SD26 reacted to Thomas M. Miovas Jr. in Induction and anarchism as an Ideal
Induction and Anarchism as an Ideal
By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
I’ve come to a realization recently after having discussions with several anarchists, and the realization is that some of them are not being rationalistic (thinking of principles divorced from the facts), but rather they are making an inductive generalization based upon their own experience of dealing with various governments who insist on getting in their way of leading their lives in a rational, independent, and productive manner. What generally happens is that they seek to do something – like opening up a business in a convenient location – and the government steps in and tells them they cannot do that without specific permission from the government (local, regional, or national). For example, I once had a boss who decided to move his picture framing gallery across the street to a smaller venue. No problem getting the lease and the business name and signage and all that stuff, but the trouble was that the venue did not have a rear entrance to be used in case of emergencies, so the local government would not let him move in until they had an investigation. Said investigation took over eight months to come up with a legal solution, so he lost revenue for all of that time. Fortunately for him, he had a second location that was doing OK, but can you imagine not getting paid for eight months due to a government technicality? I’ve heard of similar stories, and while not all of the victims turn to anarchism, some definitely do, stating that it would be better if we had no government at all, which they think would solve the problem.
According to The Logical Leap by David Harriman, it does not take a lot of the same types of facts to be aware of to come to an inductive generalization. Turning on several light switches in a house can get even a young child to come up with the generalization, “Flipping the light switch will turn on the lights.” So, even a few times of dealing with a government can lead one to realize the generalization that, “The government is preventing me from living my life!” Is this a valid generalization? One based on the facts in terms of causation? And what should one do about it? An Objectivist would say to advocate for better government based upon upholding individual rights in such a way that the individual is free to live his life as he sees fit so long as he does not initiate force against others. To many people who turn towards anarchism (no government), this seems like a very far-fetched way of getting rid of entrenched governments who violate individual rights. However, a contextual research into the early decades of the United States (the first 150 years) will show that just such a government did indeed exist (sans slavery and taxes). That is, a government geared towards an extension of self-defense in an institutionalized manner did exist, and was lost over the years. But what made that loss possible; and, indeed, what made the United States possible in the first place?
Basically, it was the ideas of The Enlightenment that made such a free country possible, as the individual became sovereign in all walks of life due to the rational influence of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, who advocated that each man’s individual mind was capable of knowing reality unaided by Divine Intervention or government edicts. Prior to that, with the possible exception of Ancient Athens, there was a top-down approach to government whereby the government would set the terms for the life of the individual in that society – of the individual being the servant of the State instead of the opposite idea that the government ought to be the servant / protector of the individual. It was the Founding Fathers of the United States and the political theories they understood and advocated that led to the individual protection type of government. Unfortunately, these ideas really required a more philosophical approach – basically a new rational philosophy and a rational morality – to ideally translate into a politics that would stand the test of time and not become eroded as reason and individualism wavered due to bad philosophies (primarily Kant and his collectivism). Without that fully rational basis, the Founders presented the case of rights as being self-evident – as it states in The Declaration of Independence – whereas the concept of individual rights does require a whole host of more fundamental ideas to be completely validated. Lacking such a base, the political ideals of the Founders became chipped away almost from the beginning, but especially after the ideas of Kant swamped the field of philosophy.
And I think it is because the ideas of individual rights and proper government are not self-evident that collectivism on the one hand or anarchism on the other hand begin to take precedent in people’s mind. They tend to think that we need either more government (total socialism) or get rid of government altogether (anarchism) to solve the current problems. I have written elsewhere why I do not think that anarchism or competing governments will work, but I do think the anarchists just cannot conceive of a proper government or say that it has been tried and has always failed. Due to this, I think their initial inductive generalization is a false one, that the alternative is not Socialism versus Anarchism, but rather upholding individual rights in a fully institutionalized manner (Constitutional Republic) or dispensing with them in fully institutionalized manner (Communism). The idea of institutionalized protection for the individual is very difficult for the confirmed anarchist to accept, as individualist as some of them are, but anarchism is not the solution. A government dedicating to protecting the legitimate rights of the individual would leave one free to live one’s own life according to one’s own ideals while preventing others from interfering with said decisions with force (as this would be illegal and punishable by law). Anarchism, on the other hand, would not provide for such protection. Some anarchist claim to have thought it all through and have come up with solutions based on market principles, but I have yet to see a worked out solution that would not eventually lead to outright violence in the streets as one segment of individuals attempts to protect themselves from other individuals in an effort to protect their rights, which they claim were violated (real or imagined). With a Constitutional Republic and institutionalized systems of protecting the individual (police force, military, and courts for resolving disputes peacefully), I don’t see how one can protect oneself for large-scale enterprises, like a corporation that exists, say, in all states of the United States; nor for one’s own individual life as these competing agencies of force vie for protecting the individual without any sort of institutionalized system of resolving disputes (the court system). So, both myself and fellow Objectivists are for a clearly limited Constitutional Republic rather than anarchy.
SD26 reacted to piz in Family vs. Public
People (as in "We the People," i.e. the citizens of a country, a.k.a. The Public) and Family are valid concepts - they are each a kind of Group. They don't have a physical existence - metaphysically, only the individuals which comprise them exist. Epistemologically, the concepts are essential for talking about a group of individuals holding the relationships defined - they fulfill one of the primary purposes of concept formation: unit economy, the ability to denote a wide range of existents via a single concept, making thought and communication simpler and more concise.
Note that genetics are not essential to Family. Adopted children, for example (and of which I am one), are in fact as much members of their adoptive families as biological children.
You are correct that family is not necessarily a value (this is true in my case). The concepts themselves do not include or imply any evaluation, positive or negative.
Now, all that terse explanation aside, welcome to Objectivism! I hope you gain as much from it as I have, and that's a lot!
SD26 reacted to FeatherFall in Critique of Capitalism
Boris, your equations seem to assume that the economy is a zero-sum game; that somehow you can put a ceiling on value. This assumption contradicts two facts of reality. The first is that humans are capable of adding value to existing resources (rearanging them, cutting out waste, finding new uses, etc.). The second is the law of comparative advantage. Some goods are actually worth more to some people. That's why people trade. Your equations might be true in an economy where the values of all goods were fixed for all people (edit: and the goods were fixed). That's not the world in which we live.
SD26 reacted to dream_weaver in Critique of Capitalism
More generally, in order for a businessman to create a profit, he has to sell his product at a price the the customer can afford, which simultaneously must be higher than the material/labor cost of producing it.
The value of the product can exceed the cost of material/labor to produce it.
While there may be other issues with your premises, this one, in particular, stands out to me.
SD26 reacted to Thomas M. Miovas Jr. in Viable Values by Tara Smith; Life as Standard and Reward
Viable Values by Tara Smith
Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
“Viable Values” is an excellent read for anyone concerned with rational values and what code of morality stems from this approach. After surveying modern approaches to values and morality, and dismissing them due to their lack of logic and a rational standard, Tara very thoroughly investigates what is required for something to be an objective value. The topic of the book is meta-ethics – the relationship between the facts of reality and moral codes and values. She demonstrates that only Ayn Rand’s ethics of rational egoism is based on the facts of reality and the facts about man. If logic is the non-contradictory identification of the facts of reality – which I think it is -- then this book is extremely logical, and very thorough in its scope to discuss and analyze the factual basis of the concept “value” and how only life as the standard gives one an appreciation of the concept. The subtitle of the book is “a study of life as the root and reward of morality” and the book lives up to this. Not only is life the standard, but a proper ethical code has life as the reward for being moral. That is, if one is pursuing those things in reality that are in fact beneficial to oneself, then not only is one being rationally moral, but one gets more life out of one’s actions.
There is one drawback to the way the book is written. After bringing up the issue of “Why be moral?” and showing that previous approaches to morality are not logical, she doesn’t answer this question until about page 117. Consequently, I would not recommend the book to those who are novices to Ayn Rand. I would say that “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Virtue of Selfishness, “ both by Ayn Rand, are pre-requisites because these do not get bogged down in other approaches to morality. In “Viable Values” one can become disheartened that there is no legitimate answer to “Why be moral?” and put the book down before Tara gets to the answer, which would be unfortunate.
I also have one philosophical misgiving about her approach to “Why should one live?” and focusing on acting to gain and or keep rational values. She states that such questions are pre-rational – that is, one has to decide to live one’s life before the issue of values and morality become paramount. While I agree with her analysis, I don’t agree with the phrasing. In a sense, all of the facts of reality are pre-rational – they come before reason (this is the Primacy of Existence approach) – but that is an awkward way of phrasing it, since I think it implies that rationality is the fundamental standard. Actually, the facts of reality are the ultimate and fundamental standards – and the starting point. The moon orbiting the earth is a metaphysical fact, it is neither rational nor irrational; it just is. Similarly, the choice to focus one’s mind on living is a fundamental fact about man. That is, free will in man is a basic fact about his consciousness, and like the moon example is neither rational nor irrational; it just is.
But these misgivings are paltry compared to the immense value of the book and how it analysis the concept of “value” and squarely places it into a logical hierarchy.
SD26 reacted to Thomas M. Miovas Jr. in Viable Values by Tara Smith; Life as Standard and Reward
In ordinary everyday existence, the choice to live or not to live doesn't usually come up explicitly. It is not as if we wake up each morning and make an explicit choice to live or die, we get up and go through our morning routine. However, I think this would be the choice to live one's life and to pursue the day and the values of the day. In some extreme cases, however, the choice is explicit. If one suffers some horrible illness and cannot enjoy one's life one can say, "I'd rather die than go through this." In fact, people do say that, though without full seriousness for getting things like a very bad case of the flu, for example, or surviving the death of a loved one that is so painful one doesn't know how to go on living with that pain uppermost in one's mind.
In other threads on other forums, I have made the case that like the choice to focus one's mind or not, our fundamental choice, that this *is* the choice to live, since living rationally requires one to focus on the facts of reality with our full mind on the ready. However, in this type of case, one doesn't deliberate, because one cannot deliberate until one's mind is focused. So,like I said, the choice to focus or not or the choice to live or not comes before one will reason about anything. In Tara's view about rationality, it is always purpose driven, and she states that without purpose there is no rationality -- that one cannot focus on the facts of reality with one's full alertness without having some specific purpose in mind. I do think she is correct about this, that rationality has to do with effectiveness (taking the facts into account or not), though taking the facts into account requires a huge context that comes about due to what one wants to pursue -- i.e. purpose. Otherwise the facts are there but so what? She is saying is that we cannot have a purpose until we decide to live and to pursue our lives; and without purpose, there is no rationality. This is the fuller meaning of what she means by "pre-rational" -- there is not necessarily an explicit deliberation about the issue, and we are not taking the facts into account because we cannot do this until we are focused on living purposefully.
SD26 reacted to JacobGalt in Keith Olbermann- We Must Get Back to Calm & Sanity in our Politica
The Tucson shooting really revealed the hypocrisy of the state-worshiping media: when someone tries to kill a politician, shut down the presses for a week!; when politicians initiate force against hundreds of millions of Americans, "well, that's democracy".
SD26 reacted to Jake_Ellison in Country voting itself in for social services
There are many technical issues with your second scenario (the agreement is vague, the scenario is unrealistic, etc. ), but the main problem is this: the role of the government is to protect people's individual rights, as an unbiased third party. If the government has a vested interest in everyone agreeing to this contract, they are not unbiased, and they cannot enforce individual rights objectively.
Objectivist Politics is in favor of the separation of Economics and State for the same reasons the US founders were in favor of separation of Church and State. Once the government endorses (or supports) one participant in the economy (or a participant in the public religious debate), they cannot be trusted to also enforce economic (or free speech) rights.
SD26 reacted to 2046 in Fire Fighters Let Home Burn... for Delinquent $75
Of course it was wrong. First, the fire department is government owned and tax-funded. The government has a coercive monopoly on fire services, there is no free competition. The $75 fee is totally arbitrary and the “pay the $75 or we don't respond” is a totally arbitrary policy mandated by the local mayor.
The man said he was willing to pay whatever to put the house out at that point. Yes, he doesn't have a right to firefighting services. Yes, he doesn't have a right to force anyone to put out his fire. Yes, he doesn't have a right to demand the government respond to his fire. But imagine if the government monopolized medical services, rationed them arbitrarily, and some person who didn't go through some bureaucratic hoops was refused service, and had to either go abroad for care or die. You wouldn't say "justice was served" to that. Justice would be allowing the man to freely associate with those willing to put out the fire for whatever price they deemed to be in their self-interest. I see this as a monstrous injustice by the local government.
SD26 reacted to Jake_Ellison in Fire Fighters Let Home Burn... for Delinquent $75
The guy made the wrong choice, by refusing to pay the fee. (which probably isn't even going to those volunteer firefighters, it's barely enough to pay for their equipment).
As for what happened afterward, nothing went wrong. Justice was served. Excellent. For those who don't believe in justice, there is nothing to say. Justice is an attribute of reality, and refusing to believe in reality is destructive and evil.
SD26 reacted to DanLane in Fire Fighters Let Home Burn... for Delinquent $75
Someone who doesn't pay for fire protection isn't any worse off than someone in an area without a fire department. No harm, no foul. Nearby neighbors who payed for coverage might have a case. If it was me, I would help put out the fire (but not necessarily risk my life in the process) since I hate to see valuables go up in flames, and if I lived nearby a burnt house would be an eyesore at the very least. Also, it's nice to be able to assume that some people would do the same for me, but I can't imagine putting a gun to their head and forcing them into it.
SD26 reacted to rebelconservative in Intersting article on African Aid
Not exactly an in-depth discussion there, or anything new really. It is quite clear from all the available evidence that government aid to Africa is not only immoral but counter-productive. For more info, this interview with the author is much more detailed, http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/1112/full
I found #6 quite interesting too, I've been saying that the UK government has had an utterly irrational policy on University for a long time.
SD26 reacted to emanon in Intersting article on African Aid
Sets forth the idea that America should stop giving financial aid to Africa. One of the interviewees had this to say:
Of course, the "Government Advisor" remains completely in favor of the aid despite the corruption and destabilization of any economy or possible government which it results in...