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  1. 1 point

    Where can I buy an Ayn shirt?

    ??? You aren't a Liberty MANIAC??
  2. 1 point

    Ayn Rand and the French

    They don't think of him. As far as I can tell, he is virtually unknown, except for very few people among those who are interested in Philosophy. I think, Ayn Rand is more known (or rather less unknown) in France than Guyau. You are right about the second one. It's a little summary chapter by chapter, available for free here. The author is a reader of my blog about Objectivism, and since he made that book, I've translated some chapters of The Romantic Manifesto. The first one is supposed to be a biography of Ayn Rand. It was the only book in french about Ayn Rand since recently. The book was written by Alain Laurent, the publisher of Atlas Shrugged in France, who was also last year in a lecture with Yaron Brook. I was in the public, so was the author of the second book The Esthetic Philosophy of Ayn Rand. And I asked a question. Alain Laurent is also the publisher of The Virtue of Selfishness, but he removed most of the chapters, as I say in my video, including the introduction, to publish his own introduction. Because he is the publisher of Ayn Rand and because of that book, Alain Laurent is viewed as the "expert" of Ayn Rand in France, so when the french medias talks about her, they have Alain Laurent as a guest. In my opinion, it's a scam, because Alain Laurent doesn't understand Objectivism at all (It's easy to prove, he disintegrates all ideas), commit some errors and is regulary very critical about Objectivism grounded on his non-understanding and errors. One single example (among plenty): In the book you mentionned, he advocates that Ayn Rand is not a philosopher and that she had never read Kant, and criticize her for never quoting other philosophers. He wrote the same in his introduction of The Virtue of Selfishness, where he also says that Ayn Rand advocate some categorical imperatives. Clearly, he has never read Causality versus Duty. And it's always like that : He regulary sees "contradictions" in Ayn Rand's philosophy...grounded on his own misunderstanging or ignorance. As he is the only French voice, visible in the media, who talks about Ayn Rand. Many French people learn about Ayn Rand through him, i.e. through his errors, his fallacies and his superficial understanding. I think that there is no one who does not harm Objectivism in France any more than he does, though I'm pretty sure he views himself as a fair spreader of Ayn Rand. He is also very critical of the Objectivist movement.
  3. 1 point

    Argument about rights

    1. Reason is a method, not an argument. If I said "how do you prove the law of gravity?" And I said "reason," I'm talking about a methodology, not a specific argument. In natural rights theory, saying they "are justified by reason" just points to the methodology employed. We reason from man's life as the standard of value to what are the requirements for survival and flourishing in a political society. 2. The end is not mere survival, it is a rich conception of a flourishing life. Food, water, shelter, of course but also learning, development of skills, career pursuit, self acceptance and personal growth, social relationships, love, sense of purpose in life, etc. None of this can be provided at the point of a gun, it has to be achieved, and again according to the natural rights folks, that requires a sphere of independence in which we are free to act and pursue our ends. Secondly, because someone has a right to or needs some ends it doesn't follow they have a right to be provided said end. That's just a non sequitur. Thirdly, if someone is forcibly provided some end, someone else is therefore forced to labor for someone else's ends, and that introduces a contradiction. Welfare rights are accordingly incompatible with individual rights. In short: you don't own anyone. 3. There are some serious logical leaps being taken here. I need food, corn is food, therefore I have a right to force you to labor in a cornfield for me? Doesn't follow. I have a right to this specific river, let's say, because I labored on it, I built a fishery or a mill. I don't own "water" in the abstract, I own this specific water. You don't have rights to abstract classes, just specific things you either homesteaded or traded for.
  4. 1 point
    This thread has covered a lot of ground, which unfortunately makes it a bit incoherent. I suggest focusing on a specific issue of substance that is repeatedly raised, having to do with the government’s use of force to enforce proper law. I would set aside questions about social contracts, fraud, breach of contract, the nature of force and its relationship to consent, and inalienability of rights; I would also set aside the titular question of NAP qua primary principle in Objectivism (there is no denying that it is the fundamental principle of libertarianism). The issue requiring focus is this paraphrase of what Rand has said: “force in society may only be used in response to the initiation of physical force and only against the person who initiates the force”. Some version of this is said in nearly a dozen points in Rand’s writing, for example “Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use” (The Objectivist Ethics). She is consistent in saying “against those”. The question is, what are the practical consequences of this principle? In connection with a crime involving the police and courts, there are at least 8 ways in which force is actually used in response to the initiation of force. Assume that the act is a theft, and the police are not witnesses to the act. Questioning: The police may stop and detain a person because they have a reasonable suspicion that he committed a crime. Arrest: The police may take a person into custody because they have evidence that he probably he committed a crime. Appearance: A person will be required to appear in court, and be identified as the criminal actor. Search: A person’s property may be searched and seized, and used as evidence pertaining to whether he committed the crime. Testimony: A person may be compelled to appear in court and testify as to relevant knowledge. Truth: A person who testifies will be forced to tell the truth (perjury is a crime, punishable by imprisonment). Jury service: A person (not the accused: having no relationship to the case) will be compelled to serve on a panel of jurors who decide facts and determine guilt. Courtroom conduct: A person who testifies or argues on either side of the question will be compelled to follow the lawful instructions of the judge. The issue, as I see it, is whether any of these 8 forms of force would be prohibited under the principles of Objectivism. If all of these forms of force were prohibited, protection of rights by the government (thus, man’s survival qua man) would not be possible, and since Objectivism is all about man’s survival, there would be something amiss. The main lacuna that needs to be filled is the epistemological one. Although proper force is to be limited to those who initiate it, it is not self-evident who those people are. Some force must be available to the government prior to the lawful determination of guilt. An arrest is predicated on the belief that a person has initiated force, but that belief may be mistaken. Moral responsibility for such uses of force rests with the person who did in fact initiate force. A system of objective law would allow use of force when, in a certain context, there is reason to believe that a person has initiated force. The nature of that reason relates to the legally allowed level of force. When there is just a reasonable suspicion, a limited degree of force is proper; when it is probable that the person committed the act, more force is proper; proof of the act results in the highest degree of force allowed under the law (the actual punishment). The possibility of error in the use of force does not mean that government cannot be allowed to fulfill its function. In short, and in the context of the legal determination of guilt, force is to be used against those whom the evidence indicates have initiated force (this is not limited to the officially indicted). Questioning, arrest, required appearance and search are all actions directed against persons whom we reasonably conclude initiated force: this includes all of the agents who acted to bring about force, including those not prosecuted. The use of force in connection with truthful testimony and enforcing courtroom conduct is not necessarily aimed against the rights-violator; it is, however, not improper initiation of force, rather it is a consequence which you accept to, when you appear in court. The one area of possible complication regards compelled testimony. As for compulsory jury duty, I see no possibility of reconciling that with Objectivism: see Rand’s position on taxation and the military draft. In discussing how a government based on Objectivist principles would operate, we must assume that some people will be irrational (will refuse to act in their own self-interest), but we cannot assume that most people are irrational – if they were, we’d have the kind of government we have now. Compulsion would not be necessary, and is hardly necessary now. This leaves the question of when it is permissible to seize property to be used as evidence, and to compel a person to testify (compelled action). In the case of a person with no culpability for the act, the choice to uphold the virtue of justice must remain the choice of the individual, to be made according to their hierarchy of values. “A right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice”. A man has the right to keep his property even when the government has a deep desire for it and perhaps a very compelling reason to want to take it, even just temporarily. It has been claimed above that a legal system cannot be objective if it is arbitrarily deprived of information: a person may not refuse to provide information arbitrarily. But contained within that argument, I find two very troubling suppositions. One is the premise that the government may rightly determine what a man’s hierarchy of values should be – if your hierarchy is not “right”, and you place your values above the interests of another, your values will be set aside. Second, the supposedly objective inquisition into a man’s motivations for a choice means that a man must be able to articulately argue for and thus defend his rights against government intrusion, in order to enjoy those rights. An objective legal system, in its procedural aspect, means that the rules which it uses are objectively stated, so that any man can know what is required of him. What that would entail, in evaluating the acceptability of a rationale for not testifying, is that the system must state which values of an individual can override the government’s interest in finding facts, and which values of an individual are found to be unimportant. I presume it is clear why this contradicts the basic political ideas of Objectivism.
  5. 1 point
    Potential 'missing link' in chemistry that led to life on Earth discovered Date: November 6, 2017 Source: Scripps Research Institute Summary: Chemists have found a compound that may have been a crucial factor in the origins of life on Earth, explains a new report. Origins-of-life researchers have hypothesized that a chemical reaction called phosphorylation may have been crucial for the assembly of three key ingredients in early life forms: short strands of nucleotides to store genetic information, short chains of amino acids (peptides) to do the main work of cells, and lipids to form encapsulating structures such as cell walls. ... TSRI chemists have now identified just such a compound: diamidophosphate (DAP). "We suggest a phosphorylation chemistry that could have given rise, all in the same place, to oligonucleotides, oligopeptides, and the cell-like structures to enclose them," said study senior author Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, associate professor of chemistry at TSRI. "That in turn would have allowed other chemistries that were not possible before, potentially leading to the first simple, cell-based living entities."
  6. 1 point

    Is Dignity a Right?

    It was both fraud and force. Fraud in the bait-and-switch and then force or the threat of force in the comply-or-else-die aspect. I find fault with your understanding of fraud, contract and force. Changing the subject, dignity is too subjective of an evaluation to define in objective law. Individual elements that may be components of a concept of dignity can be objectively defined as for example to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures of one's person and personal effects, but to just use the term 'dignity' in a written law without establishing context is a legislative disaster and legal nightmare. Dignity like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  7. 1 point
    SK, First off, thank you for kicking off an interesting discussion. It has been most enjoyable. Now, I don't understand what you say on page 6 paragraph 3. In particular, you say I do not know what "subly" is. Was this supposed to be "subtly"? Let me subtly assume the existence of a concept that is tailor-made, etc. There is a concept in mathematics called a field. Examples of fields include the real numbers, complex numbers, finite fields and so on. Would it be fair to say that the concept "field" subsumes these subjects? Now, there is something called a complete field. Examples of complete fields include real numbers and complex numbers, etc. These subjects are subsumed by the concept "complete field". Finally, there is something called a complete ordered field. It seems to me that this is a concept. I have combined well-defined concepts to form a new concept. A priori, one does not know whether there exist any such subjects until once shows that the real numbers do in fact constitute a complete ordered field. Therefore we know that this is not an empty notion. Also, a priori one does not know how many such subjects exist. However, there is a proof that, up to isomorphism, there is only one such subject, the real numbers. Was "complete ordered field" never a concept? If it was a concept until it was shown that there was only one, at what point did it cease to be a concept? Was it no longer a concept when someone first proved that there was only one such subject? What is a concept in your own mind until someone informed you of the proof that there was only one, making "authority" the determining factor concerning concepts. Or, was it once you read and understood the proof that it ceased to be a concept? I believe that "complete ordered field" is a concept despite the fact that there is only one. Was this a cheap shot?
  8. 1 point

    Force Initiation

    No. Because, consent cannot be given for the unknown or bad faith, those fall outside of what has been consented to and that is fraud. If consent is given for particular action the trade is voluntary and does not constitute initiation of force. No. Submission to tax is not voluntary because it is made under threat of force (threat of incarceration or theft) i.e. if you do continue not to pay taxes you eventually will go to jail or your property forcibly taken. Force is well defined. A worker may feel "compelled" to trade certain actions in exchange for a colleague not "telling on you" but this is not physical force (including fraud) or the threat thereof. Although force is force regardless of how the parties "parse" it conceptually, force objectively requires some element of the non-voluntary, so the mental content of the parties cannot be wholly ignored. People fight in rings for sport, the distinguishing factor for the "first punch" being sport, is the consent of the "receiver" of an action which otherwise would be a crime. People are fallible, and conceptually may be oblivious to the their own rights, their own lack of consent or even the threat of force. An oppressive government bureaucrat and his hapless victim of a citizen may both be oblivious to the implicit threat of "treason to the state" always hanging over a relationship that "feels" like glorious service to the state, through performance of an action, in the name of duty. Force here is omnipresent whether or not the citizen has chosen to recognize they are NOT free to choose or act otherwise, instead zealously holding onto the evasion, the self-delusion, that they don't "want to be free to choose". The fact IS, although man has free will, IF you choose otherwise you will be arrested, incarcerated, possibly killed. The insanity in such societies does not negate the objective presence of force, which would immediately prevent free action, should anyone awake from the insanity and attempt to deviate. Rand has covered this very well throughout her writings. The AR lexicon does a good job here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/physical_force.html Hope this helps.
  9. 1 point


    The thing with depression is that physiological causes are rarely ever the whole story. There is also some amount of one's position in the social world, or some deeper things besides strictly how your brain is working. It's difficult at times to keep up a motivated outlook. Sometimes, physiology makes it more difficult than for other people. Personally for me, there is a mix of all this that leads me to show symptoms of depression. Objectivism has had an important role for me so that while at times depression is there, it helps me to prevent things like self-hate, or beating myself up as a bad person. I don't feel that, and I attribute it to a few principles of Objectivism. Some Nietzsche, too, but my opinion on him is complex. 1) Benevolent Universe Premise No, this doesn't mean the universe "wants" you to be happy. Rather, it's a belief that evil doesn't win out over the good, that is, if one acts justly and acts virtuously, evil cannot last. This isn't to say tragedies don't happen - after all, Rand wrote "We The Living", which is really good at making the point that on a wider scale, the triumph of good is affected by things like respect for individual rights. http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/benevolent_universe_premise.html 2) Art fuels one's passions Rand wrote this, I recommend reading all of The Romantic Manifesto: "Since a rational man’s ambition is unlimited, since his pursuit and achievement of values is a lifelong process—and the higher the values, the harder the struggle—he needs a moment, an hour or some period of time in which he can experience the sense of his completed task, the sense of living in a universe where his values have been successfully achieved. It is like a moment of rest, a moment to gain fuel to move farther. Art gives him that fuel; the pleasure of contemplating the objectified reality of one’s own sense of life is the pleasure of feeling what it would be like to live in one’s ideal world." http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/art.html 3) Celebrate the good Perhaps this is obvious, but it is important to see the good in the world and celebrate it. Some people are truly jealous of success, seeing happiness as zero-sum, and think a successful billionaire is inherently bad. This is what Rand pointed to as hating the good for its good qualities. At times, a depressed person may want to wallow and blame others. If you go out of your way to admire the good, you'll have an easier time recognizing that it is possible to achieve your goals by your own efforts. It's a sense of self-responsibility.
  10. 1 point

    Why are so many athiests "liberal?"

    There are two "problems" with atheism: 1) lack of something profound to admire, and 2) finding moral guidance/standards. Now, assuming you mean liberal progressive types (i.e. radicals that are essentially socialists like Bernie Sanders), the "god is replaced by society" explanation works well. Then again, I've noticed a growing sense of "god is replaced by science" in those same people. Think Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. They may care little about philosophy, or reject philosophy outright in favor of engineering or technology fields. Moral guidance turns into finding what science has to say about cooperation - taking facts that morality tended to develop from cooperation to say that we should all be humanitarians. Science ends up having primacy over all things. It is how 1 and 2 are "solved". In contrast, Objectivism would say to admire existence as such, to love it. Guidance and standards becomes focused on oneself, as existence is admired due to one's initial pursuit of life.
  11. 1 point
    In conclusion, and for clarity, my position is that the Golden Rule, aka Ethic of Reciprocity, IS the basis of rights, and specifically the Right to Life. When you speak of justice, you are endorsing equity which is what the Golden Rule measures, i.e., are your actions towards others consistent with what you expect from others with respect to having a right to those actions. You are the moral benchmark, i.e., it is the quality of your selfishness that is being judged. In this respect, the Golden Rule is entirely consistent not only with Objectivism*, but with most religious, philosophic views** regarding the nature of man and his relationship with his fellow man. In reviewing material from ARL, the following statement* expresses what I agree with and base my argument on: "The only 'obligation' involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes one’s own rights to be recognized and protected." ~ Individual Rights If this is not an application of the rule, then it is at the very least a reflection of what the rule validates. While I fully appreciate Objectivist aversion to all things Kant and catagorical imperatives, to dismiss the ethic of reciprocity by association with Kant or altruism is to throw the baby out with the bath water. I have tried to the best of my ability, to respond to every criticism of the rule, and if I have fallen short of being persuasive the fault is mine. -- * http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/individual_rights.html ** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule
  12. 1 point
    CriticalThinker: Your last several posts on this subject (innocents in war) are in complete accord with Objectivist principles and doctrine. I am in complete agreement with your answers, characterizations and examples. However, I think you do your argument a disservice by introducing the concept of the "emergency situation", to wit: From the Lexicon: Certainly war creates conditions under which human survival is impossible. However, it isn't unchosen (by the aggressor) and thus not unexpected, nor is it limited in time. The point is that one has a choice about whether to be aggressive or not. And the fact that an aggressor is objectively wrong is what gives your moral argument all of its weight. The lifeboat is an amoral situation, meaning, there is no right answer, no right or wrong, any action you take might be appropriate. You have the right to defend yourself, but so do the others in the boat. In war, as you have been properly arguing, there is a right answer, a universal principle: DO NOT INITIATE FORCE. If someone has initiated force against you, you have the right to defend yourself, to use force in retaliation against those who initiated it. The guys who initiated the use of force have no right to defend themselves, they have forfeited their rights. Their only option is to stop initiating force and surrender immediately. Anyway, continue on, you are doing a great job, just leave out emergencies, you don't need them.
  13. 1 point

    Altruism Revisited

    If it's useful, is it altruistic?
  14. 1 point

    How is meritocracy irrational?

    Rand differentiates between the metaphysical and the man-made (Philosophy: Who Needs It, chapter 3.) Metaphysical facts are not expressible by the concept of justice (fair, unfair, right, wrong, etc.), they just are. Justice comes from appraising the chosen aspects of other people in relation to you. Excessive wealth can't come from anti-life activities, because, at the root, wealth can only come from virtuous action (production.) If you mean having a person with wealth that did not earn it, i.e. that acquired it by looting, in short, that did not merit it, then the law should do something about that, but then that would rule out the inheritance tax. Rand (PWNI, pp. 140-141) criticizes meritocracy on the grounds that it is a self-contradictory concept. To "merit" something is a matter of justice, and "-ocracy" refers to rulers, then "meritocracy" seeks to create a "tyranny of justice," thus collapsing into conceptual incoherency, and blanking out the different between might and right that justice seeks to create. As far as this author's idea of a meritocracy, it is problematic to say the least. From an economic standpoint, "what alone can improve [material] conditions is more and better production. And this can only be brought about by increased saving and capital accumulation" (Mises, Planning for Freedom, pp. 92-93.) The inheritance tax is particularly damaging to capital accumulation. The prospect of an inheritance tax destroys the incentive and the power to save and build up accumulations of capital. Rothbard calls inheritance taxes "perhaps the most devastating example of a pure tax on capital" (Rothbard, Power and Market, p.1185.) It's impact will be devastating because of the far-reaching nature of the argument. The argument conceives "that everyone should line up at the same starting line," but regardless of where we start off, within a few generations every piece of property must pass to heirs, and continue in such a manner indefinitely. Thus we can see that the difficulty with this argument is that it proves far too much than perhaps it wanted to. For which one of us would earn anything like our present real income or enjoy anything near our present standard of living were it not for inherited benefits that we derive from the actions of our predecessors (in accumulation capital stock)? Specifically, the modern standard of living resulting from the accumulation of capital goods is an inheritance from all the net savings of our ancestors. If the argument wants to be consistent, then we will have to remove all these "unfair advantages." Without them, we would, regardless of the quality of our own moral character, be living in a primitive jungle. If everyone were prevented from passing on accumulated wealth to the next generation, the result would be drastic impoverishment and mass starvation of the majority of the human race, a decidedly anti-life conclusion, would result. So if the grounds are pro-life, then this argument fails. Simply stating "but this is the logical, rational, enlightened thing to do" is of no avail. The author states that the living do not experience the inheritance tax because the person who is being taxed is dead. But the dead are not the ones that own the property, the heir is the living owner who is taxed. Such a tax necessarily violates property rights, which contradicts the stated desire of not taking the unearned from anyone. The meritocrat might reply that the heir didn't earn it because he didn't produce it himself, but technological production is not the only way to earn wealth. Exchange also is one way to earn wealth, and the heir acquired the property in question through the objective link of contractual exchange. Whatever he did, even if just being in the right place at the right time, caused him to earn the property in the eyes of the previous owner passing it on to the later owner. The socialist government (or society at large, or whoever is claiming the right to tax it) has established no link whatsoever with the property, has done nothing to it, so it's difficult to see why a contractually designated owner, the heir, who has an objective link to the property (earned it via contractual exchange from a previous to a later owner) should be denied ownership in favor of a non-producer, non-contractor who has no link whatsoever with the property, if the grounds specified is "he who earned it." Thus the meritocracy argument for inheritance taxation fails on its own grounds. Branden (in Rand, ed., Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, pp.96-99) recognizes that there is a contradiction in the contention that only those who produce wealth should control it, and the inheritance tax. For if we recognized the right of those who originally produce the wealth as the legitimate right, then this also implies the right to give it away to an heir through gift. Therefore, the alleged worthiness or unworthiness of the heir is logically irrelevant. That section is particularly instructive, because Branden also explains how inheritance does not contribute to economic instability, that one's place on the unhampered market has to continually be earned, and how the inheritance tax tends to aid the second and third generation welfare statists by keeping out rivals, thus hampering the natural market "circulation of elites."
  15. 1 point
    Marc K.

    Broken units, broken men

    I'm glad you noticed. Yes, it is an absolute statement -- I use them whenever I can as I find that they make communication and principled discussion much easier. Rights are absolute. I'm not sure why you would call it "out of context" though. I'm sure you know the context for a discussion of rights but in case someone forgot I named the context: moral and legal. As you have acknowledged Rights are a bridge between morality and politics. Rights pertain only to action (another absolute). Rights sanction the moral actions one must take to survive and thrive and they also delimit the actions others may take with respect to you; they may not initiate force against you. As long as someone acknowledges Rights (implicitly or explicitly) and acts accordingly, then they possess and retain their Rights. When someone decides not to live by these principles and initiates force against you, then they have repudiated the concept and must be considered as outside the boundaries of Rights. They have forfeited their Rights and so they have none that I must respect. This reading conforms much better to the quotes you provided by both Ayn Rand and Tara Smith: "If they demand the violation of the rights of others, they negate and forfeit their own." -- AR from Racism "An individual's rights are always held on the condition that the rightholder respect other's rights, thus throughout, I am leaving aside person who forfeit their rights by violating the rights of others. As long as a person truly possesses rights, however, he is entitled to have them respected..." -- Tara Smith (cited previously) In both you see that persons can "forfeit their rights". And as Tara Smith notes, if a person "possesses rights [then ...] he is entitled to have them respected". So I really can't see how you think these quotes support your position. Also, I find it a little disingenuous that you disagree with what Tara Smith has to say on the subject and then try to use her quotes to support your position. You should just say you disagree and leave it at that instead of trying to manipulate what she says, as you acknowledge doing here: "Little practical difference" is still a difference -- the difference is obvious and is not what she meant, and I think you know that. Rights are moral principles which means they are absolutes within a moral context. So Rights are conditional upon your respect for them, as you acknowledge here in your response to me: But then you contradict yourself not two paragraphs later: I don't have this problem. I say that Rights are absolute (read inalienable) and contextual (read conditional). I say you should never violate anyone's Rights and the criminal is not a problem for me to deal with under this principle. Since he has already violated the principle I know that he has explicitly repudiated it and therefore I won't be violating his Rights when I treat him like the animal that he confesses to be. I take him at his word (or actions) and treat him according to the principles he holds. You, on the other hand, say that rights are inalienable (absolute) and unconditional (non-contextual). So actually I think it is you who are dealing in out of context absolutes. When the slave and the slave-master come to you and ask which one of us is right, you are forced to say "well you both have rights and you do not forfeit them no matter what you do".
  16. 1 point

    Inalienable rights

    The word "free" or "freedom" is contextual, meaning depends on the context the word it is used in (depending on the answer to "free, from what?"), it will mean completely different things. The freedom that's talked about in politics is political freedom, meaning the freedom to conduct certain act without retaliation from the government. You have will have all the freedoms and rights proper to a human begin in a free capitalistic society. But the freedom to enslave other individuals is not one of them, because the physical nature of human doesn't give him the right, the justification, to enslave other humans. The physical nature of human does give him the right and justification to have the right to his own life, the right to own inanimate objects, the right to self-defense..etc. in a society. That's right, it is called immoral by consensus in our day and age. But that's not the reason why it is wrong. Public consensus doesn't make something morally right or wrong. Whether something is morally right or wrong to human is determine solely by the physical nature of human. If the public consensus coincide with what human nature demands, like in this case of condemning slavery as wrong, then the public consensus is correct. If the public consensus deviate with what human nature demands, like in the case of condemning selfishness as immoral, then the public consensus is wrong. And that's one of the biggest flaw in politics today. The politicians thinks the justification for the any political right is the majority consensus, that whatever the majority votes on is right. However, humans are objects with set physical nature just like trees or animals. If you want to grow a plant, whether an action is wrong or right in the path of achieving that goal is solely determined by the nature of that plant. One million people telling you it is right to grow that plant in salted soil doesn't make that action right. The same goes with humans, with people. If you want to create a society proper to humans, it's the same when you want to create an environment proper to a plant. You base what you do on human nature, and human nature is the sole factor in determining whether something is right or wrong. The inalienable rights SHOULD be justified under human nature, by the self-evident. But, the politicians today practice their trade, do it with disgrace and don't.
  17. 1 point

    Psychological Visibility

    Psychological visibility as Thomas was discussing it doesn't mean being admired necessarily, it means being *understood*. It's no good being admired in a vacuum or, worse, being admired for all the wrong reasons. Personally, I prefer constructive critics to admirers--the critics help you learn how to be *better*. Fans are an intellectual dead-end and a drain.
  18. 1 point

    Objectivist Symbol?

    Something like this?
  19. 1 point
    There have been comments regarding the propriety of Professor Norsen's strong wording and the fact that he includes not just a judgment of the merits of the theory, but a judgment of the author. I have no position on the scientific merits of either side, but I do have a position on the propriety of passing moral judgment when someone betrays fundamental intellectual principles. In a scientific debate one ought to challenge the argument and not just the author; and the argument has been challenged. An author can be chastised but forgiven for not rigorously thinking through their assumptions, evidence and logic, but there are basic standards of intellectual integrity which must be met in scholarly research. Betrayal of those standards demands moral condemnation, especially when such betrayal threatens something of great value, namely the credibility of Objectivism in the academic context. Crackpot ideas aren't just quaint, they -- and their promulgaters -- are deserving of moral condemnation, because at best they depend on evasion, if not deliberate and knowing dishonesty. An author must take responsibility for their words, especially when they are published as a book (the fact that the book was not published by a reputable scientific publishing house does not relieve the author of his responsibilities). The words do not just magically appear on the page, the author must knowingly put them there. The act of putting particular words on the page says something about the author himself. In academic scientific writing, it is typically not necessary to express moral outrage at errors in a book since, thanks to the process of peer review, egregious errors have been caught and what remains is the realization that such-and-such assumption may not be well supported, a or particular method of reasoning does not actually produce what it is thought to produce. But we are dealing here with unvetted samizdat, the dissemination of arguments which would not, according to the review, have survived the rigors of critical scrutiny. Read through Professor Norsen's comments again and ask "Does TEW meet at least the minimum standards for publishing in theoretical physics". My understanding of what he is saying is that the book is well below that threshold, that TEW betrays basic intellectual standards. That is the context where condemnation of the author along with condemnation of the author's words is warranted. Ifat, would you please provide your expert first-hand judgment of altonhare's comments. Alternatively, will you please find someone who is a credible research scientist in theoretical physics to defend his statements here? Because physics is a science which I don't know, I must rely on the judgments of others who know the science. Yes, you must trust that the reviewer is himself credible -- you must judge the judge. Then if the judge is found credible, you should not evade the conclusion that he reaches simply because you yourself did not reach that conclusion. Doing that is the subjective approach to science. I seriously doubt that you refuse to believe any experimental results in neuroscience until you have personally replicated the experiment. Trust is essential to scientific progress, which is why a betrayal of trust is such a serious matter.
  20. 1 point

    Inheritance, Monopoly, Etc

    Donnywithana had two main problems, based on the premise: An Objectivist society is a meritocracy. Problem one: Inheritance conflicts with meritocracy. Problem two: Monopolies exists in an Objectivist society - wich conflicts with the idea that this society is a meritocracy. Objectivism proposes a society based on individual rights. Primarily, the political system based on individual rights is concerned not with merit, but with justice. If all men are rational, this will lead to a meritocracy. But this is secondary, and even merit can be interpreted differently, by different men. It is important to note that, once someone acquires property, the sole responsibility for dispensing with that property lies with the owner, whether or not the beneficiary has merit. But merit, in this case, is determined by the benefactor - It is not just to force the benefactor to choose to make decisions regarding the distribution of property after death, using someone else's values. This leaves the benefactor free to make decisions as he sees fit; on non-political, non-economic merit, such as the familial value a father places in a son, if he so chooses. This, I believe, addresses your first problem. Your second problem regarding the monopoly, is based on another the false premise: economic pressure is equivalent to political pressure. In other words, business strategies are tantamount to coercion at gunpoint. True coercive monopolies exist only by government sanction. The only way a company can use force to expand and control it's market share is with government permission, or through government neglect. In an Objectivist society, coercion is banned from economic activity. Example: While one person might be disappointed that he can't sell the best chairs at a high price because of a larger companies business tactics, the consumer will still benefit from cheaper chairs. Isn't a company that sells cheap furniture "getting by on it's merits?" Regardless of how you answer this question, nobody's rights are being violated, and people still have the opportunity to buy higher priced chairs of better quality if they want to. I also suggest reading Objectivist material on the nature of market value. I gave a quick scan of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal but I couldn't find it. If anyone could find that reference it could be helpful for Donny. -Edited for punctuation and clarity.
  21. 1 point
    Capitalism Forever

    Isn't inheritance theft?

    You can decide to donate the goods to him--but then of course you have to pay for them in his stead.
  22. 1 point

    Isn't inheritance theft?

    You're saying that a person who inherits money can't have self-esteem based on what he then goes on to do with it, since he wouldn't have been able to accomplish the same things without it (which I think is arguable, depending on what you mean by accomplishing the same things). But anyone born in an industrial, Western society is already starting out way ahead and can then go on to accomplish things they otherwise wouldn't have been able to if they were born in Iran, or during the Dark Ages, or whatever. It makes absolutely no sense to say that one's self-esteem is invalid if they didn't start from an absolute null point. Nobody starts at an absolute null point. So the issue of how much extra one might inherit, as such, is morally irrelevant. This is just progress. In the case of the thief, however, it's just parasitism. There's a huge difference.
  23. 1 point

    Isn't inheritance theft?

    I will answer as best I can. Correct me if I'm wrong. The difference between starting a business with inherited money and stolen money is that inheriting money involves a person freely giving the money to you while stealing money involves violating rights. Theft is wrong because it violates rights, not because it will damage your happiness in the future. It is wrong to violate rights because it is destructive to human life. Productive achievement is a life-supporting action, an enterprise started with stolen money will be tarnished because it was started with a life-destroying action. You can maintain your self-esteem when using inherited money to start a business. You are still self-reliant because without you the money would be useless. I praise the the man who makes good use of his inheritance because of the value he creates. I condemn the man who steals because this is an immoral action though I may recognise that he has created value with the stolen money. One needs to separate the way the money was obtained and the use to which it was put. Inheriting=neutral Stealing=evil Producing=good Squandering=evil
  24. 0 points

    Is "groupthink" an anti-concept?

    If "groupthink" is not an adequate term to describe this phenomenon, then what would you propose? Slavery. People think of slavery as physical possession of another human being. But it begins with mental possession of another human being. This means indoctrinating someone with a philosophy of evasion and submission.
  25. 0 points
    As sNerd said Rand never said nor implied “Meritocracy” but I also remember a quote where she once remarked that such a thing was discounted immediately due to “the last 5 letters in the name”.