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Guest Marshall Sontag

Ethical to download pirated music?

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Guest Marshall Sontag

I'm wondering if anyone can tell me what's wrong with downloading music that you haven't purchased? By what standard is it wrong?

And if you say by man's life, how does copying electronic bits of information harm or demote my life? I understand that treating music files as merely 1s and 0s is context-dropping and that objectivity demands that I identify them as what those bits comprise: songs created by someone's effort, translated into an electronic medium.

I'm sure that the answer has something to do with that, but I'm not sure where to go with it.

David Veksler told me it "destroys your ability to cope with reality" and causes "tremendous psychological damage." These are pretty ridiculous claims, because a little induction will demonstrate to you that millions of people download music with no apparent psychological harm. Regardless, I'd like to see what kind of rationalistic mental gymnastics he'll go through to "prove" it to me. It should be amusing at the very least.

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Do you understand the concept of property and how it relates to man's life? Do you understand the concept of theft and its relation to these other two concepts? If you do, then you have your answer. If you do not, then you know where to begin looking for that answer.

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I'm wondering if anyone can tell me what's wrong with downloading music that you haven't purchased? By what standard is it wrong?

And if you say by man's life, how does copying electronic bits of information harm or demote my life? I understand that treating music files as merely 1s and 0s is context-dropping and that objectivity demands that I identify them as what those bits comprise: songs created by someone's effort, translated into an electronic medium.

I'm sure that the answer has something to do with that, but I'm not sure where to go with it.

David Veksler told me it "destroys your ability to cope with reality" and causes "tremendous psychological damage." These are pretty ridiculous claims, because a little induction will demonstrate to you that millions of people download music with no apparent psychological harm. Regardless, I'd like to see what kind of rationalistic mental gymnastics he'll go through to "prove" it to me. It should be amusing at the very least.

You're on the right track. Ask yourself what the difference is between downloading songs from the internet, and walking into a Best Buy and stealing a handfull of CDs. Do you understand why that is wrong? Because, in fact, there is no difference. (Not even that one is in "digital form", "merely 1s and 0s", which wouldn't matter anyway. But songs on a CD are also simply 1s and 0s--and actually neither are really even that--the only difference is the material object on which that digital data is stored. In the one case, it is a CD. In the other, it is your hard drive.) The music was created by someone else, and you have no right to it unless you make an agreement with them--usually by trading for money.

The same principle can be applied to whatever you do for a living. If you produce something, it's not the case that everybody else is automatically entitled to take it from you just because it now exists. It didn't exist before, and they didn't create it. But if anyone had a right to anything that anyone else produced, then nobody would be able to support themselves by their own efforts, because anybody who didn't feel like putting forth their own effort could simply take whatever they wanted from those who did (and we'd have communism).

Say you own a fast food restaurant. Once you make a burger, can other people simply come in and demand that you give it to them at no cost? Of course not. You could give it to them at no charge, if you chose to do so, but the point is that since you produced it, you get to set the ultimate terms of the trade. If you couldn't, then there would be no such thing as property, and consequently no such thing as the human species pretty soon.

Are you starting to see how taking the product of another man's mind without his consent could harm his life? It is a denial of his right to support himself by his own effort, and thereby a denial of his very right to life.

But how does it harm your life? Well, if you're going to be consistent and live by principles, the principle by which you've chosen to live by downloading pirated music is that there is no such thing as the right to life. This applies to you as much as it does to anyone else. If you claim to see nothing wrong in stealing the product of another man's effort, then you certainly have no claim against anyone who does the same to you.

And I must agree with David about it doing "tremendous psychological damage," because man lives by principles, and if you deny the fundamental principles necessary for him to live, you are setting yourself up to live in a malevolent, uncertain, unknowable world. And just try talking to anyone who downloads music and is unwilling to consider the possibility that it is wrong. They will put their mind through enormous evasions to ignore the fact that what they're doing is theft, or that there is anything wrong with that. Argue with them about it for a few minutes and it soon becomes obvious that they are no longer living in reality, that they have cut themselves off from it and refuse to deal with it. And why? Because they want to listen to some crappy music but not to pay for it. It really is very pathetic and unworthy behavior of anyone who calls himself a man.

I hope that helps, and I very much hope that you reconsider your position on this issue and can face up to the reality of the situation.

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Guest Marshall Sontag
You're on the right track.  Ask yourself what the difference is between downloading songs from the internet, and walking into a Best Buy and stealing a handfull of CDs.  Do you understand why that is wrong?  Because, in fact, there is no difference.  (Not even that one is in "digital form", "merely 1s and 0s", which wouldn't matter anyway.  But songs on a CD are also simply 1s and 0s--and actually neither are really even that--the only difference is the material object on which that digital data is stored.  In the one case, it is a CD.  In the other, it is your hard drive.)  The music was created by someone else, and you have no right to it unless you make an agreement with them--usually by trading for money.
It seems to me that you're missing a distinction. In the one case, it is a CD that belongs to someone else that was purchased for a certain amount of money and would be sold at a profit. In other words, I've stolen a handful of CDs from Best Buy, not from Universal Records or Britney Spears. Downloading music and stealing CDs are not tantamount.

The same principle can be applied to whatever you do for a living.

Yes, I've read all the standard Objectivist literature, I don't need an exposition on rights.

Once you make a burger, can other people simply come in and demand that you give it to them at no cost? Of course not. 
However, I would like a burger. Can I get fries with that? ;) Regardless, this is still physical property.

But how does it harm your life?  Well, if you're going to be consistent and live by principles, the principle by which you've chosen to live by downloading pirated music is that there is no such thing as the right to life.  This applies to you as much as it does to anyone else.  If you claim to see nothing wrong in stealing the product of another man's effort, then you certainly have no claim against anyone who does the same to you.

And I must agree with David about it doing "tremendous psychological damage," because man lives by principles, and if you deny the fundamental principles necessary for him to live, you are setting yourself up to live in a malevolent, uncertain, unknowable world.  And just try talking to anyone who downloads music and is unwilling to consider the possibility that it is wrong.  They will put their mind through enormous evasions to ignore the fact that what they're doing is theft, or that there is anything wrong with that.  Argue with them about it for a few minutes and it soon becomes obvious that they are no longer living in reality, that they have cut themselves off from it and refuse to deal with it.  And why?  Because they want to listen to some crappy music but not to pay for it.  It really is very pathetic and unworthy behavior of anyone who calls himself a man.

Principles, as you should know, are not absolute; they are contextual. If I lie to a kidnapper about the whereabouts of my child, I have been dishonest. Doesn't dishonesty deny the fundamental principles necessary for a man to live and haven't I set myself up to live in a malevolent, uncertain, unknowable world? Of course not, because principles are contextual. It looks good on the computer screen, but I'm afraid they're just rationalistic words that correspond to nothing in reality. If I download a song from the internet, I am not living by the principle that there is no such thing as the right to life; I am not imposing claims on someone elses life. Whether or not I downloaded that song or not, that person still spent a fixed amount of time producing that CD. My action does not impose a positive claim on their life, time or property, like a tax or stealing a handful of CDs. In reality, the world does not become an unknowable, malevolent flux because I copied some digital bits of information.

As for tremendous psychological damage, from what experiences have you validated this principle? It's interesting that you immediately jump to judge people as guilty of "enormous evasions" when they download music. Have you stopped to think that maybe they're mistaken? I'm well versed in Objectivist theory and even I find this issue very perplexing, because my concept of stealing actually consists of taking something. And your claim that they are no longer living in reality? Well where are they living? Someone makes a few mistakes, and all of a sudden they're no longer living in reality to you? It seems like you're a bit quick to judge, to the point of intrinsicism. And I still don't see how downloading music impedes upon my ability to live my life.

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...my concept of stealing actually consists of taking something.

So...if you copy a song from the internet and store it on your hard drive, instead of stealing a CD which contains songs, then that song is a blank, a zero, a nothing. Is that your claim?

There's a serious problem with that, but I've got to run, so I'll address it (and the rest of your post) later.

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Might one argue that the action which violates rights is not to download music, but rather to share the music with another, in violation of an agreement at the time of purchase? It seems the one doing the stealing is the one who shares the music, and the one who takes it is merely accepting stolen property, and cannot know whether the person one downloads the music from violated any agreements.

To go with the Best Buy analogy, suppose I steal Cds from Best Buy and offer you some of them. You do not know I stole them. Is it wrong for you to accept them?

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"To go with the Best Buy analogy, suppose I steal Cds from Best Buy and offer you some of them. You do not know I stole them. Is it wrong for you to accept them?"

Well, if I was certain you didn't steal them, then it wouldn't be wrong to accept them. But if I thought you might have stolen them, or better, if I was almost certain that you had, then it would be wrong. And you can almost be certain that any mp3s you download off Kazaa or any other file sharing progarm are stolen. You're kidding yourself if you think that all of the people who use Kazaa have permission from everyone who is credited with the production of the art that has been recorded, sold and eventually copied to mp3 format.

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I see that the answer to my questions (which were studiously ignored) is: "No, I do NOT grasp the concepts property and theft, nor do I understand how they relate to (or destroy) man's life."

There are many mistaken concepts and false assertions in your last post. The only way to clear them up is to present your premises clearly. So far, you have not yet done that. You have only stated the application of your *implied* premises.

I suggest you focus your research on a particular form of property: "intellectual property" especially as it relates to the concept "copyright" (ie the right to copy something: who has it, who does not, and why). Since you claim to "have read all the standard Objectivist literature" this SHOULD only be a cursory review for you.

Then all you need to do is provide a summary of the Objectivist concept of intellectual property and explain why you believe that concept is in error (since that is your implicit argument). Or, if you suddenly turn around and decide it is a valid concept, then you need to explain how copying the effort of another man's mind without his consent somehow does not violate that concept.

In other words, define your concepts and defend your premises. Until you do so, you are engaging in evasion - and that is intellectually dishonest (and I hope you do not claim that, since "millions" of people engage in intellectual dishonesty with no "apparent" psychological damage, you thus do not see a problem with such dishonesty. Of course, if you do see the problem, then one wonders why you see no problem in *your* example, since they both flow from the same fundamental principle).

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Guest Marshall Sontag
I see that the answer to my questions (which were studiously ignored) is: "No, I do NOT grasp the concepts property and theft, nor do I understand how they relate to (or destroy) man's life."
I'll ignore your ostentatious hubris.

There are many mistaken concepts and false assertions in your last post.  The only way to clear them up is to present your premises clearly.  So far, you have not yet done that.  You have only stated the application of your *implied* premises.

You've failed to identify a single one.

I suggest you focus your research on a particular form of property: "intellectual property" especially as it relates to the concept "copyright" (ie the right to copy something: who has it, who does not, and why).  Since you claim to "have read all the standard Objectivist literature" this SHOULD only be a cursory review for you.

Then all you need to do is provide a summary of the Objectivist concept of intellectual property and explain why you believe that concept is in error (since that is your implicit argument).  Or, if you suddenly turn around and decide it is a valid concept, then you need to explain how copying the effort of another man's mind without his consent somehow does not violate that concept.

I guess you're asking me to, because as you've proven in both of your responses, all you're capable of is ad hominem rather than valid explanations. If you probably haven't recognized-- Oops, I forgot --I'm supposed to be grandstanding. As you studiously ignored (ignored, versus hadn't noticed, because concepts are intrinsic and if you've failed to understand it's because you you're guilty of evasion, not because you made a mistake. *Ahem*), I never presented a case against intellectual property; this was not an issue of rights whastoever. All I asked was how downloading music (or copying intellectual property) was detrimental to my life. It was a moral inquiry (just to warn you before you make yourself look even stupider: Don't say politics is rooted in morality; It's a completely different context.)

In other words, define your concepts and defend your premises.  Until you do so, you are engaging in evasion - and that is intellectually dishonest (and I hope you do not claim that, since "millions" of people engage in intellectual dishonesty with no "apparent" psychological damage, you thus do not see a problem with such dishonesty.  Of course, if you do see the problem, then one wonders why you see no problem in *your* example, since they both flow from the same fundamental principle).

Well I'm glad to finally meet someone who's omniscient that can tell me when I'm just mistaken or when I'm evading, or when millions of others are for that matter. Remember everyone, if you don't understand something as complex as how copying intellectual property harms your life, then you're immoral!

I think it's safe to say that your responses contain no value for anyone interested in seeking an answer to my inquiry. All you've said, in essence, is "You obviously don't understand, now go read something. If you don't understand what you read and can't explain it, it's absolutely because you were evading." When someone makes a mistake, if you immediately accuse them of irrationality because reading whatever you think is adequate for understanding doesn't *cause* them to understand, that amounts to intrinsicism.

For anyone reading this post, RadCap's previous posts are great applications of intrinsicism, and should serve as a source of induction for those that don't exactly understand that principle. One thing to observe is that he provides no arguments or explanations *whatsoever*, he just rambles on about how I don't understand certain concepts (which he doesn't identify, of course, because knowledge can't be explained, it's revealed to you. ;)) and gets trigger happy with the moralizing by accusing me of evasion.

I invite others to agree or disagree with me, and I certainly invite RadCap to provide adequate support for his claims. Since he's already parsed the logic of my statements, which allowed him to come to the conclusions that he stated in his previous posts, this should be but a cursory review for him. Good Luck!

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Guest Marshall Sontag

So...if you copy a song from the internet and store it on your hard drive, instead of stealing a CD which contains songs, then that song is a blank, a zero, a nothing. Is that your claim?

There's a serious problem with that, but I've got to run, so I'll address it (and the rest of your post) later.

No, actually, that's not my claim. I was just demonstrating how such an error can be easily made regarding this issue. I do see significance in that, but the validity of intellectual property isn't my inquiry here. I'm asking how copying that song from the internet to my computer harms my life. I understand how a policy of physical property theft is greatly a hazard to my life, but not downloading music.

Oh, and Ash, I really appreciate your responses being elaborately substantive. You set a good example for others that aren't aware of the fact (I mean, that evade the fact ;-)) that their assertions require evidence.

Marshall Sontag

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Thanks for not identifying even one of your premises as I had asked. Failing to do so simply makes my case for me.

Your post is smoke and mirrors. It is an expansion of the smarminess you presented in your earlier posts, aimed at distracting others from the fact that you REFUSE to EXPLICITLY state your premises and explain how they contradict principles you explicitly claim to understand.

In other words, instead of DEFINING and DEFENDING your terms, you EVADED the issue. Thus omniscience is not needed. You provide ample evidence of your intellectual dishonesty with each post.

So, I will repeat my request - either state your premises explicitly and contrast them with the objectivist ones you CLAIMED to understand (and do so WITHOUT any more of the mudslinging) - or leave.

Now.

(I will not give you another warning).

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Guest Marshall Sontag
Thanks for not identifying even one of your premises as I had asked.  Failing to do so simply makes my case for me. 

Your post is smoke and mirrors.  It is an expansion of the smarminess you presented in your earlier posts, aimed at distracting others from the fact that you REFUSE to EXPLICITLY state your premises and explain how they contradict principles you explicitly claim to understand. 

In other words, instead of DEFINING and DEFENDING your terms, you EVADED the issue.  Thus omniscience is not needed.  You provide ample evidence of your intellectual dishonesty with each post.

So, I will repeat my request - either state your premises explicitly and contrast them with the objectivist ones you CLAIMED to understand (and do so WITHOUT any more of the mudslinging) - or leave. 

Now.

(I will not give you another warning).

I just asked someone to answer a question for me, I did not state any premises. In my follow-up post, I merely identified some things I didn't understand. If I did state premises, I am ignorant of them. You made the positive claim, now I ask that you please help me so I can understand exactly what it is you want. In other words, state YOUR premises.

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You believe you do NOT proceed from ANY premise by asking a question about something? Interesting - and erroneous. Lets see if I can point out to you some of the premises you have already stated. First off, you present a concrete example:

"Downloading music you haven't purchased."

and you ask:

"What's wrong with [that]" and "By what standard is it wrong?"

You then present a number of principles from which you proceed:

P(remise)1 "treating music files as merely 1s and 0s is context-dropping"

and

P2 "objectivity demands that I identify [music files] as what those bits comprise: songs created by someone's effort, translated into an electronic medium."

What does that make them? You do not explicitly state that. The answer is "intellectual property."

You then say:

"In the one case, it is a CD that belongs to someone else that was purchased for a certain amount of money and would be sold at a profit. In other words, I've stolen a handful of CDs from Best Buy, not from Universal Records or Britney Spears. Downloading music and stealing CDs are not tantamount."

This paragraph includes three premises:

P3 There is a distinction between physical property and intellectual property. (What is property? You do not identify that premise. What is the distinction between property that is physical and property that is intellectual? You do not identify that distinction. What is it about these physical and intellectual things which makes them property? You do not identify that premises. These are some of the things I asked you to make explicit.)

P4 Taking physical property is theft

P5 Taking intellectual property is not theft.

You then re-emphasize that you are NOT talking about physical property:

"Regardless, this [cd's, burgers, etc] is still physical property."

So far, then, your implicit premise is that physical and intellectual property are not the same and that some UNNAMED principle makes taking physical property theft, and is thus wrong. But somehow that the same principle does NOT apply to intellectual property, so taking it is not theft, and thus how can it be wrong (ie by what standard? Why?)

What is that unnamed principle? No one knows because so far you have yet to name it. That is ONE of the premises you must make explicit.

You continue:

P6 "Principles, as you should know, are not absolute; they are contextual."

P7 "If I download a song from the internet, I am not living by the principle that there is no such thing as the right to life;"

P8 "I am not imposing claims on someone elses life."

Here your principle is that intellectual property does not relate to one's right to one's life, and that taking intellectual property is not a claim upon someone else's life. Again this raises questions about how it IS property at all then. These are more premises you need to state explicitly.

P9 "Whether or not I downloaded that song or not, that person still spent a fixed amount of time producing that CD."

In other words, you somehow believe that time spent in producing intellectual property is what defines one's claim to that property.

P10 "My action does not impose a positive claim on their life, time or property."

With these statements you deny intellectual property is property at all, because you claim taking that intellectual property is not a claim TO their property at all, and thus not a claim on their time or their life.

P11 "my concept of stealing actually consists of taking SOMETHING."

This means you limit the concept of theft to the material realm - ie apparently you do not think it is possible to steal someone else's ideas - which further implies that you do not think intellectual property is property at all.

--

Now you finally respond to my posts. And you claim:

"I never presented a case against intellectual property."

Unfortunately, your previous statements contradict this claim. And then you make this claim:

"All I asked was how downloading music (or copying intellectual property) was detrimental to my life."

As you should now be able to see, you did FAR more than just ask that question. You made a number of assertions based on a number of premises. Additionally, these premises from which you proceed are based upon even more fundamental premises. In other words, these premises do not exist in a vacuum. They are derived from something - something you were asked to make explicit. Hopefully you can now do that.

Next, in response to Ash, you say:

"the validity of intellectual property isn't my inquiry here."

Apparently you are unaware of the fact that many of the above premises do indeed question the validity of intellectual property, as your quotes should make perfectly clear.

Finally, you sum up your position by saying:

P12 "I understand how a policy of physical property theft is greatly a hazard to my life, but not downloading music."

Put simply, you claim to understand how theft of physical property is a great 'hazard' but fail to understand how theft of intellectual property is a hazard (or even theft at all). Of course you do not state (ie identify EXPLICITLY) *why* theft of physical property is a hazard. Nor, as has already been pointed out, do you explain why intellectual property cannot be stolen at all (thus begging the question how it could be considered property in the first place).

THESE are ALL questions which can be answered if you IDENTIFY explicitly your fundamental premises.

--

As you can see, your question was not free of premises. You have at LEAST 12 different premises in your posts upon which you base the question in the first place. Are you surprised?

WHY *I* had to identify YOUR premises for you is something you should really think about - ie why YOU couldn't do it for yourself is something that should really concern you. Hopefully, now that your EXPLICIT premises have been pointed out to you, you should be able to both fill in the blanks you left AND name the more fundamental premises upon which these are based.

FURTHERMORE, you claim:

"I've read all the standard Objectivist literature, I don't need an exposition on rights."

"I'm well versed in Objectivist theory"

If these statements are true (and evidence to support the claim is sorely lacking at the moment), then you should be able to state the Objectivist position on intellectual property - what makes it valid, what is a copyright, how does it relates to intellectual property and why is theft of such property harmful to man, just as theft of physical property is harmful.

Of course, the first time you were asked to do this, you ignored the request entirely. The second time you were asked, you engaged in a mudslinging screed. And the third time you were asked, you claimed you had NO stated premises against which to compare the objectivist position (of course that should not have prevented you from stating that position - which, strangely enough, includes the answer to your question). Now that I have done the work of making YOUR *stated* premises clear to YOU, hopefully you will now be able to comply with the request which has been made of you numerous times. As I said, until you do - ie until you explicity identify your premises and explain HOW they contradict Objectivist premises with which you claim to be so "well versed" - no one can proceed logically with the topic YOU have presented.

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Guest Marshall Sontag
You believe you do NOT proceed from ANY premise by asking a question about something?  Interesting - and erroneous.  Lets see if I can point out to you some of the premises you have already stated.  First off, you present a concrete example:

"Downloading music you haven't purchased."

and you ask:

...

I read the first few lines of RadCap's post but stopped when I realized its content was not inline with my values. I came here seeking answers to questions I needed solving for myself, just as a student does with a teacher. Some attempted to help me, but what I finally found myself doing was having a trivial discussion with someone that found it necessary to respond to my inquiry by identifying how little I understood. His motive I can hypothesize about, but I don't want to psychoanalyze. I can only guess it was the same reason I became involved with him after successfully ignoring his first post: A deficiency of self-esteem that causes me to pursue a false sense of self-efficacy in identifying the shortcomings of others. Yes, this is an admission that I do not have the highest self-esteem in the world and that I do not have absolute control over my emotions, but it does not happen too frequently.

Regardless, I would still like to pursue the answer to my question, but I do not wish RadCap to participate in this discussion with me. I understand this is a public medium and I cannot force him not to participate, but that is my request nonetheless.

In the words of John Galt: "You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you."

I do not wish to engage in mudslinging and this shouldn't be construed as such, but I do not welcome RadCap's contributions because I have found him to be arrogant, pretentious and intrinsicistic.

I will not debate this point.

Some might say that this is willful evasion; rather than answer his claims, I have chosen to ignore them altogether. To this I respond with a quote from Luther Setzer>: Time is passing and running out -- how do you want to spend it? Arguing or enjoying life?

I choose enjoyment of life. RadCap's choice is obvious. If anyone is interested in an open, honest and benevolent discussion, then you are welcome to join me. Those that aren't, I respect your right to post, but your time is better served elsewhere, as I will never again let you impede upon my life.

Very sincerely,

Marshall Sontag

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In other words, "I refuse to identify my premises, nor validate them. But I want someone to pretend that such identification and validation is not required in order to have a rational conversation."

You were given the chance to provide the requirements of a logical discussion. You have continually rejected that request. Since this forum does not tolerate those who purposefully pursue the illogical, your presence here is no longer welcome. As a moderator for this forum, after having provided you with more than sufficient warning, I would now ban you. However, since you refuse to become a registered member, there is no way to enforce this ban. As such, the request can only be made that you leave these premises - as one would request you to leave any property that is not your own and in which you were no longer welcome. You claim to respect rights. Respect this one then and depart this forum without further posts.

To everyone else, I would request that you respect this sanction against Mr. Sontag. If his post is not enough to convince you that his purpose here something other than engaging in rational discourse, the quote he provides should do it. He claims he does not want to argue. Yet there is a difference of opinion on the subject matter. One HE supposedly wants to investigate and resolve. How exactly does he propose to resolve that difference without argument, without identifying his premises, and without validating them?

BLANK OUT

As I said, he is engaging in evasion. With his last post, he has made that clear EXPLICITLY.

His purpose here is TO argue - but without having to justify his arguments. He does not want to make clear HIS ideas. He simply wants to ATTACK yours. But to DO so he needs YOUR sanction.

I sincerely hope no one here will provide such a sanction to his anti-rational attacks.

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Guest Marshall Sontag

I will restate my purpose one more time: I seek an honest and benevolent discussion regarding this issue. I seek to validate any arguments I make. I welcome criticism from others, but I do not wish to engage in discussion with those that cannot keep a civil tongue.

Evaluate my posts independently, including the response that I renounced, and see if you can verify that purpose. For those that are interested in the context, my initial post was to bait David Veksler, as him and I were engaged in that discussion beforehand.

I see I can no longer pursue my purpose here, as others risk being banned for responding to me and I would not ask that of anyone, so consider this my farewell.

Goodbye.

Marshall Sontag

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However, since you refuse to become a registered member, there is no way to enforce this ban. As such, the request can only be made that you leave these premises - as one would request you to leave any property that is not your own and in which you were no longer welcome. You claim to respect rights. Respect this one then and depart this forum without further posts.

RadCap, you're wrong about just one thing: As administrators, Ash and I can ban anyone, regardless of whether they’re registered. So just message me with the IP address, and I’ll take care of it.

Btw, at Steve’s request, I blocked a particularly obnoxious poster earlier today. I looked into his IP address, and found out that he was accessing our forum from the “Commonwealth of Kentucky Dept. of Information Systems.” I have a feeling that if his boss saw the language he used on this forum, (not to mention how he was spending his time at work) he might be looking for a job right now. If he decides to come back to us, don’t delete the post and let me know – and I’ll make life particularly unpleasant for him.

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I would have been willing to continue in the discussion of the topic, until the post in which he stated his refusal to read RadCap's large post. He asked for more specific argumentation from RadCap, and when he got it, he claimed that he didn't come here to argue. Huh? :)

Anyway, if he were to see the error in that, read that post and acknowledge the points made in it (as that post was in response to his), then I wouldn't see a problem with continuing the discussion rationally, as I think there is more to be said on it that could help someone who was honestly seeking a rational answer to the question. However, it's pretty obvious that this is not what Mr. Sontag is interested in. Too bad. :(

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Guest Marshall
I would have been willing to continue in the discussion of the topic, until the post in which he stated his refusal to read RadCap's large post.  He asked for more specific argumentation from RadCap, and when he got it, he claimed that he didn't come here to argue.  Huh?  :)

Anyway, if he were to see the error in that, read that post and acknowledge the points made in it (as that post was in response to his), then I wouldn't see a problem with continuing the discussion rationally, as I think there is more to be said on it that could help someone who was honestly seeking a rational answer to the question.  However, it's pretty obvious that this is not what Mr. Sontag is interested in.  Too bad.  :(

Well if he really did address my issue, then I must look really stupid! Oops! Maybe I'll read it later and get back to him.

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Yes, I've read all the standard Objectivist literature, I don't need an exposition on rights.
But when you are asking "what's wrong with it", what you are asking for is an exposition of rights.

However, I would like a burger. Can I get fries with that?  Regardless, this is still physical property.

I can't say it any better than a friend of mine, named Phil Welch, has. I quote him here, as I think I know him well enough to assume he won't be offended at my reposting of his intellectual property:

[That] argument has been shown to be false. I'll show it again.

You are arguing:

1. Intellectual property isn't real.

2. Therefore, the enforcement of intellectual property laws restricts the right of "real" property in favor of "non-real" property. [m0zart adds -- because it forces you to withhold storing such property on a real physical medium]

3. Therefore, the enforcement of intellectual property rights infringes upon property rights in general.

4. Therefore, intellectual property isn't real.

The fallacy is called "circular argumentation". The other flaw with your argument is that it can selectively destroy any property rights. Let's substitute, for "intellectual property", "CD player property", that is, the right to hold CD players as property.

1. CD player property isn't real.

2. Therefore, the enforcement of CD player property laws restricts the right of "real" property in favor of "non-real" property (since your hammer, which is "real" property, cannot be freely used to smash my CD player, since I do not own my CD player).

3. Therefore, the enforcement of CD player property rights infringed upon property rights in general.

4. Therefore, CD player property isn't real.

Of course, even to get to this point you have to have ignored the fact that all property is a product of the hman mind and its interaction with our environment.

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Stealing CDs from a store and copying data files are not the same- given that you take nothing physical from the owner (not even the data, which you are copying) when you download music.

The lack of actual items means that there is no qualified way to decide what is to be considered intellectual property and what isn’t. For instance: it would be laughable to suggest that the first caveman to sharpen a stick and make a spear had their property rights infringed, or that the first person to add salt to a stew had their belongings stolen several times thereafter. If all ideas were safeguarded as intellectual property is today, most of us would still be waiting for someone to sell us the right to make fire.

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I believe this was covered in the discussion already. There is no difference between stealing CDs and downloading illegal music. The "actual items" you are referring to are the songs you are stealing from musicians. The digital information is irrelevant because it is the sounds the data stores that are intellectual property. The fact that the musicians thought of the songs qualifies it as their intellectual property. Copying the music is immoral because it denies the musicians right to their property, which is their only means of sustaining their life. A caveman would only have a right to the fire that he produced not the right to all fire ever produced. A caveman would also have the right to trade or give away his product just as musicians do.

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