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William O

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Everything posted by William O

  1. Here is the first paragraph of The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy entry on tautologies: Does Objectivism accept the concept of a tautology (that is, consider tautologies an objectively distinct category of proposition)? If so, what is the difference between the concept of a tautology and the concept of an analytic proposition?
  2. What proportion of Objectivists do you suppose were "persuaded" to join the philosophy? In other words, it doesn't seem like people usually become Objectivists because an Objectivist missionary with clever arguments "persuaded" them to join. The story I usually hear from Objectivists is that they picked up a book by Rand or one of her novels and immediately found the ideas compelling.
  3. Aristotle and the science

    I don't see either Plato or Aristotle as particularly dogmatic. All of Plato's works were in dialogue form, which seems intended to get people to think for themselves. It's also worth noting that although Bacon did a great job of advocating experimental research, his view of the scientific method was a complete dead end.
  4. Aristotle and the science

    I'm reading Francis Bacon's Novum Organum at the moment, which is very relevant to this. According to Bacon, all of the fundamental concepts of Aristotle's philosophy (like "substance," "quality," and "essence") are unclear, and all of his scientific claims are invalid. The reason for this lack of clarity and invalidity is allegedly that Aristotle did not build his philosophy up from the ground, based on experiments. Instead, Bacon claims that he jumped from a few observations to the widest generalizations, then deduced intermediate conclusions from those widest generalizations. The correct way is to start with very concrete generalizations based on plenty of experiments, then slowly build up from there, until finally you arrive at the widest generalizations. There is a lot of truth in what Bacon says in the book, but as you can see, there's also some anti-philosophy scientism in his reasoning. I don't think Rand built up Objectivism using experiments, so it's not clear how Bacon would view her work.
  5. A Complex Standard of Value

    This is an interesting thread. I think the problem here is that the triple standard asserted in the OP is subjective. No justification is given for why these are the ultimate standards, they are just sort of grabbed out of the air. It would not be possible to apply such a standard objectively, since it's asserted in a void, without context. When do you pursue pleasure over health and vice versa, for example? In principle, there can be no answer if both pleasure and health are ultimate standards. I don't think any reasonable person would deny that pleasure, knowledge, and health are valuable, but you have to start doing ethics from a demonstrable standard, which is the purpose of Rand's derivation of life as the root of value.
  6. The Law of Identity

    Technically everyone relies on both the law of identity and the senses at all times, since both are axioms that stand at the foundation of all knowledge. You can't make a claim that doesn't presuppose both of those axioms.
  7. Stolen concept fallacies show up frequently in philosophy, but they are less common elsewhere for some reason. I'd like to use this thread to collect examples of stolen concept fallacies that don't involve philosophy. I think that doing this might help to illuminate the concept more. I have seen one example of the stolen concept fallacy that didn't involve philosophy. Two people on Reddit were discussing the concept of a superorganism, which is an interacting community of smaller organisms like a termite mound. One of posters in the discussion reasoned that every organism is really a superorganism, because every organism is composed of cells. This steals the concept of a superorganism, which was originally intended to distinguish communities of organisms from individual organisms composed of cells. When the term is used this way, the concept of a superorganism loses its original context and meaning. What are some examples of stolen concept fallacies that you've come across outside of philosophy?
  8. Isn't that just a contradiction? It doesn't sound like they're stealing the concept of understanding, it sounds more like they are implying that they both can and cannot understand the ASI's motivations.
  9. Why Objectivism is so unpopular

    I agree with this, as I've said previously. I think another tactic that would help is persuading people who have an influence on society to take Objectivism seriously. The credibility of the speaker is a big influence on whether an audience will agree with them. Within our own movement, when Peikoff makes an argument for something, I'm sure you've noticed that that has an influence on what Objectivists think. So, for example, when a politician mentions Ayn Rand in a positive light, I would imagine that that's helpful for Objectivism's image with people who like that politician. A variant of this is the influence that parents or older siblings often have on their children or younger siblings, respectively. This is why it could be worth mentioning Objectivism to your family members.
  10. I appreciate both of your responses. It sounds like Peikoff would probably say that "tautology" is a valid category, but that it's a somewhat subjective distinction because ultimately all knowledge is tautological. He would also insist that tautologies say something substantial about reality. The latter is what distinguishes them from so called "analytic" propositions, which Kantians describe as empty. Objectivism would say that no true proposition is analytic in this sense, although every true proposition is ultimately tautological. I think I am reading a bit into Peikoff here, since he doesn't explicitly call the distinction subjective or distinguish them from analytic propositions in this way. I don't think Peikoff ever commented on this issue in his article on the analytic-synthetic dichotomy.
  11. We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!

    Personally, when it comes to philosophy, I prefer a clear, concise presentation of the argument over a "fun" presentation with cartoon characters or video game references. There may be other people like me. I still think this "fun" approach is worth trying, because it's likely that different approaches will work better or worse with different people, depending on their interests and personality traits.
  12. Wikipedia defines and describes the social sciences as follows: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_science A while ago, I read The Psychology of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden, a work on psychology that Objectivists often approve of. The methodology used to establish claims in this book struck me as different from that of academic psychology, which aims to be experimental. I also know that Objectivists often approve of Mises' Austrian economics, which is more deductive and depends less on empirical studies than mainstream economics. With that in mind, I have two questions: 1. What is the Objectivist position on how claims in the social sciences should be justified? 2. What criticisms, if any, do Objectivists have of the way the social sciences are currently conducted in academia? Ideally, responses will refer to the Objectivist canon, secondary literature, or intellectuals like Peikoff who accept Objectivism.
  13. 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?
  14. I found a passage in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy that talks about self evidence in conjunction with the concept of "intuition." I quote from page 382: This suggests that there is a connection between self evidence, as academic philosophers think of it, and rationalism.
  15. Beyond Morality

    Yes, criminals develop their own moral codes to justify their actions. For example, a burglar breaking into someone's house usually has a moral "justification" of some sort for doing so. Many of them believe that it isn't morally wrong to commit burglary because the victims will be reimbursed by their insurance agency, overlooking the loss of peace of mind that they cause. Rapists are not a category that I have looked into, but I know that they also develop moral "justifications" for their actions.
  16. I think this is probably the right solution. Perhaps this is not the right attitude to use when studying the history of philosophy. Evaluation of a philosopher's work should come after understanding it, not before.
  17. This is either inaccurate or at least poorly phrased. Hume's view is that our belief in causality has no foundation in reason, not that the current accounts of causality are "problematic." He thinks we have a non-rational faculty distinct from reason, which he variously calls habit, custom, or instinct. At bottom, he would say that all of our beliefs are based on this non-rational faculty rather than on reason.
  18. Thanks for your posts in this thread, Boydstun. You have been very helpful. A word of clarification: The points I listed in the OP were my own summary, and do not appear in that form in Audi's book.
  19. This isn't true. If someone cares about being right and is paying attention, it matters how good your evidence is. The problem is establishing credibility with someone so that they will pay attention to what you have to say, as well as engaging their emotions at appropriate points. As Aristotle said, ethos, pathos, and logos are the key elements.
  20. This part has been cleared up, I would say: However, this part could use clarification, since it seems like a version of the analytic - synthetic dichotomy:
  21. I think I thought that propositions can be self evident for Rand because I was under the impression that axioms like "existence exists" and "A is A" are regarded as self evident in Objectivism. I can find a lot of blogs and websites by non-scholars saying that online, but it's difficult to find a place in the primary sources where Rand actually says that. (The other reason is that, well, these propositions do seem self evident, and I would expect - rightly or wrongly - that Rand would agree with me about that.)
  22. When you talk about a computer malfunctioning or producing an error, what you are doing is imposing a mathematical model on the behavior of the computer and pointing out that the behavior of the computer diverges from the model. The word "malfunction" contains the word "function" right in it - it's a mathematical concept in the context of computer science. Unless you are telling me that the computer fails to correspond to its correlate in Plato's intelligible realm of mathematics, there is no such thing as a computer error apart from the interpretation of a rational observer.
  23. The page number for the fallacy of retroactive self evidence is 157.
  24. That's a good distinction, I'm glad you posted this. I need to figure why I thought that and whether I had any evidence for it.
  25. It appears that propositions are only self evident in a derivative sense, for Rand. By contrast, academic philosophers, in my experience, only regard propositions as self evident (e.g. 1+1=2). Dr. Binswanger identified a fallacy in How We Know called the fallacy of retroactive self evidence, which is basically when we get so used to a claim that we start to call it self evident even though it wasn't originally. The discussion so far in this thread, then, seems to have a striking implication: If Rand is right, then every usage of the term "self evident" in contemporary academic philosophy commits the fallacy of retroactive self evidence. What are your thoughts on my reasoning here?