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John P. McCaskey

How Best to Attack Ayn Rand’s System

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Following the highest established standards of logic, the most rigorous canonical reasoning, any logic professor can decimate Ayn Rand’s moral and political philosophy in one 45-minute lecture. It took the Harvard professor Robert Nozick only a few paragraphs.

But Rand doesn’t follow the conventional standards of logic. She has her own distinctive method of arguing. If that method is valid, her moral and political philosophy stands. If it is invalid, her whole system comes crashing down.

What is her method and is it valid?

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Logic is the formalization of meaning!

Edit:

Those who aren't familiar with the debate in the philosophy of language and logic and how the analytic synthetic dichotomy relates to it, will not understand Objectivism's criticism.....

Edit:

"In other words, you can defeat Ayn Rand's arguments by refusing to grant meanings to words.

Is that it?"

In other words, by not understanding how the perceptual root/context of differentiation constrains the meaning of concepts, leads to endless debates about essentialism, or worse the complete dismissal or relativizing of meaning.( in the case of the anti Positivist like Kuhn and Fayerabend)

Edited by Plasmatic

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In other words, by not understanding how the perceptual root/context of differentiation constrains the meaning of concepts, leads to endless debates about essentialism, or worse the complete dismissal or relativizing of meaning.( in the case of the anti Positivist like Kuhn and Fayerabend)

I think that's the kind of thing McCaskey is saying as well.

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I understand what McCaskey is getting at, but still. Why "attack" Ayn Rand's philosophy at all? Why not just evaluate it based on its merits, without ever bringing whatever "conventional standards of logic" are, into it.

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The "better" critiques of Objectivism, by far, are the ones that engage it on an epistemological level. Using reason, if you will, to examine reason, is to critique reason, to identify its strengths, as well as where it might more easily be led astray. Evaluating Objectivism at its core, is to evaluate ones own epistemological processes to its core. In doing so, one can hone ones own epistemological processes. Objectivism stands or falls on this merit, and this merit alone, the merit of "what do I know" and "how do I know it".

 

Something to keep in mind when evaluating this brief outline: it is not likely directed to just an Objectivist audience. How many attacks on Objectivism are simply on the periphery, and do not engage directly on the epistemological battlefield. The peripheral skirmishes can't undermine Objectivism. The only thing that could possibly undermine Objectivism would be to discover a fatal flaw at its core, as Objectivism has done by exposing the major weaknesses contained in other philosophical approaches at their core.

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hasn't essentialism been debunked by the likes of Popper et. al

Since the answer to this question really doesn't have to do with anything in the OP and since Oism is an essentialist epistemology, I assume your joking.

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Since the answer to this question really doesn't have to do with anything in the OP and since Oism is an essentialist epistemology, I assume your joking.

 

In Objectivism, Essence is epistemological as opposed to metaphysical or existential.  The reference to Popper notwithstanding, I believe the latter two uses is what Mikee meant.

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It is even easier to prove And wrong ... in just three steps:

1 Made them agree that a system do not support having contradictions

2 Point to any contradiction in science. Like the one about entitlement and information traveling faster than light 

3 Grab popcorn and enjoy watching them strogle

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1 hour ago, Jose said:

It is even easier to prove And wrong ... in just three steps:

1 Made them agree that a system do not support having contradictions

2 Point to any contradiction in science. Like the one about entitlement and information traveling faster than light 

3 Grab popcorn and enjoy watching them strogle

0. Appear coherent  :D 

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47 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

0. Appear coherent  :D 

I love when people are as insightful in their comments. If there is something that you do not understand I am more than happy to explain, but if you base your comments in insults they are not helpful to say the least.

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14 hours ago, Jose said:

It is even easier to prove And [Rand] wrong ... in just three [two] steps:

1 Made [Make] them agree that a system do [does] not support having contradictions

2 Point to any contradiction in science. Like the one about entitlement and information traveling faster than light [being both a wave and a particle.]

3 Grab popcorn and enjoy watching them strogle

[Edits by Swig]

Sorry, I had to edit your post in order to make sense of it. There is still a problem. You haven't proven whether Rand or science is wrong.

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Perhaps Jose meant to say "entanglement and information..."

 

Jose's reasoning is as follows 

1 Rand held that there are no contradictions in reality.

 2 modern science proves contradictions are possible

hence it is proved by contradiction, that Rand was wrong.

 

Observe that Jose depends on the premise "no contradictions exist in reality" in order to form a proof by contradiction.  any proof relying upon this technique presupposes no contradictions... that is how a contradiction proves one of the premises are false.

So Jose's proof is relying on a premise he is at once refuting.  As such he has to abandon "proof" Rand was wrong... and in fact abandon any kind of proof whatsoever. After all, if contradictions are possible Rand can also be right, in the same respect and at the same time... and no conclusion can be made with any certitude, and certainly not any relying upon a proof by contradiction.

 

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On 7/7/2019 at 5:54 PM, Jose said:

I love when people are as insightful in their comments. If there is something that you do not understand I am more than happy to explain, but if you base your comments in insults they are not helpful to say the least.

I've got my popcorn ready to see what crap you come up with. 

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13 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Jose's reasoning is as follows 

1 Rand held that there are no contradictions in reality.

 2 modern science proves contradictions are possible

hence it is proved by contradiction, that Rand was wrong.

A technical point: he did not say that science proves the possibility of contradictions. He said that there are contradictions in science, which I take as merely his interpretation of the science. Does that affect your position?

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I did not that. I said that the systems can have contradictions and still be valid.

Also I did not use contradiction on my proof. Using symbolic logic:

(all) AB ..........(1)

Where A is valid system B is does not have contradiction.

So if is prove that exist one valid system that allow contradiction (1) is false. In other words if

(exist) A~B is true then (1) is false. (exist) A~B is science and the contradiction is the spooky action at distance.

So my prof does use contradiction.

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11 hours ago, Jose said:

(exist) A~B is true then (1) is false.

The only reason proof by counterexample is valid is that it is a contradiction for a claim to both be universally true and have counterexamples.

Quote

the contradiction is the spooky action at distance.

If the law of non-contradiction is false, the scientists cannot know that spooky action at a distance exists. The experiments proving spooky action at a distance and the non-existence of spooky action at a distance could just be a true contradiction.

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2 hours ago, William O said:

The only reason proof by counterexample is valid is that it is a contradiction for a claim to both be universally true and have counterexamples.

If the law of non-contradiction is false, the scientists cannot know that spooky action at a distance exists. The experiments proving spooky action at a distance and the non-existence of spooky action at a distance could just be a true contradiction.

My prof is not by contradiction, you need to review your logic. From Wikipedia "In logic and mathematics proof by contradiction is a form of proof that establishes the truth or validity of a proposition by showing that assuming the proposition to be false leads to a contradiction." which is not what my prof does ... it shows the existence of just one example that it is not possible to exist for the statement.

What you said on your second paragraph is what I wanted to said about fallibility ... it is not a valid position say "The opposite exist therefore the original position is right" It is like setting up an experiment if the result is A then the theory stands and if it is B the theory does not stand. What you said is like saying because is B then the theory stands. Also to blow your mind there are some experiments proving the spooky action at distance.

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47 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Contradictions ARE possible

AND

Rand IS right that "contradictions are impossible"

 

 

So A and ~A are possible where A is saying that A and ~A con possible to coexist? I can see your logic.

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1 hour ago, Jose said:

So A and ~A are possible where A is saying that A and ~A con possible to coexist? I can see your logic.

Could you explain the logic you are seeing for those of us that may not see what you're seeing?

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Yes no problem. One of the objectivist principles is that there can not be contradictions, and find a Contradiction just prove objectivist right. Can you explain what you mean that contradiction are possible and impossible?

My previous post should say "can not" instead of con.

2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Contradictions ARE possible

AND

Rand IS right that "contradictions are impossible"

 

 

 

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