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Hotu Matua

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Hotu Matua last won the day on December 29 2010

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About Hotu Matua

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  • Birthday 08/25/1966

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    Enrique Camacho
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    Born in 1966 in Oaxaca, Mexico. Currently living in Monterrey, Mexico. Physician. Specialist in Infectious Diseases. Atheist, but formerly very religious. Working for pharmaceutical company in clinical research over the last 12 years. Came to know Ayn Rand's work very recently, first attracted by the works of Rothbard, Friedman and Nozick.
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  1. The current framework of rights in Objectivism thought is that rights are rights to action (negative rights) and not rights to stuff (positive rights). However, in this situations, my disabled relative or my small child are helpless for an action that ensures their survival. Do these people have a right to THINGS such as food, bed, clothes, books, toys, medicines? Is one of the responsibilities of the State to ensure those positive rights are "honoured" by some persons? In my view, those cases are clearly outside the current framework of rights and should be treated under another logic because they do not fit the concept of rights. Remember that rights are not derived plainly from the fact that men have a rational faculty. They are derived from the existence of certain interactions between individuals with rational faculty. Rights are a concept that is built form observing interactions between people who can act independently to survive, but who benefit from a cooperation that respects each one's freedom of mind, creation and use of what is being created (produced). As in the formation of any other concept, you take account of the differences between interaction of men who freely produce things for their survival and the interaction of other animals or entities. You then take the interactions between those men, omit the measurments of the differences in their particular interactions and come up with the concept of rights. The concept of rights would have never arised from watching two babies interact, or two bears interact. In reading your opinions, which I value and thank, it appears to me that we are all talking about a whole different concept. The concept of custody. Certain entities deserve custody, and there is an objective "order of custody" that we can track. I mean, custodians can be identified. This area has not been deeply explored by Objectivist thinkers, as far as I know. If I am mistaken please correct me. The tricky think with custody does not lie in its ethical implications, though ("it is moral to take care of your helpless, bed-ridden, 85 year-old mother"). The tricky thing lies in the role we assign to the State in ensuring that custody is fulfilled, because that would mean that, under certain circumstances, people can be forced to provide things to other people.
  2. I would like to know your opinion about it. My question is not whether abandoning a small child or severe disabled first-degree relative to their fate is ethical or unethical. My question is whether a right is being violated, and therefore the agent of such an action should be punished accordingly by the Law. In general, we know that the need of person A does not imply an obligation from person B. While acting directly on person A to kill him is an obvious violation of his right to life, is the omission to take care of them also a violation of a right, in circumstances where we are the parents or first-degree relatives of a person unable to take care of himself? Why? Thanks for your thoughts.
  3. Unanimous consent on what? On the nature of the crime in question? You are right: no unanimous consent is needed because the nature and purpose of a government is precisely to judge on disagreement. But government requires consent from people it governs in terms of the choice of that government. If this weren't true, then it will be all right if Yaron Brook seized by force the governemnt to implement an Objectivist rule over the USA. The very endorsment of democratic elections by Objectivism strongly speaks on the attempt to reach volitional endorsement by individuals. Well, such try is a nice try, but far from being ideal. Anarchy will be the final corollary of such an attempt. But why the consent would have to be either "purely mentally" or by "physical force"? Why not by clearly speaking up your mind and signing a statement regarding the government you want to rule in your property, and raising a new flag? Why should all secessions be smashed by military force, just for the sake of preserving a certain border pattern? Let me ask you two questions, Grames: 1) Should current borders be eternal? 2) What is the rational and ethical way to maintain, redefine, create or eliminate borders? It is my view that Ayn Rand has brought a solid foundation for the derivation of natural rights from reality and rational selfishness, and the proclamation of the need of objective Law and a government to protect those rights. Further claims on how territories are to be defined, the pros and cons of democratic elections, which specific wars the USA should have fought or not, how to deal with terrorism, whether to support Israel or Palestine, whether women should be elected President or not, all of that are attempts to apply philosophy to concrete problems, and any of them can be successful or flawed depending on the care with which facts of reality are grasped and integrated. In my view, anarchism, if right, does not diminish an inch of what Ayn Rand's philosophy represents for politics, just as current views on homosexuality by Objectivist thinkers do not diminish an inch of Ayn Rand's contribution to the ethics of romance and sex. Ayn Rand, because of her personal circumstances and the particular period of history she happened to lived in (the worst of the Cold War), needed desperately the USA as a robust State to fight for freedom and keep herself and her world safe from the Soviet Union. Objectivism is a philosophy to live on earth, and to live on earth she didn't need over 10,000 tiny "territories" whose owners choose a different "protective agency". She needed a single and robust State. Freedom, in her view, needed a state. And, within current Objectivists, the same need can be felt as a way to defend freedom from the perceived threat of Muslim Fundamentalism. But once Fundamentalists states and rogue states are all gone, and many countries approach to freedom (sometimes faster than the USA itself), the need for a strong American state will start to shake and give in. If Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology and ethics are to rule the world of the future, anarchism is inevitable. And anarchism will be accepted not because the concept of government is flawed, but because the concept of nation-State is flawed.
  4. But if you define "territory" as "my privately owned land", then you don't have competing governments over THAT territory. We have this sort of anarchy already. For example: Let's take the case of John and Paul, John owning a pet-friendly hotel and Paul a hotel that forbids their guests to bring along pets. Within Pau'ls property, any guest who violates that law can be expulsed, even by the use of force. And it doesn't matter whether Paul is protected by agency A and the guest is protected by agency B, the matter in question should be resolved under the assumption that within Paul's hotel, it is the pet-forbidden law that applies. The guest could not claim innocent because he abides by another legal code, as long as the guest is committing the act within the boundaries of Pau'ls territory. In a free world, by entering my neighbour's territory (property), I will be bound by the objective law applicable to that property. If I am visiting a Muslim fundamentalist home, I would rather think twice if I would bring along my wife, who likes to wear mini-skirts. Needless to say, streets and squares would be privately owned, and make explicit the rules governing their properties and the government offering protection. In summary, the tension between the concepts of "competing governments" and "monopoly of force within a territory" dissapears when the territory in question is small enough.
  5. A MISSING PIECE IN THE DISCUSSION: HOW TO DEFINE "TERRITORY" 2046 is making, in my opinion, a brilliant defense of anarchism. I have no way to argue. I declare myself defeated: I have exhausted my ideas on how to defend the possibility of a proper monopoly of force within a given territory, IF territory is defined by the currently existing borders between nation-States... This in no way undermines the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and esthetic premises of Objectivism. It does not undermine its view of politics as far as the definition of rights is concerned. It would only challenge a particular view of Ayn Rand on how to protect rights. In addition of all what has been said in this thread, there is a further problem that has not been addressed: is there an objective, ethical foundation for the definition of the boundaries of the territory in which a government has the monopoly of force? If we cannot define "territory" ethically, then we cannot have a State at all. To me, the only objective, ethical foundation is the free will of land owners. I live in Mexico. If I owned a piece of land in the Sourthern margin of the Grande River, and I was insatisfied with the corrupt, inefficient Mexican government and would like to be protected by the USA more efficient government OVER my privately owned territory, then I could ethically have the choice to re-define the borders of Mexico, so that the new border would put my piece of land under USA jurisdiction. What would be the rational / moral basis of a government to claim jurisdiction over my privately owned land? Let's remember that boundaries of States were generally established by violent means, that did not include the opinion of the smaller owners of the land involved. Indeed, during the definition of boundaries it has been common to see forced migration of people and unspeakable violation of rights. Keeping the borders as they are also involves initiation of force. If I were to declare my land under the jurisdiction of another government, even a better government (a one that performs better in protecting rights) I would see soldiers or policemen trespassing my fences, taking me to jail, accusing me of traison or shooting me.
  6. Rejecting something unearned when there is no option to earn it and you need it, is itself a form of self-sacrifice. This applies to societies with mixed economy, as Nick has clearly pointed out. We benefit everyday from goods provided by the State from coercitive expropiation of others' wealth. Rejecting such benefit when all other options have been closed by the current system would be self-sacrificial. Other situations involving the unearned is good luck. From time to time, you happen to find goods or oppotunities that you didn't strive for, and nevertheless you take advantage of. As Nick suggests, living by principle does not imply rationalism (an epistemological flaw by which we deprive concepts from their referents in reality). A principle is a valid code of conduct as long as it remains connected with the facts of life. "Wake up early" "Work hard" "Brush your teeth" are not absolutes. And neither "Don't accept gifts from strangers" is an absolute.
  7. That's why I stated as a condition of morality "if conceived and applied honouring reality". If I fantasize about getting rich by winning the lottery I am not honouring reality. Such fantasies may distract me from real work. But fantasizing about getting rich by succeeding in the project I am actively involved in may indeed help me either to achieve it, or to enjoy my efforts even if I don't achieve it.. If I fantasize about a woman I could reasonably expect to love and be loved by, I am honouring reality. The content of the fantasy is crucial, as it will inflluence action.
  8. Fantasies are deliberate mental processes that can help us to flourish, if conceived and applied honouring reality. Inasmuch as they help me to understand or celebrate reality (specifically, my life as part of that reality) they are fine... indeed, they are great. When you read a novel, and you feel inspired by the main character, you may fantasize you ARE that character and image how you would behave in those scenarios and in new scenarios: for example in the scneario of your current life. This can bring new insights to your life, and pleasure about being a part of this world. Fantasy is a celebration of the existence of your conceptual mind. It is a big party of your mind. When you see the house of your dreams, you imagine yourself experiencing its halls, rooms, gardens. You recognize the benevolent nature of a universe which has such architects and such houses. You fantasize as a celebration that those good things are present in YOUR world. By the same token, in your world you will always be meeting, now and then, women that might be as beautiful, intelligent and virtuous as your wife, or even more than your wife. To me, fantasizing I am their lover is a clear recognition that I COULD be their lover. And that such wonderful possibility, among million of possibilities in my life, is worth celebrating. I cannot conceive my mind being "neutral" about the sexual attraction such wonderful women exert on me, and then, just the day after becoming widow or divorced, starting conceiving such a relationship out of the blue. A moral man is always prepared to be the lover of a greater woman, the buyer of a greater house, the citizen of a greater country. This does not mean that he rejects what he has, or that he finds no joy in his current achivements. On the contrary. It means that beacuse of what he is and he has now, he is happy enough, self-confident enough, as to embrace changing reality.
  9. Well, I'm not sure about that argument. The fact that some governments offer some level of protection to the rights of their citizens will not hold water in front of an anarchist. They could reply: "That's exaclty my point. Goverments are gangs that protect their members from being screwed by people other than the gang's boss". Some drug cartels in my country behave that way. Being part of some criminal bands, in fact, offers you a more effective level of protection of some of your rights that some local governments do. The induction process cannot go this direction: "Taxes are good for people because many governments I've seen do some nice things to their citizens with some of the money form their taxes".
  10. Excellent idea of a thread, Thomas. At some moment in history, all governments denied women a chance to vote in elections. At some moment, all or nearly all considered homosexuality a crime. Using inductive thinking, they could have concluded that this kind of discrimination was inherent to any government. They could hardly imagine our time, where governments would think and act otherwise. Induction, to be effective as a tool of cognition, has to consider the full context of knowledge available. This means that, by knowing everthing we can know about the nature of man, rights, democracy, laws, etc. we can predict things about governments that we have not seen yet. We can predict, for example, that under conditions A, B and C, a proper government can be formed and sustained.
  11. The issue with the Falkand islands is a concrete case to apply the principle. As you know, Argentinian claims on those islands derive from the fact that, in the oldest maps, they appear as part of the corresponding Spanish colony ("Virreinato del Río de la Plata"), even though they were not inhabited nor any economic activity was being performed by any citizen from the empire. Argentina sees the islands as property of their state/government/nation. But that is is floating abstraction. It does not connect with any concrete. Governments/nations/states cannot own territory. On the other hand, current inhabitants of the islands (e.g. current landowners) want the British government to protect their rights. For Argentina, the choice of the Falkand people has no relevance in this matter. Why? Because Argentinian government wrong premises. Because "Argentina", the collective, is being assigned the features of an individual man, and as such Argentina is supposed to have "rights" over the islands.
  12. Thank you, Leonid, for your insight. I agree with it completely. Rights come first. Specifically, property rigthts come first. And even more specifically, land ownership which, after ownership of your own body and your tools (which are extensions of your body), is the most basic form of property. Over the course of history, landowners where the first ones (and sometimes the only ones) to form governments. I am trying to illustrate this with the following graph. Suppose landowners (represented by blue spheres) organize to form a government, which authority is confined within the blue border. Observer that the blue border is formed by the borders of all properties being protected by that government. Let's say that two citizens discover and colonize new land (green territory). The only way that the blue State could expand its protection to the green land, in a free world, would be having landowners in the new green territory agree to accept such autothority. In that case, the new border of the blue State would be the green border. If for any reason, the citizens of the new green territory chose another government to protect their rights, the blue State could not enforce its authority by sending soldiers to kill them or confiscate their properties. That would be an initiation of force. Most cases of expansionism in history, unfortunately, have been cases of govenrments taking possesion of new land as if it were a person. It is the fallacy of the collective being assigned properties of an individual man.
  13. . I didn't say it is necessarily an act of force. An annexation must be the result of agreement among free men, or else it is an act of force. Which men? The men who need protection of their rights in the new territory. Hi, Nicky The statement I am referring to is your statement about North America having "a colourful map, with every country represented many times over, in various spots, across it." After picturing this scenario, you say that "that obviously would result in anarchy of the worst kind". That is the statement I want to rebuke. It is not obvious to me that having 20 or 200 countries (either new or already existing elsewhere) represented across the map of North America would result in anarchy. Splitting Yugoslavia in many countries resulted in chaos and anarchy in some of the new countries, but in freedom and prosperity in others (Slovenia and Croatia are far better off now than under communist dictatorships). Now, concerning your new statement, about the fact that if land owners choose their government on a individual basis is anarchy: The need of a government arises only in a complex social context (meaning, generally hundreds or thousands of landowners). So, electing a government on a individual basis makes no sense. Election of a proper government always entails agreement among free men. Now, how many free men? One thousand? One million? One hundred million? There is no philosophical basis to determine which is the minimum number of landowners (or rightowners) to form a government. Landowners may rightfully secede from a country. If this is ethical or not depends on the rationality of such a decision (whether the country they are creating is better protecting rights than the country they are seceding from). The fact that landowners could rightfully place themselves outside the borders within which a government exerts its authority demostrates that citizens, and not governments, are the ones that can morally define borders. This is true because rights come first, then governments.
  14. Thank you very much, Reide. I think you're right. At an individual level, the standard argument it is not determinist. It looks as if it were determinist when we examine the group of people as a whole and for a longer period of time. If group A has much more incentives to be dishonest than group B, then group A will very likely behave worse than group B. This statement only reflects the effect of accumulated number of immoral decisions, and not any determinism at each individual decision.
  15. When there is still territory to be explored and claimed, minorities (those who voted for the loser candidate or the loser proposal) can either 1) accept the decision of the majority and stay in the new country 2) move outside the jurisdiction of the new country to new, unclaimed territory. So, the number of new countries that can be formed in the Antarctica, or the number of already existing governments that can be called by colonizers to enact their authority will depend on the colonizers acting as free agents and seeking agreements. . Now, the word "anarchy" has been brought to the discussion and I will reply to it. Anarchy has nothing to do with the number of governments. You cannot say that having 2 countries in North America is fine, but having 20 or 200 is wrong. As long as you have a defined territory governed under Objective Law you don't have anarchy. I could rebute Nicky's statement by saying that, if his principle is true, the planet is already in anarchy because we've got more than 200 nation-states, where three or four (or one??) would be enough. How the borders of a territory should be established in a truly free world? Well. either the nation-State is a moral institution or it is not. If it is, borders must be established without force. If the only way we can imagine a nation-State setting its boundaries is by force, then the nation-State is not moral. If a group of citizens from country A go to the Antarctica, colonize some acres are decide to be governed by country B, the government from country A could not morally send soldiers to kill these citizens, or confiscate their properties. They would not be "traitors". You cannot betray the monopoly of force of a government outside the territory where it exerts its monopoly.
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