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2046 last won the day on July 30

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  1. 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."
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 2046


    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.)
  7. 2046


    I'm not sure the extent of the postmodernist worldview is that you're ascribing such a dominant view to. "We are losing?" Statements like these are puzzling to me. Sure, there's a lot of people who have this view, and especially in the humanities departments, and in education in general, but it's not as if they have a total monopoly on society. Most professional philosophers aren't postmodernists, if that's what you mean. And as a general school, much of Objectivist philosophy is increasingly received positively. According to a PhilPapers survey of Phd philosophers, on many crucial points congenial to Rand's Objectivism, the respondents were in the majority, or at least a sizable minority: A priori knowledge: yes or no? Accept or lean toward: yes 662 / 931 (71.1%) Accept or lean toward: no 171 / 931 (18.4%) Other 98 / 931 (10.5%) Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism? Accept or lean toward: Platonism 366 / 931 (39.3%) Accept or lean toward: nominalism 351 / 931 (37.7%) Other 214 / 931 (23.0%) Aesthetic value: objective or subjective? Accept or lean toward: objective 382 / 931 (41.0%) Accept or lean toward: subjective 321 / 931 (34.5%) Other 228 / 931 (24.5%) Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no? Accept or lean toward: yes 604 / 931 (64.9%) Accept or lean toward: no 252 / 931 (27.1%) Other 75 / 931 (8.1%) Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism? Accept or lean toward: externalism 398 / 931 (42.7%) Other 287 / 931 (30.8%) Accept or lean toward: internalism 246 / 931 (26.4%) External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism? Accept or lean toward: non-skeptical realism 760 / 931 (81.6%) Other 86 / 931 (9.2%) Accept or lean toward: skepticism 45 / 931 (4.8%) Accept or lean toward: idealism 40 / 931 (4.3%) Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will? Accept or lean toward: compatibilism 550 / 931 (59.1%) Other 139 / 931 (14.9%) Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 128 / 931 (13.7%) Accept or lean toward: no free will 114 / 931 (12.2%) God: theism or atheism? Accept or lean toward: atheism 678 / 931 (72.8%) Accept or lean toward: theism 136 / 931 (14.6%) Other 117 / 931 (12.6%) Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism? Accept or lean toward: contextualism 373 / 931 (40.1%) Accept or lean toward: invariantism 290 / 931 (31.1%) Other 241 / 931 (25.9%) Accept or lean toward: relativism 27 / 931 (2.9%) Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism? Other 346 / 931 (37.2%) Accept or lean toward: empiricism 326 / 931 (35.0%) Accept or lean toward: rationalism 259 / 931 (27.8%) Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean? Accept or lean toward: non-Humean 532 / 931 (57.1%) Accept or lean toward: Humean 230 / 931 (24.7%) Other 169 / 931 (18.2%) Logic: classical or non-classical? Accept or lean toward: classical 480 / 931 (51.6%) Other 308 / 931 (33.1%) Accept or lean toward: non-classical 143 / 931 (15.4%) Mental content: internalism or externalism? Accept or lean toward: externalism 476 / 931 (51.1%) Other 269 / 931 (28.9%) Accept or lean toward: internalism 186 / 931 (20.0%) Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism? Accept or lean toward: moral realism 525 / 931 (56.4%) Accept or lean toward: moral anti-realism 258 / 931 (27.7%) Other 148 / 931 (15.9%) Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism? Accept or lean toward: naturalism 464 / 931 (49.8%) Accept or lean toward: non-naturalism 241 / 931 (25.9%) Other 226 / 931 (24.3%) Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism? Accept or lean toward: physicalism 526 / 931 (56.5%) Accept or lean toward: non-physicalism 252 / 931 (27.1%) Other 153 / 931 (16.4%) Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism? Accept or lean toward: cognitivism 612 / 931 (65.7%) Other 161 / 931 (17.3%) Accept or lean toward: non-cognitivism 158 / 931 (17.0%) Moral motivation: internalism or externalism? Other 329 / 931 (35.3%) Accept or lean toward: internalism 325 / 931 (34.9%) Accept or lean toward: externalism 277 / 931 (29.8%) Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics? Other 301 / 931 (32.3%) Accept or lean toward: deontology 241 / 931 (25.9%) Accept or lean toward: consequentialism 220 / 931 (23.6%) Accept or lean toward: virtue ethics 169 / 931 (18.2%) Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory? Other 393 / 931 (42.2%) Accept or lean toward: representationalism 293 / 931 (31.5%) Accept or lean toward: qualia theory 114 / 931 (12.2%) Accept or lean toward: disjunctivism 102 / 931 (11.0%) Accept or lean toward: sense-datum theory 29 / 931 (3.1%) Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism? Other 382 / 931 (41.0%) Accept or lean toward: egalitarianism 324 / 931 (34.8%) Accept or lean toward: communitarianism 133 / 931 (14.3%) Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 92 / 931 (9.9%) Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism? Accept or lean toward: scientific realism 699 / 931 (75.1%) Other 124 / 931 (13.3%) Accept or lean toward: scientific anti-realism 108 / 931 (11.6%) Truth: correspondence, deflationary, or epistemic? Accept or lean toward: correspondence 473 / 931 (50.8%) Accept or lean toward: deflationary 231 / 931 (24.8%) Other 163 / 931 (17.5%) Accept or lean toward: epistemic 64 / 931 (6.9%) That's not to say that everything's all rainbows and lollipops, its radical liberalism and egoism being the two biggest stumbling blocks, it seems, but things aren't as doom and gloom as reading a Peterson book might convince one to be. Further, I'm not really sure on this idea of "the movement," I mean why does there need to be a "movement," what would that be? The Enlightenment, or the Renaissance, something like that was a movement, there are tons of artistic movements, genres, scientific movements, paradigms, schools of thought, etc. But how would this apply to Objectivism? Usually how such paradigms work is things of value in the thought system that are absorbed into cultural mainstream become just "reality" or "common sense," and the school itself fades away. This is not an objection, but more of just an observation. Certainly a good idea to carry on, or even resurrect, the "Enlightenment project," to give it the solid metaphysical foundation it lacked, which was responsible for its undermining and demise. But is Hegelian pantheism the way to go there? That may be a bit problematic. And is it true that The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged haven't had any positive impact on the culture? I mean, if I went to a room full of normal people, stood up and began to quote Toohey or James Taggart quotes at them, telling them they have no right to exist or be happy, even to a room full of postmodernist educated people, I would venture there might be a good deal of booing or objecting in most cases. And finally, you say Objectivism needs to be stripped of all its consequentialist and materialistic elements, well by all means, but on my reading, there are no such cases, and so I'm not sure what that would be like.
  8. 2046

    Objectivist values and the personal.

    The way I understand this, usually cardinal means primary in some sense, but here I think these also refer to the generic or universal goods that we need, that can't really be sized per se, whereas health and wealth are more particular goods, I need them in some amount, but the size can vary depending on what form your individualized flourishing takes. You may be a health nut that is way more fit than me, I may be less into sports and more intellectual pursuits, but I still have some degree of health and you have some degree of wisdom, etc. But you can't really say, well I sorta have some reason some of the time, but my self-esteem is huge, or I really lack purpose in life, but hey I'm super rational. This is more of an Aristotelian interpretation, I don't think Rand was super clear on her three cardinal values.
  9. 2046

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Suppose we are organizing a baseball team in the old sandlot. As we huddle up, Rodriguez giving instructions says, "Okay guys, the pitcher must throw the ball every play." We all take the field and Ham hits a pop fly to Merjet in right field. He misses it, of course, but runs quickly to retrieve it, then looks at Squints tentatively at second base. "C'mon what are ya waiting for?!" Hmm, he used the singular when he gave instructions, Merjet thinks to himself, unsure of the meaning of the rules. I guess only the pitcher can throw the ball then. He then runs all the way to second from the outfield and hands the ball to Squints. "You're killin' me, Merjet!" Ham exclaims. Seems like, in our ordinary language use, the singular modifies that specific noun. It's used when you want to talk about that one thing. But it doesn't seem like it necessarily excludes other things. In the sandlot example, just because the pitcher throws the ball every play, doesn't mean other players don't get the throw the ball too. They might even throw it every play, like say, the catcher does during a no-hitter. There is no logical necessity tying the two together positively or negatively. We just don't know if it's included or excluded because the singular just modifies that one thing. Another thought experiment: Suppose there are two dishes in the sink: a pot and a plate. My mom says to me "2046, can you put the plate in the dishwasher?" I proceed to put both the plate and the pot in the dishwasher. My mom then exclaims, "No, you dofus, I said the plate not the plate and the pot, don't you listen? That's your grandmother's cast iron skillet and needs to be washed by hand. You don't listen!" In this case, we didn't actually want anything else included in "being in the dishwasher." In the sandlot example, we did want other players included in "throwing the ball" (chopping off "every play" here.) But at the time we were just focusing on one aspect. We didn't know about the others until we looked at the facts of the situation. So when we look at the facts of the situation, which I gave reasons for before, it does seem like sometimes we want others to benefit from our actions as well as us. But the question is also how best to interpret Rand. What this shows is that the singular modifier doesn't necessarily, as I said before, include or exclude others also benefiting. And when we look at all the other context where Rand literally does say "mutual benefit" over and over again, it seems as myopic as Scotty Smalls from The Sandlot to insist otherwise.
  10. 2046

    What is 'reason'?

    You seem to think that the "Objectivist method" is some thing, like an actual sui generis "method," apart from a philosophic explanation of the scientific method of observation and experimentation and why it works. In a sense, we start out from knowing that we have knowledge, we know that we have useful ideas, epistemology is then going back and saying "what was the method that I used and how does that work?" And yeah like Eiuol said, I'm not sure how formal logic and probability theory are opposed to, say, the world of Bacon or Mill or a Rand.
  11. 2046

    What is 'reason'?

    Also, in Rand's epistemology, it's not the sensations that are being conceptually united by the process of reason, one does not experience sensations in most normal circumstances (ie., unless you have diminished mental capacity, are in a sensory deprivation experiment, etc.) The process of integrating sensations into perception is physiological, not rational (as in Kant), one experiences a united perceptual field, rather than sensations. The process of reason proceeds, under this theory, by abstracting from the field of perception, and then integrating the units conceptually as you described.
  12. 2046

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Let us review the Rand quotation again: "Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action " (Rand 1964, ix-x). If we're going to take the Randian "literalness" approach, where one does not "translate it" nor "endow it" with some "meaning of your own," then it seems neither necessarily follows. My (1) would be something like: [T]he actor must always be the beneficiary of his action, and no one else. My (2) would be something like: [T]he actor must always be the beneficiary of his action, and others can too. Both add a predicate that is not literally present and endow it with meaning that is not literally present in the original single quotation. So if we're going on the literalness approach alone, you can't say only (1) follows. Strictly speaking, we don't know if others are allowed to benefit, based singularly on the literalness of the quotation. We don't know that they are or aren't. It is neither logically excluded or entailed. Suppose in some cave somewhere, a long lost scroll of Socrates' writings were found. The scroll contained the following passage: Scroll 1 Socrates: S must always P. Suppose Scholar A had the following interpretation: Scholar A: What Socrates means is S and only S must always P, and no one else. It's the only literal interpretation! Suppose Scholar B had the following objection: Scholar B: Well that's not literally what Socrates says here, clearly not the only interpretation. I assume Socrates means S must always P, and sometimes Q as well. Strictly speaking, based on the Scroll 1 alone, both interpretations are "live options" as academics say, we can't infer one or the other just on the literal words of Socrates. Suppose then a second scroll is uncovered: Scroll 2 Socrates: Men trade their goods or services by mutual consent to mutual advantage, according to their own independent, uncoerced judgment. Every agreement is delimited, specified and subject to certain conditions, that is, dependent upon a mutual trade to mutual benefit. In a free society, men deal with one another by voluntary, uncoerced exchange, by mutual consent to mutual profit... Men trade their goods or services by mutual consent to mutual advantage... It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit... The deserved belongs in the selfish, commercial realm of mutual profit; it is only the undeserved that calls for that moral transaction which consists of profit to one at the price of disaster to the other. (And I know I'm shifting from symbols to text here, but bear with me.) What would we then say about Scholar A's interpretation? Perhaps in the days when all we had was Scroll 1, it was a viable option. Even then, it wasn't the only option, because the predicate "and no one else" was added, that is, not literal, an endowment, if you will, like the character from the Chris Rock movie "Head of State," whose campaign slogan was "God bless America... and no place else!" It was an interpretation that wasn't logically incompatible, if not logically entailed. But now that we have Scroll 2, what would we say if Scholar A persisted that his interpretation of Socrates was the only one true logical interpretation? We might say that's just silly.
  13. 2046

    Salmieri's CV

    Indeed, most academic departments require faculty to have a web page with their CV and many contain links to PDFs as well as just lists of papers, which you can then search a site like PhilPapers or JSTOR to find. Usually there is a paywall, but JSTOR allows a certain number of free articles, and if you have an institution password or just want to pay, you'll find a treasure trove. Ben Bayer has PDFs up, Fred Miller, Edward Younkins, Steven Hicks, Carrie-Ann Bondi, James Lennox, Allan Gotthelf, most of these people have PDFs online. For example Onkar Ghate's PhD dissertation is up, lots of neat stuff.
  14. 2046

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    I don't get how "one can benefit others without self-sacrifice” isn't compatible with the above? It doesn't seem to follow, from the above quote, "another can never benefit from one's actions." I mean if you categorized it thusly: (1) actions which benefit myself and not others (2) actions which benefit both myself and others (3) actions which benefit others and not myself It seems 1 and 2 are entailed by Rand's quotation. And why would you always want to be the beneficiary? If "benefit" in this taxonomy is defined as that which contributes to my survival and flourishing, then you just wouldn't want to be going around doing 3 all the time. Even on the margins, time is scarce and life is short, if the standard of ethics is that which contributes to your survival and flourishing, doing 3 is ultimately a drain on your resources and harmful in that sense. Also, as most economical analysis of positive externalities will tell you, most human action lies in 2. Suppose I enjoy gardening and have a rose garden outside, well you can enjoy my garden by looking at it. Is this a 1 or a 2? I work out and educate myself in manners and etiquette, you too can then enjoy my attractiveness and good manners as a little bonus. The point here is, most action is 2, the human race would have died out long ago if only 1 was allowed. Of course, I haven't read the paper in question, and you could break the categories down a lot more, so I shall reserve my judgment, but it just seems silly to interpret that as "no one else can ever benefit from my actions." The scope of actions that fall under 2 that Rand does recommend, friendship, love, commerce, living in a human society, if all of these things seem squarely under 2, then it seems a big problem for merjets interpretation.
  15. Think of it as a continuum. There's some point between having a negative thought and plunging a knife into someone such that the border between each adjacent segment of action might not be easily perceptually identifiable but where the extremes are, and where acting in self defense of negative throughts is too early and when the knife is already in your chest is too late.