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Jason Hunter

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  1. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    That's not an argument. How is it false? If we were all Objectivists, society would be in peace and harmony. No lying, stealing, killing etc. The trader principle would reign in both economic and spiritual relationships. There would be no conflicts of interest or contradictions among rational men in a free society either, according to Rand. When you start saying "If you knew anything about Objectivism you would know that" you're losing the argument. What alternatives are you referring to? I have been clear. Duty is an unchosen obligation separate from any value calculation. (unless those value calculations are extreme). Asking me for a rational justification of its source is a separate matter. It is hardly a non-argument that throughout history people have judged relationships on more than just rational value calculations. Duty has been a consistent thread. The blood connection has always had what one might consider a "mystical" element. I have even provided a rational explanation for why the family is meaningless if only judged on value calculations as well as appealing to history.
  2. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Thank you for the correction. I haven't read "Philosophy, who needs it?" but I can't can see Rand has an essay called "Causality vs duty" and ive just read sections of it available on the lexicon and it basically explains in more detail what you've said there. I am suggesting if one were to start trying to rationally justify duty, they might start with the fact that we are reproductive beings. I currently do not have the knowledge to get into that and you're best off seeking out the best arguments already out there to justify duty as I will do. My focus in this thread is about the utility of duty. I have never claimed to justify it rationally but I do not dismiss the possibility that it can be justified rationally or morally. I am simply observing the way human beings behave in reality not how they *should* behave based on abstract priciniples. Its almost as if Objectivism is saying "if only humans behaved this way, there wouldn't be any wars, crime, lying, no conflicts of interest no contradictions etc and society would be at peace etc" but the problem is they simply don't think and act that way and they never will. It's like saying "if only humans didn't act like humans". And pointing out an extreme minority that apparently claim to behave that way (Rand declaring she is living proof - a single human being) is hardly indicative of human nature compared to hundreds of millions of humans across times, locations, cultures and races .
  3. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    If one has the opportinity to steal but the likelihood of getting caught is very high and the punishment severe then one can reason the risk outweighs the benefit. In this sense reason has a clear role to play. But the idea that without this deterrent, humans could rely on reason alone to deter themselves is absurd and flies in the face of history. Only a tiny minority could ever live that way. (And it probably wouldn't last). In an objectivist world, if the deterrent has any role to play in why one acts morally, then reason is failing to the extent to which the deterrent is working (certainly reason from Objectivist premises). In the real world, whatever power we do have over our inherent leanings means very little if we don't exercise that power, if we disagree on what is and is not reasonable or if most of us simply don't have the time or interest to ponder what is and is not rational. Instead of relying on reason, social institutions and traditions arise (with duty as a key component) and combine with reason to deal with those inherent leanings as more effective tools than reason alone could ever be. Regarding the population density, it is the least relevant to this thread and I found it confusing. Certainly the weakest argument. I found the sections on the family and human nature especially compelling.(he said "sort of" like the fallacy. The general point stands that it is strange reproduction is missing from the philosophy when it is so interconnected with life). It is worth the read if you do get the time.
  4. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I suppose the strongest argument would be that it comes from nature as we are reproductive beings. How do you describe the Objectivist duty to pricinples? What exactly is that duty where does it come from etc? Whatever your answer, just add reproduction as a value as well as your own life.
  5. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I thought that might get picked up. Apologies for being vague. Let's put it this way, human behaviour is seen as far more malleable for Objecivists (and many of the englishtenment thinkers). It stems from a firm belief in the power of reason to overcome human flaws and irrational behaviour. While conservatives also believe we have a great deal of control (individual responsibility is a corner stone of their ideology), they also believe there are significant flaws inherent in human nature that can only be constrained not cured. They place less importance on the power of reason and more importance on the power of incentives to guide human behaviour. Take theft. This is something humans have always done everywhere you look. And often they're perfectly capable of understanding it is wrong. Even more seemingly moral people would steal if they knew they could get away with it. It is said the true test is seeing if someone steals when they know no one is looking. Out of this inherent problem in human nature arose a counter measure: the all-seeing God. If God is watching you all the time, another layer of resistance against theft is achieved. This is is far more powerful than reasoning with someone that stealing is bad. This is just an example, I'm an atheist /agnostic. Of course, Objectivists and the left come to very different conclusions but the fundamental assumption about the power of reason and the malleability of human behaviour opens the door to a multitude of harmful policies. I mentioned the rise of pacifism in the 30s as a direct result of this belief. (Rand was also critical of US entry in WW2). Another example is the focus on criminal rehabilitation over punishment to reduce crime. This topic could warrant a separate thread. I agree there were a multitude of reasons for the fall of the old order pre-1914. I wasn't claiming the blank slate view was the only or most important cause. However, the rejection of tradition (including the Christian tradition of objective morality and emphasis on individual responsibility) and the focus on starting the world over again was significant to say the least. Fascism was a hybrid. It used traditional symbolism as it's face but it piggy backed off of the progressive ideals including building a new world. (Germany was the most progressive country in western world pre-1914 and the largest party was socialist in 1914). Fascism was a reaction to communism but both ideologies were fishing from the same pond. They didn't deny the power of reason. HG Wells, a leading progressive light in the 30s, spoke at Oxford calling for us all to become "enlightened fascists". And Lenin believed he was part of a vanguard elite, an enlightened minority meant to guide the masses. There are many parallels with Objectivsts (who also consider themselves part of an intellectual elite) but they come to different practical conclusions. I agree with your comment about individual rights but the term was just reinvented. They believed in a different kind of rights and claimed they were on the side of morality -"the freedom to" rather than "freedom from". She wrote an essay "roots of war" and I thought she discussed the end of war with Donahue in an interview on YouTube. Maybe I'm misremembering. I agree with a lot of what she says. The problem I have is the basic assumption that reason (or lack of) is at the core of war and that it can be solved through reason. Interestingly, the ARI has taken a different view on interventionism, promoting it in the Middle East. Regarding your last point, fascism is a hybrid (check out the book liberal fascism which points out its progressive origins) so it's entirely possible to not be fascist and not elevate the power of reason. The ideology I'm referring to is conservatism; small state, prudence etc - what fascism isn't.
  6. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    @[email protected] MorrisIn your last replies, both of you have hit on the fundamental disagreement at play here. It is a disagreement about human nature. One of Rand's basic assumptions about human nature is that we are born Tabula rasa. This doesn't just mean we are born without knowledge but also without any innate tendencies. Man may be limited by nature in a physical sense but in terms of his character, attitudes and behaviour etc, man's mind is free reign. If you hold this blank slate view of man, all emphasis is on nurture rather than nature. It means you place far greater significance on the influence of competing ideologies to explain past human behaviour rather than particular ideologies, practices, traditions etc resulting out of man's attempt to deal with human nature as it is. In this sense, Objectivism shares a fundamental root with the left wing. This view of man flourished in the age of the enlightenment and led to great optimism about the potential of mankind. Man could mold society to his will, end poverty and war and accomplish it all through the power of reason. Paine's famous line encapsulates the movement: "we have it in our power to begin the world over again". This view of human nature set the stage for the horrors of the 20th century. It was central to the progressive era, and the rise of Communism and Fascism. While a conservative might argue that the long history of conflict and war indicates an inherent tendency in man, Rand would argue they had their premises wrong. That war is the result of collectivism and individualism is the cure. In other words, war can end through reason. The left tend to agree. This view dominated in the 1930s causing the rise of pacifism and disarmament in the west allowing the rise of Hitler. @intrinsicistalso hits on some important points regarding this. Because Objectivism relies on the is implies ought logic, a different view of human nature would cause drastic changes to the philosophy. The facts about human nature and the nurture/nature argument isn't settled and yet Objectivism is so reliant on it. What if reproduction was included in Rand's definition of life? This critique linked by Boydstun in another thread hits on these issues and is highly relevant to this thread. Objectivist Ethics: A Biological Critique  Regarding duty, it cannot be based purely on value calculation. It has to exist outside of it, at least partly. For example, we all have a pre-existing duty to our family up to a certain extreme value calculation. That would be the conservative view.
  7. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    But are you making a moral claim here? Irrationality is bad therefore it is incompatible with the family? Okay let's take a modern day example. Football (If you're American I'm talking about soccer). Football is by far the most popular sport on the planet, with an estimated fan base of roughly 3 billion. It is adored in practically every culture, race, religion. It is an expression of (or an outlet for) our inherent tribal nature. Duty, obligation and loyalty permeate throughout the sport. Players who leave their teams for bigger pay checks are derided as soulless mercenaries whereas one club men like Totti are celebrated for their undying loyalty and devotion. Coaches often refuse to manage the rivals of their former teams. "True" fans are described as those that stick by the team through thick and thin, no matter how boring their style of play or how poor their results. Many fans only support the team they do because their father did or because "they grew up supporting them". Those that do jump ship and support better teams are derided as glory supporters. I'm not saying I support this behaviour or I think it is rational, or moral. I have a very different view on support in football. But one cannot deny this overwhelming evidence about human behaviour. Only a fool could think this will ever change without literally re-engineering the brain. Perhaps in the future with a possible fusion between AI and the human brain (or replacement of), plus the exciting horizon of bio-engineering, humans will radically change and even change their nature. Even the current method of reproduction could change to "growing" new humans outside the womb - a possible next stage after surrogacy. I don't completely rule out a society without the family as it currently exists in reality. Objectvists must confront this issue head on and think about what the family would really look like in a truly Objectivist world. I think you've hit on an important point here. I said the values you like because Rand describes the relationship as one based on "shared values". If you have no shared values, why would you want to do anything for them unless you made a promise that you would? But I have also used the concept in the way you have described by saying "valued gained". Now you say it is considerably more complicated than that but for me I read that as something which is undefinable and very fuzzy. If someone helped raise you, you have no obligation to them. Up until the age of 18, you are under the responsibility of the adult because you are not deemed a rational independent human yet. To be obliged to help them in return in adult life would surely be an unchosen obligation. * The Atlas society states something similar to your case, that whatever the parent does for you above the obligatory minimum while raising you, you owe in return which rationally justifies you helping your parents in old age as values traded. But i refer to my sentence above * And any case, how does one define the obligatory minimum? And how does one define the correct amount of value traded? These are impossible tasks. In reality, humans just don't think this way. They usually believe it is their duty to look after their parents as a inherent obligation. And also if you share no or little values with your parent, what do you "owe" them? Yeah I agree, I'm using it in this sense too, but including a limit. We all agree it is reasonable to leave a family member in extreme cases. But yeah the duty/loyalty/obligation aspect is in a realm separate from any value consideration. As a side note, I remember when I first read about Objectivism, I started worrying about all my actions and thoughts and whether they were rational or not. Every now and then I'd type in a random act or desire into google and ask if it was rational according to Objectivism or try to find what Rand thought on the matter. This idea that we have to rationally process every single thing in our brain is incredibly stressful to keep up. Have you ever had a similar experience?
  8. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    But what if you choose it because you believe it is your duty? That would then make it irrational according to Objectivism.
  9. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I'm not claiming rationality is moral or immoral. My argument in this thread is not about morality. It is about whether Objectivist pricinples are compatible with the family as it exists in reality, regardless of what is right or wrong or how one defines what is right or wrong. As far as I understand it, practically everything is only a correlational relationship. Statisticians cannot even agree on what constitutes a causal relationship but the bar is very high to determine a causal relationship as a concrete fact. It seems like you're asking the impossible. I argue the evidence strongly suggests this is the case to a very high degree based on the way humans behave in reality across different cultures and times. The evidence is enormous. Just take the example I gave you about China. A culture that literally regards sacrifice to your parents as a key virtue stretching back thousands of years? Or Christians who have always taught that it is our duty to have children? Or take the evolution of Chivalry (inherently duty based). But I don't just rely on history. There is a logical argument at play too. Humans have evolved to protect and sacrifice for their family. It is perfectly natural for our species to evolve this way. How else would we survive without giving and expecting loyalty to one another to our families, communities and countries? This is how civilisations and empires are/were built. It was based on the premise that the land and people inside a given area were "us" and outsiders were "them" and one should be loyal to those inside over and above those outside. One of the common talking points about Brexit and immigration was the idea that we Brits should "look after our own" first. Trump: America first. You cannot believe this is based on a purely rational argument? (Unless you argue it is rational to be true to human nature and therefore true to a form of tribal loyalty to country). Yeah I said before I see no difference between loyalty duty and obligation and that I have been using all three to mean the same thing. "if you add reasons" - then they are the reasons. You owe nothing to them (according to Objectvism). Your only owe allegiance to your principles and so you only judge your parents based on their values. If you don't like their values, they are not family (blood has no significance) and you certainly don't owe anything to them even though they raised you. If you do like their values then yes you may want to voluntarily do something for them. That is not an "obligation", "duty" or "loyalty" and Rand would not use those terms to explain a voluntary action based on judging values. She would only talk about chosen obligations like choosing to promise to do something for them (after judging their values) and therefore being obliged to fulfill that promise and maintain your integrity. If you are doing the action for them based on anything other than the trader principle, then this is outside the realm of Objectivist philosophy and it is outside this aspect - the realm of pure value trading between people - that loyalty, duty and obligation exists (unless to principles). Now some people may call this realm human nature and then justify it by saying that one ought to be true to human nature and therefore it is rational and also in ones self interest. But then this is no different to insisting one is obliged to have children because reproduction is inherent in human nature. And I believe this is what Cicero is getting at but I haven't studied him in depth yet so im hesistant to commit to this. Cicero says it is unjust to live as a loner outcast from society because it is inherent in human nature that we are social animals. That was never my aim. I have no concern with morality here. If you haven't read it, I'd recommend checking out The Great Debate by Yuval Levin. It gets right to the heart of the conflict between rationalism and conservatism.
  10. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Having a child is very different though. It is in a separate category in terms of commitment and time/resources spent. Having a child is a minimum 18 year commitment. Once you make the decision you can't go back. It means looking after a human that is heavily dependent on you. 100 percent dependent for the first few years. It is a massive drain on your time and money. And as an Objectivist you would have to be fully committed to the responsibility of raising the child. Arts and Sports are mere hobbies (unless you make money out of them but then that would be productive work). You can leave a Romantic love at any time and they're not dependent on you like a child is. Although I agree that there could be a conflict there. Maybe Rand defines love as the second highest good? How far down the list would raising a child be? Either way, productive work is a critical aspect of life according to Objectivism and there probably isn't a larger commitment that would pull you away from that than starting a family. Which leaves one to wonder, what is the point in having a child? And specifically, is the reason strong enough to justify such a huge commitment from an Objectivist perspective? (Regarding your first point. I never claimed Objectivists say you cannot have emotional attachments. Just that you are not obliged to have any emotional attachments to your children, only the responsibility to raise them).
  11. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Listen, I like debating. You don't. That's fine. You appear to have taken personal offence to the fact that I challenged your points after you challenged mine. And then you started telling me what my "role" was like some sort of authoritarian. I am here to discuss and debate. I don't want to get personal. I have paid very close attention to what you have said. Mocking me for being too wrapped up in "debate" when I've actually gone ahead and specifically addressed your comments is ridiculous. You ignored my reply and now you're attacking me. You declared you won't debate "anti-Objectivists" and you imply I'm the one too wrapped up in my own worldview. You have no idea what I've learnt.
  12. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I was hesitant in making that claim. Perhaps that was rash. The point is I assume this is a good place to challenge the philosophy and get replies from those who subscribe to it or are knowledgeable on it.
  13. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I'm not sure if all my text is appearing on your screen (no sarcasm here) but for your first point, if you carried on reading, my next sentence said "I say bizarre because in one way it is not a conception of the family at all, it is a non-acknowledgement of the family. " Have a scan of this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role_of_Christianity_in_civilization#Industrial_Revolution On your third point, again my next sentence was this: East Asia has even stronger conceptions of duty to family. Ever wondered why the Chinese are so obedient? Chinese culture is built on Confucianism which considers filial piety as a key virtue. "In serving his parents, a filial son reveres them in daily life; he makes them happy while he nourishes them; he takes anxious care of them in sickness; he shows great sorrow over their death that was for him; and he sacrifices to them with solemnity." - Confucius (Maybe you were just picking random sentences and not reading much else. I don't blame you! I wrote a lot)
  14. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Not quite. I am saying the survival of the family relies on a belief in duty. I have never claimed a duty to debate. Do as you wish. Since I am talking to a community of self-proclaimed Objectivists and their arguments aren't convincing, it has reinforced my belief that there is no "way out" of this issue, that I wasn't missing something obvious. However, I believe my arguments alone are sufficient. The funny thing is I'm pretty sure Rand would be on my side on this. The founder of the philosophy evaded the family, ignored or attacked it in her work and didn't have children herself because she wanted to focus her time on being productive. (No one has replied to this point so far). All of this points to a fundamental incompatibility between the family and Objectivism and upon further inspection it turns out to be the case.
  15. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Yes, I understood this to be the Objectivist position. Rand makes it clear in The Virtue of Selfishness: "In spritual issues - (by 'spiritual' i mean: 'pertaining to man's consciousness') - the currency of exchange is different, but the principle is the same. Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man's character." I agree with your sentiments here. Human beings want to have children, generally speaking, because they believe it is what they are meant to do, that it is part of their purpose, an obligation to fulfill. It is a good that is in your own self-interest because it is in your own self-interest to be true to human nature, right? And procreating is an inherent aspect of human nature. This is your argument? If so then it stands to reason that all women, whether they want to or not, have a duty to have children because it is just a part of human nature. This is exactly the type of duty I argue is required for the family but it is incompatible with Objectivism. There is no such thing as duty to family. Only duty to principles, according to Objectivism. If it is a binding obligation, then it is not based on the trader principle. I agree with a lot of what you have said except the links to Objectivism. Rand explicity rejected the obligation to have children. Unless I am mistaken she has been quoted as saying she does not believe women are obliged to have children. The argument that it is rational to have children because it is a part of human nature and therefore in your self interest is no different to stating it is your duty to have children as a universal law. What about women like Rand, who wanted to focus on productive work instead of having children. Are you going to tell her what her own self-interest is? If I'm not hitting on your argument, please clarify for me.
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