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Initiation of force from one rational being against other rational being is wrong. It is inmmoral. It doesn't matter if the agressor belongs to our family, our nation, our group of friends, of our species. It doesn't matter if the victim is a collectivist, a Muslim, a hippie under the effects of LSD, a person with an IQ of 60, a bushman in the Kalahari, or an alies species.

In fact, some humans in the film realized that, and rebelled against the fascist commander, and even perished in defending liberty and justice.

I agree.

This was not anti-man movie or anti-technology.

I repeat: this is not an anti-man film. On the contrary, it exalts freedom, reason and self-esteem as the essence of mankind, as well as the essence of all ultimately rational beings, wherever they live in the universe.

Again, I agree.

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As to your argument that they have rights to the tree, I'm not so sure.

Aliens were rational (the connection with their environment was NOT like the borg hive mind idea from Star Trek - they made their own decisions) and thus individual rights apply. Possession is grounds for property rights.

Initiation of force is wrong and thus actions taken by the aliens and some humans were moral.

I think that you have a very limited understanding of individual rights.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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Criticizing bad business practices does not make one anti-business. Criticizing bad scientists or bad science does not make one anti-science. Criticizing wrong human actions does not make one anti-man.

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I saw Avatar yesterday and I must say the story was really, really, bad. It was just cliché, unengaging and sometimes so corny that I almost couldn't take it, but then.... ohmyfriggingod the visuals are good! The trailer and screencaps just doesnt make it any justice whatsoever, atleast not when you see the stereoscopic version. This movie is all about the visuals, the script just got pulled out of someones ass as an excuse to make pretty graphics. And it was worth it, because the graphics truly are groudbreaking.

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No, actually, it isn't a rhetorical gambit. The statement you quoted was based on my analysis of their property rights to the Home Tree. In my analysis, they said it was somehow "their's" and thus we could not take it. Well, if they don't actually have property rights, then they don't own it, and it is analagous to a guy living off in the middle of nowhere in a hut on property which is not his. In that situation, he has no property rights to the land, and so I can push him off if I wish (provided I gain legal right to it). I certainly can if I've offered him millions of dollars and anything else he can name in order to incentivize him to leave, and I've told him when I'm going to come in to destroy the hut. At that point, his fate is no longer my responsibility, I gave him every warning, and he had no right to the property in the first place.

So, no, that wasn't intentionally argumentative, I was stating my actual position. As to your argument that they have rights to the tree, I'm not so sure. If no one can be said to own something, then no one owns it, period. So no one has any rights to it. So I can do anything I like with it. Either some entity owns the Tree, or I can do anything I like, it cannot be something in between. Now, since it is clear that no Na'vi individually owns the Tree, and there is no system of ownership over the tree that we've seen as a collective structure (shares and the like), then either the chieftain can be said to own the tree, or no one owns the tree at all. I question the authority of any chieftain, whatsoever. They likely do not obey objective laws, and they have arbitrary hereditary power exchange. Laws are not codified and written down in any form to be shown to people, etc. That is not a legitimate government, and any claims it makes only have as much weight as the so-called "government" has guns to back its claims up, because without rights and reason on their side, the only thing left is force.

And so, since no individual Na'vi owns the Tree, since the tribe collectively cannot own it (since it is not a legitimate government by any stretch of the imagination), and since the humans had a legitimate government and that government gave them mining rights to the whole of Pandora, I think there is a strong argument that the relocation of the Na'vi from the Tree was legitimate. Now, the method was probably more rough than necessary, but considering the fact that the Na'vi would likely have killed the humans if they had done anything less forceful, it is possibly justified, though I am not certain of that by any stretch.

You really are convinced that property rights are legal constructions, following from certain legal procedures and have nothing to do with facts like possession, homesteading, and production.

Part of the derivation of human rights and property rights was that man's mind is his means of survival, and that the mind is an attribute of an individual. Does that apply to these hypothetical beings that plug into animals, each other, and the Soultree? That is an example of a collective mind. No human standards are automatically applicable to an alien species, they need a philosopher to sort that out. All of your assumptions about rights, law, and government are invalid. The whole pattern of your expression here is dogmatic, as if you never followed the derivations in the first place so now of course you cannot notice critical differences in the antecedents of those derivations.

The humans were not under a fascist regime. It was a corporation.

Corporations can use arms legitimately, but in the same way individuals do: self defense. The destruction of the Hometree was not self defense, it was theft as part of the business plan. Government and business partnerships like that are fascist.

This movie is an allegory for the case of the Native Americans. European civilization was assuredly better than their "civilization", and life would have been better they had adopted European ways of life and left their superstitious stuff in the past. Same with the Na'vi. The fact that they refused caused them many problems and a lot of strife.

It is not the same, the native americans were human beings and these blue guys are not. The allegory is there but it ultimately fails because of the science fictional element. It is not the similarities that are important here but the differences.

The reason collectivist utopias fail is they contradict human nature. Remaking human nature is often part of the explicit goal of socialist reform programs (New Soviet Man, Nazi eugenics, etc.). Here, instead of mass murder we have non-humans made to order to fit a dramatic scenario, much less objectionable. Because they are non-human, the moral of the story can't be taken from them as humans cannot live as they do.

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The reason collectivist utopias fail is they contradict human nature. Remaking human nature is often part of the explicit goal of socialist reform programs (New Soviet Man, Nazi eugenics, etc.). Here, instead of mass murder we have non-humans made to order to fit a dramatic scenario, much less objectionable. Because they are non-human, the moral of the story can't be taken from them as humans cannot live as they do.

Thats more or less all you can get from this movie if you truly seriously take the aliens as aliens, instead of Native American Expys. Humans need to live by technology and reason, and its not so obvious that the Na'Vi need to as well. This is why the main character clearly said that there is nothing we can trade with them, and nothing we have that they want. Trade is fundamentally based on having a common ground, where, despite the similarities of intelligence.

And since Trade becomes impossible, the next recourse is force, on both sides.

So the question of whether or not we should take the unobtaintium by force comes down to more or less an aesthetic one. Would we prefer to have the metal or the Na'Vi's Culture or the ecosystem itself. The "Heroes" decided that the culture itself was more valuable, whereas Weyland-Yutani or whatever the "evil" corporation was decided they prefered the metal. At this point there is no "Agree to Disagree" and the subject comes down to force.

Admittedly, had the Na'Vi opened up to more than just one person about the true working of their culture, et cera, this becomes a more reasonable debate across the whole spectrum of those making decisions, instead simply one "hero" forced to act. One can suppose in the future they still have message boards :).

Of course it makes for a dramatic story, but the Na'Vi are risking annihilation by simply being insular. They are the ones that kicked the Humans out of their anthropological research, which would have revealed all of the "sacred" things in the forest given enough time. The Corp hack runnning the operation has no idea, more the moment of crisis the Na'Vi never said why they where resisting other than simple survival or superstition.

So maybe the Aesop of this story is that, if something is valuable to you, make sure you are able to express its value adequately or be prepared to lose it to those that don't understand and have guns. And that is certainly a lesson that can be applied to Objectivism.

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This is why the main character clearly said that there is nothing we can trade with them, and nothing we have that they want.

If you happen to discover gold under my house and come to me with some trade offer but I happen to refuse - force is the next recourse in your mind?

And the question of whether or not you have the right to do so comes down more or less to aesthetics?

Is that what you said?

Admittedly, had the Na'Vi opened up to more than just one person about the true working of their culture, et cera, this becomes a more reasonable debate across the whole spectrum of those making decisions, instead simply one "hero" forced to act.

Humans were studying them for some time, both biologically and culturally. I did not get the impression that this was an issue of lack of understanding. To the genocide-ready military leader this was irrelevant.

Recognition of rights has nothing to do with valuing another's way of life. I don't personally value Muslim values, way of life, and culture.

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Thats more or less all you can get from this movie if you truly seriously take the aliens as aliens, instead of Native American Expys. Humans need to live by technology and reason, and its not so obvious that the Na'Vi need to as well. This is why the main character clearly said that there is nothing we can trade with them, and nothing we have that they want. Trade is fundamentally based on having a common ground, where, despite the similarities of intelligence.

And since Trade becomes impossible, the next recourse is force, on both sides.

So the question of whether or not we should take the unobtaintium by force comes down to more or less an aesthetic one. Would we prefer to have the metal or the Na'Vi's Culture or the ecosystem itself. The "Heroes" decided that the culture itself was more valuable, whereas Weyland-Yutani or whatever the "evil" corporation was decided they prefered the metal. At this point there is no "Agree to Disagree" and the subject comes down to force.

Wait, what? If I understood this right, you seriously just said that when one cannot trade, it is permissible to use force to get what you want. I don't know if it was your intention to say that, but you did.

Does that mean that, if I have no common grounds with someone who wishes to trade something for my computer, and that person has nothing which I would rather have, it is permissible for him to take it from me by force? That's ridiculous.

Edit: I apologize, I just noticed that Sophia already pointed this out.

Edited by Iudicious

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You really are convinced that property rights are legal constructions, following from certain legal procedures and have nothing to do with facts like possession, homesteading, and production.

Part of the derivation of human rights and property rights was that man's mind is his means of survival, and that the mind is an attribute of an individual. Does that apply to these hypothetical beings that plug into animals, each other, and the Soultree? That is an example of a collective mind. No human standards are automatically applicable to an alien species, they need a philosopher to sort that out. All of your assumptions about rights, law, and government are invalid. The whole pattern of your expression here is dogmatic, as if you never followed the derivations in the first place so now of course you cannot notice critical differences in the antecedents of those derivations.

Without legal constructions of property rights, property right debates are going to be vague and almost impossible to settle satisfactorily. More importantly, as you pointed out, the Na'vi aren't humans. They are fundamentally different than us. So property right ideas may not even be applicable to them. If all my assumptions our ideas about rights are totally worthless in this situation, then what are we arguing about? If we don't have compatible rights-systems, interaction on any intellectual, rights-based level is going to be impossible. And then the only interaction possible is on the level of force. What ethical principles apply on trans-species interactions? I argue that if they are like humans (have to live by reason), then we treat them as humans.

But do the Na'vi have to live by reason? They seem to act more based on instinct and collective communication. So the idea that they must be able to act according to their individual rational decisions is in question. Since that is in doubt, so is the prohibition of the use of force. And property rights, since it is unclear that they need property in order to survive. So your argument about possession, homesteading, etc. is invalid as well, since they aren't humans and may not need any conception of property to survive (and without that, they don't need the Tree).

Corporations can use arms legitimately, but in the same way individuals do: self defense. The destruction of the Hometree was not self defense, it was theft as part of the business plan. Government and business partnerships like that are fascist.

Well, as I argue, if they didn't have property rights to the tree, or if "rights" in any human sense are invalid with them, then it isn't theft and thus is not fascist.

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I saw Avatar yesterday and I must say the story was really, really, bad. It was just cliché, unengaging and sometimes so corny that I almost couldn't take it, but then.... ohmyfriggingod the visuals are good! The trailer and screencaps just doesnt make it any justice whatsoever, atleast not when you see the stereoscopic version. This movie is all about the visuals, the script just got pulled out of someones ass as an excuse to make pretty graphics. And it was worth it, because the graphics truly are groudbreaking.

Yes it was very "Dances With Wolves" but holy @#$% @#$ I've never seen better visual effects in my life...Jurassic Park can eat it. :thumbsup:

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The badguys were one dimensional. Calling them evil fascists gives the director more credit on their development as characters. The CEO somehow managed to become a CEO of a company that travels space and sets up mining colonies on other planets and yet he knows jack about computers and science? Really? This is obviously a thinly veiled barb at CEOs in general.

The evil military man had no real reason to do anything he did. You don't see anything of his philosophy, all you know is that he regards the na'vi as animals, and wants them to be slaughtered. This is like saying that companies looking to drill in Alaska will line up polar bears in giant pens and shoot them all, just for the fun of it while they busily drill for oil.

The Na'vi had a right to the land they lived on. They were not nomadic. If you're the only sentient race on a planet when another discovers it, the planet is most definitely yours. The alien (humans in this case) race is a guest. Obviously since the Na'vi attacked, an unwanted guest. They were attempting to establish a rapport with the Na'vi, which was nearly successful, but the amazingly ignorant CEO and his sociopathic (again, dunno why, he just is) military commander would just rather kill them all and get to mining ASAP.

The story tries to be an allegory for native americans, but it fails miserably. The only thing it is obviously allegorical to is the struggle of environmentalists today. There is no mistaking that as the overall philosophical message of the movie.

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More importantly, as you pointed out, the Na'vi aren't humans. They are fundamentally different than us. So property right ideas may not even be applicable to them.

More likely rights are applicable, but in a different way. But I'm not about spend any effort figuring it out unless James Cameron pays me what he paid his consulting linguists. :thumbsup:

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You guys are totally stupid!

You don't know anything about this movie. The blue people are more advanced than us. They advanced so much, that they just look less advanced. But we humans are so primitive and dumb with our space travel and ability to clone that we can't see how advanced and right these aliens are.

The movie is right. You guys are so stupid you can't see that! BECAUSE HUMANS ARE STUPID AND BLUE TRIBALISTIC FURRIES ARE SO MUCH BETTER!

:P

:thumbsup:

I only wish you weren't being sarcastic.

The only philosophical problem here is an inability to translate all known principles from a fictional Pandora to a nonfictional Earth.

There is literally a world of difference between Pandora and Earth and certain specific principles that apply to the one do not apply to the other. Epistemology is contingent upon the nature of what exists that can be reduced to entities that can be sensed. Think of the Pandoran's extra hair-tentacle thingy as another sense organ, for mental entities perhaps but definitely a genuine objective sense organ.

We don't have the same kind of life here and we don't have that 6th sense the do there. So while there are probably similar principles you cannot go straight into the conclusion that somehow this movie perpetrates some great sin against humanity and Objectivism.

I thought Avatar was great, and the ability to conceive of worlds totally unlike our own is not the bane of SciFi but its most potent benefit.

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Yes it was very "Dances With Wolves" but holy @#$% @#$ I've never seen better visual effects in my life...Jurassic Park can eat it. :thumbsup:

Jurassic Park was great, a hundred years ago when it was made. Avatar would perhaps be a modern day equivalent, and it really shows those hundred years or so of progress. It's incredible what they have accomplished here. I wanted a remote control in the cinema so I could press pause and look at it frame by frame, and I would be willing to pay alot for a really in-depth and technical "making of".

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If you happen to discover gold under my house and come to me with some trade offer but I happen to refuse - force is the next recourse in your mind?

And the question of whether or not you have the right to do so comes down more or less to aesthetics?

Is that what you said?

Recognition of rights has nothing to do with valuing another's way of life. I don't personally value Muslim values, way of life, and culture.

For your gold example, there is obviously something that I, as a human, could possibly trade with you for your house and the land under it. Just because I lack it doesn't give me the right to use force. The Point is that the Humans in the Movie couldn't conjure anything the Na'Vi wanted, they wouldn't trade Hometree for all the proverbial tea in China. There is a difference in-between something and anything.

At least with a Muslim, since we are both human, we can reasonably get to point where we can trade, this doesn't have anything to do with their culture or their values, but their status as human beings. One of the virtues of capitalism for example is allowing trade between people that would otherwise hate each other. I would think that, although you don't value Muslims in anyway, you still fill up your gas tank from time to time.

My Point is that it is next to impossible to trade with something that has a different nature than you.

Take a Pet for example, while you may give it food, and it may give you affection, this is not a trade, its more like Animal Management.

With an alien species, one with truly alien values and priorities, trade may be realistically impossible.

Then given the ability to take what you want by force, the choice comes down to A. I appreciate the aliens enough aesthetically more than taking the gold or the unobtainium or whatever from them (This is more or less an environmentalist argument) or B. Screw them and take what you want.

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With an alien species, one with truly alien values and priorities, trade may be realistically impossible.

Not necessarily the case but even so this is not a justification for the use of force.

Then given the ability to take what you want by force, the choice comes down to A.

Not for a rational moral being.

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My Point is that it is next to impossible to trade with something that has a different nature than you.

But that still would not then give you the right to initiate force.

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I argue that if they are like humans (have to live by reason), then we treat them as humans.

But do the Na'vi have to live by reason? They seem to act more based on instinct and collective communication.

Well, now you're talking.

In addition to bows and arrows, and art, Na'vi had developed a language, a complex one, according to Sullivan and others.

A language whose syntaxis and semantics could be mastered by a human, with some practice and effort of course.

So this implies abstract thinking.

Language, according to AR is "primarily a tool of cognition", and "the exclusive domain and tool of concepts".

If language had emerged in the evolution of the Na'vi, is because they needed reason to survive. Their communication was not like the one of bees in a beehive, but actual concept handling. Otherwise they could not have expressed concepts like love, disgrace, honor, and they could not have had developed a mythology.

Ethics and Politics are about homo sapiens only because in our current context, the only one we know, homo sapiens are the only animals capable of abstract thinking.

If we change the context (e.g. if new animals are found to have abstract thinking elsewhere in the universe), then we have to change correspondingly our concepts and broaden our Ethics and Politics based on the same logical thinking that lead us to formulate a human Ethics and theory of rights in the first place

Edited by Hotu Matua

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I saw the movie today, thought the graphics were great, but couldn't get over how perfect - and perfectly impossible - the planet was. Only someone completely ignorant of the violent process of natural selection could conceive of a living environment in complete, perfect balance, where any creature can be symbiotically and psychically connected to anything else - plant, animal, whatever.

It's no coincidence that for all their bows and arrows, and talk of being "master hunters", you only see one animal killed for food, once, and you never see them eat. The whole fairy tale would unravel if the viewer started to question the possibility of this perpetual "balance".

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To me it seems like James Cameron is a 'deep ecology' adherent.

These are the tenets of it, by Arne Naess and George Sessions:

The eight-point Deep Ecology Platform at present provides the

unifying principles of the deep ecology movement.

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have

value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value).

These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human

purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life-forms contribute to the realization of these

values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to

satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and

the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial

decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires

such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic

economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs

will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling

in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher

standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between

big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly

or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

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To me it seems like James Cameron is a 'deep ecology' adherent.

I'm not sure if it's accurate to say all of that, but it is clear there is *some* element of environmentalism based on how the Na'vi are described. But what stood out most in my mind was "initiation of force". The Na'vi didn't have to move if they didn't want to, it was their tree. Destroying the tree wasn't bad because it was a tree.

Many of the characters were cliche to me, so it is hard to actually delve deep into any themes.

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I'm not sure if it's accurate to say all of that, but it is clear there is *some* element of environmentalism based on how the Na'vi are described. But what stood out most in my mind was "initiation of force". The Na'vi didn't have to move if they didn't want to, it was their tree. Destroying the tree wasn't bad because it was a tree.

Many of the characters were cliche to me, so it is hard to actually delve deep into any themes.

Right, but if you want to depict a back-to-nature-environmentalist lifestyle as morally superior it of course helps your case if you depict a fascist-like corporation (a company commanding the army?) as the only alternative. An unprovoked attack on the innocent under a flimsy pretext is sure to provoke universal indignation, so the initiation of force principle violation to me seems the lever used to tilde emotions against large international corporations.

In real live the unobtainium is of course oil and the Na'vi are the Iraqi's and the US government is an opaque entity controlled by the oil companies which are the pupped masters sending US soldiers to the attack under a false pretext.

hmmm, that doens't exactly fit.....actually he realized Iraqi's aren't that in balance with nature themselves so he replaced them with rainforest Indians who see their forest and lifestyle destroyed by logging companies with large machines.

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Ed Hudgins wrote a good critical review of AVATAR, check it out. Having seen it, I wish I hadn't.

I still intend to judge the movie for myself. I'm seeing differing interpretations as to whether or not it is "anti-man", etc.

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