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  1. 1 point

    Global Warming

    Yes, but it isn't clear if someone like him would make a difference to general public-opinion on the topic today.
  2. 1 point
    It may be useful to look at some more arbitrary statements which might actually be true: “Easy Truth has red hair”; “StrictlyLogical is 6 ft. tall”, “Invictus2017 owns a Ford Explorer”. Each of these statements does, on linguistic grounds, either describe a fact, or else it describes a non-fact – they are objectively true or false. But I personally have no basis in knowledge for making those statements, and they do not contitute the recognition of a fact of reality. They differ from Peikoff’s parrot or sand message examples where there is no proposition (the thing you see or hear merely physically resembles what could be speech or writing in another context). His savage math example needs to be modified since it is unclear what his point is, so I’ll rewrite that as an illiterate and innumerate person uttering the sentence “the fourth power of 3 is 81” (you can say this based on experience, without understanding what it means, since in English, you can put words like “second, fourth” before “power” and follow that with another number). This statement too is arbitrary, and in that context it is like the parrot utterance in that the person utters the word “power” without grasping what that term refers to. In fact, I would not even call the sand / parrot / savage math examples “statements”. So compare my examples to Peikoff’s “soul survives”, “fate determined by date of birth”, “sixth sense” and “convention of gremlins”. In those examples, the arbitrariness of the statement largely depends on the fact that the statements presuppose the existence of entities for which there is no evidence. In my examples, all of the concepts involved do unquestionably exist: I just made up relations between actual existents, without any factual basis for claiming those relationships. Arbitrary statements are not necessarily utterly devoid of relationship to reality, because they can refer to actual existents and invoke no mythical entities. In How we know, Binswanger has an extended analysis of “arbitrary”, which you may find clarifies the nature of the arbitrary. "Global warming" (which is nowadays not even a statement, it's just a noun phrase assumed to represent some statement), is an example of the arbitrary: it is asserted as self-evident, needing no evidence.
  3. 1 point
    No. So long as a statement is arbitrary, "imaginable" -- other than in a fictive sense -- is not relevant. It's a category mistake. The only thing you can do with an arbitrary statement is to find something, some relationship to your context of knowledge, that makes the statement non-arbitrary. Only then can you properly talk about whether the thing is imaginable or possible. I'd say that if someone brings an arbitrary statement into a discussion, you should ignore it. I'm pretty sure that that's what Peikoff meant. But this doesn't mean that you must ignore them in every possible circumstance. You may, as I suggested earlier, look for something that makes the statement non-arbitrary. "Arbitrary" applies to statements; "floating abstractions" to concepts. What they have in common is that neither has a relationship to one's context of knowledge. I note that SL suggests a gradation of "floating" in floating abstractions. There's a similar gradation in "arbitrary". The distinction here is between abstract classification and practical thinking. A statement is either arbitrary or it is not, a concept is either a floating abstraction or it is not. But you may not know which without thinking about it. So, in that sense, you can legitimately work with arbitrary statements or floating abstractions and even treat them temporarily as legitimate. But only to ascertain their relationship, if any, to your context of knowledge.
  4. 1 point
    There is a distinction to be made between a floating abstraction and the arbitrary. You can arrive at a floating abstraction in your mind, without accepting any arbitrary statements, by accepting statements without judgment, or holding concepts before you have tied them to reality. E.g. Someone first introduces you to "justice" before you have the conceptual framework or experience for you to fit it into your hierarchy of concepts. As a word, a part of the language, you keep a tenuous hold on it in the framework of semantics, without really understanding (before validly forming) a concept of justice. So you speak with other people using the word "justice"... perhaps accept what other say about "justice" and what it means and how it relates to other concepts, but until you go through the exercise of thinking, and until your concept finally has some attachment to a part of your (valid) knowledge, it remains "floating". Holding a concept as floating temporarily is not necessarily a vice... sometimes it is a necessary stage, prior to your integration of it. Rationally you "should" (according to prioritization of time, effort, and your value hierarchy etc.) decide how important the concept is to your life, and if it is important, to undergo the process of thinking required to anchor it to knowledge. Observe the statement about "justice" might not have been arbitrary, indeed it could have been true. Suppose, having never really thought of politics or even ethics, you heard it directly from, say Leonard Peikoff, and your closest family and trusted friends, all of whom told you they thought very long and hard about it, and even provided you with an explanation tied to reality, which, unfortunately you could not fully understand... yet. You can see some basis but cannot form all the connections. You also have independently judged the quality of thought of these people based on other claims they have made. Here there is at least some evidence for the statement, i.e. that it is not arbitrary, and sweeping it from your mind would be a mistake. [[If you insist on personally re-investigating the sum of human knowledge in every minute detail ALL THE TIME, and expecting omniscience for validating knowledge, you would never take any medication, step on any plane, or do anything which involved ANY INFINITESIMAL LEVEL of dependence or trust on others knowledge of reality. Rational trust in something someone says is not blind faith in a statement which is arbitrary, but an assessment of everything you know about, reality, the person, and what they have said]] Here, the concept "justice" could be a floating abstraction for a time, but with the kinds of non-arbitrary statements of Peikoff, you could start thinking about it, chewing and building the ladder of abstractions connecting justice to reality until the concept is no longer floating. In the final equation the hierarchy of knowledge is yours, thinking is something you do by yourself, and the knowledge you build must be built by your own mind. In a sense, a floating abstraction is not (yet?) a validly formed concept (contextually for you), but there is enough evidence not to dismiss it altogether...i.e. that although you have not yet gone through the process of conceptualization and integration, there is some indication or evidence that it is a valid concept capable of integration. Of course you might conclude after enough thought and weighing of evidence that a floating abstraction is actually an invalid and arbitrary concept. The arbitrary is not so much a floating abstraction as an invalid concept, a concept for which no evidence exists, i.e. which was reached entirely arbitrarily. This bespeaks Rand's genius in her naming of it.
  5. 1 point
    This is incorrect. "Arbitrary" has nothing to do with truth or falsity, possibility or impossibility. Like floating abstractions (see the recent discussion), arbitrary propositions have no connection to reality; they're mere concatenations of words that follow the syntactic rules of propositions. Assertions about truth and possibility (or their absence) are about knowledge. If a statement is not knowledge, it is a category mistake to even ask if the statement is true or possible; it is the same sort of error as asking if a concept has polkadots. So, before wondering if a statement is possible, you must first know that the statement is some kind of knowledge. Knowledge is the product of integrations of percepts. A statement that does not derive from percepts is not knowledge. Now, we have the notion of "the matrix" from science fiction (and earlier), but no percepts from which one might derive the possibility that such a thing is more than fiction. Without that, it is simply an error to ask if "the matrix" is possible. "But that's not satisfying!" Awww. Poor baby.
  6. 1 point
    Permission is not required for a person to leave premises, not under an Objectivist view of rights or indeed anywhere in the world. It may be impolite to just walk out on a host, but that is a matter of civility and does not get entangled with issues of rights. Permission is required to enter, and once granted it can be withdrawn. This stems from the fact that the property owner has a right to his property, meaning he can do what he wants to with it: you need my permission to use my property. The owner controls the property, not the people on it, so permission cannot be required to depart. I don’t know what you mean by owning the information that you have, but under a fairly literal interpretation of the expression, this is simply false that societies may decide that you initially “own” all the information you have. If I know (am in possession of the information) that gas is $3.18 at the Quickymart, I do not have the exclusive and enforcible right to know that fact: the mind of others cannot be forced. Intellectual property laws do grant a person the exclusive right to certain intangible things that can be classified as a kind of information. It may be that some dictatorships will use force to get a person to divulge information, but this is not a matter of “owning information”, it is simply a reflection of the fact that dictatorships are not concerned with the concept of rights. It appears that you’re trying to resolve the matter of subpoenas by reference to “permission”, “contract” and “ownership of information”, and I think that is a serious mistake. First, information cannot be owned. Second, contracts are voluntary agreements, and force negates all contractual concepts: a subpoena is an in involuntary requirements imposed by force, and thus is entirely outside the domain of concepts of permission and contract. There is no contract or other agreement involved when you live in the US, or any other country. The concept of privacy is fundamentally about property (see A. Peikoff The right to privacy), and contracts become relevant only to the extent that once may negotiate away some of one’s “right to privacy” by contractually relinquishing some control over your property. Subpoenas do not involve contracts, so the concept of privacy is irrelevant to an analysis of the subpoena issue. In an Objectivist country, you will probably voluntarily pay for legal protection, but that is not a requirement; there is no agreement involved when it comes to the protection of your rights by the government. You do not enter into a contract with the government: that is the anarcho-capitalist view, that there would be no real governments, there would be competing vigilante squads that you would choose between to enforce your particular view of your “rights”. In the Objectivist view, you may lose your right to invoke the concept “rights” (and thus the claim to protection) if you have been living like a predatory animal, denying the concept of rights to others. Failing to comply with a subpoena is not a violation of anyone’s rights, and it is consistent with your right to act freely as long as you respect the rights of others.
  7. 1 point

    Rubin on Rogan on Rand

    Dave Rubin was recently featured on Rogan's podcast, which Yaron has expressed that he wants to go on. Rogan, if you don't know, has one of the highest rated podcasts out there. Rogan has also stated that (1) he doesn't like it when people suggest to him about having someone on, if people keep asking it annoys him and he doesn't want to have that person on, and (2) he doesn't like anyone who is too doctrinaire about anything. When I suggested this to Yaron (in chat) his response was "well I'm not doctrinaire." I'm positive Joe will not see it that way. Joe is really averse to principles, I have a feeling he equates "nuance" with concrete-boundness. But apparently Joe enjoys Peter Schiff and has had him on multiple times. (If you watch those you'll see what I'm talking about.) Anyways: Relevant part is at about 2:05:00 ish. The background is Rogan saying that we have to have government regulation because people won't build houses correctly. Rubin suggests that he doesn't think that implies government regulation, but Rogan is having none of it. People aren't inherently benevolent and so will try to bilk as much as possible out of the next guy, so there will be much more hazardous construction without regulation. Rubin suggests this isn't the only way to organize things, but admits he doesn't really have a good argument. [My transcript guaranteed to not be 100% accurate] Rubin: You know who should have on to talk about this, and I know people have looped you in before, is Yaron Brook from Ayn Rand Institute cause he's really good on this. Rogan: No one's looped me in with him. Maybe they have, but I haven't paid attention to that. Rubin: I'll hook you up, I'll be happy to do that, he's a really interesting guy that has moved my thinking a little bit on this. Rogan: Those Ayn Rand people, they're really fucking harsh. Rubin: They like ideas, man. Rogan: Those are... They're.... Pssssss.....[shakes head] yeah. Rubin: They're not the most fun people on the planet, but I generally like them, cause they just want, they're kind of live and let live. That's really it, that's really the crux of it. Pretty much. Rogan: Is that really the crux of it though? Rubin: Yeah. Rogan: People think that there's like a cruelty aspect to it, though, the Ayn Rand philosophy. Rubin: Well, they believe in rational self-interest. Which, if you say "self," people think you're evil. But we all basically operate in rational self-interest all the time. Rogan: Right, but espousing it, that's the thing. It's like proclaiming it, that's what makes people go "ohhhh," you're essentially setting up the Gordon Gekko idea, that "greed is good." Rubin: Yeah, I kinda buy into that idea. Rogan: Do you buy into "greed is good"? Rubin: Yeah, basically. Not greed to destroy the word, but if you, Joe, do what is good for you, by extension... Rogan: Right but is that greed? Or is that ambition? Rubin: Right, exactly, that's my point. Rogan: That's where it gets conflated, isn't it? Rubin: Right, so without whittling it to the definition of greed versus ambition, it's like you do what is good for you, but it doesn't mean you're just running this rampaging program to destroy the world in the name of Joe Rogan, you're doing what's good for you because you actually like your audience and you want them to learn, you want to have money so that your family can live in a house that you can afford, so that you can send your kids to good schools and all of those things. That's all rational self-interest. If, at the same time, you're running a nuclear power plant, and you're Mr Burns, and you're dumping in the river, well no, that's actually no longer rational self-interest because you're polluting the very environment you live in. Rogan: Who takes care of that, who regulates that? Is that where government comes in? Who gets you in trouble, in your opinion, if you're this deregulation guy, who goes after you when you dump shit into the river? Rubin: I'm not saying there should be no regulation, I'm just saying I generally like this line of thinking. [...they discuss how there's ways to may money through green entrepreneurship] Rogan: What's the solution if someone pollutes? If you're not gonna have regulation, what is the solution when someone does something that's illegal? Rubin replies basically that it's not as if you get rid of regulations and then every businessmen everywhere just goes, "ah finally, let's dump into the rivers!" and that if someone did, it's easy to catch, and that there are more market-friendly ways of doing things. Rogan remains unconvinced and just thinks not having laws wouldn't stop people (which he equates to Rubin's position.) Anyways, comments, deconstructions, analysis?
  8. 1 point
    Ninth Doctor

    Rubin on Rogan on Rand

    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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  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

    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."
  14. 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".
  15. 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.
  16. 1 point

    Objectivist Symbol?

    Something like this?
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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
  21. 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”.