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NikolaiM

John A. Allison takes over as CEO of the Cato Institute

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Hmmm. It might mean just what it says.

FWIW, I'm disinclined to take ARI's latest statement at face value. OTOH, I don't believe this was an excommunication. A has not entirely been A when it comes to this topic, so I'll just leave it at that.

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I look forward to Cato becoming equal to and surpassing ARI in its policy analysis and advocacy work.

I can't imagine by what measure you would conclude that it's Cato that has catching up to do. You might disagree with them on policies, but they're one of the top think tanks, ARI is not nearly as influential.

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I can't imagine by what measure you would conclude that it's Cato that has catching up to do. You might disagree with them on policies, but they're one of the top think tanks, ARI is not nearly as influential.

Yes, by the objective measures of amount of papers published or influence measured in citations Cato is already way ahead. I look forward to Cato being more consistent with Objectivism in its conclusions about issues of the day, and more productive than ARI at doing it.

edit: grammar

Edited by Grames

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I'd like to see the ARI become more consistent with Objectivism.

First you need to review the forum rules as insulting comments about ARI are not allowed.

Then, if you can manage to conduct yourself according to those rules, you'll have to provide evidence for this extremely insulting comment. As far as I can tell ARI is perfectly consistent with Objectivism.

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First you need to review the forum rules as insulting comments about ARI are not allowed.

I haven't insulted the ARI.

Are you taking the position that every opinion issued by anyone at the ARI must, by definition, be consistent with Objectivism? In other words, are you saying that it is not possible for the people at ARI to err in their interpretations or attempted applications of Objectivism, and that to even suggest the possibility of their lack of infallibility is an extremely vicious insult?

Then, if you can manage to conduct yourself according to those rules, you'll have to provide evidence for this extremely insulting comment. As far as I can tell ARI is perfectly consistent with Objectivism.

Let's start with just one example to begin with. The ARI's position on the "ground zero mosque" is that those who wished to build it are enemies who constitute an immediate threat to our metaphysical survival, and, therefore, that the solution to stopping the threat and saving ourselves from extermination is to oppose the construction of a single building in a symbolic location, while allowing the alleged enemies to continue to walk freely amongst us!

It's not a rational or Objectivist position to take. It's the advocacy of the violation of others' property rights, as well a subversion of due process and of proof and of individual accountability. The ARI's position is an example of treating people collectivistically and trying to establish guilt by association, and of thinking in non-essentials and non sequiturs.

J

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http://www.theamericanconservative.com/atlas-shrugged-part-ii-producer-ayn-rand-institute-joining-the-ranks-of-society/

Here’s a little detail I didn’t know till now. We all know David Kelley was excommunicated for speaking at Laissez Faire Books. I think there was more to it, but be that as it may. Turns out John Aglialoro was excommunicated for speaking at…wait for it…The Cato Institute. Does he expect John Allison to suffer the same fate?

TAC: So do you expect him to be excommunicated?

JA: I think there’s been a change of mentality. Yaron Brook is now executive director of ARI, and I think Leonard gave him the sanction to carry on. They’re now joining the ranks of society, philosophical society. The libertarian, the political; it’s not just up here [gestures with his hands]. [Working with libertarians] is no longer anathema.

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http://www.theameric...nks-of-society/

Here’s a little detail I didn’t know till now. We all know David Kelley was excommunicated for speaking at Laissez Faire Books. I think there was more to it, but be that as it may. Turns out John Aglialoro was excommunicated for speaking at…wait for it…The Cato Institute. Does he expect John Allison to suffer the same fate?

TAC: So do you expect him to be excommunicated?

JA: I think there’s been a change of mentality. Yaron Brook is now executive director of ARI, and I think Leonard gave him the sanction to carry on. They’re now joining the ranks of society, philosophical society. The libertarian, the political; it’s not just up here [gestures with his hands]. [Working with libertarians] is no longer anathema.

Perhaps neither here nor there, and I wouldn't necessarily trust a personal anecdote from years ago either, but having worked with Yaron Brook, I found him intelligent and personable. Just a good guy.

And that's all I got. Not to say that he'll do no wrong or anything, but I like him being a prominent Objectivist.

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http://www.theameric...nks-of-society/

Here’s a little detail I didn’t know till now. We all know David Kelley was excommunicated for speaking at Laissez Faire Books. I think there was more to it, but be that as it may. Turns out John Aglialoro was excommunicated for speaking at…wait for it…The Cato Institute. Does he expect John Allison to suffer the same fate?

TAC: So do you expect him to be excommunicated?

JA: I think there’s been a change of mentality. Yaron Brook is now executive director of ARI, and I think Leonard gave him the sanction to carry on. They’re now joining the ranks of society, philosophical society. The libertarian, the political; it’s not just up here [gestures with his hands]. [Working with libertarians] is no longer anathema.

The ARI's position has been:

IS LIBERTARIANISM AN EVIL DOCTRINE? Yes, if evil is the irrational and the destructive...Subjectivism, amoralism and anarchism are not merely present in certain “wings” of the Libertarian movement; they are integral to it....it is nihilism—the desire to obliterate reality—that is the very essence of Libertarianism. If the Libertarian movement were ever to come to power, widespread death would be the consequence...Justice demands moral judgment. It demands that one objectively evaluate Libertarianism, and act in accordance with that evaluation. It demands that one identify Libertarianism as the antithesis of—and therefore as a clear threat to—not merely genuine liberty, but all rational values. And it demands that Libertarianism, like all such threats, be boycotted and condemned....Moral judgment, and not some pragmatic calculation of losses and gains, is what must precede any decision about whom to associate with....The handful of Libertarians who may be open to reason need to be told that Libertarianism as such is anti-liberty and that Libertarian organizations should be boycotted. But this cannot be conveyed via a talk which is itself sponsored by a Libertarian organization.

So now what are we to do? Are we not to judge Peikoff as giving his sanction to Brook and Allison to sanction and associate with Libertarians? Are we to join them in sanctioning and associating with Libertarians? Is Kelley now forgiven, and can we now associate with him? Or are we to instruct Peikoff, Brook and Allison that we still agree with Peikoff's and Schwartz's essays on the evils of sanctioning the sanctioners, even though they apparently no longer do, and therefore we are reluctantly left no option but to use Peikoff's own words and request that he, Brook and Allison "please drop out of our movement: drop Ayn Rand, leave Objectivism alone" because their recent toleration of and association with Libertarians is what Peikoff labeled as the abandonment of "the necessity of moral judgment" and a sundering of "fact and value"?

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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Lower case libertarians vs. upper case Libertarians is similar to the distinction between Ayn Rand fans and Objectivists. Libertarians are ideological opponents, while libertarians are a mixed crowd of "... tax reformists, tax abolitionists, monetarists, gold advocates, life extensionists, recreational drug users, Christians, atheists, pro-choice advocates, anti-abortionists, isolationists, interventionists, anarchists, monarchists, pacifists, survivalists... "(quote from Robert J. Bibinotto's Libertarianism: Fallacies and Follies via anthonyflood.com)

Being in charge of an organization, signing the checks and making the hiring and firing decisions is also an entirely different kettle of fish than being the token Objectivist at a conference.

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Lower case libertarians vs. upper case Libertarians is similar to the distinction between Ayn Rand fans and Objectivists. Libertarians are ideological opponents, while libertarians are a mixed crowd of "... tax reformists, tax abolitionists, monetarists, gold advocates, life extensionists, recreational drug users, Christians, atheists, pro-choice advocates, anti-abortionists, isolationists, interventionists, anarchists, monarchists, pacifists, survivalists...

So, are you saying that none of the people with whom Peikoff, Brook and Allison are now associating, or with whom they are sanctioning association, is an upper case Libertarian? Are you asserting that are no Libertarians at Cato?

Being in charge of an organization, signing the checks and making the hiring and firing decisions is also an entirely different kettle of fish than being the token Objectivist at a conference.

You seem to be saying that Allison is acting properly by Objectivist standards and is not sanctioning evil so long as he fires everyone at Cato who is a Libertarian. Is that what you're saying? And if he doesn't instantly fire all Libertarians, he would then be guilty of sanctioning their evil by continuing to allow them to be employed by an organization which he heads?

J

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If I were in charge it would be "Arrr, you'll be toeing the line or walking the plank". I suspect John Allison has a different leadership style. Given his track record of success, and that I have no control or influence over this situation whatsoever, I am more than satisfied to sit back and watch how it turns out in the longer run.

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If I were in charge it would be "Arrr, you'll be toeing the line or walking the plank". I suspect John Allison has a different leadership style. Given his track record of success, and that I have no control or influence over this situation whatsoever, I am more than satisfied to sit back and watch how it turns out in the longer run.

But the question isn't what you would do, or Allison's track record of success, or even what happens in the long run (is the short term sanction of evil somehow acceptable?). The question is whether or not Allison is sanctioning the sanctioners of evil, and therefore rejecting Objectivism by sundering fact and value and abandoning the necessity of moral judgment. If he does not immediately fire all Libertarians at Cato, should he not be told by those at ARI to "drop out of our movement: drop Ayn Rand, leave Objectivism alone," and labeled an anti-Objectivist? Should we not condemn him as an enabler of evil?

J

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The question is whether or not Allison is sanctioning the sanctioners of evil, and therefore rejecting Objectivism by sundering fact and value and abandoning the necessity of moral judgment.

John Allison is the only person in the world in a position to do anything about any "sanctioning of evil" that might be going on at Cato. Let him have at it.

You seem to be endorsing the theory of Peter Schwartz that sanctioning is recursive, and that moral failure spreads like catching the cooties.

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You seem to be endorsing the theory of Peter Schwartz that sanctioning is recursive, and that moral failure spreads like catching the cooties.

Obviously it's all tongue in cheek. I take from Aglialoro's statement that I was correct here, from earlier on this thread:

ARI can say they had the right position back in the eighties, but the libertarian movement has improved and now they’re willing and eager to engage. It would be bullshit, but fine, they’re going to have to save face.

Now they ought to take the Schwartz piece down from their website, or, better, put something new up that states their new position.

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John Allison is the only person in the world in a position to do anything about any "sanctioning of evil" that might be going on at Cato. Let him have at it.

Why do you keep avoiding my question? It's almost as if you want to avoid judging Allison but yet you also want to avoid rejecting Peikoff's requirement that we condemn Libertarians and those who associate with them. It seems as if you want to have your cake and eat it too.

So, I repeat, I'm not asking what you would do, or if Allison is the only one who has the power to do anything about sanctioning evil at Cato. I'm asking if he should be judged (using the ARI's position on associating with Libertarians) as an enabler of evil if he doesn't immediately fire all Libertarians who currently work for Cato. It's a simple yes or no question.

You seem to be endorsing the theory of Peter Schwartz that sanctioning is recursive, and that moral failure spreads like catching the cooties.

Peikoff endorsed Schwartz's theory. I'm neither endorsing nor opposing it, but asking if it should be applied consistenly to Allison, and if not, then why not, and why it should still be applied to others? Is it no longer the official position of the ARI? If so, what is the new position? Will those who have been condemned in the past receive apologies?

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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Why do you keep avoiding my question? It's almost as if you want to avoid judging Allison but yet you also want to avoid rejecting Peikoff's requirement that we condemn Libertarians and those who associate with them. It seems as if you want to have your cake and eat it too.

It is not 'almost as if' I am avoiding your question, I am avoiding your question. I do not interact with John Allison or have dealings with Cato. I have no need to make such a judgement and so won't be doing so. I do not contribute to Cato financially, nor have I even read anything produced by Cato for over a decade. I am not conducting a personal boycott of Cato but if I were my behavior would not differ from what it is now. I have nothing to gain by pronouncing moral judgement on Cato or John Allison because I have nothing at stake.

Peikoff endorsed Schwartz's theory. I'm neither endorsing nor opposing it, but asking if it should be applied consistenly to Allison, and if not, then why not, and why it should still be applied to others? Is it no longer the official position of the ARI? If so, what is the new position? Will those who have been condemned in the past receive apologies?

Ask ARI, only they can answer those questions.

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It is not 'almost as if' I am avoiding your question, I am avoiding your question. I do not interact with John Allison or have dealings with Cato. I have no need to make such a judgement and so won't be doing so. I do not contribute to Cato financially, nor have I even read anything produced by Cato for over a decade. I am not conducting a personal boycott of Cato but if I were my behavior would not differ from what it is now. I have nothing to gain by pronouncing moral judgement on Cato or John Allison because I have nothing at stake.

Are you abandoning the "necessity of moral judgment"?! Or are you saying that we should only judge those with whom we have dealings? What about those with whom you interact who interact with Allison? The official Objectivist position is that it is evil to sanction the sanctioners of evil, so one is required to judge even those with whom one doesn't intereact directly because others, with whom one does interact, may be interacting with them.

Ask ARI, only they can answer those questions.

But the ARI is associating with the sanctioners of the sanctioners of evil, and therefore if I have anything to do with the ARI, including asking them questions, I would be guilty, according to their own publicly stated position, of sanctioning those who are sanctioning the sanctioners of the sanctioners of evil.

J

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Are you abandoning the "necessity of moral judgment"?! Or are you saying that we should only judge those with whom we have dealings?

J

A fair assessment might be "I don't know enough to judge" but that's just from my perspective. Is Cato evil? Do they sanction evil? How do you know?

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Are you abandoning the "necessity of moral judgment"?!

What makes moral judgement necessary is the need to act. I don't need to act with respect to Cato.

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“But they are associating with the sanctioners of the sanctioners of evil, and therefore if I have anything to do with them, including asking them questions, I would be guilty, according to their own publicly stated position, of sanctioning those who are sanctioning the sanctioners of the sanctioners of evil.”

Having elevated this sort of quasi-religious moral pedantry to a fundamental tenet of Objectivism, Peikoff now predicts that religion will prevail over Objectivism as the wave of the future.

Maybe that isn’t so shocking after all.

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Are you abandoning the "necessity of moral judgment"?! Or are you saying that we should only judge those with whom we have dealings? What about those with whom you interact who interact with Allison? The official Objectivist position is that it is evil to sanction the sanctioners of evil, so one is required to judge even those with whom one doesn't intereact directly because others, with whom one does interact, may be interacting with them.

But the ARI is associating with the sanctioners of the sanctioners of evil, and therefore if I have anything to do with the ARI, including asking them questions, I would be guilty, according to their own publicly stated position, of sanctioning those who are sanctioning the sanctioners of the sanctioners of evil.

J

What makes moral judgement necessary is the need to act. I don't need to act with respect to Cato.

I could be much mistaken with respect to Grames, but I don't believe he has traditionally been on the "Peikoff side" of Fact and Value.

His answer here also strikes me as reminiscent of the Kelley answer to Peikoff in Truth and Toleration, though there again, perhaps I err.

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I could be much mistaken with respect to Grames, but I don't believe he has traditionally been on the "Peikoff side" of Fact and Value.

His answer here also strikes me as reminiscent of the Kelley answer to Peikoff in Truth and Toleration, though there again, perhaps I err.

My apologies to Grames if I've misunderstood his position.

J

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As far as the fact and value part of Fact and Value, I'm with Peikoff. Kelley disputes whether that is even on point, but leave that for another thread. However, Peikoff leads off Fact and Value with the sentence

I agree completely with “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners,” Peter Schwartz’s article in the last issue of TIA.

I can't follow that. Literally can't follow because “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners" is not available anywhere online but I have substantive issues with the apparent conclusions made that are reported second hand.

Consider that Rand's last public appearance was a speaking engagement for "... an audience of businessmen attending seminars sponsored by the National Committee for Monetary Reform." The very topic she spoke on was "The Sanction of the Victims", making the case the country's businessmen were guilty of sanctioning evil and they should stop it, pay attention to where their money goes at universities, stop apologizing for being profitable, etc. Yet that did not stop Ayn Rand from speaking to businessmen or taking their money for her trouble.

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