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Gavagai

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  1. Hello there. As some replies are recent, I thought that this topic is still of interest for someone and that my input would be useful. I'm a Russian, a lawyer and an Ayn Rand admirer and I followed this case closely. I think, this facts allow me to speak about this case with authority. I was really frustrated to learn that even on an Objectivist forum (!) there are some people who don't consider this case "black and white". It looks like, we should congratulate Putin's propagandists for their success in spinning international opinion in their favor. I would say that this case is emphatically not about a property rights violation because of the following: 1. The cathedral isn't a property of an orthodox church, it is actually state-owned and open to public most of time. And hence, it is almost as good a place for a political protest as an open street. 2. It was open to public when perfomance happened, no kind of private ceremony were held. 3. Pussies didn't violate any kind of religious ceremony, actually, as none were held. Actually, there were very few people in the church at that moment, most of them were church employees (and journalists who were alerted about the perfomance beforehand). 4. There was (and isn't) no public document which described the rules of conduct in the church. And during several months of pre-trial procedures and litigations prosecution failed to produce any kind of clear description of what kind of actions are exactly forbidden. I still don't know, what I can or can't do in a church, I only know that I can get two years jail-term for this undefined action. 5. No music was played, of course, no material damage was done, church wasn't desecrated. Video, posted earlier in this thread, is a videoclip, issued by the group, not a true video of what actually happened. Original video of their actions can be seen here: And I say that if you think that it worth TWO YEARS of imprisonment, I just don't know what's going on in your head. What they actually do can be described as praying in unusual way (they present their actions as a "punk-prayer"). And there are no official rules about the way in which orthodox christian are allowed to play in a public church. Overall, if a property owner opens his building to a public and doesn't explicitly states conditions on which he allows people inside - how can you objectively determine that his property rights were violated provided that no material damage was done? The thing they did is like starting singing aloud and dancing in a supermarket - I think that would be an identical case. Of course, it would be OK if guards asked you to go out for disturbing other customers. But imprisoning you for two years wouldn't be OK. A suble argument based on some conception of "implied rules" can be made here, and I would even agree that there were a property right violation - but an extremely minor one. I simply don't see how a punishment more severe than a small fine can be justified. On the other hand, girls were arrested in March - and the trial started only in July. What about sitting under arrest (yes, they were ARRESTED like they were some kind of murderers or professioan criminals) and waiting for a trial for more than three months in a case where all relevant facts are videotaped (and be aware that under Russian law such kind of cases don't require a jury, hence no additional time to assemble it were needed)? What about the fact that they didn't have A SINGLE confidential meeting with their lawyers? There were countless of other violations of their procedural rights which are much more serious than what they did in the church. I think that my government owes them an apology and a compensation. Painting this case as "not black and white" is simply immoral.
  2. Interesting notion. Will it be correct to restate what you are saying here in the followimg way: Most valuable experiences which make our life enjoyable are stretched along time and can't be possibly felt in few short moments. Therefore, if we have a very high time preference, we will not be able to have this experiences and we will diminish the value of our life so much that for practical purposes it will be equal to denying it. So at some point choosing high time preference is equal to choosing not to live.
  3. =The only sort of claim of universality of Objectivist ethics is that all people need to use reason since any choice is based upon the furtherance of one's whole life= Hm, it leads me to an interesting twist I hadn't thought about before. Can we say that if we somehow know for sure how long it remains for us to live and have no way to change it, we don't need ethics at all? And if we have some upper limit on our lifespan, ethics rules which would otherwise enable us to prolong our life beyond this limit is unapplicable in our context?
  4. I've read Galt's speach many times. I wouldn't start this topic if I saw there answers to my question. My question is, specifically, what assumptions does Objectivism make about time-preference? Is there such thing as objective, "rational" time-preference or is it a matter of personal whim? If objective time-preference exists, is it the same for all individuals or it varies from person to person? In my opinion objective time-preference does exist (though it would be a hard venture to validate it), but it varies from person to person. And as I now see it, for some persons it may be too high to make the rules of Objectivist ethics applicable. For example, if I know for sure that I will die soon - why should I care about long-term consequences of my actions?
  5. As I understand, a recurring argument in favor of Objectivist ethics is that actions which violate it and seem beneficial in a short run have serious destructive consequences in a long run. For example, lying may provide some initial benefit – you can avoid consequences of your wrongdoing or trick your victim into giving you money. But in the long run you will have to spend an enormous effort to construct and support a false reality for your victim and that will ultimately lead to your destruction. The same is with stealing – you may obtain a large sum of money with little effort, but then you will face retribution from your victim and spoil your reputation (or will need to spend a lot of resources to cover up your crime). It seems to me that this line of reasoning is based on some assumptions about time preference, i. e. that it is low enough to make long-run considerations important. But, as far as I know, there are no explicit references to this concept in the Objectivist corpus. I see, then, three ways, in which the concept of time preference may relate to Objectivist ethics. The first one is to claim that Objectivist ethics doesn’t assume anything about time preference and that it is equally valid for any value of it. As far, as I understand Objectivism, it doesn’t make such a strong claim. As I understand, Objectivism doesn’t deny that in short run immoral actions may be beneficial. I may be wrong here – but then I don’t understand what immediate harm immoral actions necessarily bring. The second one is to claim that there is some “rational” value of time preference, or set of them, and it is in the scope of ethics to determine it. In my understanding that is exactly what Objectivism assumes. I think, it is implicit in the recurring claim, that a person should have “an integrated view of one’s life” and that “one should evaluate the consequences of his actions in the relation to his life as a whole”. But if I’m right here, than ethics should answer what time preference is “rational”. I don’t see in the Objectivist corpus an answer to this question. I think it is not zero – at least because a human with zero time preference was not yet born. But if it is not zero and is not infinitely large – than how large is it? The only hint to an answer which I can see is that “rational” time preference should be somehow commensurable with one’s expected lifespan. At least, this answer seems to be implied in the quotes given. But this kind of answer poses other questions, because expected lifespan varies greatly from person to person. There are infants, old people, people with incurable diseases. Is it possible that there are categories of people for whom “rational” time preference is high enough to make some rules of Objectivist ethics non-applicable? If it isn’t – why? It looks like that even if we are able to determine some kind of “rational” time preference, it will vary greatly for different people. And this will jeopardize the claim of universality of Objectivist ethics. The third way to integrate the concept of time preference into Objectivist ethics is to claim that it is applicable only for a limited set of its possible volumes and that it is not the business of ethics to determine which time preference is rational. It is possible to find a hint to this kind of answer in Miss Rand’s essay “Ethics of Emergencies”. (Btw, can we redefine emergency as a specific kind of situations in which extremely high time preference is natural?) As I understand, to accept this approach will mean not only to drop the claim of universality, but to make the subject of ethics void. Time preference is a key factor influencing our choices and if ethics accepts it as a given and gives us no guidance how to determine it, than for practical purposes it doesn’t give any guidance altogether. That’s the conundrum for which I can find no satisfactory solution - none of the three options I have listed seem satisfactory to me. I hope, some you will be able to solve it.
  6. 2 Jake Ellison Isn't it the same with ideas? Why can't I say that if I learn some idea from you than this idea will actualy be mine? I want to remind you that miss Rand's premise is that any product of our mind should be guarded as our property. I simply don't see how an idea about some invention is less a product of our mind than an idea about some law of nature. Both types of ideas are the effect of the creative work of our mind. And the Law of Causality is the the Objectivist justification of property rights. Miss Rand is right when she point's out that the discoverer doesn't create the law of nature itself. But he still creates our awareness of this law of nature. So, to restate my argument. I don't see any essential difference between the labor of the discoverer and the labor of the inventor. I don't see any essential difference between an effect of their labor either: in both cases we obtain some new knowledge through it. So I don't understand why the law should treat them differently. But don't we demand absolutely the same thing when we instill patent protection? We make people aware that for example some new, more efficient, method of production is discovered. But then we tell them that they are forbidden to use it before the get an agreement from an owner of the patent. Where is the difference? No, I'm not saying it. I'm saying that he can demand that no one can use the process he invented. Isn't it the same thing to demand that no one uses a discovery without a permission of the discoverer? That's new for me. As far as I remember intellectual property is as much a property as any other property, according to miss Rand's logic. Are you seriously going to defend an idea that tangible property shouldn't be used to "hold up other people's prorgess"? I always thought that property can be used in any way an owner wish to use it, if only he doesn't trespass other men fundamental rights. I thoght this is the Objectivist position too. Or there is such thing as "the right to progress"? Seriously, what is your proof of this claim? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum I think there is a misunderstanding here. "Chess opening" isn't some new game game or a modification of it. This is a specific sequence of moves in existing game (chess) which allows both players to get a decent position by middle game. And my question is why can't I patent such a sequence if I have invented it and forbid every one else to use it in their game. This is a product of my mind after all! In American Football some specific combination or tactics would be a correct analogy. I will answer to Lucio later today, have to run now.
  7. Thank you very much for the link, I will definitely check it!
  8. In my case against IP I will criticize a natural law position on it, specifically – Ayn Rand’s position as I’m posting it on Objectivist forum. Frankly speaking, I’m not interested in discussing a utilitarian approach to this question because it’s confused at its root. I read and understood Ayn Rand’s article “Patents and Copyrights” but this was long ago and I don’t have a book at hand now. So, I will rely on my memory and on the entry on patents and copyrights in Ayn Rand Lexicon which is available online here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/patents_...copyrights.html If I get her position wrong in some respects, I hope forum members will correct me. So, miss Rand claims that “patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind”. So let’s check what this premise implies. Let’s started with the issue miss Rand herself has explored: issue of scientific discoveries and philosophical ideas. Miss Rand writes on this subject: “It is important to note, in this connection, that a discovery cannot be patented, only an invention. A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and ( if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission” So here we see two arguments against intellectual property on discoveries. The first is that they are not created by a discoverer. This is true. But what about the knowledge about these discoveries? Isn’t it created by a discoverer? Isn’t it a product of the work of his mind? And can’t he demand protection of his property rights on this knowledge? If not – why? It doesn’t follow from miss Rand’s premise. The second argument doesn’t follow from her premise too. She states that the discoverer can’t “demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods”. But why can’t he? He surely can demand that men use less efficient methods of production without his permission even if they have objective knowledge about more efficient methods. How is that less absurd? And here we come to the question: isn’t the strict division between inventions and discoveries arbitrary? Can’t we represent any invention as some combination of laws of nature? Can’t we describe any invention in a manner which what contain nothing but statements about objective properties of some physical body or parts of it and about how their manifestations under certain conditions? So is there any objective difference between a discovery and an invention? If there isn’t than we should protect discoveries by patents and that will result in an utter chaos. There are two other arbitrary limitations on intellectual property, which I find in miss Rand’s position. The first one is that ideas can be protected only after they have some material form. But how does it follow from our premise? Aren’t our ideas a product of our mind before they get material form? The second one is the time limit on the intellectual property rights. As far as I remember miss Rand puts forward only one argument for such time limit: intellectual property doesn’t depreciate. But so, what? Land plots don’t depreciate too, but we protect property rights on them for eternity. The product of my mind will forever remain the product of my mind. Doesn’t it mean that my property rights on it should be protected, too, forever? But nevertheless let’s take all these arbitrary limitations for granted and than explore the ultimate example, which, to my mind, absolutely destroys the idea of intellectual property at its root. Let’s suppose that I invented a new chess opening. Do I have the right to forbid all other chess players to use it? I don’t see why not – this is clearly the product of my mind. But then we should say goodbye to chess and to the most of other competitive games as well. I challenge any supporter of intellectual property to show me a natural law argument, which will not allow me claim property rights on chess openings. As we have seen miss Rand’s central premise leads us to laughable absurdities. This is a clear sign that something is wrong with this premise, though it seems clear, simple and indisputable. May be the problem is with the concept of “product”? Can we call an intangible thing a product? And can we really establish property rights on intangibles? May be these two concepts are incompatible? Here is the area in which I’m not sure. But I do see that the contradiction exists and it needs to be resolved. That was my case against intellectual property.
  9. I'm not going to ban anyone simply because I can't. I'm not a moderator here. Sorry if this sounded rude. I got confused by strict rules put for this subforum in a sticky thread but it looks like they are outdated. So I will just post my initial case against IP in several hours. I will also try to answer there to commentators who has already posted.
  10. I thought a lot about intellectual property (IP) recently and I can not decide myself on this topic. I see huge problems with the concept of IP, but the world without IP looks rather grim too. So I'm at a loss. Sometimes it seems to me that something is wrong with both positions on some deeper level but I can't see it. I argued a lot with libertarians where I posed myself as an IP apologist. I think that I have a good understanding of their position. And now I want to explore the Objectivist position deeper. So I decided to do it in a form of debate. I will defend here the idea of abolishing IP, as if I’m fully convinced in it (which I'm not), against anyone who would like to defend it. So, that's my proposal. Is anyone interested? I'm not really sure about the rules of the debate now, so, I want to hear your proposals. I only want to say that I won't be always able to reply every day, so I want to ask to extend time limit for replies for me to 48 hours (I’ve read that 24 hours is the usual one). I'm also afraid that if there will be numerous opponents, putting incompatible arguments on different levels of sophistication, to all of which I must answer, the debate will be confusing and messy and will consume too much of my energy. So I would ideally prefer to debate with a single opponent. But I want to hear the strongest version of the Objectivist argument for IP, so this should be an opponent (may be two, three of them) who really knows what he is saying. If there is no one who can justly claim an authority on this subject then I would prefer to debate with a forum hivemind. That's all for now. Thoughts? Suggestions?
  11. But why will this hypothetical entity want to solve this "other problem"? Reason needs volition to be exercised. And volition needs desires. And desires are possible only for a living being. To create an intelligent living organism all you need is to find a woman and to conceive a baby with her. That would be a man-made intelligence. There is nothing tricky in it. Or you can grow a human baby or even some other intelligent creature in a vat. I'm fine with it. But the question is wether it is possible to give reason to a heap of metal. Edit: grammar
  12. I haven't read the whole thread, sorry if this point was already mentioned. But I'm sceptical about AI because human intelligence is a product of human desire to live. Only our desire to live gives meaning to our thinking and gives us a stimulus to learn about the world. Only our strive for survival makes the difference between truth and falsehood important for a man. Reason is a tool in our struggle for survival. One who doesn't want to survive doesn't need reason. Reason can't be even imagined as separated from the desire to live. All our concepts, all our thought process are organized around the imperative of life which gives them all meaning. It is impossible to explain why we decided to form a concept in this way and not in the other without appealing to its necessity for life. Reason and life are inseparable. But life must arise before reason arises. The only rational answer one can give on the question "Why should I live?" is "For the life itself". But this answer makes sense only for those who have already experienced life. It is senseless for non-living. Those who believe in the possibility of creation of an AI usually think that after reaching necessary complexety the machine will "wake up" and acquire reason, personality and the desire to live. But this is impossible. As life has no meaning which can be understood through reason (only through direct experience) intellegent machine will want to live no more than unintellegent. And no reason is needed and possible without the desire to live. Reason is a constant activity in which a machine has no stimulus to engage. A machine has no values hence it can't have reason. To acquire values a machine must become living first. But it won't be a machine then. Edit: grammar
  13. I skimmed through van Cleeve's book, mentioned here, and immediately ran into the wonderfull: And now he divorces belief in a truth of a statement from logical proof of it. Really, these philosophers never stop surprising me. EDIT: And the very next section is even better. I will not qoute it, sorry, as it is impossible to copy/paste from Googlebooks and reprinting it is rather boring. There the author discusses the necessary/contigent dichotomy. He explains it using this well-known vague metaphor that necessary truths are those which have to be true and contigent are those which need not to be true ("have to" and "need not" in what way? - blank out). This ALL explanation we are given. And after that he writes that he "will not try to eludicate these notions further" as "they are among the most familiar in philosophy" and he doubts that "anything much can be done to explain them to anyone who doesn't already has a grasp of them anyway". And this is considered to be a serious work of philosophy?
  14. But if one points out all the places where and in what way Kant's claims actually depend on experience but none is given - this by itself will be a refutation. I do think that it will be usefull. I'm unfamiliar with this story. Can you please elaborate on it or give a link to such elaboration? Thank you. I will check it.
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