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samr

Porn and the free market

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Working for yourself, earning your income is virtous according to objectivism.

Being successful, and producing a product many want to buy also is.

One could even argue that the more successful one is, and the more widespread is one's product the more virtous it shows him to be.

According to the above, a porn star should be one of Objectivism's heroes, and the porn industry - a celebration of the spirit of objectivism.

But there is nothing noble in being a porn star, and in the porn industry. So perhaps it shows something is wrong with the premises above?

Edited by samr

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Objectivism doesn't define the virtue of productiveness as "producing a product many want to buy". That's pretty much the Libertarian definition, at least the one I've heard them use.

My impromptu, Objectivist definition would be "adapting the environment to one's own needs (to further one's life) through a creative, rational process". In the modern context, in which one is a part of a vast, rich marketplace of goods and ideas, that would translate into a creative, long-term, specialized career.

The fundamental difference between the two definitions is that yours is subjective, it isn't built on any objective idea of what is and what isn't good (as in objectively furthers a man's life). Instead, it assumes that whatever people want is the good. That's obviously wrong, people want bad things all the time.

The fundamental reason why doing (certain kinds of) porn isn't productiveness is because (certain kinds of) porn is objectively bad. I'm adding the (certain kinds of) tag to my sentence because prudes and religious opinion makers love to characterize art and photography which celebrates the human body and sexuality as porn. When I'm saying that porn is bad, I am referring to the kind of grotesque porn which denigrates women (or men I would guess, in the case of gay porn), trivializes the body and cheapens sex, not to erotic imagery in general.

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The free market isn't the standard of beauty and virtue, so I don't see what this has to do with the free market in your subject title.

Your argument goes like this:

Major premise) A porn star should be one of Objectivism's heroes.

And you gave some reasons for that, which have already been pointed out as flawed, but I also want to point out another problem:

(Minor premise) But there is nothing noble in being a porn star, and in the porn industry.

But you never explained why this is. Unless we know why there is nothing noble about the production of porn, then we can't answer the question, as obviously, this is the whole point. If we just take this premise as a given without grounding it in anything and only afterward seek reasons to justify the conclusion it gives us, then this is special pleading for a conclusion reached in advance.

We have to understand why porn isn't virtuous before we can say that it is. Then if we understand why porn isn't virtuous (or the circumstances under which it might or might not be virtuous), and we also understand that the mere fact of something being produced on the market isn't the standard of virtue, then the problem seems to be solved.

Edited by 2046

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My impromptu, Objectivist definition would be "adapting the environment to one's own needs (to further one's life) through a creative, rational process". In the modern context, in which one is a part of a vast, rich marketplace of goods and ideas, that would translate into a creative, long-term, specialized career.

What about a society that is irrational? Would adapting to the environment (which includes the society) and pursuing a career that has no objective value (but is valued by people and paid) be rational?

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What about a society that is irrational?

What about a society that is irrational? The irrational need the rational to be able to survive, not vice versa.

Edited to add an afterthought:

Speaking of the difference between irrational and rational:

What would be the difference between irrational analysis and rational analysis?

What would be the difference between irrational inquiry and rational inquiry?

Edited by dream_weaver

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What about a society that is irrational? The irrational need the rational to be able to survive, not vice versa.

What about Van Gogh?

Do you consider him rational?

He has created art, and lived a brave life. Yet, he died in poverty.

I bring this as an example of a man that has lived right; has produced value; but was not valued by his society.

Boris Pasternak?

Perhaps the irrational need the rational as a general principle, since they do not produce anything; but because they often have the money, power, and the means of productions themselves, the rational have to depend on them.

Edited by samr

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What about Van Gogh? Do you consider him rational?

He has created art, and lived a brave life. Yet, he died in poverty.

I bring this as an example of a man that has lived right; has produced value; but was not valued by his society.

Are you suggesting that rationality is measured by the value placed on him by others?

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Are you suggesting that rationality is measured by the value placed on him by others?

No.

I assumed that according to objectivism, rationality should be linked with financial success. Is it true?

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No.

I assumed that according to objectivism, rationality should be linked with financial success. Is it true?

According to Objectivism "wealth is a product of man's capacity to think", but this does not mean that those who exercise that capacity are necessarily wealthy.

edited for typo.

Edited by dream_weaver

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Yes, but allegedly, in the case of Van Gogh, his ability to create, was precisely the reason for him being Not wealthy.

(The same case of Henry Cameron, in The Fountainhead).

Edited by samr

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But there is nothing noble in being a porn star, and in the porn industry. So perhaps it shows something is wrong with the premises above?

I'd say it really depends on what the porn even is of. Random girls having sex with random guys? Or just recording however many people having sex with their mate?

Another relevant point is that money making in this context may itself be a *sign* of virtue, but is not absolutely in all cases equivalent to virtue. A porn star may be perfectly virtuous in terms of productive effort, but it doesn't necessarily mean being very honest in terms of the meaning of sex.

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Money is neither necessary nor sufficient as a sign of virtue.

Money, in a capitalist society, is a measure of how useful others regard the products/services which you make/perform for a price. That's it. If large numbers of people are irrational in a capitalist society, there will be very wealthy people who do nothing which a rational person would find useful (e.g. Paris Hilton), and perhaps there will be a large number of poor people who are very useful to a rational person (e.g. Henry Cameron). However, according to the Objectivist ethics, such people are better off being poor while living by the integrity of their minds than by betraying their integrity for material gain. (Of course, the most desirable case is to be both rich and virtuous.) And if one's interests lie both in areas where there is not much money to be made and in areas where there is a great deal of money to be made, it is entirely moral to choose the field which makes more money (indeed, assuming one's levels of interest are equal, it would be immoral not to do so).

You must also realize that one's rational usefulness or productivity in a market economy is a sufficient condition for virtue, but it is not necessary. Bill Gates is highly productive because he is highly virtuous (at least in the business sphere) and also very intelligent; however, a janitor working for Microsoft may be just as virtuous but not very productive at all because he is has a very low intelligence. As long as the janitor is using the full extent of his mental capacity, he is just as virtuous as anyone else could be, but because his service is not very valuable, he will be poor.

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What about a society that is irrational? Would adapting to the environment (which includes the society) and pursuing a career that has no objective value (but is valued by people and paid) be rational?

I didn't say adapting to the environment, I said adapting the environment. They're the exact opposites. An animal has to adapt to the environment, people don't. We can change it to suit our needs.

And no, adopting and pursuing irrational values, just because the society around us is irrational, would not be rational. It would just mean destroying yourself along with the irrational society you joined. The rational moves would be trying to change the society, or just removing yourself from it.

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I didn't say adapting to the environment, I said adapting the environment. They're the exact opposites. An animal has to adapt to the environment, people don't. We can change it to suit our needs.

I was talking about the social part of the environment. We can change nature to suit our needs, but I think you cannot change people around you (you can take a branch and a string, bend one, tie the other one and create a bow. You cannot change people in such a way).

So I would say you cannot adapt the social environment around you.

Do you disagree?

Do you think there is a third alternative rather than adapting to it?

Edited by samr

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can some one provide a specific example of what it means to "adapt the environment?" Perhaps some one in here can tell me how they "adapted the environment" to profit off a free market economy?

Because "adapting the environment," in the context of the free market, as I understand it, is persuading, or forcing, some one to buy something you have produced, which means to me that people, who buy your product, are adapting themselves to you. I mean, obviously trees will not buy a product you make, so the "environment," in this context, must be another word for "people."

But if people are adapting to you, then they must be doing the irrational thing by adapting TO their environment, so it seems to me that functioning whithin this type of capitalistic framework, requires the subjectivity of the consumer, meaning an objectivist would have to have a customer-base, consisting only of subjective people, in order to make any profit. Because, as an objectivist, I will be too busy adapting the environment to be persuaded to buy whatever youre selling.

Edited by TrueMaterialist

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Im not quite sure why people are saying SAMR had a false premise. If I like porn and I make porn and sell it and profit it off it, because,lets face the music, sex sells better than anything, then how am I adapting to my environment exatly? I think it is a false premise to assume that the person making the porn is not a fan of porn. I mean, its pretty unlikely that a a man who dosnt care for porn, would end up producing it. If I like porn and my customers like porn does that mean I adapted to the environment, or does it mean my customers and I share a common popular interest? Are some people in here trying insist that we have to be influenced, or persuaded to be interested in watching sex?

Edited by TrueMaterialist

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Im posting a lot, I kow, but the comments in this thread keep inspiring more questions.

Vox, are you saying that, as an artist, I should invest all my time into my art. Surely one does not make enough money for a home, food and clothing off his art, before that art is actually created. What shall I do while I am making my personal masterpiece, become emaciated, die of exposure to the eliments, beg for pocket change, live off of my parents, what? Are you saying that I should suffer for my art?

Edited by TrueMaterialist

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I was talking about the social part of the environment. We can change nature to suit our needs, but I think you cannot change people around you (you can take a branch and a string, bend one, tie the other one and create a bow. You cannot change people in such a way).

One need not change people like one makes a bow in order to be able to change people. Some people are capable of being "changed" through rational reasoning and some people are not.

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Surely one does not make enough money for a home, food and clothing off his art, before that art is actually created. What shall I do while I am making my personal masterpiece, become emaciated, die of exposure to the eliments, beg for pocket change, live off of my parents, what? Are you saying that I should suffer for my art?

I don't see where you are getting any of this from what he said. It is kind of presumed when talking about Objectivism that if one has a rational goal that is their passion, one must still remain alive and healthy enough to pursue that goal.

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Lets start with the correct definitions instead of arguing against straw men or a certain student of Objectivism's provisional definition.

The virtue of

Productiveness

is the recognition of the fact that productive work is the process by which man’s mind sustains his life, the process that sets man free of the necessity to adjust himself to his background, as all animals do, and gives him the power to adjust his background to himself.

“The Objectivist Ethics,”

The Virtue of Selfishness

, 26

Productive work is the central

purpose

of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result.

“The Objectivist Ethics,”

The Virtue of Selfishness

, 25

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can some one provide a specific example of what it means to "adapt the environment?" Perhaps some one in here can tell me how they "adapted the environment" to profit off a free market economy?

Because "adapting the environment," in the context of the free market, as I understand it, is persuading, or forcing, some one to buy something you have produced, which means to me that people, who buy your product, are adapting themselves to you.

This is in regard to recreating the world around you in some way as to produce a completely new product or service (with respect to the it's original state, not necessarily creating a new invention or something). It's about producing something, this is not related to changing or manipulating other people in any way. It scares me that this is the first thing that somehow comes to your mind when you think of production.

Edited by EC

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Is anyone here defending the porn industry? I assume we all make use of it to some extent or another. I don't view it as lacking virtue, as the actors or producers lacking virtue.

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