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Eamon Arasbard

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  1. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Szalapski in Existence exists.   
    Alright. I think my questions have been answered. I was under the mistaken impression that Rand considered her metaphysical axioms alone sufficient to establish that the reality we percieve exists independent of the mind.
  2. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Ilya Startsev in What are the similarities between Rand and Nietzsche?   
    I have read a little bit of Nietzche's work, and I've found his to be rather amoral. He rejected free will entirely, and believed as a result that someone who was truly wise would recognize that there was no distinction between good and bad, and that everyone's actions were just the predetermined result of their nature -- thus, someone like Hitler would not really be responsible for the atrocities he committed, and it is foolish to condemn him or to see creators of value as superior to Nazi oppressors. He also had a contemptuous attitude toward morality, and my understanding is that he did, in fact, want to see the "masters" trample on the slaves as punishment for the slaves' choice to believe in a moral code, and as a reward for the masters' ruthless pursuit of (What Nietzche would consider) their own self-interest. He also regarded all morality as socially prescribed, and nothing more than the will of the strong imposed on the weak, and did not recognize any possibility of an objective morality based on the value of human life.
     
     
    I believe that Nietzche preferred masters because he saw them as strong due to their willingness to coerce the slaves into obedience.
     
    I haven't found much of value in Nietzche's works. I suppose he deserves some credit for his recognition that altruism was wrong. But his response, like Rand's, should have been to construct a new moral code based on self-interest which recognized the right to life of all human beings. What he created instead was a blank check to trample on human life, in order to satisfy one's own whims at the expense of others.
  3. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in The dilemma of choosing empathy   
    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?
  4. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from StrictlyLogical in Metaphysical Probability vs. Epistemological Probability & Ignoran   
    I think that the distinction between metaphysical and epistemological probability makes sense. In the case of the bag of marbles, metaphyisical probability applies to the consequences of one's future actions, specifically reaching into the bag and grabbing a particular marble.
     
    I also think that making this distinction can help to resolve the conflict between quantum mechanics and Objectivism, as well as people on the other side who try to use QM to jusitify primacy of consciousness. The position and velocity of a particle is a matter of metaphyisical probability, which is determined when the particle is "measured" -- in other words, when it interacts with other particles. This measurement will be the same, regardless of whether there is any consciousness present to observe it, so there is no conflict with primacy of existence.
  5. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from softwareNerd in The Objectivist Ethics   
    Hey, sorry I've been away from this thread for a while. I got distracted, then I was busy with school and work.
     
    Rereading this thread, I think my understanding of both passages is much clearer. Work is the central purpose of one's life, but this is not the same thing as the ultimate purpose. It basically just means that work has to be one's main priority, while one's ultimate purpose is happiness.
     
    And as for the difference between self-sustaining and self-generated action, self-sustaining means that you can continue to do it consistently, and it will facilitate your survival. Self-generated means generated by one's own will in pursuit of one's happiness.
     
    Now, to answer SoftwareNerd's last post:
     
     
    Yes. So "life" really means "life in a manner natural to the specific organism in question." (Which I think is part of what Rand was discussing in her essay.) So for a lion, this means roaming the savannah hunting down prey to feed itself. Happiness (Broadly described, to include animals) is the degree to which an animal is able to live its life to fullest extent of its natural capacity.
     
     
    That seems pretty straightforward. If man's means of survival is his mind, then curiosity enhances human survival by driving man to engage his mind to the fullest extent of his ability. I also think that humans have greater emotional needs because our emotions are driven by the knowledge that we've integrated with our minds, and satisfying our emotions means increasing the health of our minds and increasing our chances at survival.
     
     
    I think that biologists explain this through the human instinct toward the preservation of the species -- or, if you want to follow the "selfish gene" model, then the individual is seeking to spread his own genes, and this can be done more efficiently through socialization, in other words developing the instinct to seek cooperation with others. I actually watched a documentary recently by Richard Dawkins explaining how, due to the way game theory works, genes which are oriented toward cooperation are more likely to survive.
     
    In fact, the most successful strategy for survival is to cooperate with other individuals at the start, and, going forward, to seek either cooperation or conflict based on the other individual's actions, and traits like empathy and the desire for cooperation are a result of evolution to favor this strategy. Which is interesting, because that's exactly what Objectivism says it is moral for individuals to do -- act benevolently at the start, then treat the other person as they deserve to be treated going forward, all in accordance with one's rational self-interest. So humans are actually biologically predisposed to practice Objectivist ethics.
     
    Relating this to the Peace Corp, you feel good after volunteering because you are acting in a manner consistent with your nature as a cooperative being.
  6. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Severinian in Innocents dying, ethics   
    I would like to clarify one point here -- yes, it is true that murdering an innocent person would make you feel horrible, and this would be the immediately percievable reason not to do it. However, this does not establish why it is rational to feel empathy -- ignoring this point means assuming that psychopaths are more rational than the general population.
     
    The reason why empathy is rational is because human cooperation is metaphysically necessary for survival, and this means recognizing and respecting the inherent humanity of others. In the scenario you described, you would be violating the conditions under which humans can be guaranteed peaceful coexistence, and this would be a breach of social ethics for this reason. It is also worth noting that this situation would be extremely unlikely to occur, but if it were, then you could be the one whose kidneys had to be stolen next time, so you would be lending moral sanction to your own murder. If the universe worked that way, then everyone would basically be screwed anyway, so moral principles wouldn't carry much weight.
     
    In our universe, you would always have a chance of someone finding out what you would have done, and would have to take action to prevent that from ever happening. You and your partner would have to spend the rest of your lives in fear of being caught, and this would affect your ability to live your lives the way you would want to. (And if you were the types of people who COULD live your lives that way, then you would have to prevent others from finding out, which would take considerable effort, and prevent you from engaging in positive pursuits because you would be living in fear of reprisal from those around you -- or other people would find out, and take the necessary actions to force to pay the consequences.)
     
    As for how this relates to war, my position is that we are endangering our own survival by sanctioning the murder of civilians in other countries. I might accept the premise that it is better to die than to live under a dictatorship, but someone who is a Muslim might also believe that someone is better off dead than not knowing Allah. So if one accepts the argument that we're justified in killing innocents in Muslim fundamentalist countries because they're living under a dictatorship, then a Muslim could just as easily claim that the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11 were justified because their victims were not benefitting from Allah's good graces.
     
    We would of course be right that being free is a necessary condition for living well, while Islamists are wrong in thinking that following Islam is necessary. But the fact that our position is correct does not grant the right to initiate force.
     
    The one counterargument which I do agree with is that it's better for victims of an Islamist regime to die than for residents of a free country to be enslaved. However, this only applies if there is a danger of losing a war which can be averted by military actions which will result in collateral damage.
  7. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Rand on Native Americans (Question at West Point)   
    So basically, support the preservation of the more advanced society, and the assimilation of the less advanced society, while condemning atrocities committed by both sides? I agree with that.
     
     
    That is an acceptable position, as long as it's based on an analysis of the actual actions taken by both sides.
  8. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from dream_weaver in Radical justice -- short manifesto   
    That's a good point. It might be good to include some definitions of what makes someone good or bad in the ideas behind the movement.
     
     
    For the left, collectivism, nihilism, and the socioeconomic balkanization of society through notions like privilege. For the right, religious fundamentalism and nationalism.
     
    But what I see as immoral isn't just their choice of beliefs. I can respect the opinion of someone who sincerely believes that socialism is to the benefit of society, even if I don't agree. The problem is when people start forming factions, blindly clinging to the beliefs of their particular faction, and tearing down anyone who disagrees. This leads to the package-dealing of certain rational beliefs with irrational beliefs (Such as support for a free market being lumped in with religious mysticism under the banner of conservatism) and people being pitted against each other, with rational viewpoints within each faction being silenced.
     
    In addition, there are evil policies which have bipartisan support, but which the majority of people who are intelligent enough to be involved in politics are strongly opposed to. These include the Federal Reserve (For those who understand its role in inflating the money supply and redistributing wealth into the hands of crony corporations), government bailouts to unproductive firms, government policies which favor corporations (Which Objectivists and libertarians understand as distinct from maintaining a free market without favors to anyone), and violations of civil liberties.
     
    What a movement for "radical justice" would be about, in this respect, would be to replace the party system with a civil discussion among everyone who is willing to be intellectually honest and conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, with the goal of finding the most rational political philosophy, and creating a more moral political system.
     
     
    Yes, if it addressed the moral problems with existing fora, and provided a basis for organizing in favor of a rational society.
     
     
    I don't think that ideology is necessarily bad. What I'm against is forming ideology based on the prevailing opinion within a particular group, then demonizing every idea that comes from outside without examining its rational basis. (That being said, I think that there are some ideas which should be rejected out of hand, and that also means ostracizing the groups which espouse them; but this should be done within the context of a rational understanding of what is morally right, which can't be establish if you have groups imposing their own preconcieved notions on the individual, and dismissing any idea which comes from outside the group.)
     
     
    That's actually a good idea. This group would focus specifically on social morality, meaning the question of what is morally correct within the context of interactions among individuals. Since I would want this to be ideologically neutral beyond the reconciliation of justice with benevolence, it would not address the question of individualism versus collectivism, but only how social morality should be constructed within the scope of society. (And of course individualism should be promoted over collectivism, but that would not be the purpose of this group.)
  9. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Rand on Native Americans (Question at West Point)   
    I agree with you, but you and I both hold positions on this topic which are different from most Objectivists.
  10. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Qqx Adrian in "Blaming the Victim"   
    I thought this article was making some good points up until this point:
     
     
    I didn't get the impression that the woman was sending mixed messages from this story -- or at least, if she was, it was only because he was pressuring her. It does sound like their encounter could legitimately be described as a date, and he may have briefly been justified in thinking she wanted sex when she sat down on his bed, but I don't think there is anything inherent in that is explicitly demonstrating a desire for sex, and he is responsible for any mistaken impressions he had. I believe that his initial actions could have been interpreted as an honest misinterpretation of her intentions, if he had stopped when she said no. But he continued, even over her explicit objections.
     
    When it comes to consent, both parties are responsible for their part. If someone initiates sex with you, and you don't want it, it is your responsibility to say no. But it is the responsibility of the other person to respect your lack of consent, and to make an effort to ensure your consent in the first place. And if someone thinks the object of his or her affections is saying "yes" through actions as ambiguous as those of the woman in this article, then they alone are responsible for this assumption.
  11. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from JASKN in How should a discriminating young man approach/view sex if no one he e   
    I don't think this is a good idea. Your emotional connection with someone shouldn't be dependent on them being anyone other than who they are. I suppose the idea of finding women with moderately decent values and telling them about Objectivism, then forming a relationship with someone who actually converts, has merits, but don't get invested with anyone you're not comfortable being in a relationship already, for any reason.
     
    I do think it's also important to form a realistic idea of what values you would expect a person to hold, and what qualities they would need for you to be compatible with them. For instance, I would like to find a woman who is an Objectivist who has a personality which is compatible with my own. However, there aren't very many people of either gender out there who are Objectivists, and the few women I've met who were Objectivists were too introverted and submissive for my taste. (Though I'm sure they would make wonderful partners for a man with a personality different from my own.)
     
    I think it's good to start by focusing on compatibility, then narrow the list down to whoever holds values which are basically rational. If you try to focus on fulfilling an unrealistic ideal, you're going to drive yourself crazy, and likely make stupid decisions as a result
  12. Like
    Eamon Arasbard reacted to Devil's Advocate in The Golden Rule as a basis for rights   
    Neither she nor Rosie are innocent of supporting their leaders.  There are however, any number of individuals in their societies who actively worked against their leaders, e.g., German families who hid Jews, and were truly innocent of any wrong doing that warranted retaliation.  Does the saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" hold any water?
     
     
    A necessary derivative if one requires the recognition of ones own right to life.  Does selfishness as a morality preclude the existence of other selfishly moral individuals?  Is it irrelevant, or amoral to consider their relationship to oneself in terms of having a right to life??  Is a derivative right to life less credible than ones own???
  13. Like
    Eamon Arasbard reacted to DonAthos in The Golden Rule as a basis for rights   
    I've been giving more thought to this topic (or at least the topic of "targeting innocent civilians" as moral), and it has struck me that it incites a lot of passion in me.

    Now this comes as no great surprise to me. I cannot speak for others, but for myself I have to tell you that discussions here are often very emotional for me. I have met people in my life who treat philosophical discussion as a kind of game (and some who have even admitted such)... but for me, ideas matter greatly. Ideas have consequence. I am not content to just consider them abstractly, but I try to imagine their real world application, if followed. I take them personally and apply them to my own circumstances, if possible, so that I may truly understand their effects.

    As I've made reference to them before, and thus perhaps have already made clear, when I think of "innocents," my first thought is of my wife and daughter. Much of their protection in this world, which is a dangerous world, lies in the fact that they have not initiated the use of force against any other soul. They have caused nobody harm, and therefore I do not expect that anyone should wish harm upon them. Not in reason.

    Yet I take some of the ideas expressed in this thread as saying that the innocence of my wife and daughter is not, and ought not, be any moral shield against force. That other people would be perfectly reasonable and moral to initiate the use of force against them, under certain conditions, despite their innocence. What conditions? To achieve political/military ends by hurting the spirit of my countrymen. To me, that sounds like an advocacy of terrorism (not to mention treating other people, and their very lives, as legitimate and disposable means to some other peoples' ends).

    Maybe only to me? I grant that this is possible. But look...

    The government of the United States gets up to all sorts of things. Sometimes we bomb targets without going to war. Sometimes we go to war without clearing it with Congress. Sometimes we engage in operations secretly. In all of these cases, whether our actions are otherwise justified or justifiable, we wind up killing people (whether collateral damage or not).

    When CriticalThinker2000 says this...
     
    ...I wonder:

    Are these people, with whom we fight, also in "a fight for their lives"? By this same rationale, should they not use every available means to defend themselves as well? Should they not wish to break my country's spirit?

    Now my infant daughter has surprisingly little influence over American foreign policy, and her contributions to the American military machine are minimal (mostly in the form of biological weapons material; her diapers). While she's nailed me in the face with her toys a time or two, and I'll admit that it has smarted, I don't consider her much in the way of a "fighting force." I don't see how she could be considered a legitimate military target, except that I've seen it argued that her death might strike a blow against my country's fighting spirit. Therefore reasonable. Moral.

    I consider this a monstrous argument. I feel like it serves to legitimize countless people who have some beef with America to strike out, not even at military targets, but at my own family. (Or yours.)

    I strongly suspect that's not how it's intended or initially conceptualized. Perhaps we view the "innocents" who might be targeted as living in other countries... perhaps somewhere in the Middle East. But the innocents with whom I am most concerned are the ones I know, and I consider that innocence to be a moral protection that must be upheld. I cannot allow that intentionally slaughtering my daughter, when she has not caused anyone else any harm, is ever a moral action. Not even by firebomb, not even by nuclear device.

    Could my daughter one day be tragically caught up in events beyond her understanding or responsibility? Yes. It has happened to millions before her, and it will happen to millions to come. If is is accidental or unavoidable (such as our living next door to a weapons factory, attacked during a time of war), I can come to understand such a thing. But if she was targeted intentionally, or if due diligence were not undertaken to avoid hurting/killing my daughter, where possible, then I would not consider the agents involved to be moral in their action. I would consider them to be murderers.
  14. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in The Golden Rule as a basis for rights   
    Let's imagine a concrete example. Let's imagine that the U.S. government declares a war of aggression on Canada. Canada responds by invading in order to destroy our military capacity. Do you suspect that more people would choose to fight the invading force if 1) the Canadians use surgical strikes to take out military bases and factories responsible for producing arms, and avoid harming civilians or 2) if they drop bombs all over the place, resulting in mass civilian casualties? And under which circumstances do you think Americans would be interested in taking revenge once our nation had regained its strength?
     
    There are other selfish reasons not to bomb civilians as well, the biggest being the fact that it compromises the non-aggression principle as an objective basis for rights by making a special exception for a single circumstance. If it is permissible for our military to bomb civilians in a country which has attacked us, why shouldn't the police be allowed to open fire indiscriminately on a crowd of bystanders in order to take down a criminal? Why worry about the due process rights of the accused if ignoring them can lead to more criminals being captured?
     
    Both cases have relevance to stuff that is actually happening in reality. There are an increasing number of stories in the news of cops opening fire indiscriminately and endangering the lives of bystanders during confrontations with criminals. And you also have feminists arguing that we should take due process rights away from accused rapists in order to fight "rape culture" and eliminate rape. I don't see how the Objectivist argument defending collateral damage in war wouldn't also support both scenarios.
  15. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in "Blaming the Victim"   
    I thought this article was making some good points up until this point:
     
     
    I didn't get the impression that the woman was sending mixed messages from this story -- or at least, if she was, it was only because he was pressuring her. It does sound like their encounter could legitimately be described as a date, and he may have briefly been justified in thinking she wanted sex when she sat down on his bed, but I don't think there is anything inherent in that is explicitly demonstrating a desire for sex, and he is responsible for any mistaken impressions he had. I believe that his initial actions could have been interpreted as an honest misinterpretation of her intentions, if he had stopped when she said no. But he continued, even over her explicit objections.
     
    When it comes to consent, both parties are responsible for their part. If someone initiates sex with you, and you don't want it, it is your responsibility to say no. But it is the responsibility of the other person to respect your lack of consent, and to make an effort to ensure your consent in the first place. And if someone thinks the object of his or her affections is saying "yes" through actions as ambiguous as those of the woman in this article, then they alone are responsible for this assumption.
  16. Like
    Eamon Arasbard reacted to softwareNerd in Non-concrete reality   
    As I said, then you're already close to your personal answer.

    My own experience with church was that the bad (mostly the boring) outweighs the good. Even if the preacher is funny or boisterous, after a few Sundays the novelty wears off for me, and the essence is the same old bromides. The mass can be mildly interesting in a "philosophic detection" kind of way. Still, if that was what I wanted, I could just as easily do that at home... and a very occasional visit to a church or to gospel TV would work better. The hymns are fine, but I don't need church for the music, and the music does not interest me anyway. All said and done, what is left is: a place where one can make some friends.

    That's all the value I can see, personally. It boils down to the question "is church a good place to make friends and acquaintances?"
     
    For benevolence, I really have not found it to be special among church-goers. What I've seen is a typical mix that I could find elsewhere in the population. The bulk are not bright, open-minded and intellectual enough to hold an interesting conversation. Just as many are petty and political. And, then there are a few who are great, and make fine friends.
    If one already belongs to a church, I can see that it is easy and convenient to find your friends and acquaintances there. Personally, I could not do it, unless I lived somewhere with extremely limited choices. I'd  check out "Meetup" groups instead, if I wanted acquaintances.
     
    There are so many churches. If yours works for you, as a conscious choice, and  not because it is in your comfort zone, make the most of it. 
  17. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Forgiveness   
    I would agree that someone's fundamental morality or immorality ultimately stems from their personal values. But it is extremely difficult to judge that for someone else, and it is much easier to determine this based on the external effects of what they believe -- which is also what ends up playing a role in a relationship with them.
  18. Like
    Eamon Arasbard got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in likelihood of truth based on believers   
    The problem happens when people start aggressively supporting policies based on a "scientific majority" while knowing nothing about the actual science involved, and fighting to silence anyone who disagrees with them.
     
    I'm guessing we're all talking the same political faction, which consistently does this with one particular scientific issue?
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