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Eamon Arasbard

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Everything posted by Eamon Arasbard

  1. I think I agree with this basic sentiment. I think that with Trump's election and the influence Steve Bannon appears to have over him (Bannon was directly responsible for legal immigrants green cards almost being deported under Trump's executive order, which Trump signed without reading) we have evidence that the Alt-Right poses a serious threat. But I also agree that promoting better philosophical ideas is the way to defeat them. I actually think that the shifting political environment is a great opportunity for Objectivists and individualists to win support, and shows that there's a better answer to the anti-white, anti-male ideology of the radical left than white nationalism.
  2. I would say that Michael Moore's claims dismissing the evidence are highly dubious. This is a leaked cable from a foreign embassy in Cuba from an organization which has long track record of honest reporting. Claiming that this is some sort of evil plot by politicians to discredit the film makes no sense whatsoever.
  3. This is something I've been thinking about lately, and I'm wondering what other people think of my reasoning here. So, to start with, I think that the statement "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is not only consistent with Objectivism, but required by it. The way I want others to treat me is my own rational evaluation of the way I should be treated as a human being. Logically speaking, this means that it is the same way that every human being should be treated. So by violating this principle, I am acting in a way which is inherently irrational. This would also provide the basis for the existence of rights. We want to be free to choose how to conduct our own lives, so we respect that right for others, and expect the political system to do the same. We want people to respect our right to practice Objectivism, even if they disagree with it, so we respect the rights of Christians to practice Christianity, even though we disagree with it. We want the right topublicly express Objectivist ideas, so we expect society to respect freedom of speech. We want the right to due process, so we defend it even when we suspect someone of having genuinely committed a crime. This principle also exists even in the absense of a likelihood of reciprocity. For instance, there might be a certain group of leftists who are lobbying the government to outlaw Objectivism as "hate speech." A proper adherence to Objectivist principles would require us to respect their right to express their views, even though they want to take away our right to do the same. Individual rights are absolute, even for those who do not respect them. I believe that this would also provide a basis for resolving a key disagreement between Objectivism and libertarianism -- specifically, each philosophy's differing position on the issue of civilian casualties in war. Objectivism holds that civilian casualties are acceptable, because civilians on the enemy side are responsible the actions of their government. Libertarianism holds that killing a bystander while waging war on an aggressor is an act of aggression. Based on my reasoning above, I would say that the libertarian position is correct, and that in the course of self-defense we only have the right to harm individuals directly engaged in acts of aggression against us.
  4. Question: Imagine the situation were reversed, and the woman you love was forced to cut ties with you in order to protect someone else she cared about. Would you have a desire to continue the relationship at that point?
  5. I think my position is pretty much in line with the opinions everyone else on here has expressed. I would not consider it moral to interfere if someone wants to eat their dead cat, but I would consider that action to be profoundly immoral. An animal that someone has an emotional attachment is one of that person's values, and disrespecting the dead animal by eating it "just out of curiosity" is not consistent with upholding one's own values by any stretch of the imagination.
  6. This is something I was thinking about this morning while re-reading Ayn's essay "Collectivized "rights"" which refutes the idea of nations have an intrinsic right to self-determination, and rejects the idea that dictatorships have a right to national sovereignty. Rand uses this as justification for her position that a free nation has a right to declare war on a dictatorship. Rand also rejects the idea that a free nation has a moral obligation to liberate dictatorships, but maintains that a free nation has that right if it serves its self-interest. Presumably, this would mean any time the existence of a dictatorship poses a threat to another nation's freedom. Rand also argued that if a free nation is attacked, and kills innocents in the enemy nation in the process of defending itself, that the aggressor is responsible for their deaths. As a result of this, the nation acting in self-defense is not acting in violation of the NAP. While I accept this argument, I would still argue that the non-agression principle applies to innocents caught in the middle of a war. If they are killed by a nation acting in self-defense, then their deaths are the responsibility of both nations; in some cases, however, it is necessary. However, I find it harder to reconcile this with the NAP if war was declared by a nation that had not yet been attacked. For instance, let's say that before World War II, someone had seen Hitler as a threat and decided to invade Germany. In the process, innocent civilians are killed. I can see how declaring war might have been the right thing to do. There is even some moral argument in favor of it, since the number of innocent deaths would probably be far less than the number of innocents actually killed in the process of bombing Germany during World War II. But how do we reconcile this with the NAP?
  7. It would be immoral if we accept moral absolutism as a standard for how to wage a war. I do agree with you that collateral damage is different from intentional or avoidable killing of innocents, and that it not the moral fault of the party defending itself. What I meant by the statement you quoted is that if we reject the non-aggression principle (Or non-initiation of force) as an absolute constraint on the actions of people fighting a dictatorship, then the best moral principle to follow is utilitarianism, which in this case means minimization of harm. (Though maybe utilitarianism isn't the best term to use, because we are acting on a fundamental moral principle; but upholding justice against a tyrannical government in the way that will cause the least amount of suffering to the people we're trying to help.) I also think, if we accept that it's only moral to use force against aggressors, then any unnecessary collateral damage is a violation of that principle. It may be best for us to stop arguing over this, for now. I'll keep responding to Eiuol, though, and anyone else who comes on and is willing to discuss this topic in a civil manner. I think we both agree that it is unjust for dictators to remain in power, though, and that causing avoidable collateral damage in the process of removing dictators is wrong. Our disagreement seems to be on what 1) we consider to be avoidable collateral damage, and 2) who should make that judgment. Might be good to discuss it another time.
  8. Would you agree that the good of the people being liberated should be the moral goal of any tactic pursued? I don't think you need anyone's consent to take action in that situation, if we're talking about nuclear weapons. This is true, obviously. 5000 people do not have the right to violate the rights of one person. And if we're talking about civilian casualties, then I'd also agree that this adds another dimension. I don't think it makes sense to hold 5000 people who support a dictatorship as innocent, and if their deaths are the only way to secure freedom for those who want it, then I don't think I can morally argue against it. We also can't know specifically where every single person's loyalties lie, especially if we're talking about a dictatorship where anyone who dissents risks getting sent to a concentration camp. But I think the people who would best know would be people who actually live there, which is another moral argument in favor of letting the people living under a dictatorship decide if they want to stage a violent revolution, killing their neighbors in the process, or try to change things peacefully.
  9. Is there a section on this site for discussing history? I wouldn't mind starting a thread somewhere else to discuss some of the history behind U.S. foreign policy.
  10. http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/retaliatory_force.html This is what the non-aggression principle. Not pacifism.
  11. Utilitarianism is the belief that happiness should be maximized by sacrificing the good of a few to the good of the majority. The reason it's generally immoral is because it holds the sacrifice of some people to others as virtuous. But in the situation we're talking about, it's impossible to act without sacrificing some people, so I think in a situation like that it's best to take whatever course of action will lead to the least amount of suffering. If we reject utilitarianism in this situation, then we have to follow the same moral principle that we would follow under normal circumstances -- namely, the non-aggression principle. This would imply that it is immoral to do anything that will lead to collateral damage. But I think we all agree that that's impossible. I agree with this, but they should be brought down in a way that will be minimize suffering. If that means staging peaceful demonstrations, then that's the appropriate response. If it means declaring open war in order to protect protestors from being bulldozed by tanks, then I have no objection to that. And I think that any dictator, once removed from power, should be prosecuted for their crimes. But I think it's important to understand the reason why justice is a virtue. Justice (Including retaliation against evildoers) is necessary in order to protect the values which evil people pose a threat to -- the most fundamental value being human life itself. But if the actions we're taking are themselves destructive to human life, then we are not acting justly. If your own government is violating the rights of others, then they also pose a threat to your rights. But a foreign dictatorship does not (Currently) have control over you, so your life is not affected by how they treat their subjects. Yes, and I appreciate the fact that you have, although my own philosophical understanding of this issue has evolved a bit since my "Golden Rule" thread. Yes, if it is unavoidable. I think I agree with that. But I think you also realize that the criminal justice has to conform to certain moral constraints to avoid harming innocent people when it is avoidable. In the case of the criminal justice system, this is done by placing restraints on the legal system's ability to punish, and I think we need an analogous set of constraints on our foreign policy to prevent innocent deaths from military actions which are unnecessary. I would argue that the government does have an obligation to protect my rights. They have assumed that obligation by claiming a monopoly on the use of force. Yes, there is a selfish motivation, for someone who lives under the same legal regime that I do. If a violation of one person's rights (Whether by the government or by a criminal) take place within a country, then by allowing that to stand unchallenged, others are surrendering their own rights. Yes, because we don't have to live under the laws imposed by the government of North Korea, as long as we are able to maintain a strong military that can protect us against being invaded by North Korea.
  12. What I view as playing God is deciding that we have a right to look at a situation in another country, and judge that the lives of some people can be sacrificed for a greater good (Liberating the country from a dictator) and then start a war which will lead to innocent casualties. I'll admit that I'm still working out my position on this (Which is why I originally started this thread), but I think I've come to a position which is a bit more exact. The issue of a nation's sovereignty, and the right to life of the people living there, are two entirely separate issues. If we declare a preemptive war against a free country which has not attacked anyone, it's not just the civilians we're killing unjustly; it's also the soldiers whose job it is to protect the freedom of the people living there. However, if we declare war on a dictatorship, the soldiers who die on the other side are dying because they're defending a regime which oppresses its own people, so they are not victims of aggression. This is where Rand's argument against applying the right to sovereignty to dictatorships is relevant. The issue of civilian deaths is a separate issue. Any unnecessary deaths of civilians in any war constitute a violation of the NAP. This includes both deliberate targeting of innocents in an otherwise just war, and starting a war which is unnecessary which leads to collateral damage. But we do have a right to declare preemptive war on any dictatorship that we have an objective reason to believe pose a threat, because it has given up any right to sovereignty by oppressing its own people. In order for freedom to exist, people need to create some institution to protect their rights, including protection against outside invasion. In today's world, governments are the institution that exist for this purpose. Nations are better able to maintain just governments when they remain free from outside interference. While this position doesn't apply to dictatorships, this doesn't change the fact that their subjects still have rights, and free nations have an obligation to respect them, even if their own governments do not. As far as a rebellion within the territory controlled by a dictator, the leaders of the revolt also have an obligation to respect the rights of their fellow countrymen, which means they should seek nonviolent means of overthrowing their government, if possible. They have a moral right to use violence only if the innocent casualties will be less than would die in a peaceful revolution. (For instance, if there's a choice between staging peaceful demonstrations to bring down a regime, and launching an inurrection, and the number of civilian casualties from a violent uprising is less than the number of people who be crushed by tanks if they tried marching in the streets.) If no one is revolting, however, then I don't think another country has a right to initiate war because of the innocents who will die in the process. That's only justified in order to save the lives of other innocents. As far as a foreign country getting involved in the scenario I just mentioned, I don't think I'd consider that to be an act of aggression in itself. If there was a violent revolution in Cuba, I would probably be in favor of sending troops down there, because Cuba is along our border, and we would probably be more secure if they were liberated. But if there isn't a strategic benefit to helping a rebellion in another country (Like in Libya or Syria) then I would consider intervention to be an act of altruism, and also dangerous because as a general policy it will likely lead to imperialism, even if the initial intentions are benevolent.
  13. I think that if you're going to wage war and kill many of the same people you're fighting on behalf of, you need consent from at least as many people as will die as collateral damage in the attack. I don't think we have a right to make that decision on behalf of other people. I agree, if there's reason to think your own rights are in danger. Do you think there is any legitimate reason for someone to turn against you if you kill their family as collateral damage in a war to liberate their country?
  14. I think that equating corporations with human beings is absurd, and writing that into the law as justification for the contractual rights of private individuals discredits capitalism. I also think it's immoral for the government to force non-consenting third parties to submit to liability limitation agreements. And if a corporation does something that violates another person's rights, then everyone within the corporation who is responsible for this action needs to be held accountable. While regulations should be abolished, it is appropriate to have laws against fraud and infringements on property rights, and these laws need to be enforced against businesses.
  15. I agree with you on Hitler, because he posed a threat to the rest of Europe and the free world. What I disagree with is the position that we have a right to assume the role of savior and attack other countries, killing innocents in the process, because we think it's better for the people living there. I think I agree with that to the extent that the aggressor's ability to get away with their crimes poses a threat to the freedom of others. National sovereignty doesn't create that barrier. The non-aggression principle does, because of the innocents who will die in the process of waging a war. There are, however, situations where it is necessary to wage war in defense of a free nation, and in those situations, the deaths of innocents on the other side are the responsibility of the government which is threatening the freedom of its neighbors. The war against Germany was an act of self-defense, while the war in Vietnam was a war which was fought for altruistic reasons. So it was immoral whether or not it was better for the people of Vietnam to be liberated. The three questions you mentioned are whether a military action is justified under particular circumstances, whether it is rendered immoral if there's a risk of innocent casualties, and whether specific actions taken within the context of a conflict are justified. There's also the question of how the tyrannical nature of an enemy government affects the morality of the war being waged. I would argue that the first two questions are closely related. If the actions of the enemy pose a threat to our survival as a free country, and it is necessary to take actions that will lead to collateral damage to protect ourselves, then I think it is better to kill a few people living in a dictatorship, who have no hope of living free lives in their own country, than to be enslaved ourselves. However, I do not believe that this argument is appropriate if the existing dictatorship does not pose a threat to us. Personally, if we were living under a dictatorship, I would be willing to give my life in order to see it destroyed. But I don't think we have a right to make this decision for other people in situations which do not affect us. I think that this addresses the issue of the enemy state being a dictatorship. And as far as particular actions taken within the context of a conflict, if a mission can be completed without civilian casualties, then it is a violation of the non-aggression principle to take any actions which will lead to the deaths of innocents. Otherwise, I think it's best to accept that there is no way to avoid innocent deaths, and focus as much as possible on protecting the lives of our own troops. (I think I can make a solid philosophical point why reducing our own military casualties should take precedence over reducing civilian casualties in this type of situation; but I'd like to stay on topic.) That's not the argument I'm trying to make here. I don't believe that Hitler or Ho Chi Minh had any rights under the circumstances, but the people forced to live under them had a fundamental right to life which all free nations had an obligation to respect. Morally, I'd say if there's enough people still trapped there who want to be liberated that they would exceed the number of people who would be killed in the process of liberation, then that's enough to justify intervention. (I hate even this position, because it's still sacrificing some lives for others; but it's the least of all evils.) As far as how formal the process should be, I'd say we should have enough intelligence to establish that the rebels are genuinely fighting for freedom. I'd say that this decision should be left up to military experts, with oversight from people who can ensure that the decision is made according to the correct moral principles. Well, in line with my previous paragraph, it would depend on whether the number of people threatened by your government's actions exceeded the number of people who would be killed in an attack. Ideally, I would say that any nation has the right to intervene, if there's enough evidence to establish that this is the appropriate course of action. In practice, I think it's dangerous to trust any government with the right to make that judgment. No, I don't think it would. If they pose a threat to our town, we should take them out. I think we would be justified in coming to the aid of a neighboring town that was already taking up arms in its own defense as well. However, I don't think it would be appropriate to go around the desert running down gangs if it would lead to innocent bystanders being killed. The number of people killed in the Holocaust probably exceeded the number of innocent people who would be killed in that situation. I think that addresses all the points you made in your last post. Let me know if I've missed anything.
  16. I don't have time to do a full response right now, but I do want to clarify one point: I don't think isolationism was the right policy toward Hitler, and I agree with you that any free nation which he posed a threat to at that point had a right to take him out. In general I think isolationism is the ideal policy to follow, but I agree with Rand that we have a right to take out any dictator if it serves our own national interest.
  17. Yes. Yes in both cases. But these are cases where the threat of harming your wife or another victim of an attack would not be likely to harm the person you're defending in the process. No, he did not have a right to use force against them. Neither did the Vietnamese government have a right to use force against its own people. But the people of Vietnam did have a right to decide how to respond to the force being used. In practice, I would say that this means anyone living in Vietnam who wanted freedom had a right to declare war on the government. However, it would be against the self-interest of a single individual (Or small group of individuals) to do this on their own. I think in this case, if the rebels solicited help from a foreign government, then it would be morally permissible for that government to intervene on their behalf, if it was in the self-interest of the people of that nation. (I do not believe that this was the case in Vietnam.) In theory, I would also agree that anyone in the free world has the right to annihilate the government of a dictatorship, if they could do it without collateral damage. However, this would not be practical in reality, so we're back to the moral issue of a third party playing God in a situation which does not affect them. We have a right to fight censorship and any move toward totalitarianism by our own government, violently if necessary. But I don't think that principles you cited extends to other countries, because what happens in those countries does not concern us. The one circumstance under which I would agree with you would be if there was an objective set of international laws to enforce individual rights in every nation on Earth. I don't think this would be possible (At least under the Objectivist theory of government) without transferring sovereignty to an organization like the UN, which I think would be more likely to threaten freedom in the long term. I think some historians have postulated that the re-arming of the Rhineland was the point where it should have been clear that Hitler intended to wage war on the rest of Europe. Certainly his nationalistic rhetoric, his stated hatred of the West, and his rebuilding of the German military under the regime he had created was good reason to think that war was likely. When he annexed Austria, that definitely should have been a hint that he intended to wage war. Not necessarily. Germany did end up posing a threat to the United States due to the inability of the European nations to deal with him sooner. On the other hand, it was the League of Nations which not only did nothing, but was actively complicit through its policy of appeasement, and the suffering which Europe experienced as a result was a consequence of that. I'm not sure if it would have been appropriate for America to send troops to Europe to give their lives fixing a situation which Europe was responsible for. Probably the best policy would be for us to have anticipated the threat and done a better job of preparing militarily to defned our own borders. (In actual reality, we were producing ships for the British fleet and sending them across the Atlantic, and pretty much single-handedly supplying the naval operations against the German fleet in the Atlantic; and there was a period when Germany was getting close to defeating our fleet, isolating England, and gaining control over the Atlantic, which could very well have led to us losing the war. I think helping England was the right thing to do, but them situation would have been better if we'd prepared sooner.)
  18. Rand was the one who came up with the non-aggression principle. DonAnthos quotes her stating it above, I think from somewhere in The Virtue of Selfishness. What's confusing is that Hitler at that point had not committed any acts of aggression against the people who were defending themselves, but only against his own people. And many of the same Germans who were being victimized by Hitler would be the same people dying in the attack. Whereas the attack carried out against Germany would not have been carried out on behalf of Hitler's victims, but as an effort by other countries to prevent future aggression. I can see how it would be in the self-interest of the people of Germany to see Hitler removed from power. At the same time, I view any war declared against a country that does pose any objective threat to its neighbors as grotesquely evil, even if it is a dictatorship, in part because of the innocents who will die in the attack. (The war in Vietnam would be an example.) I guess the moral issue may not lie with the issue of collateral damage itself versus the benefit to the people of the nation being liberated. In both Germany and Vietnam, the people may or may not have wanted to be liberated at the expense of the collateral damage which would be necessary in the process. In Germany, however, the fact that Hitler remained in power posed a direct threat to the free nations of Europe, while there is no evidence that Vietnam posed any threat whatsoever to the United States. A country like Libya would another situation, where some of the population were engaged in a violent revolt against a totalitarian regime. However, the United States did not have any evidence at that point in time that the rebels actually had an intention of creating a regime on individual rights. (And from my knowledge of Libya's politics since then, this has not happened.) However, we were still bombing the country and causing collateral damage, when there was no reason to think that Libya posed any threat to our own interests. And of course it's also morally wrong to sacrifice our soldiers in wars of altruism. But the impact on the civilian population of the country being attacked should not be discounted as a moral issue either. I would also argue that the killing of innocents in Vietnam was a violation of the non-aggression principle, because while a free nation has the right to defend itself, it does not have the right to play God and allocate the right to life and death in a situation which does not concern the safety of its own people.
  19. This video shows the context of Rand's quote about the Indians, beginning at the fifteen minute mark. I think that the quote sounds much less extreme when taken out of context. (Versus the original, which does sound like she's advocating genocide.)
  20. I think I agree with this, as well as the rest of SoftwareNerd's post. If he's someone you're capable of having a healthy friendship with, then he is probably fundamentally a rational person. It sounds like this issue is an emotional trigger for him, and it might be best to just drop the subject instead of creating conflict in your relationship. If you want to convert him to Rand's ideas, I'd suggest starting on a different topic where he might be more receptive. Crony "capitalist" corporate feudalism might be a good place to start. It's also the most likely avenue to seeing that the welfare system is immoral, since it shows that it would be unnecessary in a true free market.
  21. I don't think it's likely that nuclear weapons will be necessary. What we have to do in order to figure out if ISIS poses a big enough threat for it to be necessary both to stay there, and to bomb more aggressively. If there's a risk that ISIS could become a powerful enough threat to pose a danger to the West, then we next need to weigh the cost of civilian deaths against both the current threat posed by ISIS, and the potential future threat. If we can take ISIS out now without collateral damage, then we should do it. If there's a risk that ISIS might expand if we don't escalate our bombing campaign, then we need to change strategies. Sending troops in to fight ISIS on the ground, and decreasing the risk of civilian casualties, would be ideal. But it's better to act aggressively now if it means avoiding a worse conflict later. I would also say that there needs to be more participation from the international community if we're going to defeat ISIS. America shouldn't have to be the world's policemen. Other countries which ISIS poses a threat to need to pull their weight as well. I also think that our long-term goal should be peace in the Middle East, and in the short term we should work toward cooperation with other countries there to defeat ISIS. (While I agree with Rand that we have a right to attack any dictatorship if it makes us safer, I don't think this is the case when it comes to being engaged in war in the Middle East in the long term.) Edit: There's a further moral issue as well. ISIS is not a government in any sense. It is not something that was established by any state authority, or any entity which was willingly given any legitimacy by the general population of the territories it controls. It's a terrorist organization which has conquered land within existing nation-states using brute force. So I don't know if the argument that they are morally responsible for civilian deaths caused in the course of defending the West would apply in the same way as if they were an established government that had turned into a dictatorship. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the U.S. government's own foreign policy failures are partly responsible for creating ISIS -- both by messing up in Iraq, and creating an unstabled political situation, and by lending both moral and material support to the rebels in Syria, many of whom are now the core of ISIS's fighting force.
  22. Yes, I would end any relationship that I had with a woman who tried that on me.
  23. I don't think there's any question that a woman hitting a man should morally be treated the same as a man hitting a woman. Society's opinion doesn't enter into it. It also used to be socially acceptable to treat blacks as inferior, and I don't think it's unfair at all to say that double standards on violence between men and women fall into the same category. The only moral issues that seem to be relevant here, are the issue of retaliation, and how it should be handled with regard to differences in physical strength. I would agree that personally retaliating against someone is immoral if the police are willing to intervene on your side. In the case of a woman hitting a man, it is likely that the police will simply ignore the situation because of the double standard. However, I also think that retaliating would also be against your self-interest, because you're likely to end up in jail. Of course if someone is an ongoing threat to you, then you should retaliate. Assuming that someone weaker than you attacks you, I would agree that the moral thing to do would be to restrain them, and retaliate if the attack happens again. Ideally, what I'd do if a woman attacks you is pin her down and tell her that if she tries that again you'll knock her to the ground. The relevant question then is whether or not you'll be able to defend yourself in court if you follow through. I would also ask that whoever you're with or whoever owns the premises that this is happening on throw her out. If they fail to do so, then you should leave, because they're acting on a double standard and in the process implicitly condoning violence against you, because you're enabling that behavior by continuing to associate with them, and because you're placing your physical safety in danger by sticking around.
  24. Yes, I agree that there should be more room for discussion about appropriate uses of violence, and the extent to which using violence is appropriate in self-defense. But this first means accepting that pacifism is not the answer. If someone attacks you, you have a right to fight back and do what you have to do to neutralize the threat. I'd even take this beyond the realm of physical force and apply to abusive behavior in social interactions. Always stand up for yourself, even if it means making a scene. (Although if you're in a work environment, it might be more appropriate to talk to your manager.) I think part of it also has to do with double-standards between men and women. People tend to view violence committed against women differently than violence committed against men.
  25. Was Rice actually trained in martial arts, though? He was of course stronger than her, but that doesn't mean he would have the skills to stop her from attacking him without knocking her out. The other thing to consider is whether or not she was continuing to attack him after the initial altercation, or if she just lost her temper and had thrown one blow at him. If it was the latter, he could probably have talked her down after pinning her down. If it was the latter, then he had a right to continue defending himself, by knocking her out if necessary. The worst-case scenario is that he over-reacted unnecessarily, in which case his actions were immoral. But that does not change the fact that she was the aggressor, and the author's dismissal of that fact as an "excuse" is disingenuous.