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DonAthos

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Everything posted by DonAthos

  1. DonAthos

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    You're confusing (at least) two completely different things. I expect that this is, in part, because many people (in this thread and elsewhere) purposely conflate those things, but still I suppose it must be stated clearly: Immigration is not the same thing as citizenship or voting rights. If you wanted to make a case that we should restrict participation in governance (whether "citizenship," voting, or other forms, like serving on a bench, etc.) to people who demonstrate that they believe in capitalism/liberty/the rule of law, or etc., I'd be willing to hear you out on the matter. I think there might be something to that. But then, whatsoever we should finally decide is proper, I would also insist that it should apply equally to those born in San Diego. Absolutely. Yes. Our laws (to make them "proper") must be designed for the purpose of protecting individual rights -- those of every individual, to the last. No, people do not have that right. Our ultimate aim (with respect to politics) should be the development of a political system designed to protect itself against just such things. Good. Thank you. I'm doing my best to help you in your effort, as I hope you appreciate. I would roundly describe the actions of the "avowed enemy" you've introduced as a "threat," and criminal in nature. If he had done such a thing domestically -- posted on the web an intention to commit an atrocity -- then I would be in favor of taking action against him, according to the best practices of law enforcement. And yes, you're right: my response with respect to immigration would depend on the specific context, as to whether or not he should be incarcerated, or returned to the country of origin, or etc. But the larger point is that barring his entry to this country represents retaliatory force (and it is further worth mentioning, because again some people confuse these issues, that there is a fundamental difference between such "barring" and an appropriate delay as required for processing): it is only justified in response to the initiation of the use of force. Criminal activity is criminal activity, whether at the border or any other place. If you think that "being a socialist" ought to be illegal, then say that. But otherwise, we have as much right to stop a socialist from crossing the border as we do rounding one up and putting him in prison. All right. Then perhaps, in the interest of "context," it is worth noting that people just such as I've described are currently being refused entry. Those who argue to restrict immigration will further restrict men such as this, and some of those people have in mind, whether they state it explicitly or not, racist ends. There are people in this very thread making explicit racial arguments. That is context, too. Well, fair enough. But then, we are no longer discussing "immigration," per se, but whether or not it is permissible to "be a communist" generally, or to vote for some anti-liberty measure. As I'd indicated earlier, I'm open to the possibility that voting rights, office holding or "citizenship" should be restricted in some way on this basis. But whatever we decide, it should be as much for the people currently living in this country, or born in this country, as those seeking to access it. And of those seeking to access it, we have no right to deny the person I'd described, who wishes to work, to live, from doing so -- not even if he was born in another country. Yet that is precisely what we do and have done, historically; and it is also what we will continue to do, according to the arguments routinely made, and policies implemented, by those who argue against immigration.
  2. DonAthos

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Moral action depends on context, but this is no blank check on action in an "improper society." The question before us resolves into whether there is a right to restrict immigration. If there is no right to do it -- if, in fact, restricting immigration is the initiation of the use of force -- then that is immoral equally in a "proper society" or otherwise. The proper time to protect peoples' individual rights is immediately and always: not when "a proper society is set up," which we currently have scheduled for... well, sometime in the distant future, I continue to allow myself to hope. The checks you mention with respect to immigration? I agree that some sort of "checks and criteria" is warranted, and that action/restriction can happen there, too, according to the same criteria with which we would countenance retaliatory force domestically. Meaning: if we would rightly restrict the liberty of a US citizen for some reason, then we could rightly restrict border entry for that same reason. But otherwise, no. Otherwise, there's nothing special -- with respect to our recognition of individual rights -- to being born in Tijuana as opposed to San Diego. If immigrants plan on using the welfare state, that's the welfare state's problem, not mine. (And I have less than zero interest in restricting immigration so that the welfare state may better survive.) It doesn't warrant my telling someone that he may not move to a certain city, buy a certain house, take a certain job, etc. I believe in liberty, and more to the point that I do not have the right to initiate the use of force. Let's talk about this in concrete detail for a moment. You have a man in Tijuana who wishes to move to San Diego, to get a job there and rent an apartment, so that he and his family may have a better life. You're telling me that an Objectivist such as yourself believes you have the right to tell him that he may not do these things -- in the name of self defense? Well, why not? If we apply the principles given, I don't see why an Objectivist wouldn't support restraints on a person's freedom to leave. If the people who believe in freedom choose to leave the US, that might leave me just as poorly off as allowing an influx from countries with some poorer culture, right? So if I can restrict people and their actions on the one hand, so that I may have a more favorable political culture, why not on the other? (For what it's worth, I don't know that a person like Trump -- though quite far from an Objectivist -- is expert at drawing these sorts of distinctions. If he had his druthers, do you suppose he would make it illegal for certain businesses to leave the US and build their factories elsewhere? I do. So even if we're going to approach this from some "realpolitik"/pragmatic angle, I think there are good reasons for mistrusting walls, generally.)
  3. DonAthos

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    For those who think it proper to restrict immigration on the basis of IQ, or because immigrants hold different ideologies, or etc., I'm curious: would it be equally proper to restrict emigration for the same reasons (e.g. refusing exit to someone of a sufficiently high IQ, or who has valuable skills, or who holds the "proper" ideology)? If it is a matter of right to determine the other members of your society through controlling immigration, I don't know why that shouldn't be true as well for emigration. And, after all, a wall has two sides...
  4. DonAthos

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Other peoples' actions in this way (moving to a neighborhood, for instance -- even when immigrating; taking a job; living their life) does not constitute "an obligatory sacrifice of oneself." It is not a "sacrifice" at all; it is not even your business. The reasoning you're giving here, whYNOT, is akin to the person who complains when some rival opens up a competitor business across the street. "Shouldn't I be able to stop him?" he asks. "Why should I be forced to sacrifice? Why about my rights?" But that is not a sacrifice, and men do not have the "right" to tell others where they may live, or work, or travel, or etc.
  5. DonAthos

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Yes, that's right. That's how stores work. And also capitalism. And liberty. That's why it makes sense. If you have stores, but people aren't allowed to shop in them, you've not only taken away my "gain" (and presumably the gain of the shopper), but also you've made stores into rather poor investments/uses of time. And, as suggested above, you've compromised both capitalism and liberty. See? It should make sense to you, too. Staying in the country "illegally" is as smoking weed illegally, wherever that is still illegal: neither should be a crime. People who commit actual crimes (meaning: initiating the use of force) -- in this country or any other, and whatever their origin -- ought to be stopped/penalized. Suppose I were to propose that any family members of Azrael Rand ought to be strung up by their heels, and you were to offer some argument against that according to, oh I don't know, some theory of "individual rights." But then I ask: ah, but what happens if one of your family members commits a crime? Will you assume full legal and financial liability for their actions? Would that sort of "argument" warrant an earnest response from you? No, you would not use those words to describe your position. It would lay things out too clearly, possibly even for yourself. Are you aware of the Objectivist position on politics, generally? Take for instance Rand writing, "Freedom, in a political context, has only one meaning: the absence of physical coercion." The Mexican who means to come to my store -- you propose to physically remove him from the country, or possibly prevent him from ever entering. You mean to stop him, physically, from doing business with me. How do you imagine that squares with "the absence of physical coercion"?
  6. DonAthos

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    No, it makes sense. I have a store and someone wishes to come to my store to make a purchase -- it makes sense that he should be able to do so. What doesn't make sense is your idea that you have some authority to tell him that he cannot, because my store is in "your" country, and he was born somewhere else. Or because you think your "way of life" is somehow threatened by his very presence. If the maintenance of your way of life requires controlling other peoples' business -- let alone on the basis of race/ethnicity -- then your way of life is not worth saving. What makes less sense still is the idea that you give yourself the authority to tell others where they may live, work, shop, etc., and yet you believe yourself somehow on the side of freedom/"liberty." Yes, I understand: you support "freedom" as a rhetorical tactic so long as you think it serves your ends, but you're willing to throw it out just as soon as it proves inconvenient to those ends. And you further recognize that your arguments eventually resolve into "might makes right." I'm not entirely certain why you're so dismissive of human_murda's comparison to the Nazis; just based on the things you've argued, I'd guess that if this were the 30s, you'd be happily arguing (as many at the time did) that Hitler made a lot of sense.
  7. In another recent thread, I was invited to make this one to explore what I'm calling "the transporter problem." In quick summary then, the "problem" considers the famous Star Trek transporter. It purports to disassemble a person (into whatever constituent elements) and then reassemble that person in identical fashion (and perhaps from the same constituent elements) at some distance. In Star Trek, people routinely utilize this technology; however (granting that this would someday be feasible; a separate consideration), I would not use such a thing, because I believe that it would be fatal. This speaks to the question of the "First Person Experience" (FPE) and its metaphysical status -- which is why I'd raised the problem initially; granting that the person who enters the transporter (e.g. James T. Kirk) is identical to the person who leaves it from a third person/scientific perspective, I yet argue that there is a fundamental metaphysical difference which cannot be assessed from "outside," i.e. it is a different person with respect to the FPE. The Kirk who leaves the transporter is not the same Kirk as the one who entered it; the Kirk who entered the transporter is dead. In response it was asked whether sleep was in some way analogous to this situation -- and whether we "die" when we go to sleep. But no, it is not the same thing at all. When I go to sleep at night, I wake up the next morning as the same person. Whatever interruption or discontinuity of consciousness that sleep provides (as well as being knocked unconscious, in a coma, or "legally dead" then revived) it is not the same as the death of the transporter, which I argue is utter obliteration. Then it was suggested that this is some rephrasing of the "Ship of Theseus." But no, it is not. It is not a question as to whether we continue to call the entity who emerges from the transporter "Jim Kirk," but: would we be willing to use the transporter? I argue that the answer to that question depends on whether we believe that a consciousness can be reconstituted such that the associated FPE remains the same, irrespective of what we call it, and whether we believe that the FPE (despite being immeasurable from a "scientific" perspective) has any reality to it. Which is to say that it depends upon our assessment of the FPE metaphysically. Accordingly, I would not be willing to use the transporter.
  8. Absolutely right. Yes, although: a person can be more or less rational, in selecting a standard of value, in evaluating particular things or actions against that standard of value, etc. Moral action is a bit more, perhaps, than refraining from sacrificing others. A drug addict, for instance, who burns through a miserable, short existence (while only in this example destroying himself in the process, however unlikely that might be in reality) generally cannot be said to be "valuing their own life," either acting rationally or morally. (Might there be a proper context for this sort of behavior? There well might, though it would require a bit of invention to conjure. And other people may rightly use drugs with more or less reason in many contexts; in fact we classify an entire group of them as "medicine.") Yes, what someone chooses to do with their life is up to them, but that doesn't mean we look upon all possible choices equally. I enjoyed his show, too. And what little I knew about the man, I just liked him generally. And while I agree that, so long as Irwin is not sacrificing others what he wants to do is up to him, again, I think that there's more to discuss. It seems to satisfy a political requirement, but with respect to morality we can yet ask, was Irwin right to pursue a dangerous career? IMO, it's nearly impossible to answer this without being Steve Irwin, or at least without knowing him well. Values such as these are deeply personal. In part, that's what I'm pushing back against: this undercurrent among certain Objectivists that these sorts of choices (like one's degree of "healthy living") may be judged out of context. I think this typically comes from a too narrow conception of what "life" means, when considering "life as the standard of value." The thinking seems to go something like: 1) life is the standard of value; 2) a dangerous career stands to shorten one's lifespan; 3) a dangerous career is a disvalue. Thus, Steve Irwin must be immoral for knowingly pursuing a dangerous career. But life is more than longevity, and based on what I do know about Irwin, and what I've observed, I'd say that his choice appears rational -- or at least that it might be. He certainly seems to have gotten a lot out of his vocation, in the time he had to do so. As perhaps a shorthand for all of this, imagine a loved one. If that loved one was spiraling down a path of drug abuse, you might be concerned; in fact, you might try to intervene to some greater or lesser extent (even while recognizing that they are well within their "political right" to act as they do). Push come to shove, you might be motivated to some more drastic choice, like cutting ties, or etc., but altogether this would be a distressing and negative situation for all involved. Now imagine that a loved one was a burgeoning Steve Irwin. You might experience some large measure of concern, here, too, watching your loved one travel paths most would dread -- but would you want to stop the next Irwin from emerging, for the sake of their "safety"? What is the heroic and the anti-heroic, here? Indeed, I can rather imagine such a person pursuing accounting because they have been convinced (in error, I argue) that "longevity is the standard of value." That seems to me to be the sort of error that might plague a Randian hero in the first half of the book. And that I would hold to be the mistake -- that choice that might be argued against, that might call for some degree of intervention from friends and loved ones. Because knowing who they are, an extended career in accounting would be like a slow, agonizing, living death; the more moral choice for that person, perhaps ironically, may well be the more exciting-yet-dangerous path -- even if that would predictably lead to an earlier actual death. I also value my life and I believe that there is nothing after this life. However, "living as long as possible" is not my standard of value. There are choices I have made, and will continue to make, which are geared towards putting my experience of life, my enjoyment of it, it's "fullness," etc., above its actual span. In largely the same way (though coming from a somewhat different direction, perhaps), I also pursue "diet and exercise" -- in moderation, with the occasional binge. Agreed; I'm not Steve Irwin, either. Chocodiles > Crocodiles. Deal. Let me know when you're in the PNW. (We have good salmon.)
  9. Of course; you're underestimating how good ice cream is, as we speak. Perhaps it is, sometimes, but 1) you shouldn't presume to speak for others and their values, and 2) you shouldn't act as though there's necessarily no value to "routine and comfort." It sounds like you're describing a form of Stockholm Syndrome. But seriously, you realize I have had broccoli before, right? And salmon. And burgers. I like all of those things just fine. (Though, all else being equal, if I'm having a burger it will be a burger -- and if I'm having salmon, it will be salmon. While I'm certain just about anything could be enjoyable if prepared correctly, a "salmon burger" sounds like an intrinsically poorer proposition than either of its basic constituents.) I don't think you could possibly have taken me to mean that I only consume ice cream? But typically, no, when I eat ice cream, sautéed broccoli with garlic would not be a fitting substitute. And before you reply with something slightly dessert-ier like sliced apples, ultimately we have to realize that things are what they are. There's no 1-to-1: it's a matter of valuing things for what they are and choosing among them accordingly. I'm fully capable of weighing ice cream versus broccoli, or any other thing, according to my experience and information and as against my own standards. There are times and places where I prefer ice cream, and in those times and places, I choose it. But the overarching point -- that which bedevils us across threads and years -- is that my standard of value is not longevity. Longevity is not a full accounting of "life." IMO, a rational person may select values which are actively and knowingly detrimental to longevity -- which bring on either an earlier death or some greater risk of an earlier death. "Ice cream" is a fairly superficial (though true-to-life and hopefully relatable) way for me to describe this, but it can run much deeper. Consider Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter." He pursued a very dangerous vocation. It was reasonable for him to assume all throughout that he might well die far earlier than otherwise, for the fact of pursuing it. And of course, he did die quite early, at 44. But for that, I don't think his choices were irrational. And while I know there are those who would try to extract some argument that, somehow, Irwin's choices could be interpreted as being somehow pro-longevity, I think it's an attempt to avoid the obvious: his choice of career made early death far, far likelier, and the results were not particularly surprising. But that choice of career was not in pursuit of the longest life, but the fullest (and what I would accordingly describe as the "best"). "Ice cream," though also a literal thing I am often happy to consume, is really more a stand-in for this basic approach -- pursing the fullest/best life, even at the potential cost of its length. The opposite, sacrificing the fullness of life for the sake of extending its length, ironically smells of death to me. But I don't know -- would you have tried to convince Steve Irwin to be an accountant, instead, Eiuol? That "over time, these less-risky occupations grow to be even more appealing than the adventurous ones"?
  10. DonAthos

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    "Citizenship" is not the same as "access." But yes, Americans do not have a right to restrict access to their country, as such (apart from the sort of background check EC mentions and that which is required procedurally). There is no "will of the people" in this sense. There may be a majority vote, perhaps. But if I have property in the US -- let us say a store -- and if a Mexican wishes to come to my store, you and your majority vote have no right to tell that Mexican he may not come to my store, and no right to restrict my access to his patronage. (And furthermore, no right to restrict home sales in my neighborhood, etc.) This is so even if you believe yourself to represent the fictitious "will of the people." (Since you have taken aim at "logical consistency," you might not care, but what you're proposing here runs directly counter to the "freedom of association" that elsewhere you seem to think important.)
  11. DonAthos

    Colonialism/imperialism

    This is something like what I was alluding to earlier, with the "curious line of thought" that "great people cannot do bad things -- and bad people cannot do good." But I don't think our only choices are to regard them as either heroes or Nazis. Were there aspects of the conquistadors which were heroic (and maybe more pronounced in certain individuals)? Undoubtedly. Exploration required it. Did they commit moral atrocities? Yes. Lol, you guys, are we just going to pass over the bizarreness of Roman Catholicism? As just one minor belief (among many many), they suppose that, during ritual, wine and wafer transform into blood and flesh... which they then consume, because of course. And we're talking about times around and during the Inquisition, I do believe (though you probably were not expecting it)... so that flying serpent sounds better to me by the minute. (To clarify, I do not advocate the worship of flying serpents, human sacrifice, or whatever else the Mesoamericans might have been getting themselves up to; only I'm not going to ridicule religious belief if the standard of comparison is the goddamned Catholic Church.)
  12. Life-extension methods? Certainly. I eat, breathe, sleep... most of those daily. More generally, I think, I learn, I produce, I consume. All of those either aim to extend my life, in part, or do so as a happy byproduct. Most of what you mention I only engage in incidentally, like drinking coffee/tea -- not for the sake of "extending my life," per se; and I would consume them if there were not the current scientific link you mention; and i would consume them, most likely, if they had slightly deleterious effects. Your questions get at the root of ethics, a question I've tried to address on this forum several times, though rarely to anyone's satisfaction. I suspect I sit somewhere in the "excluded middle." I give some amount of thought to diet and exercise (and sometimes I even take action in the same direction), so that's a kind of "provision for long-term health," I believe, along with medical check-ups, etc. But I do not let my actions be dictated by long-term health concerns; to continue to use my long-running (or long-suffering) example, I yet eat ice cream on a semi-regular basis, and I plan to do so to the grave. I do so because my primary interest is not in forestalling or avoiding death, but living life.
  13. DonAthos

    Is your self an illusion?

    I may not have much to contribute here, as I've only approached Eastern philosophy through some books written to popularize it to Western audiences, or which have used it as a framework (e.g. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the works of Hermann Hesse, Ram Dass, various self-help books, etc.). I did read the Bhagavad Gita, actually, but that was long, long ago, and while I was still investigating religion (en route to philosophy proper). Anyways, while there is often surface disagreement with Objectivism, or my take on it, I've found that there's potential for compatibility underneath. Or perhaps there is no formal compatibility, as yet, but I look to try to gain what insights I can for myself. It's interesting -- a few weeks ago, I finally decided to try to read Barbara Branden's biography of Rand, after years of it staring at me from my bookshelf. What with all of the controversy surrounding it, I'll make no claim as to its accuracy, but Branden's early description of Rand living so much in the future that she rarely truly enjoyed the present moment has stuck with me: I think it's a problem I've suffered, too, and I have found some relief over the years in eastern-inspired practices, such as meditation/mindfulness/yoga. As directly regards the thread's topic, I do think there's a self (and it may be "illusory" in some respect, perhaps, depending on how one sees it initially, but never completely so: I think that "self" has real meaning). If there is an "essential self," it is that which focuses, perhaps; though whatever the "essential self" is, that is not equal to the self, in total. The self does also contain emotions and dreams and everything which that entity I am is. I am all of it, everything I am. Aspects of me may change, yet I am still myself, because that essential self, aware and focusing and experiencing, remains. We've recently touched on a similar topic here, and accordingly, I'm not entirely certain what would be involved in "transferring someone else's faculty of awareness into your brain," (which sounds a bit to me like "transferring someone else's brain into your brain"), but I tend to believe that would result in you becoming someone else. Or more precisely, you ceasing to exist. I am the thing experiencing this world, which (to reflect that part of Eastern philosophy I'm probably getting wrong) includes the contents of my own mind. When I am no longer the thing experiencing this world -- when that window of consciousness or perception or awareness closes -- then I am gone, and no longer myself, regardless of the disposition of my body/brain/etc., and regardless of how the rest of the world perceives me.
  14. DonAthos

    Colonialism/imperialism

    No, not every rights-violator is equal. And I agree that we can talk about kings being "excellent," so long as we're keeping ourselves within that narrow context you mention (and has there been a government that hasn't violated rights? not yet). But there's a lot of important discussion to be had outside of that context, too, and understanding. Augustus or Aurelius may have been great emperors, but they were still tyrannical. It's important to retain both aspects in mind, if we're going to regard them fairly. The best slave owner may be much better than the worst, but he is still a slave owner. For instance, I'd asked you whether we should expect someone who'd had their loved one massacred by the British colonial government would be so thankful as you are for things like the spread of the telegraph. You didn't respond, but I'm going to go ahead and suppose that it's unlikely. When we're discussing such wide abstractions as "British colonialism was more good than bad," we lose sight of the individual. Yet questions of "good" and "bad" ought spark us to ask "good/bad for whom"? Governments that violate rights are obviously not good for everyone. For some, they might be very, very bad indeed. And whatever good we suppose that they do does not justify those rights that they violate, lest we start to see some people as necessary (if unfortunate) sacrifices for the sake of societal progress. So, you know, I can say on one hand that the United States represented (and continues to represent) a huge step forward -- progress towards liberty/capitalism -- which I think is true. But at the same time, the framers made many mistakes. IMO, those mistakes were weighty enough that we carry some of the scars of them to the present day. And for as many people who are "thankful" for European settlement of the Americas, I'm also understanding of those who are more sensitive to the misdeeds done along the way. I think it's a mistake to either pretend not to see those misdeeds, or to pretend they don't exist or matter, and also a mistake to only take them into account, or to refuse to acknowledge that the United States yet represents progress. Yet because of its mixed nature, that progress has been uneven. And the people who have had their rights violated (meaning not only Native Americans, not only slaves, but also all those citizens who have had their rights violated) are not made whole by the notion that this represents "progress" in some abstract fashion, or that things might supposedly be worse elsewhere or elsewise. You and I have, for instance, discussed the drug war in this sort of context before, and I yet maintain that America, for all its supposed blessings, might not mean a great deal to the person who is stuck behind bars, for years, for doing things that ought not even be a crime at all. That person experiences the American justice system as unjust, as evil, and he is right. We are ourselves unjust when we fail to take that sort of thing into account as we evaluate the current system. It's not wart-free, and it's not wart-only, but it must be warts and all.
  15. DonAthos

    Colonialism/imperialism

    Well, rather than using this as a rhetorical tool, isn't this also an interesting question to try to answer? There are people who are ambivalent about American history for that very reason (and also the treatment of Native Americans, and other things). There is a curious line to Objectivist thought, sometimes (not saying that this is true of you, though it might be) that holds that great people cannot do bad things -- and bad people cannot do good. Or that it is somehow inappropriate to discuss such things. We sometimes eschew complication. Yet real life is often very complicated. But what do we make of a figure like Jefferson, who both wrote the Declaration of Independence and owned slaves?
  16. DonAthos

    Colonialism/imperialism

    All right. But did you skip the post I was responding to, and that I'd quoted? Because DevilsAdvocate described "formidable interlopers whose actions demonstrated the practice of 'might makes right,' regardless of how they spoke about it," and my post was in response to this idea. Perhaps you disagree that colonizers/colonists (either generally, or specifically in some case) acted in a manner that demonstrated "might makes right," as DevilsAdvocate suggested, or that they enslaved people or violated their rights. If you do disagree, then we can discuss those historical details... or not, as we see fit (I'm still weighing the value in engaging EC on the historical details of the Native Americans). Anyways, I won't judge your "skipping posts" in whatever manner you'd like, but I will insist that if you want to understand any individual post, it must be done in suitable context. My post must be understood as replying directly to DevilsAdvocate's post -- and I figure that was part of your "dialog," and was not skipped -- yet your response to me does not demonstrate that essential understanding. To answer your question more directly, I don't know whether someone in this thread has claimed that you can communicate the principles of capitalism/reason through violating rights. I'm certain no one would claim such a thing explicitly, but I'm not nearly as certain that no one's claims could not amount to that position (whether the claimant is aware of it or not). But then, I wasn't responding to anyone other than DevilsAdvocate and I did not intend to show that anyone was specifically making that claim; I was, however, stating that you cannot communicate the principles of capitalism by enslaving people or otherwise violating their rights -- and I stand by it. I think that matters with respect to discussions of historical colonization, etc., because I believe that often "colonizers" (however you choose to define the term) have violated the rights of their subject populations. In doing so, further, I am certain that there were lessons taught and learned, but I'm not certain that these lessons amounted to a respect for individual rights (and imo, this might help us to understand the proliferation of socialist governments in former colonial societies). I don't know -- have they? I don't plan on reviewing the entire thread to find out, but the OP begins by asking the question "is colonialism moral?", so it looks like the position that "colonialism is a good thing" is at least meant to be entertained, whether or not anyone has explicitly taken up for it. In my opinion, this is the other side of the "nationalism" argument Grames is making elsewhere (or communicating, at least, though I expect that it reflects his own views as well): I don't think either "colonialism" or "nationalism" is good or bad, as such (it shouldn't matter the ethnic background of a ruler, at least; though I'm yet uncertain as to whether this completely addresses either "nationalism" or "colonialism"), but what matters is whether a system of government recognizes and protects individual rights. Maybe we don't find particular fault with historical colonizers on that score, despite having poor track records (if we agree they do), because we don't judge that their subject populations would have done any better. Yet I also don't find any particular virtue in colonizers, either, and I continue to evaluate them by the standard I hold for everyone else (broadly, with respect to politics): did they respect individual rights, or did they not? And where the claim is sometimes made that colonizers were "better" in some respect vis-a-vis politics than their subject population, because they had a better understanding of "property" or what have you: 1) yes, I do hear in this argument echoes of the notion that "colonialism is a good thing, in the sense of something we should maybe aspire toward, in order to come closer to capitalism" -- or at least that it was a good thing, in a given context, and it might be again; 2) as I'd said (but was not quoted/addressed by you), "I never know how much that is supposed to matter to the person who is yet unfairly despoiled." For instance -- though understand that I'm no expert in Indian history (and you probably know more than I) -- we might consider an event like this. Your first contribution to this thread -- your first sentence, in fact -- was to thank the British for colonizing India, because (among other things) the British "brought railways, industry, telegraph." But would you expect the loved one of someone massacred by the British to share your appreciation for their rule?
  17. DonAthos

    Colonialism/imperialism

    A claim like what? I don't think I was responding to you, actually; but if you find your views reflected or refuted somewhere in my remarks, I suppose you can sort that out for yourself. Or if there's something I'd said you disagree with, please feel free.
  18. DonAthos

    Colonialism/imperialism

    I can't talk about India much, but I think the point stands that you do not communicate the principles of capitalism (or reason more generally) by enslaving people or otherwise violating their rights. If the colonizers of India or the colonists of North America had believed firmly in such rights or "property" as we understand it, etc., I believe that they would have acted much differently. As to the typical observation that they were generally "better" in some rights-respecting way, perhaps that's true, though I never know how much that is supposed to matter to the person who is yet unfairly despoiled.
  19. So you take Trump's actions generally as being supportive of free trade? Here's an opinion considering that analysis, among other possibilities. I don't know. I think it's possibly an error to consider Trump as being particularly principled in any direction -- except for the bedrock that is his own aggrandizement. But it certainly seems to me that he's not afraid to violate what I would otherwise consider to be free markets, or the individual rights which make free markets possible. If that's a "negotiating tool," I don't know that it makes it any better. I don't think he cares about things like "rights." In any event, how do you square your interpretation with Trump's threatening US businesses against moving overseas? For instance, here is a write-up of Trump's reaction to Harley-Davidson. This does not sound to me like a principled free-trader in action. Race has nothing to do with nationalism, either currently or historically? All right. I think there's possibly something arguable here, but I'll leave it for others, or for another time. Okay; I will look forward to that being addressed later. Do you also consider it a "valid and pertinent question" as to how it is proposed to enforce a preference for nationalism? Perhaps we have decided that the Quebecois and Basques, etc., should have states -- or perhaps not -- but how generally does the nationalist propose to preserve his culture against demographic shifts, immigration and emigration, influx of foreign media, etc.? Can this be done without violating individual rights?
  20. I think this question is "superficial and artificial" partly because it's not yet clear exactly what we're discussing, in terms of actual policy (and thus how it might intersect with capitalism/individual rights). Is this supposed "nationalism" versus "imperialist" discussion merely a question of organization (like discussions of the federal government/states rights)? Or are there actual policy proposals, waiting in the wings (like how "states rights" have sometimes been used as a cover for slavery or Jim Crow)? For instance, Rand's quote also speaks glowingly about "free trade," but I don't know that most people I'd consider nationalist (historically or currently) are generally proponents of free trade. If Donald Trump is meant to represent "nationalism," say, then at least his brand seems to me to be more protectionist. And in those situations where there exists some group, like the Quebec separatists, are we meant to be in favor of their nationalist ends? And what of their violent means to achieve them? I mean, even granting for the sake of discussion that there's some sense to the idea that speaking a separate language, or having a different cultural or ethnic identity, implies something about desirable political organization (otherwise highly questionable, imo), it's yet unclear what people are supposed to do about that, in reality. In the United States today, there are some who believe that white people and black people cannot fundamentally coexist under the same government -- are they supposed to have a point? Should they be regarded as separate "nations," and drive towards separate states? At what point are we simply rationalizing tribalism?
  21. DonAthos

    Health & Evasion.

    Akilah, there's a lot you've said that's perhaps worth discussing here -- many issues that have been raised, or at least touched upon -- but I'd like initially to consider the above. Leaving out the asides and preamble, we have "to the extent that one knows a certain action or blemish is in opposition to his beauty and continues to pursue that action constitutes overt evasion." But in your preamble, you've observed that morality is contextual; and in an aside, depending on a "complex process of assessing all of one's objective values in their respective hierarchy." So is it not possible that different people place different weight on issues concerning their "beauty" (i.e. that beauty is a greater value to some, a lesser value to others) -- in reason? The thread generally tries to link such "beauty" to "health," which I would grant is often a fairly important value for rational people (though even this is not context-free; not "universal"), but when we also mean to include such things as an "ugly nose," I'm not certain we're truly discussing "health" any longer. May I ask? Why do you believe that Yaron Brook, for instance (as his is one of the names you've mentioned, I believe) is unconcerned with health and beauty? If you're referring to his appearance, what specifically is it about his appearance that leads you to your conclusion about his underlying values, or his rationality?
  22. DonAthos

    Health & Evasion.

    I'm sure there's a connection between health and human beauty. That being said, do you believe that we can tell a person's health (or their concern for their own health) from the way they appear, or their beauty? And do you believe that health is the only source of human beauty?
  23. DonAthos

    The Transporter Problem

    Thank you for your patience, DA (nouveau). I can't promise that my reply will reward that patience, exactly, but I will do what I can... *** I don't plan on being in a foxhole anytime soon, but if I ever were, I can guarantee that there would be (at least) one atheist in a foxhole. I would otherwise avoid the transporter room just like I do the foxhole, and for largely the same reasons. And while I respect Dr. McCoy for all sorts of reasons, I think his instinct on this subject was better than his considered decision. This is adjacent to my claim, but does not meet it head on. Forget "transportation" for a moment, but regard it as "simple" cloning. If we could simply make a copy of a person (which is also the most part of what "transportation" is, imo) -- James Kirk, to use my initial example -- then we would have two beings each claiming to be James Kirk. This would not "violate reality" (nothing can) and A would still be A. I would not doubt either Kirk's "claim to identity," as such, and each would have good reason for believing himself to be Kirk (or, in this case, "a Kirk"). Yet these would be two separate beings, in fact, A and B. And speaking more directly to the central matter, they would each have a separate consciousness, a separate experience of reality -- which is to say, a distinct FPE (unless we subscribe to the "hive mind" or "parallel processing" hypothesis, which at present, I do not). And if you were to then disintegrate one of those two Kirks (the other main feature of "transportation" technology), I'd say that you have killed him. I agree with your sentiment to a great extent, here, but I would not advocate literal suicide as a means of overcoming one's fear of death. I agree with you about the intent of the design. And if we wish to allow it some magical or fantastical property, to suit some fictional purpose, then so be it -- it can simply transport by fiat. But if the mechanism purports to disassemble a person and then reassemble (or as I would argue is more strictly true, "assemble") a person at a distance, then I do have questions about the nature of the result, whether we call it "transportation" or something else. I don't doubt that the person who steps off of the transporter has a first person experience; but I question whether it is the exact same first person experience as that of the person who'd initially entered the transporter. I think these questions can be raised in a manner not only consistent with what we're shown as a matter of course in Star Trek, but also with the curious matter I've raised before of Thomas Riker. Whether the transporter was designed "to kill people in order to create clones in some other place" or not, I take this as evidence that it does this very thing, apart from the arguments I have made more generally. I agree with you. And to the extent that we might be given to disagree, it doesn't much matter to me. Same apple? Different apple? Who cares. The apple (so far as I am aware) is not conscious and will not complain, and wouldn't have grounds for complaint if it could. But it is part and parcel to my argument that humanity (or conscious creatures) is uniquely endangered by this sort of process on account of our first person experience. Or if we are not so endangered -- if we may be disassembled on some molecular level, later reassembled, and survive it (meaning: with the very same FPE intact) -- then I suspect we have some... intriguing and even more difficult questions before us, as to the nature of the FPE (or at that point, I think we may as well call it a soul). Well, it's interesting. That DA would not say "you killed me," but "you killed him." And I believe he would be right (insofar as that DA would exist, but the guy you're talking to right now would not). Could it be proven in a court of law? Not unless they subscribed to my views on the matter; it could not be proven through third person test or analysis, at least, because what we are talking about is nothing more and nothing less than first person experience itself. I like questions plenty. I like answers, too, and I often like them together (when I can get 'em). They're like pb&j. I agree that the transported individual, post-transportation, may have credible memories of a continuous FPE extending from before the transportation; but this is not sufficient to establish that the person who entered the transporter has survived the process. I've always regarded "Trekker" as a concession that there was something wrong with "Trekkie" -- a concession I'm unwilling to make. What's your take on it? The person who emerges from the transporter is unquestionably alive and unquestionably himself, not dead in any sense. But should he look to beam back to the ship... it may be a different story. That's what I suspect, as well. You're welcome!
  24. DonAthos

    The Transporter Problem

    This thread is not meant to be about the feasibility of constructing a transporter, or whether it would rely on quantum mechanics, or whether quantum mechanics is sound science; if your conclusion is that transporter technology is inherently impossible, though I disagree, that doesn't make "the whole discussion moot," because the discussion is not meant to produce a transporter, or to assess the likelihood of doing so -- it is meant to explore underlying philosophical issues. (Or, at least, that is my interest in it. In a similar way, perhaps, I trust that Rand did not raise the issue of an immortal robot because she thought that one day there would exist an immortal robot, or was interested in whether quantum theory or Newtonian mechanics or something else were likelier to produce such an outcome. She raised the robot, I believe, so that she could explore "life" and its relationship to moral reasoning.) Those underlying issues I mean to explore here -- and specifically what we've been calling the "first-person experience," and its metaphysics -- can be explored from more than one angle. Eiuol raised the idea of a prosthetic hippocampus, for instance, which I think might also be a rewarding avenue of exploration. Now, I'm as expert in biotechnology and neuroscience as I am in quantum physics (which is to say, not at all), and maybe you have some expertise in that field and some better idea than I as to whether or not such a thing is feasible based on current science -- but again, it isn't the point. I'm not trying to dissuade you from discussing your thoughts about the science, though I consider them tangential, or even quantum mechanics to an extent (though I think that mostly belongs in another thread; no one here, so far as I can tell, is arguing against QM), but I do think you're wrong to suggest that the discussion is moot because you disagree with the science of my approach to designing a transporter as seen on Star Trek (though other than attempting to deal with the transporter as presented there, I don't think I've offered any opinion as to the nature of the science of designing such a thing in reality; nor have I said that QM would play no role in it; I am optimistic that we can one day design a transporter and that is all -- and if QM is the science that will allow for such a thing, so be it). I don't know with precision what "information" means in this sense, nor what a "mind linkage" would consist of, especially if no "information" was shared between those minds. If they do not share information, generally speaking, then in what sense are they linked? (And conversely, isn't any "link" sensibly called that because information is shared?) And if we allow this linkage to happen for a "split-second," then are we violating this dictum against FTL you've invoked for the duration of that split-second? It is still unclear to me what this means for the first-person experience, or how it gets around the problems we've raised, generally. I don't know why the copy you've created through quantum means wouldn't have its own first-person experience. If I have it correctly, the process you've described argues that you 1) create a copy at a distance, then 2) destroy the original. You say that the FPE would "transfer" between the two, albeit no "information" would. I don't understand the meaning of that, or how the FPE is meant to transfer, or what that would mean in reality, but I believe it describes your claim. It is also, perhaps, a touch interesting in that I believe that this represents something of a departure from what you had described earlier (though please correct me if I'm mistaken): Perhaps you are not comfortable with my term of "hive mind" to describe this scenario (though I yet consider it apt -- and yes, Eiuol, I have read your post about "parallel processing" ), but I don't know how this comports with your current description: how there is no transfer of "information," how it takes place in a "split-second," etc. The key behind this original presentation was that "you would now be able to experience life on earth and life on the moon simultaneously in one consciousness." That's key to this discussion, because it speaks to the idea that FPE might in some real sense be shared beyond one's own body -- and suggesting such a possibility implicitly speaks to the metaphysics we ascribe to the FPE. So hopefully you see that I'm not trying to question whether quantum mechanics allows for a real possibility of transportation technology -- I don't honestly care whether it does or not -- but I am interested in this treatment of the FPE, and how that works. You write (across two posts): So this does seem markedly different to me than the conscious being you'd described who experiences life on the moon and Earth simultaneously with time enough to come to terms with its rather strange disposition ("eventually"). It is a bit of surmise on my part, perhaps, but I suspect that you may have altered this scenario in order to accommodate restrictions against information traveling faster than light (do I have that right? I may easily be mistaking here). Taking then this second presentation on its face, I wonder... could we forego from destroying the original? And if we did, what would this mean for the consciousness/FPE of these two (I would argue) separate individuals, if they are thereafter unable to share information?
  25. DonAthos

    The Transporter Problem

    Perhaps I will try to address your posts more substantively in the future, but for now and without much time available to me, let me suggest: you seem to be looking at this from the point of view of the person who emerges from the transporter. I would ask you to consider, instead, the point of view of the person who enters the transporter.
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