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William O

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  1. Regarding the claim that 20% of Objectivism be removed, wouldn't that completely gut Objectivism if carried out consistently? For example, if Objectivism made some allowance for forcible taxation in order to help the poor, we would have to give up the non-initiation of force principle and the trader principle. Further, the non-initiation of force principle and the trader principle are based on the Objectivist ethics, so we would have to give up the Objectivist ethics. Rand regarded Objectivism as an integrated system. It is not a bunch of independent parts with no connection to each other that you can freely tinker with.
  2. This is something you would need studies to establish. The work I've seen done on public opinion seems to indicate that it generally acts sensibly, although there are different theories about why this is. The public pays attention to the arguments politicians and public figures make and responds to them. If people were so stupid that they couldn't grasp critical, life saving ideas and vote based on them, democracy would have crashed and burned centuries ago.
  3. Can you clarify? Dialectic is an epistemological approach, and it was endorsed by Aristotle as well as Plato. I'm not sure why you're contrasting it with realism, which is a metaphysical position. Can you give some examples of contemporary philosophers who see self evidence differently from how Audi describes the concept?
  4. The way contemporary academic philosophers usually think about self evident truths, as opposed to Objectivists, is: They are a priori and independent of experience. They are abstract "truths of reason," not on the perceptual level. Often they are regarded as defeasible in principle. Their truth is not necessarily immediately obvious to everyone. For example, an academic philosopher would say that it is self evident that first cousins have a pair of grandparents in common. I'm taking these claims from Audi's introduction to epistemology (p. 94-96). It seems like Objectivists don't regard anything as self evident in the sense most academic philosophers use that term. There are axioms in Objectivism, but they are grasped by perception, not by seeing intrinsic connections between concepts. However, that is how Audi seems to characterize the academic concept of self evidence. Am I correct in drawing this conclusion?
  5. I think the lesson of this thread, which has been exhibited in the forum's reaction to more than one participant, is that if you confront a bunch of people who hold an ideology with a vague or non-specific objection to that ideology, the resulting discussion will generate more heat than light.
  6. I think a typical Objectivist probably does not have a deep understanding of Kant or Hume. However, I think a typical Objectivist will have a better understanding of Kant and Hume than the general population, and that someone who is an Objectivist is much more likely than the general population to have seriously studied those authors.
  7. It isn't that surprising to me that Americans don't know that much about Communism. There have been a lot of surveys in the past that concluded that the overall level of political knowledge in the United States is low - that's pretty much taken for granted in political science at this point. I think some of the ignorance we see in this survey might be concentrated "at the bottom," so to speak. For example, maybe the quarter of Americans who don't know that Stalin killed more people than George Bush are mostly the same people as the 18% of respondents who said they weren't familiar with Stalin and Putin, respectively. So, maybe one problem we're seeing here is that a specific subset of the people polled just aren't interested in politics or history at all (and probably don't vote).
  8. If the goal is just to improve your mood in the short term and take your mind off of it, try changing your point of reference by thinking about things you're glad haven't happened to you instead of things you wish you had. You can probably find a lot of ways that you've been fortunate in the big picture if you think about it.
  9. Okay, I think basically we agree at this point.
  10. How do you know that that would be effective at changing someone's worldview, though? Generally, therapists have a hard time with people who are uncooperative. Agreed, but I would suggest that that is rare.
  11. The main argument for using non-rational persuasion in this thread seems to be that rational means of persuasion will not work on someone who is emotionally committed to an ideology like Marxism, so we should use non-rational means of persuasion. But there is an overlooked possibility here, namely that there is no way of changing the mind of an emotionally committed Marxist, rational or non-rational. So, what is the evidence that trying to persuade such a person at all isn't just a waste of time?
  12. Why do you think salesmanship tactics would persuade people to abandon their worldview? I think changing a person's fundamental values is likely to work differently from persuading them to buy something. People typically put up a lot of resistance to that kind of change because they view their worldview as part of their identity.
  13. Here is an Objectivist intellectual's response to this claim: http://www.checkyourpremises.org/2016/03/09/whats-wrong-with-the-concept-libertarian/
  14. My understanding is that Objectivism holds that the choice to live is pre-rational. In other words, life versus death is the fundamental alternative, so there can't be a more fundamental reason for choosing it beyond the fact that you want to stay alive. That's the closest thing to a non-rational choice that I'm aware of within Objectivism.
  15. I've heard that it goes down to about three under stress. The military organizes their soldiers into sets of three so that each level of commander only has to deal with three units (three soldiers, three squads, three battalions, etc.).