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Jason Hunter

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  1. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Just to make things clear i dug up a few Rand quotes: "In love the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you, you love them for their values, their virtues, which they have achieved in their own character." - Youtube - interview - "Ayn Rand on happiness, Self-Esteem and Love" "What you fall in love with is the same values which you choose embodied in another person. That's romantic love, now any lesser form of love such as friendship, affection [notice how she didn't mention family], is the same thing in effect. You grant a feeling of affection toward those who you have concluded are values, your response to others is on the basis of values." - Youtube - interview - Ayn Rand Love and Values To answer your questions ill say this: I agree you can get some value from family members. Of course, they will probably have some traits you admire. Maybe one of them is a hard worker or you share a value (a common interest) etc. I don't dispute this. But unfortunately it doesn't solve the problem. Why? Because the same thing applies to millions of other people. You can find some value in lots of people. In this increasingly interconnected world, both online and in the physical world with bigger cities, improved transport etc the sheer number of people we can meet or do meet (say if you're a university student for example) is enormous. If values/virtues is the only thing you judge your family members on, they are very vulnerable to being "out-valued" so to speak. In this internet age, it is easy to seek out people who strongly share your values and it wouldn't take long to find a whole group of people who would effectively replace your family. This is why i see the family being destroyed with the removal of duty or more broadly mysticism in family. In a hypothetical Objectivist world, society would be fluid. People would move in and out of relationships and groups. The family would not be an enduring social unit. It just wouldn't exist in the way it does today. With values being the only standard, there is no binding glue. But as I've said many times, all of this is only a secondary problem. The primary problem is the incentive to have children in the first place which I can't see being strong enough and widespread.
  2. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    So do you subscribe to the blank slate view of man? One conclusion would be man has no pre-existing knowledge. But you'd have to expand on what you've said to gain a better understanding of your conception of human nature. Does reason have limitations? Can it be used to fully comprehend the laws of nature? Does man have any inherent limitations or can the contents of his mind be completely determined by reason? (blank slate view). (There's a actually a book by Steven Pinker called The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature which is an argument against the tabula rasa theory. Sounds like a must read. One to add to the list) I don't deny the existence of universal laws of nature. I am just sceptical about our ability to actually know them in full, or to fully understand them and be able to rationally articulate them. Objectivism relies on a specific conception of human nature. The is-ought logic means changes in our understanding of human nature can have a drastic impact on the philosophy. I discussed the role of reproduction as an example earlier in the thread. I see two ways we can try to understand human nature. One is through scientific experiment on the human body and the other is through observing how humans actually behave in reality. Regarding the latter which you talk about further down but I'll address here, if you were observing an alien species over a long period of time you would look for recurring characteristics. If the aliens were stealing, killing and lying over thousands of years and kept doing it despite all the different cultures, races, religions etc you would certainly make this your starting point for inherent traits in their nature. It would carry more weight than the exceptions. And if in the societies where they were punished for these things, you observed them doing these things less in what appeared to be a successful method, you would have little reason to believe that something else could be more succesful, like reason, which so far had shown no successful track record in any society before and in fact when it was tried as an alternative deterrent (league of nations), it failed. It's wrong to blame slavery on tradition or long standing institutions. Before the 18 century, slavery was an uncontroversial fact of life. It had always existed. In every corner of the globe you'd find slavery, every race and creed. So the real question is, what is the cause of freedom? Similarly, you don't look for the causes of poverty (poverty has always existed), you look for the causes of wealth. Institutions have supported bad things in the past. How could this not be the case in societies that evolve incrementally over time, gradually improving? And as they improve, it is the institutions that improve with them or drive the improvement. It was the Christians that spearheaded the call to end slavery and it was in a society where freedom had come about through a long process of evolution in English law. It was bound to take slavery with it even if there was a lag time. And it is one thing to morally condemn slavery, and another to figure out the practical steps toward ending it and having a plan to manage the fallout. There's going to be a lag time between the two, as was the case with the Americans. I agree, change is inevitable. This is a great question. Although to be more specific, reason has to be used. It depends what premises you use. So my question would be by what standard should we judge political action? This has been causing me a headache. I would much rather just have the nice clean Objectivist principles but it's clear the world isn't as simple as that. For example, one could buy all the land around a community of people and hold them hostage by refusing them access on the land. Or on immigration, open boarders would lead to societal suicide. Or in emergency ethics, the ethical principles breakdown. Those things remind me of how the laws of physics break down in the centre of a black hole. I think it is a fitting parallel. So all that's left is a rough estimate. We believe stealing, lying, killing is bad. These ethical principles are embedded in traditions and social institutions and also conform to reason. Perhaps these traditions provide glimpses of the truth. We know the free market is superior whether it is justified with natural rights or utilitarianism etc. The same thing applies for property rights. And we know the dangers of the centralisation of power etc. We have to use long standing social institutions as guides but not complete authorities and the same thing applies with reason. We have to value stability and exercise prudence in political change. There's a lot to say on this and a lot of theories out there. Edmund Burke called his approach prescription which you can look into if you like. But I admit I am stuck on this. There doesn't seem to be a clear and final answer in any direction and I fear there never will be. It's different for different people of course but generally speaking the special meaning clearly exists for human beings. Perhaps frustration arises from being unable to define exactly what the meaning is but I think this is just one of those limits. I think it can't be defined because it expresses itself differently for different people. I see the blood connection encompassing a number of ideas. I use it as a rather broad term. It's better to say mysticism in family. For a mother, her bond with her children is said to be especially profound which is partly down to the fact the children actually grew inside of her and are made from her. Well, I am very sceptical that humans can actually separate the mysticism unless the value calculation is extreme for them. I believe you love your daughter but I don't believe you base this love purely on how much you like her values and virtues which is what Objectivism demands of you. You shouldn't take it for granted. But it could be a reason you never gain access to. The last two questions just demonstrate how complex and messy the real world is. The standards and meanings vary for different people. Blood does not guarantee love. Generally speaking, it works as a kind of glue helping to unite a family and it expresses itself in the human mind as mysticism. A mother may tell her son to go help his brother and he asks why and she replies "because he's your brother". This is a classic line. And it works. The child accepts it as a good point and reluctantly helps. Or the child may not understand why the line is authoritative but just feels that it is. What if reason is not enough, what then? That's the position I think is the reality. I think most would agree it's good to leave the abusive father. But again, I share your desire to know what the good is. But if you think it will never cease without deterrents, what does that tell you about human nature? Does this not point to the limits of reason? I said earlier in the thread that the extent to which the deterrents are working, is the extent to which reason is failing. Most people know stealing is wrong. And yet how many do you think would do it if they could get away with it? Imagine if there were no deterrents in terms of punishment. Anyone could walk into a store and take a brand new tv off the shelf without any consequences. I think it would quickly become apparent how weak a force reason is. And consider lying, not only is it easy to get away with lying, there's also very little punishment for it which is why it's widespread. Imagine if people could instantly be caught for lying and the punishment was 6 months in prison. What do you think would be more effective? This deterrent or attempting to rationally explain to someone why they shouldn't lie, getting them to understand and agree and to go on with the rest of their life not lying? Considering these questions, it becomes apparent that a society of Objectivists (that is, true Objectivists not needing deterrents for themselves) is impossible. Even a society with a sizeable portion of them would be impossible. Even a portion of the tiny number that exist today probably wouldn't pass the no-deterrents test, in my opinion, and therefore aren't real Objectivists. Deterrents, social institutions, God etc are ways of controlling these things. Reason will never be enough, not even close. Can but won't. I'll just close by saying Rand is reliant on the facts of nature which she didn't know. She assumed. The nature/nurture debate has not been resolved and scientists today attribute genes to a role in human behaviour. How powerful is that role? It's all still very murky. I read that Peikoff's daughter, an Objectivist, is studying bio-ethics. I applaud her for this. I think this is exactly the area that needs to be focused on.
  3. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I said virtues in the post you replied to before but you replied as if I had said value despite my quote right above your sentence. The one you are replying to here I have since edited as I noticed my mistake. Rand in her quote uses Virtue. But its a rather technical distinction between the two. They are very similar and both come together to roughly mean the way someone thinks and acts, their attitudes/beliefs and their behaviour. So the value you gain, spiritually speaking, is purely down to who they are as a person, nothing more. It is this that determines whether you love someone, consider them a friend etc and it is on this basis that you choose to do something for them. My previous argument remains the same. You are trying to claim there is something more, or at least you were in the reply a while back. It was all very murky. Yeah extreme value calculations can override duty, as the history of families shows. I'm not against any bar at all. That would be ideologically extreme and in opposition to the thing I'm supporting - families as they exist in reality.
  4. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    One or the other, or both. It doesn't matter. The blank slate view is that man has no inherent limits holding him back. I don't know what your criteria is to be called an "Enlightenment philosophy" but that is irrelevant. Objectivism shares some fundamental views of man with the era as articulated by Peikoff and that's the point. It would not have been out of place had it been conceived during that time. Trying to distance Objectivism from the enlightenment is absurd. Even Rand had high praise for the era. And Peikoff describes Arsitotle as the father of that era, the same father of Objectivism. Here you are just performing rhetorical somersaults rewording the same thing. According to you, an enlightened individual is someone who has the potential to live a rational moral life if only they'll realise what they are (a rational being) and seek rationality. This is no different to the enlightenment thinkers. There is nothing unique in what you have said (except reinventing the word enlightened which serves no purpose except obfuscation) It appears you think the unique twist is that they just need to realise "what they already are" which isn't unique at all. This is the same point as thinkers like Paine. Man is a rational being. If only he'll exercise that reason, he'll fulfill his potential. You're right its based on the value you gain. Which is based on what? The virtues they hold. See the Rand quote. She set the bar extremely high for love. I'd assume the bar is still very high for friend. Besides, family falls in the category of love. And the point still remains, you'd have no reason to want to do something for them if their virtues don't pass the bar (unless you made a promise to do something for them). And as has been a recurrent theme in this thread, the issue of having children in the first place is hardly replied to - the bigger problem.
  5. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I've discussed this earlier in the thread. Perhaps a society can flourish without the family. No society ever has but I don't completely rule it out. With developments in bio-engineering and AI, who knows. But all of that is entering the realm of science fiction. At present, the family is a vital social institution for a number of reasons. This is widely accepted. It is even acknowledged in the Atlas Society link in my original post. But it's good that you're asking that because Objectivists should to start thinking in that direction or find a way to include reproduction and the family in the philosophy.
  6. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Sorry I didn't reply. There's so many I lose track. My answer here applies to both of you. Rand: "In spiritual issues—(by “spiritual” I mean: “pertaining to man’s consciousness”)—the currency or medium 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." Its important not to confuse positive externalities as a reason for doing something back for someone, certainly not as an obligation. If you gain value from the actions of someone you know and therefore you've "gained value", this has nothing to do with the spiritual relationship - whether you consider them a friend or love them. If they buy you a gift, it doesn't mean you owe them a gift back or any spiritual payment. One cannot buy respect from another person, only virtues can do that. If they do something for you, they gain selfish pleasure out of it. The trade is finished. Why do they do it? Because of your values/virtues. And this where the entire relationship stems from. Rand herself declared very few people deserve love (because they have the wrong virtues). Friendship would still require a strong appreciation for someones virtues, family even more so. So it begs the question. Why would you want to do something for someone if their virtues don't pass the bar? You wouldn't according to Objectivism. And judging by Rand's comments and written work, it appears that bar is pretty high. Dlewis you said one could conceive of family like hard work. I totally agree this conception holds true in the traditional sense. But the motivation derives from the blood connection. "They're blood". That's where the extra push comes from to work hard at the relationship. But for an Objectivist, it makes no sense when you're not "stuck" with your family and can readily choose whoever you like to be close to. Why put up with the hard work of changing someone's views when you can instantly find connection with other people who share your values? Perhaps there is some wiggle room to work with somewhere in all of that. But what I've laid out there is guaranteed to be a heavy blow to the unity of the family. But that's not even the worst part. Everything I've said so far is only the secondary problem. The primary problem is having the children in the first place. And this is an even bigger challenge to overcome. I agree there is some value in seeing children grow but without the blood connection? Without any meaning whatsoever in passing on the genes, in continuing the generation etc? This would be an even bigger blow. Adoption agencies are always struggling to find homes for their babies/children. People care about the blood connection. It means something to them. They want to raise a mini version of themselves and their lover. There is just little justification for an Objectivist to commit to raising children (a monumental commitment) when productivity is the highest good. I've said more on this earlier if you can find it. (And raising a family cannot be seen as productive in an Objectivist sense) Rand: "In comparison to the moral and psychological importance of sexual happiness, the issue of procreation is insignificant and irrelevant, except as a deadly threat" The bottom line is an Objectivist society disregards the family, just like Rand did in her life and work.
  7. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    The point is that ones view of human nature leads to very different conclusions and this is at the heart of the conflict. My criticism is not with reason helping mankind but with everything having to pass the bar of reason, or at least articulated reason. The problem with this is that it destroys social institutions and traditions; the very things which have evolved over a long time to deal with human nature and they contain far more knowledge and wisdom than a single person can rationally articulate. In much the same way, the widespread dispersal of knowledge in the free market is far more wise than the articulated rationality of a few intellectuals pulling the levers of the economy. Removing the special meaning of blood in the family, the passing of genes/continuing of generations is a devastating blow and all because it cannot pass the bar of reason. But perhaps reason has its limits. Perhaps "irrational" loyalty to family, community and country is a vital mechanism. What use is a society that adheres completely to articulated reason if it destroys itself? I do believe man can improve himself absolutely. But only within certain constraints. This probably vary among individuals but mankind as a whole appears to be inherently flawed. Stealing lying and killing will never cease without deterrents other than reason. And by the way, it's not like I take pleasure in this view. It's difficult for me to accept because I want everything to be explained through clean hard logic. But looking at the way humans are and have always behaved is clearly at odds with all these rational theories.
  8. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Of course, this is what I've been saying; the blank slate view of human nature. Man has no inherent flaws. This is a fundamental premise shared with the enlightenment era. It is a romantic view of man because it sets no limits. (Read Paine and tell me he doesn't have a romantic view of man and society) Peikoff's words on the era: "Just as there are no limits to man’s knowledge, many [Enlightenment era] thinkers held, so there are no limits to man’s moral improvement. If man is not yet perfect, they held, he is at least perfectible." (Thus, no inherent flaws). "Whatever the vacillations or doubts of particular thinkers, the dominant trend represented a new vision and estimate of man: man as a self-sufficient, rational being and, therefore, as basically good, as potentially noble, as a value." (Starting to sound like Objectivism?) Man's behaviour is malleable and reason is the tool. We are not "all sufficiently enlightened people", we have the potential to be and we can realise it by choosing to exercise reason in every area of our life. Reason does help you see the light. Rand recommends the mindless zombies use reason to correct their chaotic mind. Peikoff even refers to reason as a force and a power: "Reason, for so long the wave of the future, had become the animating force of the present" "In epistemology, the European champions of the intellect had been unable to formulate a tenable view of the nature of reason or, therefore, to validate their proclaimed confidence in its power."
  9. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    This is bordering on pure semantics. Rand says most people are like mindless zombies caught up in a whirlwind of confusion and contradiction. They behave irrationally guided by their "whims". She recommends her philosophy as the antidote. To solve their problems they must first think. They must reason. They must reconsider their premises and use reason to extrapolate the correct conclusions. This requires real work and mental effort. In doing this, they will see the absurdity of lying, stealing, killing etc. Reason will show them it is against their own interest and they will not want to do it. This is exactly like the enlightenment thinkers and the modern left wing who have inhereited this viewpoint. The League of Nations was created on this very idea and it was a spectacular failure. It all centres around the power or importance of reason in solving human conflict both domestically and internationally. Leftists to this day believe criminals can be rehabilitated using reason. As much as I'd like to discuss this further, it's probably too far off topic and could easily spawn a massive debate. I've emphasised the pessimistic part quite strongly. Human nature is inherently flawed - this is a key part of conservatism. In what way is Conservatism like the enlightenment ideals? Check out the famous debates between Burke and Paine who best represent the enlightenment view vs the conservative view. If you mean support of free markets, the reasons are very different. Adam Smith supported them as a systemic process that produced the most good for society as a whole, not on the basis of individual rights. The decenetralisation of power and free markets is crucial to Conservatism. It is only in modern times that they've been forced to move leftward because of the success of leftists. The conservatives in Britain today are basically a centrist party. I think we're probably just crossing wires here over time periods/definitions.
  10. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I already have identified it. To fill in your sentence: "The family needs unchosen obligations" A conception of the family which only consists of value calculation is not sustainable. The duty is usually derived from blood (whether this is rational or not is a separate matter). This is just how humans behave and have always behaved. At the very least, I'll put it this way: The family needs an element of mysticism. The key point here is that value calculation alone is not enough. There must be a special meaning placed in blood, in helping blood relatives, in passing on your genes, continuing the family name, connecting generations rather than breaking the link etc and a resulting motivation to do these things which usually takes the form of an obligation or duty although I concede it may not. It may take the form of a desire in the belief that passing on the genes is the right thing to do. But I think it may just be semantics at play here. Now perhaps there is a way to rationally justify all of this and bring it outside the realm of mysticism. That would be great. I hope it's possible. The Intrincist explored something alone those lines earlier in the thread when he talked about grounding reproduction in human nature and rationally justifying it from there.
  11. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Again, you're asking for a rational justification for the source of duty. This is not what this thread is about and I have never made that argument. I am saying the family needs it whether it is a delusion or a truth. (And not just the family but society as a whole - extending up to duty to country).
  12. Jason Hunter

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    You again. What on earth do you want from me? I've already answered your question when i replied to your previous outburst. And in my original post I said "My argument is as follows:" and I have used the words "I argue" many times in this thread. Besides, it was StrictlyLogical who said "your argument is a non-argument" and I was replying to that. I also found his approach to be rather aggressive with all the unnecessary caps. Your behaviour is embarrassing - personally attacking me, refusing to debate (fair enough) but then coming back to "crash" the thread declaring it's nonsense (despite refusing to actually debate it) and now again you're back to attack me and bicker. Grow up.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 .
  15. 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.
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