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ALP

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    Amy Peikoff
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    UT Austin
  1. Nope, I'm afraid it's the other way around. I got the DNC program in my e-mail, and couldn't resist writing a similar GOP program. Of course I had Leonard help. Such a productive use of time
  2. I could not say exactly what amount of knowledge one should have before calling oneself an Objectivist. Certainly one need not have a degree in philosophy. I would want to know -- is the person familiar with enough of the essentials of the philosophy, and with the alternatives, to make a choice in favor of Objectivism? Does the person live by those essentials, to the extent possible to him? A person who calls himself an Objectivist "too soon," as a mistake, out of eagerness perhaps, is not at all troublesome. If this person is honest, he will either change his mind later, and acknowledge his mistake, or he will continue to learn about and integrate the philosophy. The person who we will judge as bad is one who calls himself an Objectivist while acting on and/or advocating ideas that he knows are contrary to those that Ayn Rand believed. And, if a person is in academia, we would assume that he has the intelligence necessary to decide whether he agrees with Objectivism, certainly in all its essentials, and probably in a number of details and basic applications. Thus, if we see such a person promoting ideas that are clearly anti-Objectivist, and yet call himself an "Objectivist," then yes, we will judge him as bad, as someone who is trying to ride on Rand's coattails without being "constrained" by agreeing in total with her philosophy. There is also such a thing as being overly reluctant to call oneself an Objectivist; perhaps this comes from fear of the very constraint of which I speak. So long as one is merely a "student," then he thinks he is free to make more errors. Only the individual can judge whether he knows enough to take the dive and commit -- and it is a huge commitment. To say that one commits to being rationally self-interested to the best of one's ability is tough stuff. However, there is also the danger of becoming an perpetual "agnostic." My analogy (which may not be very good, so forgive me if it isn't) is the couple that lives together for years and years and never commits to get married. There is something about the sheer act of commitment that allows one's knowledge and integration to proceed further. And I'm not talking public declarations or trying to put everyone on the spot -- this is a commitment to oneself, but still a commitment that one makes, explicitly, to oneself. Am I making sense here?
  3. It's even worse than this. The "equal protection" clause has been interpreted to mean that disparate treatment under the law is O.K. so long as it's not done on the basis of some sort of "suspect" classification -- e.g., race, sex, age. Because EVERYONE agrees that those who make more money should have to "give back" more to the "community," then I doubt that income level would be held to be a "suspect classification." Fun, huh?
  4. Wait, so Matt, you have no problem with the hero using the word "fucker" twice in a handful of preview panes, nor with the discussion of the villain having "sex" with the hero's mother because she's "one hot bitch"? I don't see how any of that language is necessary in order to tell a story.
  5. Um, wow Looks like I should take a cue from my dog and get my hackles up more often, as opposed to jumping in and answering right away. Nice job, Greg. Oh, and since you did a good job, I think you should go ahead and pimp for your conference course, too. Judging from your posts here, it's going to be a good one.
  6. Bosch, I might have been intrigued, but the foul language was a real turnoff.
  7. Cool, now I can pimp in style I guess you didn't like bimmerfest's "confused" emoticon, the one with the "palms" up, shrugging his shoulders? I think that one's cute, too. I see you picked up the , though! Good work.
  8. Here's something that occurred to me that may help solve the "mystery." The top 1% pay 34%, but that's after all sorts of deductions and fancy accounting work. Therefore, if we move to a flat tax, it may actually be less of a burden on those high-earning people to pay the tax because they can fire their accountants. Thus the CPA lobby will no doubt ensure that we will NEVER have a flat tax.
  9. Right, Daniel, but if 5 people make 45% of all the income earned in an economy, then they will be paying 45% of all the taxes paid by people in that economy. Here's some math: Total economy = $10 million in income 5 people, together, bring in $4.5 million. Together, under a flat tax, they will pay $450,000. The rest of the people (let's say 495 people, so that the 5 people make up 1%) together earn $5.5 million dollars, and therefore pay $550,000 under a flat tax. So the implicit question is, why argue for a flat tax when it seems that the tax burden on the top 1% of earners will be greater than under the current "progressive" tax? I guess because most voters are in the middle class.
  10. I have read most of the Critique of Pure Reason, and now the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. I have not yet run into anything that was contrary to what I've heard in Objectivist circles. But that's all I've read so far. I wrote, as part of an answer to a written exam on the Critique, the standard criticism that Rand originated: Kant says we're deaf because we have ears, blind because we have eyes, etc. (I may not have put it in those exact words.) And I did not get marked down for this. Hope that helps. If you want to know more about Kant [beware: shameless plug to follow], enroll in my course at the 2004 summer conference. Kant's is one of five ethical theories I will be covering in my 5-hour course. (To the administrators: another emoticon that is very helpful is the "pimp" emoticon. This comes in handy whenever one wants to put in a shameless plug for something. For a whole bunch of fun smilies, see www.bimmerfest.org, and go to "forums.")
  11. Morally reprehensible, but not actionable by law, unless the perpetrator harms an animal belonging to another -- then it's actionable as a property crime. Animals have no rights, even though many of us care for them a lot and don't enjoy seeing them harmed. Why morally reprehensible? Because it shows disregard/hatred for life -- something we share with animals. Kant believed that one who was cruel to animals was more likely to be cruel to human beings, and, while I am no psychologist, I tend to believe this. I train my dog in agility and obedience. In obedience, I attend a group class, and I sometimes see others, even the instructors, giving overly harsh "corrections" to their dogs. And even this disturbs me. I will raise a voice at a dog, or give a scruff shake, but this is something to use sparingly and wisely, if the goal is to teach the dog and improve the relationship, vs. shut the dog down. Sorry for going off-topic a bit. Although I guess this last bit is part of the argument for the idea that it is not in one's own selfish interest to be cruel to one's own animal -- that it gets you no closer to achieving any rational goal.
  12. Haven't read it and probably don't plan to in the near future. I used to think it would be fun to make such a diagram, but I think focusing on the deductive structure in that way would contribute to rationalism. I can just see people memorizing the diagrams and think that they therefore understand Objectivism.
  13. This is where I need to defer to those more knowledgeable than myself. You need to have a smilie that bows down to the experts. We had one on a BMW forum that I participated in, and it was quite useful.
  14. I was definitely angry because he was purporting to judge Leonard based on the amount of work he did since the Ominous Parallels was published. And the guy had no clue. He talked about OPAR as if it was nothing, simply because Leonard was writing about someone else's ideas, not his. Clearly he was just trying to get everyone's goat and I probably shouldn't have responded but it is difficult sometimes. What I really meant by that angry question was that I'm sick of people who, for all I know, haven't produced a goddamn thing, going around and nitpicking on OPAR, or leveling some other equally baseless criticisms against Leonard and his work. I want to tell them: Just get a life! Go write your own books instead of bashing Leonard.
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