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Vladimir Berkov

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Vladimir Berkov last won the day on September 22 2018

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About Vladimir Berkov

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  1. I am confused. First, just in general, about how my statement is ignorant of Objectivism. Could you please tell me how? Specifically, I am confused as to how my post could even be considered an argument or issue against Objectivism. How is it so at all?
  2. I guess I just don't see them as falsehoods or as products of the "liberal media" but rather as the facts of reality.
  3. Perhaps you are misunderstanding the idea of "bias." The fact that sources of possible bias exist doesn't mean that objectivity is impossible, anymore than the fact that human sensory perception is not omniscient/infallable means objectivity is impossible. In each case, it is simply something that must be taken into account during the pursuit of objectivity.
  4. I am implying nothing of the sort. By bias I specifically mean: "A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment." I am not saying that nobody can know anything, but rather that people generally have a bias in favor of what they individually hold to be true. This bias may inhibit impartial judgment of issues which might threaten this set of individual beliefs. In part this is because we usually judge new sensory/factual information in the context of what we already believe to be true. (the "coherence theory" of truth) This is why you are not going to see an Objectivist lending much weight to a claim that aliens influenced the 2000 presidential election, or that snake healing cured a sick boy. Conversely it is why a Christian will not lend much weight to a claim that Buddhism is the one true religion, or why a Communist will not lend much weight to a claim that capitalism benefits the proletariat.
  5. As I said above, the claims of such people should be disregarded. However, not all scientists studying climate change/global warming fall into that category. There isn't this bipolarity of scientists where either you are a rabid environmentalists who don't care what the numbers say or else an objectivist scientist who properly sees no inherent value in nature and conducts methodic, reasoned research. There are a whole lot of scientists out there who either think humans might be the agent of climate change or else think at least in some instances humans are changing the environment. Such people are not necessarily saying "scientific fact takes a back seat." I think we will have to agree to disagree about this. All humans have bias to some degree. When dealing with an ideology (such as Objectivism) humans are no different. Objectivists are biased in favor of Objectivist principles/claims and against possible facts or theories opposed to Objectivism. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it is just the result of having any sort of personal or institutional philosophy/ideology. The alternative is to evaluate every single issue and fact independantly and without the benefit of a coherent and overarching framework, which is obviously unworkable. Thus I think it is dangerous to think that Objectivists have no bias in this issue. They do, the question is whether it is influencing their objective study of the facts. In this case it may not be. But the danger is there and it is important for anybody studying an issue such as global warming to be aware of all the potential bias of various sources. For example, I often read the New York Times. The paper obviously has a leftist bias in many instances, but because I am aware of that bias I am also able filter the conclusions I draw from what is written there. It would be dangerous to read the Times or any other publication or source without being aware of potential bias, because then you will likely be unable to separate what is objectively true from what might have been influenced by the personal opinions of the source.
  6. I agree. But bias can exist apart from a person's rationality. In fact, bias can influence people on a sub-conscious level at times. Also, we have to assume that most people are not rational all of the time anyway. I agree. The science is key. If somone is predicting harm or wants governmental action but can't back of their claims scientifically, then of course their opinion should be discounted. When I referred to the harms/human causation I was referring to global warming rather than natural/cyclical climate change. I would hold that Objectivists have a bias against a factual finding that humans are causing climate change (aka global warming.)
  7. I guess what I am looking at is the split between research and policy advice. Are we worried that the research is tainted or that the policy advice is wrong? IE, you can have an environmentalist scientist who does good research but gives bad policy advice. This is basically the Dr. Mengele problem. We aren't really doubting whether Mengele can correctly judge that some disease exists in a jewish patient. But we think that his policy choices (jews are valueless) will lead to his giving bad advice on how to treat the patient. Thus it seems in any given situation, the better we are able to separate objective research from policy conclusions, the more weight we can give the research. I think there is the possibility of bias even for those who do not believe nature has an intrinsic value for one reason. This is that in the environmental context, it is more advantagious for this type of person (we can call them non-environmentalists, or Objectivists, etc.) to conclude that global warming (or any other putative harm) doesn't exist than for them to say that the harm does exist. Saying that the harm doesn't exist is essentially the strongest conclusion they have. Not only does it mean that the environmentalists are wrong that there is a harm, but also that the policy choices they advice should be ignored because the underlying harm doesn't exist. It is likewise less advantagious for such a scientist to hold that some environmental harm exists, but that they disagree with the environmentalists as to the solution or policy implications. For example, take global warming. It is better for the Objectivists to say that global warming is a hoax and there is no harm or human cause than for them to say global warming is real but policy choices such as Kyoto, gas taxes, etc are the wrong response to it.
  8. So it is a problem of possible bias? Believing in an intrinsic value of nature doesn't mean you can't do good science, but it might mean you will fabricate research to be consistant with your ideoligical position? Couldn't the same be said of scientists who think nature has no intrinsic value having a bias in favor of fabricating anti-environmentalist research?
  9. That's the truly sad thing. It isn't like this is some random isolated incident. This is the NORM for operating under our government.
  10. This is rather beside the point. If we are talking among a group of Objectivists then yes, they would agree with that. However in the legal world, volition is not seen as an axiomatic prerequisite. Nor is it required to have law. It may be required to have law of a sort an Objectivist would like, however. It is hard to tell prima facia whether those laws are reasonable or not. I think the judgments you are making are more policy concerns than anything else. For example neutering for sexual harrassment is a harsh punishment but that doesn't seem to itself preclude it being reasonable. I would say that it makes the law suspect, but there may be some reason for the harshness of the punishment.
  11. The sad thing about credit cards is that like the lottery, they are generally like a tax on stupidity. There are a few rather sleazy practices credit card companies engage in, but in general, the problems people get into with the credit card companies are based on their own short-sightedness and stupidity. And credit card companies bank big-time on that stupidity, just like the people who run lotteries.
  12. What you are saying here is essentially that being a soldier is always irrational. The type of "foxhole" situations we are talking about here are an inherent risk in being a soldier. Your point is that no rational man would voluntarily choose an option that contained such a risk. Hence no rational man would ever choose to be a soldier. This seems opposed to Ayn Rand's own position, just for starters. Too, it assumes a sort of omniscient knowledge of the future men don't possess. Once the choice is made to join the Army, you have accepted the risks of whatever conflict may occur during your enlistment. Thus you can't reevaluate it at some future point and say "Wait a minute, this war using irrational and suicidal tactics, I think I am going to go to Canada!" Well, that is a strategy if you are a Democrat at least... Again, I don't think this is true because your only reponse to the hypothetical is to say that being a soldier is inherently irrational and thus to remove from the scope of the discussion any issues of rational choice dealing with warfare. Since I think it is entirely possible for a man to make rational choices yet still end up in the "foxhole" situation I think the issue still is worthy of discussion. I could detail the sort of rational choices which would lead to the "foxhole" if you wish. But in short, simply lumping all soldiers into the "irrationality" bucket does not free one from having to decide difficult moral issues dealing with warfare.
  13. That wouldn't seem to rule out influence, however, if not control. A firm or group of investors which is heavily invested in or has the capital to produce essential war goods would easily see how a war would be to their great advantage due to government contracts. These firms (ala Krupp) would not be in a position to control the government, but they would control enough money to be able to contribute heavily to politicians and thus win favor for those who might start a war and then give them vital contracts.
  14. I know that the abolishing of debtor's prison was heralded as a great reform, but was getting rid of it really a good idea? One only has to look at the massive amount of debt (especially unpaid credit card debt) held by Americans to see that many people don't see repayment of debt as a prime obligation. Should we bring back debtor's prison?
  15. This may turn on whether the churches were singled out as polling places or whether they just came up as part of a neutral criteria for selecting such places. (IE, large building open to the public which doesn't cost the government)
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