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KALADIN

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About KALADIN

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  1. This is an essay of sorts and extended version of a post I made here almost half a year ago and which dissapointingly elicited no responses or remarks. Hopefully this time there will be more than none. Shoutout again to Grames for my partly mixed usage of his formulations on value in the "Introducing Objectivist Axiology" section. ___ Setting The Stage: In writing Capital and in seeking to split up the conflation of value and exchange-value, Marx held one Samuel Bailey's Critical Dissertation as an object of refutation. Bailey held that exchange-value was accidental: a thing's value is merely the amount of another thing for which it is exchanged. Contra Bailey, Marx conceived of and argued for exchange-value as being distinct from value proper, and that the former represents merely a “mode of expression” of a commodity's intrinsic value. He writes "... exchange value, generally, is only the mode of expression, the phenomenal form, of something contained in it, yet distinguishable from it" (emphasis mine). Marx wished to show that a commodity's value belongs not to that which it exchanges for (not to the manifold bodies being the objects of the end of exchange) but to itself and that the act of exchange does not determine value but rather brings about the expression of values that commodities have prior to and independent of this act. Marx's essential aim in the beginnings of Capital is not so much to present a “labor theory of value” as it is to present a real and persistent divorce between value and exchange-value in order to rectify the divorce of a commodity's value from itself. It is important to mention that while Marx does indeed consider value an intrinsic property of the commodity itself he does not consider value to be absolute. He does not consider value to be a trans-historical, immutable reality. Rather value, for Marx, is and is determined by the socially necessary labor-time to engender the creation of (and is eventually embodied by or "crystallized" within) any one marketable commodity. Let us now critically take on Chapter One, Section One of Capital. Analyzing Capital: "[o]ur investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity." Marx treats the commodity as the unit of capitalist production and so begins his analysis of the latter by investigating the former. We shall do the same later on. "A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another." Some Austrian (economic school) commentators have advanced spurious critiques against the labor theory of value (hereafter LTV) by first pointing to things which exist outside market relations - which presupposes production directed towards satisfying consumer wants, real or conceived - or outside social relations at all (desert island scenario) and in saying that these things demanded labor in production yet are found to be useful to no one or have deteriorated beyond use the LTV is rendered impotent. But Marx has imported into his characterization of a commodity that it must be capable of presently satisfying human wants of some kind - that it is useful - or as he says later on in a different context, "[l]astly nothing can have value, without being an object of utility. If the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in it; the labour does not count as labour, and therefore creates no value." Additionally Marx, in his analysis of a commodity as subject, takes the nature and use of human wants (whether they spring from "the stomach or fancy" and satisfy ends directly or as a means) as irrelevant to his project. "The utility of a thing makes it a use value. But this utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from that commodity. A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use value, something useful. This property of a commodity is independent of the amount of labour required to appropriate its useful qualities." Marx here admits that utility does not exist apart from a commodity, the material "bearer" of useful, physical properties. But there is in fact at least one other thing the existence of utility can not do without and which I will identify and expand on later. This is only to say that even if utility as a property of the commodity is independent of the amount of labor necessary to utilize that utility, the commodity itself is not sufficient for the existence of utility (again, I will get very much into this later). "Exchange value, at first sight, presents itself as a quantitative relation, as the proportion in which values in use of one sort are exchanged for those of another sort, a relation constantly changing with time and place." Exchange value or value in exchange is quantitative insofar as it can be expressed as a ratio involving other values ("two gizmos for six gadgets"). This relation or ratio is hardly constant. It seems readily obvious that exchange value is not constant and that both persons and place factor largely in the ultimate determination of exchange value. Recall from the outset that Marx wanted to distinguish between value and exchange value and to show value proper as non-accidental. This latter goal would hardly be consistent with a conception of value wherein the persons and place can have a decisive role in the determination of value; a non-accidental account would permit no flux. Marx recognizes this: "Hence exchange value appears to be something accidental and purely relative, and consequently an intrinsic value, i.e., an exchange value that is inseparably connected with, inherent in commodities, seems a contradiction in terms. Let us consider the matter a little more closely." (all emphasis mine) Let's. And we now turn to the prime object of refutation in this essay: Marx's third-thing argument. I will go ahead and put the uninterrupted substance of his argument below first before obliterating it. "A given commodity, e.g., a quarter of wheat is exchanged for x blacking, y silk, or z gold, &c. – in short, for other commodities in the most different proportions. Instead of one exchange value, the wheat has, therefore, a great many. But since x blacking, y silk, or z gold &c., each represents the exchange value of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, z gold, &c., must, as exchange values, be replaceable by each other, or equal to each other. Therefore, first: the valid exchange values of a given commodity express something equal; secondly, exchange value, generally, is only the mode of expression, the phenomenal form, of something contained in it, yet distinguishable from it.” “Let us take two commodities, e.g., corn and iron. The proportions in which they are exchangeable, whatever those proportions may be, can always be represented by an equation in which a given quantity of corn is equated to some quantity of iron: e.g., 1 quarter corn = x cwt. iron. What does this equation tell us? It tells us that in two different things – in 1 quarter of corn and x cwt. of iron, there exists in equal quantities something common to both. The two things must therefore be equal to a third, which in itself is neither the one nor the other. Each of them, so far as it is exchange value, must therefore be reducible to this third." Marx is not asking here what allows commodities to be exchanged as many Austrian economists have presumed. He is only analyzing the commodity. He is not asking how or why commodities exchange but as what do commodities exchange. Marx derives the existence of intrinsic value from a postulated exchange of equivalents, not equivalent exchange from a postulated existence of intrinsic value (if this latter claim was true we could accuse Marx of an egregious circularity). He establishes that commodities exchange as bearers of intrinsic value, a 'third thing' present in each. Before attacking this argument in its entirety head-on, a (perhaps lengthy) tangent on the nature of value is necessary. Introducing Objectivist Axiology: What is the context of the concept of "value"? How is it formed and where does it come from? Ayn Rand, building on a thesis of conditionality inspired by Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, defines value as merely that which one acts to gain and/or keep and delimited the scope of application of the concept of value to living organisms. In order to understand why she does this let us consider the conceptual hierarchy on which "value" rests. Rand writes, "'[v]alue’ presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? ‘Value’ presupposes a standard, a purpose and the necessity of action in the face of an alternative. Where there are no alternatives, no values are possible." The first thing here to note is that value is a relational phenomenon. The existence of value demands both the existence of a valuing subject - a "whom" - and the existence of an end to which the value is a means - a "for what". Valuation can not be undertaken in the absence of any goal lest the impetus for action be nonexistent and it can not exist without a subject, something to do the valuing. To show the falsehood of axiological intrinsicism (the thing I accuse Marx of and who we will return to in just a bit) it is necessary only to show that this supposed intrinsic attribute is actually a relational one, i.e. to demonstrate the impossibility of existents being preferentially valenced per se. It is true that physically there are observably intrinsic attributes like mass so it can not be argued that intrinsic attributes do not exist. The issue is merely whether or not value is such an attribute or instead relational. There can be no demonstration of intrinsic value because such a demonstration would necessarily entail exhibiting a relation, of seating it in the context of a subject and end, so there can be no possibility of ever disentangling value from a relation. Now Rand also writes value presupposes "a standard, a purpose, and the necessity of action in the face of an alternative". A standard is merely the end of action, the ultimate value to which all lesser values are the means. No stranger to Aristotelian formulations, Rand identifies valuation as needing to culminate in some end, a standard of value. Value demands a "for what" so we see that value is fundamentally an instrumental phenomenon and take the form of action towards some goal. Should our values be means to some end (say education) which is itself a means to some other end (money) which is itself a means some still other end (livelihood) we find that if this sequence does not terminate in some ultimate value, some standard, then the sequence can not start either (we would never "get off the ground" so to speak). Value-judgements and actions on them do not spring from a vacuum and can not float away and apart from the axiological lattice binding all values as instruments to a standard or ultimate value. For the sake of space and of time I will have to omit a discussion of Rand's "necessity of action in the face of an alternative" qualification save for my mentioning that in the absence of alternatives (which is not the same as saying the outcome is metaphysically given; alternative does not imply choice) there is no basis for assigning the outcome a place in the "axiological lattice" I mentioned above precisely because it has been made necessary that some entity's action is unnecessary or necessarily ineffective; valuation is utterly distinct from passivity and even when the metaphysically given processes are what animate an entity in imitation of a process of valuing the distinction still holds. This distinction ultimately turns on the phenomenon of self-generated action, a phenomenon Rand held in conjunction with self-sustaining, and goal-directed action as partly essential characteristics of the living organism. Rand admitted (or stressed) even things like some non-conscious cellular actions and phototrophic processes as instances of valuation, of valuing (the "telos" in both cases being preservation or the active maintenance of bodily integrity and of life). When we look out into the world we find few things capable of instantiating goal-directed action - of acting to gain and/or keep things. Most entities surrounding us in our everyday lives are inert and unconscious. Most things simply do not engage in goal-directed action or act to gain and/or keep anything. While we can subsume the falling of any body under the concept of "action" the relevant sense employed here is specifically self-generated action; what must be stressed is not merely that a thing participates in action but that it instantiates it. This insistence on self-generation is not to deny the existence of external, efficient causation but merely to regard it as indecisive and in fact incessantly mitigated by the actions of organisms whose generation we can locate within internal structures be it information from the nucleus to internally held energy structures to conscious decision making. Of course no organism can create its own energy as all energy ultimately derives from external sources and even fully deterministic, biochemical reactions would qualify as instances of self-generated action so long as the immediate source of energy can be located within the organism. In fact, the vast majority of internally-generated action is a response to external stimuli but while that stimulus may be responsible for triggering certain action it does not power it. There even exist structures "designed" to ignore external stimuli almost entirely and operate only by intrinsically generated movement such as in the neuronal structures responsible for circadian rhythmic patterns. Going back to alternatives for a bit I'd like to quote Rand once more: "There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence-and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not; it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death." As I implied the beginning of this section, Rand ultimately couples the existence of values with the existence of life. It is the constant conditionality of the form of life that gives rise to the need of values and to the need of acting to secure and keep things instrumental to an organism’s' preservation. To make clear the distinction between the destruction of the inanimate (and its forms) and the cessation of life insofar as both relate to the notion of a fundamental alternative, it is necessary to point out that the inanimate is not presented with the immediate alternative of death, that both its form and the material processes which underscore it are a given, and that its destruction or change (in form) is ultimately, save for external interference, a matter of nothing but deterioration. Life is utterly distinct from this - its continued existence requires active, goal-seeking and achieving processes by the organism as a whole, as an integrated unit in opposition to the disconnected, disintegrated, and given courses of its ultimate material constituents in isolation. While inanimate matter merely is and will be for time without end the animate can become inanimate. Life, as a constant process of action, stands as the value-generating phenomenon; it is the only phenomenon which is gained and kept by gaining and keeping it and thus may serve as an inclusive end (a standard) and terminating/starting point for the axiological lattice I mentioned earlier. In anticipation of the ever-common objections that both immortal entities or robotic ones could have values I will mention only here that an insistence on the first betrays a misunderstanding of the role of purpose in serving as the impetus for action and that to sever conditionality from life is to sever the end to which an impetus would necessarily have to be seated within in order to be effective and even causal. As for the second example, it is necessary only to mention that the derivative algorithms which underscore the action employed by robots are precisely that - their genesis is not in themselves but in actual living things (human programmers and engineers), quite unlike the self-generated, goal-directed action of living organisms (of course all the stuff about the non living being incapable of valuing applies here too). But even if you did want to expand the scope of "value" to subsume the two kinds of entities mentioned above the essential point which I wish to have made with this section and which I will iterate now is the agent-relative character of value. More specifically, the literal nonsensicality of disentangling value from a valuing subject, of holding value to inhere in anything at all and in our case, a commodity. It is finally time to turn back to Marx's third-thing argument. Ending The LTV: Back to Marx's argument, "But since x blacking, y silk, or z gold &c., each represents the exchange value of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, z gold, &c., must, as exchange values, be replaceable by each other, or equal to each other. Therefore, first: the valid exchange values of a given commodity express something equal..." This last proposition is an egregious non sequitur. The "replaceability" Marx speaks of here means merely the interchangeability of exchange values for a given commodity. And in this sense they are equal, qualitatively, in serving as exchange values but this does not imply in any way, shape, or form a kind of axiological equality precisely because in framing those exchange values as replaceable the subjects involved in the exchange are omitted, and what constitutes a "valid exchange value" can likewise not be understood in the absence of an exchanging (valuing) subject. This will be greatly expanded on shortly. "Let us take two commodities, e.g., corn and iron. The proportions in which they are exchangeable, whatever those proportions may be, can always be represented by an equation in which a given quantity of corn is equated to some quantity of iron: e.g., 1 quarter corn = x cwt. iron." In characterizing the act of exchange as an equation it can probably be objected quite effectively here that Marx begs the question insofar as he sets out to demonstrate later on that commodities exchange as equalities, as material bearers of his "third thing", and while this criticism would be damning I will not pursue it in the slightest here. "What does this equation tell us? It tells us that in two different things – in 1 quarter of corn and x cwt. of iron, there exists in equal quantities something common to both. The two things must therefore be equal to a third, which in itself is neither the one nor the other. Each of them, so far as it is exchange value, must therefore be reducible to this third." In exchange, this “third thing” is not actually a thing at all, but a disposition, a relation between exchangers and the objects of exchange. Exchange is not, by itself, predicated on and nor does it evince any kind of say about the objects of exchange per se, but only about the relation they hold to the exchangers; each exchanger values what he is exchanging for more than what he is exchanging lest the impetus for exchange be nonexistent. The ONLY “qualitatively equal” part is the concomitance of interests' of exchangers, not a concomitance or even existence of intrinsic values. The “third thing” is to be found in and is the relationship all exchangers hold toward what they are exchanging for: perceived gain (whether or not any party "actually" gains is irrelevant since the dispositions - not the effective content or eventual results - of the party members is all that matters). Just as Marx omits the conceptual necessity of a valuer for the existence of values, so he omits the necessity of the relationship the valuer must play in order for values to be exchanged. There is no third thing, just as there are no intrinsic values. The existence of intrinsic value is not and can not be demonstrated or derived from a postulated exchange of equivalents because value does not inhere in any commodities. The determination of equivalency and the fruition of exchange depends on the very phenomenon Marx has omitted entirely -the valuer. Marx goes on to try and defend his argument: "A simple geometrical illustration will make this clear. In order to calculate and compare the areas of rectilinear figures, we decompose them into triangles. But the area of the triangle itself is expressed by something totally different from its visible figure, namely, by half the product of the base multiplied by the altitude. In the same way the exchange values of commodities must be capable of being expressed in terms of something common to them all, of which thing they represent a greater or less quantity." If anyone was ever in doubt about Marx's fundamental commitment to axiological intrinsicism this passage is all she would need. This illustrative analogy fails for the same reason Marx's basic analysis of the commodity fails; value is not an intrinsic but a relational phenomenon. Area is an intrinsic attribute of two-dimensional figures and is "decomposable" into different and dissimilar figures each containing their own respective areas. Area is a self-contained phenomenon but value is NOT. The existence of a calculating subject is not necessary for the existence of area but only its determination. The existence of a valuing subject is necessary for both the existence of value and its determination. Andrew Kliman, a prominent Marxist academic and creator of the Temporal Single System Interpretation (TSSI), an object of some of the essays included in this collaborative project, has said this of Marx's argument, "It seems to me that this conclusion follows necessarily once one grants Marx’s initial premise... he succeeds in showing that the wheat in fact ‘has many exchange values instead of one', that each of these exchange-values is an interchangeable expression of the same thing, the wheat’s ‘exchange’-value, and that they thus ‘express something equal’. Any challenge to this conclusion must therefore challenge the initial premise. One must argue that, although the wheat exchanges for other commodities, it does not (in any other sense) ‘have’ an exchange-value." While Kliman is abjectly wrong in his agreeing with Marx that there is any expression of axiological equality for reasons mentioned above it is important to point out that I have indeed challenged the initial premise that commodities "have" values which inhere within them (to which exchange value is its mere expression) by totally invalidating the idea of intrinsic value. Kliman continues later on, "...in this society, it is a fact that even apart from and prior to any exchange of our wheat we think and say that it ‘has a value (or price) of, ‘is worth’, so much money. Moreover, we act on this basis. We compute ‘the value of ’ our assets and our ‘net worth’, we decide to buy items if they ‘are worth’ more than the sticker price, etc., and we do so before we exchange and whether or not we exchange." What Kliman fails to consider here is that these judgments are made not on a basis antecedent to exchange, but on the basis of antecedent exchanges. Consider for instance the failure of unlearned and primitive peoples to "properly" asses the value of things like gold, money, furs, and most especially land. It is precisely because they are not familiarized with the objects with which they exchange and for which they exchange that their assessments seem utterly alien and strange to people of a more industrial character - people who have been familiarized again and again with such objects. Conclusion: Marx proceeds from his “third thing” argument to inquiring as to what the third things is and by abstracting away all the superficial attributes of commodities and in leaving out a consideration of the use value of commodities ends up with answer, “that of being products of labor”. But as we have seen, there is actually no such thing as this third thing. Indeed, while many have launched promising attacks on the Marxist labor theory of value (especially regarding the contradiction involved in leaving out a consideration of use value in the determination of Marx's "common substance" but his saying later on that labor is not labor if it is not useful; this is perhaps another variation of the problems involved in omitting the valuing subject), very few if any commentators have gone deep enough and refuted the very idea that value could inhere in anything. And that whether or not one chooses to locate the determination of intrinsic value in socially-necessary labor-time or anything else is irrelevant because the nonexistence of intrinsic value is all that is relevant. Marx, who speaks of the alienation of the value from producer (a term actually more appropriately delimited to entrepreneurs and capitalists) alienates the very conceptual roots which make the phenomenon of value possible. Marx, who speaks of the inversion of subject and object, of value taking on an objective and autonomous role in the commodity, undercuts the very recognition of objectivity – an epistemological product of the interaction between subject and object (but Marx has done away with the subject in his axiological analysis) – and denies the attribute and even existence of the one truly autonomous entity in this relation – the individual valuer. What my conclusions and the fundamentality of the errors I indicate spell for the entire structure of the orthodox Marxist ethos I leave to the judgment of the reader.
  2. From your paper (blue is mine): "Abstract: We show that Rand’s theory of concept formation, more specifically, the requirement that every concept subsume at least two entities..." That requirement is not a part of Ayn Rand's theory of concept formation. Rand endorses metaphysical pluralism and never legislates entities as the only kind of existent which can serve as a unit. Because the argumentative vehicle for your criticism of Objectivism is (entirely) the rejection of this requirement you fundamentally miss the mark. "Definition 1. A set of statements Σ is philosophically neutral with respect to some set of philosophical positions Π if and only if all of the statements in Σ are logically independent..." If indeed "the truth is the whole" then logical independence makes since only as a concept referring to a subject's lack of knowledge (like 'randomness'). This means then that only when you can not identify, say, the logical dependence of higher-abstractions upon more primitive ones is it possible to be philosophically neutral towards those more complex abstractions. Interesting. "Both true and false statements are representations of reality." One wonders at the standard of appeal by which we come to distinguish truth and falsity. "If subjects represent things, then predicates represent concepts." Your entire section pertaining to "Definition 3." is very confused. It is merely because the three statements you make use of in turn make use of proper nouns (which can not represent concepts) as subjects that you feel licensed to regard subjects as necessarily non-representative of concepts. Subjects are things. Predicates are composed of concepts. "Definition 4. A concept is a mental phenomenon that which, given a subject, outputs a statement about the subject." This definition, if held also as an operational definition and in conjunction with your "Definition 2.", leads to the impossibility of the beginning of concept-formation; one would require the constituent concepts of the outputted statement before one could have the concept which outputs that statement. Or maybe you think concepts output things to and exist apart from knowing subjects. "It is possible to apply the concept “a red planet” to Earth and thereby obtain the false statement, 'The Earth is a red planet'." This whole passage is ridiculously messy and your quotation actually makes pretense to concepts and predicates being identical but a concept is not the kind of thing that can be "said of some subject" unless you consider, per your own phraseology, every phenomenon "a mental phenomenon". "The third is that a concept does not represent anything . . .Instead, a concept is what connects statements to subjects." How is something which represents nothing capable of connecting or "outputting statements" about anything? And moreover how does a concept connect "statements to subjects" if, again by our own definition, a statement is already essentially composed in part by a subject? Perhaps what you meant was to connect statements to subjects which are alien to the ones of the original statement's composition but then again what would your non-representational, non-referential connective tissue even mean? "The role that these axioms serve in the overall analysis is to . . . 3) establish the truth of the conclusion." See: Rationalism. "For example 'red and a planet' and 'not neither red nor a planet' are equivalent predicates because: 'Mars is red and a planet' is true if and only if 'Mars is not neither red nor a planet' is also true, 'Earth is red and a planet' is true if and only if 'Earth is not neither red nor a planet' is true, ... , and so on for every other such statement." Therefore, according to you (in virtue of logical dependency being a bar to neutrality), the determination of any equivalent predicates can not be philosophically neutral and must necessarily be "biasing the investigation beforehand". Also interesting. "Axiom 7. (Axiom of Concept Representation) For all concepts c and all predicates ϕ and all predicates ψ, if ϕ represents c and if ϕ is equivalent to ψ, then ψ also represents c. What the above axiom basically comes down to is that people understand logic. If one understands every statement like 'Mars is red and a planet' then one cannot also fail to understand any logically equivalent statement such as 'Mars is not neither red nor a planet'." Did you forget earlier where you said "Note that the word 'is' is not part of the predicate"? Note that the logical equivalence of these statements depends exclusively on "predicates ϕ and ψ" containing forms of the verb to be. "Since there is an infinite variety of predicates equivalent to each predicate..." Being allowed to say this means rejecting your "Note that..." assertion just quoted above insofar as the very possibility of pairs of equivalent predicates depends precisely on what you've already banished from the predicate. I admit to being bored at this point and have decided to skip to the part of your paper where you supposedly actually talk about Objectivism. " The Objectivist theory of concept formation makes at least the following claims:" Here we go... "Claim 20. For every concept, there are at least two (non-mental) subjects subsumed by the concept." I guess the concept of concept isn't possible in Objectivism. *facepalm* "Claim 21. Existence exists. That is, the concept represented by the predicate 'has existence' exists." First, the theory of concept formation does not claim "existence exists". Second, that is perfectly not what the existence axiom means and your characterization of "has existence" makes pretense to existence as an attribute of things, an assertion which is clearly repudiated in Chapter 6 of ITOE where Rand says, "Existence and identity are not attributes of existents, they are the existents." [emphasis original] "Claim 22. A is A. That is, the concept represented by the predicate 'has identity' exists." See again response to "Claim 21" and substitute "existence exists" with "A is A" and "has existence" with "has identity". "The predicate 'has existence' will be denoted by ex and the predicate 'has identity' will be denoted by id." So we finally get to the part in your paper where you actually deal with Objectivism and you present three claims its theory of concept formation makes - all of them being abjectly wrong and clearly contradicted by primary Oist literature - then finish your "criticism" with three theorems all resting on perfectly inadmissible predications (e.g. "has identity", "has existence"). I don't know what it is you are critiquing (and I'm fairly sure you aren't either) but it isn't Objectivist Epistemology and it definitively isn't definitive.
  3. Is this thread a joke? I don't think I've ever seen such a messy hodpodge of personal misunderstandings, clunky symbolism, and arbitrary assertions cobbled together to posture as a "critique".
  4. When you said... and reiterated your point here... I took and am taking both these statements as generalizations amounting to the moral condemnation of border walls as such. My interest was solely in the moral status concerning national border walls and not really any specific policy surrounding them and their application; hence my ignoring everything after the first four sentences of your original post which I responded to. If what I wrote - - was not sufficient to refute the notion given in your two comments quoted at the top of this post then I would very much like to be corrected.
  5. You are subtly equivocating here on the meaning of "behind". The right to put criminals behind walls ultimately derives from the moral principle that self-defense is just in all contexts. The legal justice imparted to criminals takes the form of imprisonment and which effectively renders it impossible for the imprisoned to continue to violate the law and the rights of the innocent by virtue of the fact that they are "behind walls". The action of putting criminals behind walls necessarily takes the form of physical force and so can not be understood when distenangled from an enforcing subject. It is true that both criminals and innocent people behind border walls suffer the restriction of movement but the restriction involved with the former is imposed. With innocent people there exists no party or person playing the role of enforcer so it is unjustified to consider the imposed station of criminals and the station of innocents as equals. There is a distinction to be made between the actions concerning peoples being kept behind walls in order to prevent them from leaving and peoples finding themselves behind walls in order to be prevented from entering; intentional relations are not accidental ones. In fact the only way to make real sense of your dual-usage is to subsume the entirety of the world outside a nation's border walls under the concept of "prison" but even here too we still lack an imprisoning subject. I imagine the right to erect border walls likewise ultimately derives from the principle of self-defense insofar as it can be demonstrated that certain immigration poses a threat to a nation and her peoples. How to go about this demonstration I have no idea but I see no reason why the idea of erecting a wall should be dismissed out of hand as violating the rights of the innocent.
  6. Here is a post I wrote a while back on iFunny and which I thought I might share here on OO. Shoutout to Grames for my partly mixed usage of his formulations on intrinsic value in paragraph six. ___ Marx, in writing Capital, held one Samuel Bailey's Critical Dissertation as an object of refutation. Bailey held that exchange-value was accidental: a thing's value is merely the amount of another thing for which it is exchanged. Contra Bailey, Marx conceived and argued for exchange-value as being distinct from value proper, and that the former represents merely a “manner of expression” of a commodity’s' intrinsic value. Marx wished to show that a commodity's value belongs not to that which it exchanges for, but to itself and that the act of exchange does not determine value but rather brings about the expression of values that commodities have prior to and independent of this act. Essentially, Marx's aim in the beginnings of Capital is not so much to present a “labor theory of value” as it is to present a real divorce between value and exchange-value in order to rectify the axiological divorcing of a commodity's value from itself. It is important to mention that while Marx does indeed consider value “an intrinsic property of the commodity itself” he does not consider value to be an absolutist, trans-historical, immutable reality. Rather value is and is determined by the socially necessary labor-time to engender the creation of any one marketable commodity. The reasons for this proposition will be explored only partly below. Now, let me turn to the purpose of this essay, of presenting and then refuting the conceptual underpinnings of Marx's presentation of the phenomenon of value along with his philosophic analysis of the commodity (the real focus of Marian axiology). “...neither 'value', nor 'exchange-value' are my subjects, but the commodity...What I start out from is the simplest social form in which the labour-product is presented in contemporary society, and this is the 'commodity'”. – Karl Marx Let us subject to analysis Marx's analysis of the commodity as subject. Because exchange-value appears as the ratio in which one commodity exchanges for another, and because this ratio is and can be in constant flux, exchange-value then seems to appear as something accidental and wholly relative and therefore intrinsic value must have no part in exchange or is a phenomenon the commodity does not possess. Marx wanted to determine whether the quantitative exchange ratio was accidental or determinate. He asks whether or not value is accidental – contingent upon and arising from the act of exchange, or rather is it the opposite – that value is intrinsic and inherent in the commodity itself. Marx attempts to prove this latter by means of his infamous and frequently misunderstood “third thing” argument. In essence he states that the illusion created by the exchange of one commodity for another wherein the second seems to be value itself and that the first is therefore valuable by virtue of its exchange with the first helps to hide that analyzing the “total form of value” helps demonstrate both that there is an identical content to each commodity, and that this content is distinct from any of the commodities themselves. He says, “...a common element of identical magnitude exists in two different things [being exchanged] … Both are therefore equal to a third thing, which in itself is neither the one nor the other”. Marx is not asking what allows commodities to be exchanged as many Austrian economists have presumed. He is merely analyzing the commodity. He is not asking how or why commodities exchange but as what do commodities exchange. Marx derives the existence of intrinsic value from a postulated exchange of equivalents, not equivalent exchange from a postulated existence of intrinsic value. Marx establishes that commodities exchange as bearers of intrinsic value, a 'third thing' present in each. It is time to refute this crucial tenet. First, value is a relational phenomenon. The concept of value presupposes answers to the questions, “Of value to whom?” and “For what?”. To show the faults of intrincism – of holding value to inhere in anything as such and omitting the necessity of valuer (“to whom?”) and purpose (“for what?”) – it is necessary only to show that this supposed intrinsic attribute is actually a relational one, i.e. to demonstrate the impossibility of existents being preferentially valenced as such.. It is true that physically there are observable intrinsic attributes like mass so it can not be argued that intrinsic attributes do not exist. The debate is merely whether or not value is such an attribute or instead relational. In the field of biology it can be demonstrated that for plants and animals that the same thing is both a benefit for one organism and a threat to another, i.e. that it is a value to one but not the other. This helps show that value or utility is ultimately agent-relative insofar as value must be seated in the context of a valuing agent and an end in order to be coherent. Value itself is ultimately biological (the concept of value is predicated on and born of the concept of “life”, see: The Objectivist Ethics) and that abstractions which are of value gain their status only as value in virtue of being instruments to achieve biological values (including life itself). There can be no demonstration of intrinsic value because such a demonstration would necessarily entail exhibiting a relation so there can be no possibility of ever disentangling value from a relation. Let's turn back to Marx. In exchange, this “third thing” is not actually a thing at all, but a disposition, a relation between exchangers and the objects of exchange. Exchange is not predicated on and nor does it evince any kind of say about the objects of exchange themselves, but only about the relation they hold to the exchangers; each exchanger values what he is exchanging for more than what he is exchanging lest the impetus for exchange be nonexistent. The ONLY “qualitatively equal” part is the concomitance of interests' of exchangers, not a concomitance or even existence of intrinsic values. The “third thing” is to be found in and is the relationship all exchangers hold toward what they are exchanging for – conceived gain (whether or not any party actually gains is irrelevant since the dispositions of the party members is all that matters). Just as Marx omits the conceptual necessity of a valuer for the existence of any and all values, so he omits the necessity of the relationship the valuer must play in order for values to be exchanged. There is no third thing, just as there are no intrinsic values. The existence of intrinsic value is not and can not be demonstrated or derived from a postulated exchange of equivalents because value does not inhere in any commodities and the determination of equivalency and the fruition of exchange depends on the very phenomenon Marx has omitted entirely -the valuer. Marx proceeds from his “third thing” argument to the question, “What is this third thing?” and by abstracting away all the superficial attributes of commodities ends up with answer, “that of being products of labor”. But as we have just seen, there is no such thing as this third thing. Indeed, while many have launched promising attacks on the Marxist labor theory of value, very few (if any) have gone deep enough and refuted the very idea that value could inhere in anything. And that whether or not one chooses to locate the determination of intrinsic value in socially-necessary labor-time or anything else is irrelevant because the nonexistence of intrinsic value is all that is relevant. Marx, who speaks of the alienation of the value from producer (a term actually more appropriately delimited to entrepreneurs and capitalists) alienates the very conceptual roots which make the phenomenon of value possible. Marx, who speaks of the inversion of subject and object, of value taking on an objective and autonomous role in the commodity, undercuts the very recognition of objectivity – an epistemological product of the interaction between subject and object (but Marx has done away with the subject in his axiological analysis) – and denies the attribute and even existence of the one truly autonomous entity in this relation – the individual valuer. Thus, Marx utterly fails in his analysis of the actual nature of the phenomenon of value and his political theories derivative of it are equally corrupt and non-indicative of the real world.
  7. I have two questions which are perhaps interrelated. 1) I have thrice now encountered criticisms of Objectivist Epistemology where it is claimed Rand is unambiguously ambiguous in her usage of the word "unit" (see: Steven Yate's Ayn Rand on Units, Essences, and the Intrinsic, and Merlin Jetton's Omissions and Measurement). They claim she uses it to serve both as a concept which refers to a distinct existent as member of a conceptual classification, "as a separate member of two or more similar members", and which refers also to totally invented standards of measurement such as the yard, pound, or watt. This latter group is usually characterized as units of measurement and rings of the colloquial understanding of "unit". The purpose of pointing out (I guess) this so-called ambiguity is to identify the important difference between something's status as a unit in virtue of being similar to the other members of a conceptual classification and something's status as a unit in virtue of being an invented, arbitrary standard of measurement. Does this criticism actually mean or entail anything important and does Rand's analysis in ITOE in anyway suffer from it? Could we also employ the "principle of two definitions" here, in saying that the same word is used to "preserve the unity of knowledge" (Piekoff) because the same referents are being referred to? Namely, instances of a given concept (yards, pounds, and watts can all be understood as instances of the identification of a relationship, i.e. as units of measurement). 2) The "principle of two definitions" says that no equivocation takes place because the same referents are specified and in Objectivism the meaning of a concept are its referents, i.e. two different meanings are not being employed. Now say my friend says power over others is a value (using the basic definition of value) because it is something he acts to gain and/or keep and I say power over others is not a value (using the definition of value wherein the normative perspective of Objectivism is imported - "...neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud..."). He is referring to the fact that he acts to gain and/or keep power over others and I am referring to the fact that he acts to gain and/or keep something non-conducive to man's survival qua man. Power over others and something non-conducive to man's survival qua man here refer to the same thing yet it would seem like the two of us mean something very different. He is saying power is a value and I am saying power is not a value despite that the fact that both of us mean the exact same thing (colloquially, this assertion would be baffling to most people I'm sure). Therefore what word or concept should be used to explain our differences since it is not true that we mean different things (perspective?) and/or do propositions take on or add an element of meaning beyond that of its constituent concepts? Thanks in advance. It is usually a great help to not have to think through these things totally on my own.
  8. Thanks for the correction.
  9. You can not prove any axiom is an axiom. No axiomatic concept can be proved because there is no way of escaping the importation of those axiomatic concepts into the premises on which your proof necessarily depends, i.e. there is no way to escape circular reasoning. Volition's status as metaphysically given can not be proved because it is its status and reality as being metaphysically given that makes possible the concept, application, and method of any and all proofs. Volition is the means by which we direct/steer our cognition and assign the status of things like "true" and "proved" and so volition can not then itself be judged as true or be proven.
  10. By "metaphysically causal" do you mean external pressures and compulsion and by "epistemically causal" do you mean internal causation by the conceptual faculty and its contents?
  11. The denial of a thing as itself subsumes the affirming of a thing as that which it is not. There are and I haven spoken with many ardent Communists who describe private property as theft, i.e. deny that a thing is itself. There are also millions of people who believe God exists, i.e. deny that a thing is itself (in this case our subject is nonexistent). The Law of Identity is necessarily called upon in every claim and is the precondition to any claim retaining a status as meaningful. A failure to grasp the axiomatic and thus ever-pervasive effects of the LOI does not make those effects disappear. While it is probably true that the LOI itself has little conscious effect on most people, the denial of the LOI scarcely has any rivals with respect to its impact on anybody and everybody's life. It has long been known that Rand attributed to Aristotle a formulation of the LOI which he never presented. No.
  12. Hello Grames. I am a huge fan of many of your previous posts regrading topics of causality, volition, and perception specifically. Will you be returning to post more on the forums?
  13. I am not advocating a personal theory of value apart from the Objectivist understanding. The point here was just to imitate Rand's discussion of the intrincisim/subjectivism/objectivism trichomoty but with the concept of exchange value as opposed to the concept of value with the Objectivist importation of the normative standard of man's survival qua man ("value is that which is conducive to Man's life"). I am however interested in your suggesting a relationship between volition and objectivity on the axiological level. I understand that objectivity on the epistemological demands a willful, volitional adherence to a logical methodology. I am not acquainted however with the ties between volition and the having or not having objective values (do you mean values which are or are not promoting the moral standard of man's life?). No, I am totally unfamiliar with Piekoff's position. I just adopt what I belive to be the Objectivist stance. I understand metaphysical objectivity as referring to those existents which exist independently of any and all minds. I understand epistemological objectivity as referring to a specific cognitive methodology (a logical, i.e. reality-oriented one) whose end product necessarily consititues knowledge. Both the method and its products are "objective".
  14. Any economic theory of value resolves usually to account for and explain one thing: the phenomenon and nature of exchange value. I hold Orthodox Marxists as being intrinsicists in that they ground exchange value in an absolutist theory of value wherein value is a function of a commodities' "congealed, socially necessary labor time", irrespective of any and all valuers as such. I hold Austrians as being subjectivists in that they ground exchange value in the valuer's subjective state, irrespective of any consideration of the object of evaluation as such. The concept value presupposes a valuing agent and a purpose for valuing. Marxists omit the agent and hold value to inhere within commodities. Austrians omit the purpose and hold value to inhere within the minds of men. Following Rand's thematic lead in her essay, "What is Capitalism?" and with an understanding of the relational nature of value, we can escape this false economic dichotomy. An evaluation is a function of a relationship between a valuer and an object of value. All objects of value serve to (or have the potential to) satisfy some end or purpose of a valuer. Thus value, in fashion similar to that of the concept of "unit" in ITOE, does not exist in commodities qua commodities, nor purely in the mind, but in an objectively (whether or not the attainment of some object engenders or constitutes the fruition of some held end can be determined by reference to the facts of reality) demonstrable relationship between commodity and the mind which values it. Economists have long been puzzled as how to understand the mechanics underlying the exchange of commodity X for commodity Y. Marxists have answered that there is a fundamental unit of value (socially necessary labor-time) congealed within the commodities in exchange and that exchange is only possible where there exists an equality between this labor-time congealed in X and Y. But if we take the relational nature of value into account, we see that the possibility of exchange is not a function of a given amount of commodities' concomitance of shared intrinsic value, nor of a given amount of exchangers' concomitance of shared subjective valuing, but of the objective concomitance of the the double (or more) inequality of value (between exchangers) any given commodity holds in relation to any given exchangers. In other words, exchange is made possible only because each party involved in the exchange stands (or believes) to gain from the exchange; the exchangers value what is being exchanged differently. In still other words, exchange is made possible not because two objects of exchange represent intrinsic values of equal measure, nor because two objects of exchange are subjectively valuable for any or no reason, but because each object of exchange holds a differing objective value in relation to different valuers/exchangers. Economists haven't been looking in the right places for value. What precedes and makes possible exchange is not the concomitance of equal value in the commodities exchanged (there's no such thing), nor even the concomitance of some kind of intensity of subjective valuation of exchangers, but the objective concomitance of each person in exchange standing to gain from it. For exchange between X and Y to occur, it does not matter how much some owner A of X values X or how much some owner B of Y values Y, only that 1) A values Y more than X, 2) B values X more than Y, 3) A values Y more than B values Y, and 4) B values X more than A values X. Exchange is made possible by the conceived or real potential for win-win interaction, not by an equality of disembodied values, nor by an equality of intensity between the subjective valuers' valuing of what they exchange away. Questions/comments/critique?
  15. 4 different posts completely absolved my confusion. Thanks for the responses.