get a hold of the complete paper. But I could be wrong - the outline could demonstrate that there are good points that really makes me inclined to go out and read his full argument. That's why I suggested it - he could make the rest of us inclined to take his points seriously. I'm glad you mentioned though that it's odd I wouldn't subscribe to any related journal. I don't have any excuse for that. Since we're speaking so much about values, it is important to me to understand various academic-level discussions about Objectivism. I should at least subscribe to JARS. That's a matter of style. I don't think that type of rigor is necessary for discussion forums. I am quite able to provide exact quotes for others to see, making a case that would satisfy academic counterarguments. But I'm not trying to do that here. It's important to me to speak in a conversational manner on forums and anything else public. To do this, I rely on my memory of what I've read, and I reread things periodically to make sure I'm not misremembering things. This is how the ancient Romans did it before there were books you could cite whenever you want. I'm fine that you call the style beer talk (I'd call it conversational), but I think you underestimate the value or purpose of it. When and if I write papers, I'm careful to include citations and quotes. EDIT: I forgot to add. Rand herself rarely quotes. On occasion she will. But for the most part I think she relies on her memory of what she has read (and at times she will make mistakes because of this when criticizing other philosophers). For her audience and the type of person she wants to talk to, I think this is a very good thing.
  10. 1 point
    In Objectivism, a "proof" of an idea is reduction. One thereby goes backwards "down" through the steps necessary to reach the abstract idea, which can be a proposition or a concept, through the necessarily prior ideas, until one reaches the most basic kinds of observations on which the idea depends. The prime example of this would be the Objectivist proof of the principle of egoism. It is normally proved by reducing the concept "value" down to its necessary prerequisites, which are entities acting to achieve goals in face of the fundamental alternative of life or death. However, according to Objectivism as I understand it, this kind of reduction-based proof is not enough for a person to be justified in claiming certain knowledge that an idea is true. It is for instance said in How We Know that "full validation" of an idea, as it is called, requires at first reduction but then also non-contradictory integration into one's total knowledge (I think OPAR says this too, for instance at the bottom of page 138 and in other places where proof is discussed, but perhaps not as explicitly). So, one aquires certain knowledge of an idea after a "full validation" has been performed, which necessarily involves reduction and integration with the rest of one's knowledge. But where does induction fit into this picture? Peikoff's course Objectivism Through Induction (OTI) makes a really big deal out of the idea that real understanding and validation of an idea is based on induction. He repeatedly uses the term "inductive proof" (which btw. seems to run contrary to the definition of proof given in OPAR as essentially "reduction". What would "inductive reduction" be?). "Inductive proof" or derivation is the only way to fully validate an idea he basically says - this presupposing a reduction to begin with. What I end up with is that "full validation" of an idea requires reduction and integration, the integration being based on induction - when I combine the works of OPAR, HWK, and OTI (and more). However why isn't this explicitly stated in either OPAR or HWK, that induction has this crucial role in the integration-part of "full validation" of an idea, if indeed this is the case? Why does this role of induction only show up kind of obscurely in OTI if it is so crucially important as it is claimed in that course? "Mere" integration of an idea "into the sum of one's knowledge" to me implies a sort of inward-looking, assuming that the content of one's mind is the test of an idea rather than the content of reality, and for that reason the focus on "induction" as in the OTI course appeals to me, because there one is taught to integrate data from direct observation. It sounds more objective to me. But I'm confused. What is "full validation"? What essential steps do you have to go through to reach certain knowledge of a given proposition?
  11. 1 point

    Objectivist values and the personal.

    What is health and how do you achieve it? Reason supplies the answer Why do you want to be healthy? Purpose supplies the answer Are you good at being healthy? Yes? Self esteem is the result Now substitute wealth for health and ask the same three questions.
  12. 1 point

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    ... By reading comprehension? I don't know what you are expecting me to say. No one seems to understand why you think that in one quote that the meaning of the sentence actively excluded the benefit of other people rather than simply not mentioning the benefit of other people that may go on. And throughout this whole thread I even talked about how you could maintain that you as an individual must gain the most benefit without also implying that the benefit of others must be minimized or zero. If you think 2046 was attempting an ad hominem argument and failed, it's probably because he wasn't even attempting one. The point he was making is that not mentioning something doesn't mean someone was saying anything about the excluded stuff. If you want a complete literal explanation, you should not introduce added subjects... Anyway, if you link your paper here, maybe I would take the time to look over and offer a more complete criticism of you. I'm hoping that your criticism of Rand's egoism isn't based on this one quote.
  13. 1 point
    I think this entire subject and thread is illustrative of one thing. IF a "strict" reading of statement Rand made (either taken out of context or taken only in a very of a narrow impoverished context), is construed to contradict nearly everything she conveyed both explicitly and implicitly, by what she wrote and said, in volumes and volumes of fictional, philosophical, and editorial writings, and speeches, books, and interviews, about what values, selfishness, rationality, and morality mean, THEN insofar as anything CAN be concluded from said statement, it is ONLY that Rand, like any other human being is capable of making a mistake, as she (allegedly) did in making the statement, and NOT that a single isolated error (to the extent that it could even be called that) is sufficient to call into question the clear and irrefutable meaning of the monumental achievement which is her ethics of rational self interest as conveyed by her vast body of brilliant work.
  14. 1 point
    After repeated attempts, have you not understood Rand's premise? A man must not be disallowed what he morally earns. Period. See my last post for one example (by the IRS). That has not the slightest bearing on opening doors, etc. etc. but, somehow, you try to conflate the two. One has to appreciate that living a full and selfish life means contact, engagement , awareness and enjoyment of other humans if only in the moment, and always, for some, the potential of becoming future values to one's life (implicit, when not explicit, in Rand's extended writings). If all you see of rational egoism (misreading Rand) is blocking oneself from perceiving others' values (and their dis-values) to the extent of never volunteering to lend a hand on occasions, THAT is a secluded, self-constricted view of egoism a rational egoist would want no part of. If anything, I am sure the "mindful", rational person is more highly aware than anyone. "Rational" is the predominant part and prerequisite of rational egoism. To say again, a "breach", which worries you, is what is forced upon one - by others, altruists. Also it surely doesn't need repeating that one functions on many levels, in a team, in a community, in a family, in work, and so on - all of which should be rewarding, none of which is self-sacrificial, unless or until it is.
  15. 1 point
    Grames, I for one, and several others I'm sure would like to read your thinking on dualism - etc. The relationship of dualism to rationalism - and - of reductive materialism to empiricism and skepticism, for that matter. Can I prevail upon you to open a thread?
  16. 1 point
    Patrick, I have a hypothesis about how Dr. Binswanger might answer your question. In HWK (p. 262), he writes: He then gives an example of a deductive derivation, a deductive proof, an inductive derivation, and an inductive proof. (This happens on p. 262-264.) Now, let's try to answer your question: As the above passage makes clear, reduction can be inductive. Reduction is nothing more than walking backwards through the derivation that originally led to the idea. If the derivation was inductive, the reduction or proof will be inductive as well.
  17. 1 point
    Doug Morris

    Classical music

    It might also help if we could clarify just which modern music Rand was referring to.
  18. 1 point
    OTI was created long ago with the laudable goal of combating a tendency toward rationalism. However, there was not an actual theory of induction within Objectivism during Rand's lifespan (and arguably there still isn't since Objectivism as Rand knew it became a closed system upon her death). So it is a question whether what Peikoff and Rand were doing in OTI is actually induction in the technical philosophical sense. Binwanger is unreliable due to his radical dualism. In any contradiction between Binwanger and Rand or a Peikoff/Rand presentation dump Binswanger. Peikoff and Harriman authored "The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics" which is little more than the claim that the process of concept formation is induction. That doesn't satisfy many people looking for a theory of induction who are not already Objectivists and many who are. Peikoff's lecture course "Art of Thinking" lecture 6 covers "aspects of certainty excised from OPAR for space". The four aspects covered are thinking about the future, thinking in terms of statistics, does present context of knowledge limit certainty, and does certainty imply error is impossible. I wonder how much your line questioning here is motivated by an underlying confusion about certainty, and if that should be your next question.
  19. 1 point
    I asked the question because, after I read the introductory pages you posted, and I got the impression that you had an abstract audience in mind... i.e. people you think may benefit. But, when one writes to that type of target, you cannot tailor your "voice". Writing for an audience that is sympathetic to Rand is different from writing for someone who has a vague idea about Rand. Even when writing to a narrow audience like those sympathetic to Rand, one has to tailor one's material to a purpose. A reader who wants to get information to bolster his arguments is different from one who wants to get something from the book to help him in his own work/life in (say) the next year or two.
  20. 1 point

    What is 'reason'?

    Also, in Rand's epistemology, it's not the sensations that are being conceptually united by the process of reason, one does not experience sensations in most normal circumstances (ie., unless you have diminished mental capacity, are in a sensory deprivation experiment, etc.) The process of integrating sensations into perception is physiological, not rational (as in Kant), one experiences a united perceptual field, rather than sensations. The process of reason proceeds, under this theory, by abstracting from the field of perception, and then integrating the units conceptually as you described.
  21. 1 point
    Are you sure it's not "everyone is fallible" instead of "everyone is irrational"? From my experience with Shermer (and Randi), I expect that's the mix-up (/equivocation) being made by whichever reviewers you've seen.
  22. 1 point
    As I recall, Ayn Rand once said that she "learned to expect nothing from reviewers because of the so-called 'favorable" reviews, not the illiterate smears". Perhaps we should be cautious about judging Michael Shermer based on reviews.
  23. 1 point
    Agreed. Here is one stark example I am reminded of: "In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the “competition” between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of “exploitation” for which you have damned the strong." Galt's Speech (For the New Intellectual, 186) Although the above involves a mix of material and spiritual values (both of which I think would qualify as "benefit"), I think it is clear that it accepts that the act of invention involves conveying a great degree of benefit to others (perhaps given the quote this is an understatement?). To my knowledge, Rand did not make it a point to state that it is not in a man's rational self-interest to invent anything, i.e. although she did strongly suggest that being a parasite or a thief are inimical to a persons life and thus those "careers" should be avoided, she did not make the same pronouncement about the vocation of "Inventor" notwithstanding the imbalance of "benefit" quoted above. She was a strong supporter of Patents and Copyrights, and as far as I know nothing in her analysis of a proper intellectual property system addresses the issue of the inventor receiving only a "small percentage of his value" NO MATTER what millions he earns. In essence, "free riding" here (at least in spiritual values) is inevitable, and unavoidable, BUT at the end of the analysis, irrelevant since inventing is still in the inventor's self interest, and VERY much so if one both enjoys it and can do it in a lucrative manner.
  24. 1 point

    Global Warming

    Meh. I'm still hoping I can get you to do two things: 1. consider how ridiculous the proposition that "20% of all greenhouse emissions on Earth come from cows belching and farting" is. 2. As a result, re-read the articles you posted, to find the disclaimer they buried deep within, where it's explained that the click-bait, simplistic headline is in fact misleading, and they added together a bunch of other emissions that have nothing to do with cows belching or farting, to come up with that estimate of 20%. Had they stuck with just cows belching and farting, it would be a far smaller number, no one would care, no one would click on the article, and then the writer would have to get a real job, that produces some actual value.
  25. 1 point
    Just that Dave Rubin has accumulated quite a history of excellent interviews over the past couple years. Yaron Brook did an outstanding job particularly on his first appearance. Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell (naturally), and Alex Epstein's appearances are particularly worth checking out. https://www.youtube.com/user/RubinReport/videos Rogan is a new name to me.