Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Invictus2017

  1. "Shot Caller" Looks At Nazis In Prison

    The movie is wrong. Prisoners can run the prison without the aid of an external gang,. It's the inadequate and indifferent staff -- and the public's indifference to these things -- that make it possible (and, actually, necessary) that the prisoners run the prison. And the "shot caller" is a prisoner, not someone on the outside. Nope. These gangs are only a tiny part of the problem.
  2. "Shot Caller" Looks At Nazis In Prison

    There is a fundamental paradox inherent in any exercise of power over another. In order to coerce you, I have to, at least temporarily, place my purposes above your existence. But you are an end in yourself, not a means to any other person's end. Whether I am a prison guard controlling prisoners or a man defending himself from a would-be murderer, the person I act on is, at least temporarily, not-human in my eyes. This is not a big deal in the case of self-defense; few people are corrupted by a single episode of ignoring the humanity of another. But a prison guard (or a politician) does this day in and day out. Only a person who has been inoculated against this sort of corruption and who practices a rigorous mental hygiene has any hope of avoiding this sort of corruption. Everyone else will eventually come to regard those who he has power over as not-human and will act accordingly. This is above and beyond mere venality, as in a guard paid to overlook prison rules, or fear, as in a guard acting under threat. Even if these last two things could be eliminated, there would still be the problem that guards will cease to see those they guard as human. Once they do, they will mistreat prisoners, improperly supervise rehabilitation programs, and routinely fail to understand what is happening in prison and the nature of the prisoners they deal with. The real solution, as I said, is to be found in a redesign of the justice system; merely addressing the guards' failings won't really help. I haven't thought this all the way through, but my redesign goes something like this: A person's trial (and there would always be a trial, even if it is just a defendant standing up in front of a jury and admitting to facts that prove his guilt) would be concerned with whether he had violated someone's rights and what he must do in restitution. This would be, in effect, a civil proceeding. A finding of guilt would trigger a second proceeding, akin to sentencing, but with a different purpose. The purpose of this second proceeding would be a determination of whether the person should have his rights restricted for the purpose of reducing the chance that he will violate someone's rights again. This would be, in effect, a criminal proceeding, with its heightened proof requirements. (You'll note that I do not address retribution. I see no point, and much harm, in merely hurting someone to get back at him for something he did.) Prison would be reserved for those people who are so dangerous that nothing outside of prison would serve to protect others from their predations. Lesser offenders would be separated from opportunities to cause further rights violations and would be closely monitored, but not imprisoned. In all cases, the end of these sanctions would be dependent on the person proving himself no longer a danger to others' rights. NB: You may have noticed that I dropped the terminology relating to criminality. While the nature of any sanctions, beyond restitution, would depend on whether the person acted out of criminality or (say) because he was psychotic, the goal is always the protection of others' rights. The thoroughly evil would get prison, the insane would get a psych hospital, neither would be allowed back on the streets while their condition was unchanged. Within this sort of system, its a lot clearer what must happen in a prison. First, prisoners would always be those adjudicated as dangerous to others. It would be entirely appropriate for them to be confined individually, as is presently done in supermax prisons. Those prisoners desiring a return to society would have to move themselves through an extended procedure to teach them to respect rights and to verify that they've learned their lessons. Such a tightly controlled system would be much safer for the guards, with less opportunity for the prisoners to do them harm or to harm other prisoners. To ensure that the guards aren't corrupted by their duties, their actions in the prison would be monitored, and they would undergo periodic evaluations, a failure of which would require them to enter what amounts to therapy in order to regain their objectivity before they're allowed to go back to guarding.
  3. "Shot Caller" Looks At Nazis In Prison

    I rather suspect that I'm unique here in that I actually know something about prisons, having spent over a decade imprisoned in them. First off, anything any academic, government person, or prison employee says about prisons is almost certainly nonsense. Most of these people are ignorant. The rest, dishonest. Stuff coming from current and former prisoners generally isn't much better. Real prison reform is an impossibility. Why? First, because of the prisoners. Second, because of prison staff. Many prisoners are, frankly, unfit for human society. They believe in violence, direct or indirect, as the foundation of all relationships. These people run the prisons precisely because they are willing to use violence to achieve their ends. (NB: Prison violence is generally rare -- but the threat of violence is not.) Why don't prison staff stop them? One critical reason is simply the prisoner/guard ratio. In the low security prison I spent much time in, it was over 360 men in a unit with one, count 'em one, guard -- who sat in his office almost all the time, generally leaving only to do rounds, once an hour. More secure prisons have more guards, but we're still talking many tens to one. (NB: Prisons have other staff than guards, but it is the guards who are, in effect, the policemen.) But the big problem is a failure of objectivity caused by the nature of being prison staff. "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely". Those who must exercise power daily over others can avoid corruption only by a concerted effort to spot and rectify it. No such effort is being made, so the people running prisons are almost entirely unable to perceive the nature of prisons or of prisoners. That alone makes prison reform impossible. Changing these facts would require a complete redesign of the criminal justice system -- actually, a creation of a criminal justice system, since the one we have no longer serves justice.
  4. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I've got too much on my plate right now. I am still nitpicking "The Objectivist Ethics" and hope to have a new post sometime before Hell freezes over. I think I will have to write something to restart the discussion about my proposed city, since everyone seems to have deserted it at the same time. And the immigration discussion has prompted me to start an essay on immigration in an Objectivist society. (Which I can justify to myself on the ground that I will have to examine the topic sooner or later because it will be an issue with my proposed city.) I just don't have time for another serious discussion. I wouldn't have posted here, except I just couldn't remain silent in the face of the unwarranted verbal abuse going on. As a general proposition, I would say that it's better to say that someone has failed to grasp a particular point of reasoning than to say that he was evading it. In Objectivist circles, "evasion" is just too loaded to use casually. And I'd suggest that any such comments should always be made privately, for much the same reason.
  5. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I think we are agreed on what constitutes prejudice: an ungrounded belief about a person based on group membership. In this sense, it doesn't matter whether the group is defined by hair color or skin color, age or sex, because the essence is "ungrounded". (A grounded belief, such as the proposition that racists are immoral, would not be prejudice.) I think I see where our difference lies. If I am judging people based on whether they are prejudiced, the difference between the person who won't date redheads, believing them to have a temper, and the person who would legally consign Blacks to the back of the bus, believing them to be subhuman, is one of degree rather than of kind. In this case, it makes no sense to distinguish between what I called "mere prejudice" and racism, however defined. It is a different matter if I am concerned with the social consequences of prejudice. The guy who won't date redheads only harms himself, but the guy who would legally consign Blacks to the back of the bus intends or desires to violate the rights of Blacks. In this case, the difference is not merely one of degree but of kind. So, whether there are subordinate concepts to "prejudice" depends on one's purpose -- as it should. You're more concerned with judging the individual, I'm more concerned with the social consequence. From your point of view, all -ists are essentially the same, because they share the same moral fault. From mine, I want terms to distinguish the -ists who would violate rights from those who would not, because of how their shared moral fault differs in its impact on society. (And I'm still open to a better term than "racist'. "Tribalist"?) In other words, except in the matter of word choices, we're both right. I see no mud slinging. Contrast our discussion with the ad hominems floating about. When someone claims that another person is "evading" (to take a single example) , he is not merely asserting that the other person has failed to take something into account, he is asserting that the other person is immoral. Even if that were true, such an observation is not useful -- except possibly to explain why he won't continue the discussion. It has no place in a discussion.
  6. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I mean a rejection of the proposition that someone is in fact a human being. Generally, today, this isn't explicit. Racists rarely say, "Blacks aren't really people". Instead, they might say that Blacks are genetically disposed to do bad things, thus rejecting the idea that Blacks have free will, an essential aspect of being a human being. Does that clarify what I mean? Likely. But they're still focusing on some irrelevancy, something that has nothing to do with whether Blacks are really people. I think we're disagreeing more on terminology than substance. I use the word "racist" because I really don't want to have umpteen different words for what is essentially the same phenomenon. What people do when they deny the humanity of Blacks is racist. Of women, sexist. Of adolescents -- there is no name for it, but it's equally evil. So what word covers all of these things? If you have a better word than racist, by all means toss it my way! So, understanding that I'm grouping all these -ists (and many more) under the rubric of racist, I would identify two different concepts. A racist rejects the humanity of some group of human beings. He typically demonstrates this rejection by denying rights to people in that group. A person who is prejudiced holds unfounded notions about some group, without denying their humanity. He typically demonstrates his prejudice through his associational decisions. (A person might not deny another's humanity, but nevertheless deny rights to that person. I would also call that racist, because that denial of rights amounts to a denial of humanity, even if the racist consciously affirms the humanity of those whose rights he would violate.) The two things I described are not the same. Using the words as I just described: The prejudiced person does not deny the humanity of those against whom he is prejudiced. The racist does. Associational decisions are not a legal matter. Denying rights is. Prejudice is, in general, merely stupid. Racism is always reprehensible. I thinks those differences are enough to make it worthwhile to have two separate concepts. Well, it's certainly true that racism and prejudice (as I'm using the terms) have a lot in common. Both involve unfounded negative beliefs about people of some group. Perhaps we might resolve this by describing both phenomena as "prejudice", and calling what I labeled "prejudice" as "mere prejudice", as opposed to its nastier brother "racism". That is, the upper level concept, subsuming all sorts of unfounded negative beliefs about groups, is "prejudice". It has two sub-concepts, differentiated by whether those unfounded beliefs amount to a denial of humanity. When they don't, it's "mere prejudice"; when they do, it's "racism". (I'm still using "racism" here to include every variety of negative -ist.) The thing is, I really can't lump together those with mere prejudice, even when it's against a historically abused group, with people who deny another's humanity or trample on their rights. There is a world of difference between the guy who won't date redheads because of their reputed temper, and the guy who thinks that Blacks can be relegated to the back of the bus or even bought and sold. It has nothing to do with the fact that redheads aren't a race and Blacks (supposedly) are. The important distinction is that the former does not deny the humanity of redheads and would not deny their rights, but the latter would.
  7. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I responded to you because I wanted to nix the idea that my silence in any way amounted to an endorsement of the evil ideas being bandied about. I did not mean to suggest that you were among those slinging mud. It is possible. I can't say because once the mud started flying, I stopped paying serious attention. In any case, here is my take on racism (you'll note that I'm addressing the idea, not the character of anyone in this discussion): Let me first define what I mean by "racism": The denial of essential humanity to a person on a ground that they possess some irrelevant characteristic such as skin color. This denial is typically manifested by a racist forwarding the proposition that a person possessing the characteristic should be denied some or all of the rights accorded to the racist's preferred group. There is this folklore that redheads have more of a temper than other people. Now, suppose I decide that I don't care for women who have a temper and so refuse to date redheads. Am I a racist? No. Because I have not denied essential humanity to redheads, nor does my refusal to date them deny them of anything they have a right to. This would be as true if I refused to serve redheads at a restaurant I owned, or if the irrelevant characteristic I acted on was dark skin color. I would be stupid to act this way, denying myself the benefits of association with redheads or people with dark colored skin, but I wouldn't deserve the tag "racist". Conversely, if I decided that temper was a Bad Thing and that, as it was heritable with hair color, redheads should not be allowed to reproduce, I would be a racist, and deserving of vehement condemnation. Ditto if I decided that dark skinned people -- or transgendered people -- should be denied the right to use public bathrooms that were appropriate to their plumbing. So what would I make of someone who argues that Blacks in Africa were less intelligent than Whites in Europe and thus could not have developed capitalism? I would think they're ignorant and prone to get their information from unreliable sources. I would not think they're racist. I might killfile them, on the ground that I don't want to waste my time on someone so ill-informed, but that's as far as I'd be willing to go. I am aware that many people will not make the distinction I make, between people who rely on inappropriate characteristics to decide who to associate with and people who rely on inappropriate characteristics to decide who is truly human. But that this is an important distinction should be evident, and I'm simply not willing to lump together both sorts of people and claim them equally evil. I'm more sympathetic to the view that people who rely on inappropriate characteristics to decide on whom they associate with might enable the true racists and thereby promote racism. This is, in fact, why advancing the notion that redheads have more temper than most isn't as big a deal as advancing the notion that Blacks on average have lower IQ's. The former can be treated as merely silly; the latter could play right into the narratives of true racists, and might properly be denounced on that ground -- but not as racist per se. (Watch Invictus duck for cover, expecting mud from certain quarters....sigh.)
  8. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    Initially, I stayed out of the discussion because I'm busy and the topic seemed silly. Then the discussion degenerated to ad hominem, and that was that as far as I'm concerned. I will not get involved when people decide to throw mud at one another. That just makes me dirty, to no benefit. The benevolence I mentioned was not for the evil ideas allegedly held by certain people. Those ideas deserve condemnation. It is for the people accused. Do people here really think we have cross-burning racists here? Is the evidence sufficiently strong as to justify the condemnations being made? I don't think so. I personally think some people here have some pretty idiotic ideas. But I attribute those ideas to ignorance, pigheadedness, and other venal sins that we all -- including me -- are capable of, not to some major evil in the people holding them, and will continue to do so until the evidence demands that I conclude otherwise. That is what I mean by benevolence, in this context.
  9. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    Is there a way to completely cut a topic out of this site's display? This topic is revolting me, with what I presume are ordinarily rational people behaving like trolls and worse. Remember benevolence, people, and don't be so quick to assume that a difference of opinion proves evil.
  10. I have added CartsBeforeHorses to my ignore list.  I cannot allow my time to be wasted by people who won't use their reason.

  11. I get notified when quoted.... The burden is on you to explain why lone-wolf terrorism should be treated specially. By the evidence, it needs no special treatment; ordinary police work is sufficient.
  12. I did my bit for perspective and sanity, and I have nothing material to add. As for this terrorist, I prefer Roark's answer to Toohey: "But I don't think of you." Evil is not important, not unless it happens to significantly affect my life, and neither this scum nor his brothers-in-murder are likely to affect my life even a little. Unless, of course, public hysteria about terrorism is used as an excuse to tighten up the American police state. But whose fault would that be? All of which is a long-winded way of saying, "I'm outta here". I need to return my attention to where it belongs, on ways of making a better future.
  13. Every religion has this potential. And mostly they do it to those they regard as their own. You are in essentially no danger from any Muslim, unless he is a common criminal who happens to be Muslim. On the other hand, you'll lose half of your productive effort to Christian-inspired taxation. (I'm not defending this guy, or even Islam. But rationality demands perspective. And this focus on a tiny number of terrorists, in the face of overwhelmingly greater threats, is anything but rational.)
  14. Nope. But.... The Northern Ireland mess resulted in 3,568 deaths in 1969-2010, slightly less than the total number of terrorism deaths in the US over a slightly shorter period. And Northern Ireland is rather smaller than the US.... Christians. Another religion of peace. Yeah for peace! Blame religions and pseudo-religions (like communism) for mass murder if you will. But don't single out any particular one of them.
  15. Facts are such pesky things. In the United States: Total number of murders in 2016: 17,250 Total number of alcohol related traffic deaths in 2016: 10,497 Total number of terrorist deaths in 2016: 68 In 2008-2016, There were 90 deaths from Islamic terrorists, 79 from right wing terrorists, and 7 from left wing terrorists. In the years 1970-2016, terrorists killed 3,663 people, most on 9/11. Terrorism isn't even close to being the biggest evil in the world, and all the hysteria in the world will not change that.
  16. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    Damn right it does! Whether one wants to set up a separate polity or persuade people in this one, one essential is a fleshed out legal system. Creating one is a goal that people on both sides of that debate should cooperate on.
  17. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    It is received wisdom among Objectivists (and many other freedom activists) that the way to deal with America's freedom deficit is, in essence, through persuasion. Persuade enough Americans to be Objectivists or near Objectivists or even libertarians and America will once again be a free country. Putting aside the questionable proposition that America was ever a free country, I'm of the view that persuasion has no reasonable chance of changing enough minds to make a difference. Two things have led me to this conclusion. The first is the failure of Objectivists and others to change the direction of the country. The second is what I saw when I tried to persuade. 1943 could be regarded as a watershed year, the year "The Fountainhead" was published and, arguably, modern libertarianism got its start. 75 years later, the federal government spends 44% more per capita (after adjusting for inflation) than it did then. The scope of federal regulation has increased dramatically and federal rights violations are now pervasive. Libertarianism has barely a toehold in American politics and thought, and the creatures in Washington who call themselves libertarian corrupt the term. There are plenty of Ayn Rand fans, including some of those same creatures, but few people have truly adopted her ideas. There's little point in even calling oneself an Objectivist -- most people haven't a clue what it means and the rest mostly have it wrong. In short, the modern attempt at persuading people to support freedom has been an abject failure. The conventional wisdom is to blame the messenger, to suppose that the American public would be all for freedom if only its proponents were better at explaining it. I have to call BS on this notion; the quantity and quality of libertarian and Objectivist propaganda, not to mention that reality is on the side of that propaganda, make it impossible to believe that merely improving either quantity or quality would make a difference. Besides, my personal experience with promoting liberty is completely at odds with that explanation. Ask an American if they want the government off their backs and you're likely to get a Hell Yes in response. They're all for freedom and being able to live their lives unmolested by the government. Dig deeper, though, and you'll find that most Americans really want "freedom for me, but not for thee". The government should get off the little guy's back but closely regulate business. Or, the government should get out of the businessman's way, but regulate private behavior. However divergent the particulars, the typical American is like every other one in that he sees the government as the means of imposing his will on others. You see the same phenomenon when it comes to government spending. One group says the government should support social programs, the other business, but both are united in the view that the government should take money from those who have it and give it to some preferred group. In short, liberal, conservative, or "independent", most Americans see the government as a means of serving private ends, rather than public necessities. Those are grudgingly served. Ask any judge or cop. This didn't spring up overnight. I trace it back to 1824, when the Supreme Court decided that the courts were not to take into account the intentions of the Founders when interpreting the Constitution to determine the extent of government powers. With no principles to limit the federal government's power, it was only a matter of time before those powers became effectively unlimited. Progressivism, around the beginning of the 20th Century, demanded and got the extension of those powers, and events since then have turned the government into Leviathan. The effect of the New Deal was to cement into the American psyche the idea that the government was the cure to all ills. Government was no longer to be limited, solving only particular, public problems, it was to solve all problems, public and private. Compulsory education, by precept and example, reinforced this notion. Entitlements went from being the province of those who wielded power to something everyone expected -- and then needed. Freedom and government power are incompatible. A person who believes in freedom and government power must necessarily distort his thinking in order to embrace the contradiction. He must evade the fact that freedom includes the freedom to fail and the freedom to suffer and even die; he must evade the fact that every government action by its nature involves a restriction on others and, when not limited to the absolutely necessary, is necessarily an infringement of freedom. But it doesn't stop there. Any person who accepts what he knows, deep down, to be evil, must necessarily condemn himself. And, to continue as he is, he must necessarily hide from himself both the evil and the condemnation. And all of this is aided and abetted by others around him, by the structures of society and, above all, by compulsory education. (Yes, I think it cemented America's downfall. But that's another topic.) The result is a nation of people who literally cannot think rationally about liberty. To do so, they would have to go against everything they've been taught, from infancy (share your toys!) on. They would have to confront the ways that they have used, or contemplated using, the government immorally. They would have to confront the fact that they do not know how to live free. And this is exactly what I discovered when I tried to persuade people of the rightness of freedom. The closer I got to the central necessity of freedom -- individual responsibility -- the further their counterarguments veered into the irrelevant and the just plain irrational. Americans have, deep down, rejected the idea that a person can stand alone on his own two feet. Sure, they have heroes, but heroes are them, not us, they are not ordinary people living ordinary lives. Americans do not want freedom; it frightens them. Arguing for freedom is, to the typical American, like arguing for stepping off a cliff -- because they have forgotten their wings, they know that doing so can only end in disaster. This is why persuasion has failed. As the saying goes, you can't reason a person out of what he wasn't reasoned into in the first place. Only two things are likely to change a mind so damaged: therapy and bitter experience. There aren't enough therapists to go around, so America -- and we -- will have to wait for bitter experience to teach it to value liberty. Before deciding what to do instead, one really needs to sit back and look at one's goals. If you're really, truly committed to getting America on the road to liberty, I might suggest joining the government and working for its expansion. Well, not really. Such a course of action might hasten the day that Americans get tired of their unfreedom, but it would be profoundly corrosive to you. Another approach would be to become a revolutionary and try to bring down the government, but it's waaaay to soon for that to be effective, and it's a good way to get pointlessly dead. It becomes easier if one's goal is not to save America, but instead to live as free a life as possible. In that case, the idea would be to form a community somewhere that is free at least within its borders. That particular idea has been looked at from many directions and I won't rehash all the things that didn't or can't work. One thing that might work is living on the oceans. You'd have a large floating object where people could live and carry out a reasonable life. This has been looked into, but the only real project I know of is the one by The Seasteading Institute. But they're suffering this political nonsense that makes even libertarianism look reasonable, and they've wimped out on the population and the independence that a viable free community would need. Still, another project for seagoing life, one more philosophically sound and large enough to be worthwhile, is a possibility. That said, my own proposal also involves a floating object, but 24 kilometers up. I've given it some thought and I've seen no show stoppers, but it's still a rough idea, one I hope to flesh out if I can get enough people interested in talking about it. My proposal would support up to 10,000 people (in families) living in an enclosed habitat with 100 square meters per person, for living space, food production, recreation, and so on. With that many people, the city (well, town might be more accurate) would have a real economy, capable of diversity and a little economic slack. Also plenty of people with whom to have a social life. The government would be designed from the ground up, grounded in Objectivist principles. Floating that high and moving with the wind, the city wouldn't be under any government's jurisdiction and wouldn't even be over any country for very long. The city would do its best to maintain friendly relationships with other countries and would be economically integreted with the rest of the world. However, it would also be able to self-sustain for long periods, to avoid being blackmailed into giving up its freedom. I completely expect a host of "No way, can't be done" for a whole bunch of reasons -- it's what I got when I, ahem, floated the idea to some people I used to know. I've gone much deeper into this than I've written, but before I say more, I'd like to see what others have to say. BTW, I'm not wedded to this particular idea. If it proves impracticable, there's always the seagoing approach, and a few less likely possibilities. But I'm serious about getting out of America; unlike most of us, I have -- courtesy of the federal government -- no life to lose and every reason to want to be elsewhere.
  18. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    Actually, there is a third alternative: We can let prior decisions serve as precedent, as in the common law. This has a certain flexibility, allowing the courts to deal with errors in the law on a case-by-case basis, while providing a more stable law than letting each judge or juror decide. In a sense, this makes the legal process serve as a public debate over what the law should be. There can be no fixed rule as to whether an erroneous law should be ignored or enforced; it depends on the particular law. For example, a law that criminalizes behavior that has no victim should be ignored, and a person's conviction under such a law would be properly vacated in a later proceeding. On the other hand, a law that slightly misproportions awards in civil cases might be enforced with respect to cases already decided and ignored in future cases. A law that erroneously imposes mutual obligations between parties might either be enforced in toto, requiring all parties to abide by it, or not at all, dissolving all obligations -- and the choice might properly be up to the parties and not a matter of law at all (unless the parties cannot come to agreement).
  19. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    Expanding on this: In some cases, the answers cannot be derived from principles at all. To give an example from another area, it is essential that people in a given geographical area drive on one side of the road. But nothing in nature, to my knowledge, says that it should be the right side or the left side. The decision is entirely arbitrary. But someone has to make it and enforce it. In the case of copyright, for example, it is rather unlikely that any reasoned analysis will be able to say that a copyright duration of X years is better or worse than X+1 years. But in order that copyright be properly enforced, an X must be picked, so that copyright holders and those who use copyrighted works know what to expect from their government and how to cooperate with one another in the creation and use of copyrighted material. In an objective system of law, many things will be determined by principle and are therefore not subject to political (or judicial) change. But many other things will have to be nailed down merely to make the law objective. In such cases, a representative body or the judicial system can pick whatever answer suits them, within the limits imposed by principle.
  20. The Objectivist Ethics - Man's survival qua man

    No, this is an epistemological rule. There is a relationship, in that ethics says that you should be rational, and should therefore follow the epistemological rules. But it is epistemology that says that, to be rational, you must not let emotions be a part of a process of reason (except as data, as in when you reason about emotions). Any emotion is a consequence of prior cognition -- or lack of cognition, as the case may be. But emotions are more than mere summaries of prior cognition and can be entirely arbitrary in certain circumstance. This is why they are not to be used in a process of reason. Your last statement is correct. But, taking your train example, if that train is right about to hit you, you don't spend time on cognition, you let your fear galvanize you into action. After, you can think, having ensured that there will be an after. No. Although I can't imagine a situation where one has NO facts, I can certainly think of situations where one has insufficient facts and no way to get them in time. In that case, one might be forced to rely on emotions, as inaccurate as they can be. But in such a case, one would tag any conclusions as highly tentative, and subject to later scrutiny. So, for example, you're walking down the street at night and you see someone who sets off alarm bells. You cross the street, just to play it safe.. The next day, you happen across the same person but in a safe environment. You don't take into account your emotional reaction of the night before; you spend the time in social interaction in order to gain the facts needed to properly evaluate the man. Yes it does, as it did when Rand presented her ethics without explaining that it applied to the context of ordinary life. That left her ethics open the criticism that it made no sense in emergencies. Only when she was taken to task for the apparent absurdity of applying her ethics in emergencies did she explain that her ethics applied only in a particular context, that of ordinary life. In my view, the fact that many parts of Objectivism only apply in particular contexts needs to be made more clear, and the nature of those contexts must be made explicit. For example, the Objectivist ethics applies in the context of an adult human being who is capable of guiding his life by reason living in a society that allows him to be productive when there is no emergency (I think that covers it). It does not apply to children, certain mental defectives, in unfree societies, or duirng a natural disaster, to name some cases. In such cases, it is necessary to go back to first principles to determine whether there is a proper (nontrivial) ethics and what it is.
  21. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    Underlying that is an important point: All the fancy constitutions, laws, and legal procedures in the world won't mean a thing if the populace doesn't care about them. If I populate my city with socialists, it soon would be socialist, no matter what I wanted. In an imaginary world, the city would contain only Objectivists. In the real world, there will be children, if nothing else, who won't be Objectivists and who might not grow up to be Objectivists. Non-Objectivists might want to move in, and there's no legitimate way to stop them from doing so, if they can convince someone to rent or sell them property. Objectivists who move in might well bring along friends and family who are not Objectivists. Also, I've noticed that there are a lot of Objectivists who value security and material goods more than freedom. (Or, maybe, who haven't faced how unfree they really are.) I suspect that, until that changes, I'll have trouble filling my city with Objectivists. But there are undoubtedly many people who accept enough of the basics that they'd be good neighbors and even good citizens. (And then there's the arguments over who exactly is an Objectivist....) My current thought goes like this: Adults living in the city would either be residents or citizens. Residents would be obligated to follow the law, and would not be allowed to be residents without agreeing to do so. Citizens would have rights and obligations that residents don't have, relating to the governance of the city. It therefore would be necessary that citizens demonstrate their understanding and acceptance of the essential principles in order to become and remain citizens. It is they who would shape the society, through their participation in governance, and their actual acceptance of those principles would be the guarantee (as much as there can be one) that the city would protect rights. Including IP rights.
  22. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    I assume from this that you haven't read my introductory posts. To make a long story short, I have been compelled to choose between unjust imprisonment or living as a fugitive. I have chosen the latter. Rather more than the typical Objectivist, I have a need to live in a place where freedom -- and its requirement, justice -- is practiced. My situation also precludes me from the usual forms of productive work. So, I have chosen this project as my career. One point that I would hope is obvious: Constructing this society is not a one man job. My goal at the moment is to find people with enough interest that they can deal with the things I can't. So, about IP. Yes, it should be protected. And, at some point, someone will have to fit that into the legal framework. Might you be interested in doing it? My current familiarity with the law is largely from an intensive examination of a system that doesn't work, the American legal system. There are many things about that system that are worth carrying over -- things often preached more than practiced -- and many more things that are not. One essential point is that no legal system can be written in stone. Even more than when America was founded, the world changes. What a legal system must have is procedures and legal principles that allow it to adapt while still seeing that justice is done. In the American system, procedure has been elevated over substance and principle too often gets no more than lip service. Any redesign must begin with the proposition that the goal is seeing that rights are protected and that all procedures and principles are means to that end. Beyond that, I won't go -- I have way too many other things on my plate. Also, it seems that others have been giving this serious thought and I need to find out what they are thinking. Perhaps I can get some of them to work on implementing the legal system.
  23. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    The American Founders knew well that a judicial system that functioned outside the public's supervision would become abusive. In today's America, safeguards built into the Constitution, the grand jury and a public trial, have been subverted. The prosecutor has near complete control over what material is submitted to a grand jury, and he has no obligation to submit exculpatory material. As one judge famously put it, a good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. The result is that grand juries generally serve as rubber stamps for prosecutorial decisions, rather than the shield against unjust prosecutions they are supposed to be. The plea process happens entirely outside the public's eye. By the time the public can have any knowledge of what is going on -- when the plea is offered to the judge -- everything has already been decided. And even there, the public has no say over what happens. As a rule, defendants cannot hire their own lawyers, since doing so is too expensive. Instead, they get court appointed lawyers. These court appointed lawyers -- paid for by the government -- have no interest in bringing in the public and are sometimes forbidden to do so. The result is that the modern American prosecution is not really about seeing justice done, it is an essentially government controlled administrative process, done almost entirely outside the public's awareness, and with no input from the public wanted or allowed. Defendants are routinely coerced into entering guilty pleas, even when the government does not have adequate evidence of guilt. Due process has become a shibboleth, without substance. An Objectivist government must avoid the American mistakes. Among the requirements of its judicial system must be that a defendant who wishes to plead guilty must do so by admitting the necessary facts to a jury, which may then convict him if it finds that his admissions prove a crime.
  24. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    Your questions are far too broad, since I have no clue what you might want to do. In any case, freedom isn't about what you are able to do or accomplish, it is about what you are forbidden, under threat of violence (or equivalent), to do. It is my intention that the place be a decent place to live but it will unavoidably be a less rich place, in many respects. It's unlikely to support a symphony orchestra, say. If you want beef, you'll almost certainly have to import it. There are a lot of Objectivists who think their standard of living outweighs the unfreedom they also suffer, and who would therefore not be interested in my project. That's their choice, of course.
  25. The Objectivist Ethics - Man's survival qua man

    Then using one's emotional evaluation can be a reasoned approach. Or is that considered a whim? Keep in mind the context: situations where "reasoning is impracticable or impossible". In such situations, you still need a guide to action, and you're stuck with your emotions, whether you're an Objectivist or a whim worshipper. Well, unless you want to do the equivalent of flipping a coin.... Such situations do arise in ordinary life, so it behooves a rational person to ensure that his emotions generally prompt him to the same action he would take were he to have the ability to employ his reason. This is not whim, since a whim is an unexamined desire. (Actually, any contradiction would be with the epistemology, not the ethics.) Context, again. When you're engaged in a process of reason, it is clearly both practicable and possible to reason. It's what you're doing. No emotions are then allowed. In other contexts, the requirement to not use emotions as a tool of cognition does not necessarily follow. (Rand made this point with respect to ethics: It applies to a specific context and, when the context does not obtain, such as when one's life is in immediate danger, the principles of the ethics are not necessarily true. As she acknowledged, there needs to be a separate "ethics of emergencies" to deal with such situations.)