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2046

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  1. 2046

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Umm, I don't know about the others, but I've read a lot of Haidt, in fact I highly recommend particularly his The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) which I think is highly cogenial to a general Rand-friendly perspective. In any event, knowing this is what you're basing your "humans are inherently tribal" mantra off of, I'm 100% in agreement with Eiuol that you literally don't know what you're talking about. Haidt isn't claiming what you take him to be claiming. You seem to be reading into him a view that is not present. It hardly follows from that fact that human flourishing is inherently social, or that human flourishing requires social relationships and connections with others (something that all of us are fully saying) that it is tribal in the specific sense meant here (eg., in Rand's PWNI or VOR, notably the social pathology she terms the "tribal lone wolf"), or that said tribalism is actually racial in form, or that statism is required to coordinate these forms of social connectivity. What's completely missing from your non sequitur based off Haidt is that social connections can be formed, reformed, modified, and diversive (owing itself to the fact that humans themselves are particular and diversive), and that a political standard is needed that will allow social life in its widest and most open-ended sense possible without structurally prejudicing one mode or form of social connectivity (such as pre-determined adherence to one static tribe or group) over another. And the reason I bring up other thinkers like Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and John Gray is that they make your point way better than you do.
  2. 2046

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Of all the meta-ethical theories floating around in philosophy, there are usually 4 types: god, society, reason, or nature. Usually attacks on Rand's views as a naturalist come from one of the other templates. A Kantian, for example, might claim Rand fails to attach moral claims to pure reason, a conventionalist might claim public agreement lends to more altruism than Rand wants to allow. You seem to want to challenge Rand's views from within the context of human nature, by pointing to some tribalistic aspects of human nature that we've ignored or failed to see. You mentioned a number of times bow, humans are led by emotions, humans are tribal, humans are inherently this or that. But it's not as if merely asserting this or that constitutes a reason to believe something. It's fine if you want to map out the territory, well if humans were inherently interested in only members of their own race, then some sort of racist ethical prescription might follow, but your posts in here suffer from serious "argument from assertion" fallacies. To simply assert is not to establish. It's as if your claims become their own mantra "I see what you're saying but, humans are inherently tribalistic, QED." Is this the proper way to do philosophy? Is this intellectual honesty or ethical discussion? There are many challenges to a neo-Aristotelian conception of human nature, a Randian could challenge, eg., A Nietzschean account by challenging Nietzsche's views of human nature. But just making assertions and repeating them as a mantra is sophism, not philosophy. Moreover, there are many conservative and communitarian critiques of liberty that point to a supposed inherent tribalism, and establish statism to arrange society in tribalistic patterns. MacIntyre, for example, argues against cosmopolitan liberalism from even a largely Aristotelian framework. But he does more than assert "humans are tribal" over and over. The right-Hegelians wished to establish a tribal society in the basis of racist scientific claims. In any event, your original post was about being an "open Objectivism" and revision of certain claims. It's not clear how, if one adopted the above views, one would be offering a divergence from, rather than new version of, Rand's views. If one is rejecting free will, the efficacy of reason, and open ended human sociality, and opposition to statism, this just comes across as petty opportunism or entryism, rather than being an honest conservative critic.
  3. 2046

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    If you take an introductory ethics course, you may be introduced to two basic propositions: One is called psychological egoism, the proposition that we do in fact act in our self-interest by definition. The other is called ethical egoism, the proposition that we ought to act in our self-interest. These are two different propositions. One is about the scope of what our actions are motivated by, and the other is about the scope of what our legitimate concerns ought to be. One can be a psychological egoist and an ethical egoist, but in being an ethical egoist one need not necessarily be a psychological egoist. Note that simply stating the position of psychological egoism is not to advance one over the other. Or if I simply said "everyone is selfish" that doesn't constitute an argument. Also simply saying that we are motivated by some concern it does not follow that said concern is actually in one's self-interest. And again, since Rand held that people are social (although she had actual arguments for human sociality, not just simply assertions) it's hard to see how that ("people are social") constitutes an objection, rather than component of, Rand's version of ethical egoism.
  4. 2046

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Whatever is similar is semantic in nature, and results from you anachronistically imposing a modernist deontological template onto an ancient theorist. The whole concept and function of ethics as impersonal commandments, something that applies universally, and something primarily for social relationships is function of modern ethics. To believe that Cicero is addressing the issues of social connectivity from this point of view is just plain silly. By contrast, Cicero is concerned with what is the best life a human can live. And for that, he outlines an account of what human beings are, the role of rationality and virtue in pursuit of the good life. No doubt that will include things like friendship (he wrote a whole separate book on it), defending one's city, taking part in politics and the affairs of state, trade in the marketplace, and intimate bonds with a partner, one's children, one's fellow countrymen, and even one's clan, with whom one has closer connections to. Indeed in book 1 he uses the metaphor of concentric circles from one's self in the middle, to spouse and children eminating out to all of humanity. One places closer emphasis on ones family and friends because one is closer to them and thus shares greater connection to them. One respects one's city because one is protected from invaders by it and lives within it, one respects all of humanity because "we are subject to a single law of nature" (ie., not to harm anyone.) Quite similar to Rand and Branden's account of "species solidarity" in "Benevolence versus Altruism." The sticking point for you seems to be that these are not duties that are derived from an authority, from society, from some "moral pulls" coming from the other person, or from universal maxims, or what you seem to be saying for no particular reason at all. Rather they are goods that come from the requirements of what the good life just is. A life that didn't have good human relationships of all shapes and sizes (including with one's self) would just be deficient in some way. No mystical appeals to the magical properties of "blood" necessary.
  5. 2046

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Rather than abusing a book you admittedly haven't read for a purpose contrary to its author, you should actually read the Cicero book. Indeed it might have well been called "The Virtue of Selfishness" and it basically refutes everything you've said. The idea of a "duty" apart from any personal goal or end, as Craig asks, would be entirely foreign to Cicero. You might be seeing the word "duty" and assuming this is meant the same way Kant, Rawls, or modern deontological ethicists use the term, but this is anachronism. The Latin word "officiis" means "obligations" or norms in the wider sense. To Cicero duty is nothing more than to live according to our nature, and that is to live a life of rationality and virtue. The virtuous development is towards man's natural end or telos which is self-perfection. To say simply that "well duty towards family, for no reason at all, is inherent in our nature" is to beg the question. The quote you posted out of context was a simple refutation of solipsism and atomism, something believed (in both ontological and ethical forms) by the rival schools of the Academics and Epicureans, and something Rand could just as well agree with as any. We have other-oriented needs and capacities. We are the social animal (Rand says the contractual animal.) Of course, and no one said otherwise. The accusations that man is somehow self-sufficient and can flourish apart from any social community has always been an authoritarian strawman. Just what forms, and on what conditions, are these social aspects to be sought? The social aspects of man, in the tradition of Cicero, are based on our own perfection of our natures, and sought as goods towards that end. They are goods that are open-ended and essentially cosmopolitan. Or are they to be static, fixed, and provincial? To understand Cicero would indeed disabuse you of much of the paradigm you are in.
  6. 2046

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Well then it seems like you've defined family as something like "that institution which is based on blood and duty," thus you've already assumed one of the ethical templates without arguing for it. That was my point in trying to sketch out the idea of the templates for you, so that you can see that you've started the game from already inside one, you're never going to to reason yourself into the other from there. Rather than seeing it as inherently duty-laden from the get-go, I may suggest seeing it as a human good, a good which does not exist in a static, pre-set form, but only exists when maintained in particular, individualized form according to a person's virtuous development, can greatly contribute to the well being of individual person. A good that while being open-ended, individualized, and weighted, can thus fulfill deeply social and familial capacities within the human network of needs. "Of the two qualities which chiefly inspire regard and affection—that a thing is your own and that it is your only one—neither can exist in such a state as [the one proposed by Plato where private property and the family are abolished.]” (Aristotle, Politics 1262b21-24).
  7. 2046

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    But this behavior existed before the paradigm of duty ethics was developed. Ancient ethics, as developed in Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, among others all take the agent-centered approach, so rather we could quiz you: why is your duty-based approach necessary to explain this behavior? Surely you can't just point to the mere existence of this behavior because we consider familial and social connections as constituent goods of a morally good human life. Justifying the template of duty is going to be the whole point, otherwise you are begging the question. Just saying "but families exist and they're inherently duty based, ergo duty is justified" is going to be circular. Once you separate the templates, you have to then see that since family can be a good in both templates, the question shifts to what justifies the template. On your "flattening," it doesn't follow that since shared values are the basis of connectivity to other people, that everyone has the same connectivity, as your comment ignores giving a particular weighting or balance to those connections. Indeed, under the Randian paradigm, this is the central task of ethics, to integrate all the goods and virtues into a coherent whole of life. Thus, we are not "locked in" to a flat or static form of social connectivity, nor do we have to either accept or reject the status quo of a given familial or societal connection. That is going to depend on the individual and their context and what weighting or balance makes sense for that individual's life. The "one size fits all" static connection approach meshes much more with a duty-based framework.
  8. 2046

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    I'll add something here just to the overall point. The widest point that you hit on is that Randian-style ethics rejects not just "extreme" duties or obligations (whatever that ends up being), but rejects deontology as an entire template or approach to moral reasoning. The entire framing of what our conduct is supposed to be is not in terms of universal rules, duties, commands, obligations. Nozick, for example, talks about frameworks in terms of "moral pulls" of what behavior should flow from me towards you (pushes are the opposites.) The problem from the point of view of Randian egoism, is that this frames the entire moral enterprise in terms of what "pull" other people have on you (even those who speak in terms of "duties to self"), rather than your life being the source of value. If your life is the standard of value, and individual lives have some ontological primacy, then moral obligation just isn't going to be warranted (at least not primarily) in terms of others. It js a basic difference between two different templates of value-generation: in deontology "how should I conduct myself with regard to other people?" compared to an Aristotelian-Randian agent-centered approach "how do I make this life the best one I can?" This difference is going to manifest itself in the kinds of norms recommended: the template of duties is going to talk about rules and obligations, and be essentially legislative in nature, perhaps talking about what it owed another person ("blood means automatic obligation") by virtue of whatever is doing the work in the theory (inherent human dignity or respect, neediness, community, etc.) The agent-centered template is going to talk more in terms of goods, capacities, needs that comprise what a good human life is and virtues, character traits, dispositions, principles, and practical strategies one should generally cultivate follow in order to reliably make decisions. Asking a question of one template framed in terms of the other template doesn't really make sense does it? I mean asking why don't you follow your automatic duty to an Aristotelian-Randian is like asking a Kantian or Millian why he doesn't cultivate the virtue of prudence. It just doesn't make sense given the deeper structure one is working with. Also, note that family is and can be a good, as well as other-oriented values in general, under both templates. But it doesn't make sense to question one's integration of that good in particular form according to the opposite framework. In a duty-based framework it doesn't make sense to say "having close family relationships is good for you" anymore than a flourishing approach "you have to uphold your familial obligations." There are no obligations full stop, in this approach. Thus, if you're in a toxic familial situation, you might need to distance yourself for your own good, or if your actions are causing strain or tension, you might need to change course to fix it. Do we not tell people all the time, "I hope she's not still with him, he was so bad for her" or "did you patch things up with your father" or "my birth father is a dirt bag, thank God my mother left him," etc. Now you say well the Randian framework devalues family connections by "flattening" so to speak, everyone out, but why need this be the case? You didn't really specify why that would have to be. It seems rather opposite, under the template of duty, I have no basis for giving a particular greater weighting or balance to the value of someone as a family member than a stranger. Indeed the typical example of Kant having trouble explaining why I shouldn't lie to save someone dear to me, or Mike Wallace's interview with Rand, when he was utterly shocked when Rand denied that we should love everyone in existence equally. Deontological theorists usually have to twist themselves into pretzels to explain how I can value my family more than just some stranger I've never met. Indeed the Marxists lament that under capitalism I can have a brief interaction with someone only on the basis of trade and never really get to know them, and place greater emphasis on my personal friends and rather than the whole world community. Part of the whole point of the Randian twist on Aristotle was her introduction of individuality into the mix, value is personal and pluralistic. Only I can give a particular weighting and balance to the generic goods that comprise my well being in terms of my particular situation, context, background, talents, interests. Flourishing for me is not flourishing for you. Only on an agent-centered approach could I really value my family justifiably because they're my mother, father, sister, whatever, as oppose to someone else.
  9. T Smith, Viable Values pp. 133-43 J Lennox, "Health as an objective value" Journal of Medicine and Philosophy Not specifically Objectivist but salient to your point: G Thompson, Needs C Ryff, Model of Psychological Well-being: The Six Criteria of Well-Being C Keyes, "The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life" Journal of Health and Social Behavior
  10. 2046

    Life is the necessary value - but why is it sufficient?

    (4) It seems to be true to say that the biological tailoring observed in science is with regards to what increases the passing one the individual genotype, but it does not follow the "survival of the species as a whole" is something wired into every organism. You also can't judge what is a component of human flourishing by other animals because the human form of flourishing is sui generis. On the other hand, it does appear empirically true that sociality and connectedness in terms of relationships are something that is a component of human wellbeing. I don't think any account of ethics that doesn't include social relationships is plausible, but I also think there's limits to that, that you aren't locked into any particular type of connection with the "species as a whole."
  11. 2046

    Life is the necessary value - but why is it sufficient?

    On (2) it depends on what you mean by "happiness." If we differentiate between happiness¹ in the classical sense as eudaemonia, then happiness just is the activity of flourishing as a human. Happiness² in the modern sense is the emotional or felt sense of satisfaction or pleasure. Rand sometimes uses happiness¹ to mean the purpose of, or ultimate end, of morality (which sets what the standard of value is), and happiness² to mean the result or feeling component of happiness¹. So, to answer your question, yes on happiness¹, no on happiness².
  12. 2046

    Life is the necessary value - but why is it sufficient?

    Seems like a number of questions here: 1a. Life is, granted, necessary for the pursuit of any other values, but is life (and all other values based on the standard of life) sufficient? 1b. In other words, after having achieved that which sustains life, because that is a precondition, what dictates that there are no other values - like, say, knowledge for the sake of it - to be sought? 2. Do life-achieving actions capture the entirety of happiness which makes life a sufficient standard? 3. Is the quest for a sexual partner/healthy and happy children consistent with happiness being the pointer to only the individual's life and well-being? 4. Are we not biologically tailored to be happy in not just achieving our individual life but also the life of our species? Human life in general? 5. Does Objectivism depend on the biological argument that happiness is a pointer to life-achieving fulfillments? In answer to (1a), the argument isn't life is necessary and therefore sufficient, or something like that. That would be a non sequitur. The argument from Rand is is that life makes value possible and thus necessary (see Smith, Viable Values, p. 85-91 ff.) On Rand's epistemology, what makes a concept intelligible is what gives rise to it, and thus determines how it should be employed. On (1b), there's multiple dimensions you could go with this. One is that it's not like you achieve "life" and then there's a bunch of optional values on top of that. Saying something, X, is a proper value (this is, to say X is choice worthy) is to say that X is either a means to or constitutive property of the set of activities that are continuations and furthering of human life. "Life" here is not merely survival or having a pulse, but flourishing in a qualitative fashion in all aspects. There is an "intellectualized" conception of human flourishing that comes from some philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, who all have passages about theoretical contemplation as an end in itself. So possibly, Rand's conception should be confined to practical concerns, but even in her conception, she wants to say that in order for X to be a good that is achieved, it must he integrated into all the other activities that constitute an individual's flourishing life. And in that sense both practical and theoretical wisdom, as long as their pursuit is integrated with the full context of life, are choice worthy pursuits. We all can imagine the man that has a marriage or life falling apart in some way, and retreats into intellectual pursuits as escapism of some kind. At the same time, we are all beneficiaries of theoretical scientific research and men like Newton, Bohr, and Einstein are no less important than Edisons, Bells, and Fords.
  13. 2046

    Holding an idea without accepting it

    There's a similar idea in Locke's Essay XX.5 Those who want skill to use those evidences they have of probabilities; who cannot carry a train of consequences in their heads; nor weigh exactly the preponderancy of contrary proofs and testimonies, making every circumstance its due allowance; may be easily misled to assent to positions that are not probable.
  14. 2046

    I am a bit confused...

    In Socratic fashion, in order to know how to normatively apply a concept, we have to know what your definition and meaning of those terms are. Socrates, being accused of impiety, asks Euthyphro "What is piety?" To which he responds (summarizing here), "That which pleases the gods," Socrates responds, "The gods disagree..." To which Euthyphro responds "That which pleases all the gods..." Socrates then says well that doesn't tell us what it is, and then gets some basic definition to work from. Rand has this idea of hierarchy and context, that you start off with a paradigmatic case and then develop a meaning based off that, then you obserbve other problematic cases or integrate it with your other beliefs, then you go backwards and refine it as needed. Again, summarizing here. So what facts of reality gives rise to the need for these concepts, what knowledge is already presumed by the time you get "honor," "pride," "traditions," and "cultural identity," and what context are you attending to when you apply it in the propositions like "I'm proud of my cultural identity." So we can start off with some initial meaning and then refine it from there. My initial thoughts are that honor and pride are proper virtues when applied to individualistic human flourishing, and not the nation-state as a whole. I think one can be proud of, or take pride in one's cultural identity insofar as that identity promotes the proper values that one has formed, in the general sense of "I'm glad we're doing this right," or "our polis (so to speak) is right for living in reality and functioning properly. This is good that it exists, and I am in it, as opposed to a different city." The honorable man then, is one that defends his city, but only insofar as it is right and promotes human flourishing. To the extent it doesn't, I would be inclined to say the honorable man is the critic, the reformer, the protestor. In the same way, I think there's invalid uses of this concept. If you're on a baseball team and the other members of the team make skilled plays that facilitate winning, you'd be "proud of them" in some sense. But you're not going to say something like "we have the same color jersey on, therefore I get credit for his good plays." It doesn't make sense to claim "pride for x" when you didn't contribute to or aren't a part of x, or on the basis of some nonessential, like "he is virtuous, he is tall, I am tall, therefore I am virtuous." Likewise, just simply being born in one human community versus another isn't a source of honor or pride, since they'd have to be achieved by your own character development and discipline.
  15. 2046

    Universals

    Uh, yeah, you'll note that: Accept or lean toward: no 252 / 931 (27.1%) That's a pretty good number for a minority view. Putnam (1975), Kripke (1980) and Browne (2001), are examples of sources of mainstream rejections of the ASD. Browne specifically mentions Rand's theory of concepts in his work and did a piece in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Now I'm not saying you can mention Rand totally uncontroversially, but from my humble experience, you can mention almost every single position that Rand held on anything uncontroversially (that is to say, without peers and professors freaking out), with the exception of the two that I mentioned (libertarianism and egoism.)
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