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AProblemForYou

Objectivism doesn't condemn this?!

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Tara Smith explains how Objectivism implies many virtues--rationality, honesty, independence, justice, integrity, productiveness, and pride. However, Shylock makes the point that Justice is nothing without Mercy or Compassion. What of this case?
 

A woman wants sex only in a committed relationship. A man asks what is a committed relationship is. She defines it as only dating her and he has to end the relationship before seeing anyone else. He has sex with her. A day later he ends the relationship. He has met the letter of the law, but violated the spirit of the law. Does Objectivism have any objections to this behavior?

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm not sure what it is you are asking.

 

How did he violate the spirit of the law? What is the spirit of the law?

 

She should probably have defined her terms better. She should have asked him if he loves her and wants to be with her long term. If he said yes, and intended to leave after having sex with her, he was lying, and seeking to gain a value by faking reality which is wrong in Objectivist morality. If he said yes, and he meant it, then something must have happened to change his mind the very next day.

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He has met the letter of the law, but violated the spirit of the law. 

Getting from the letter of your post, to its spirit...

Are you implying that the man knew that the unspoken, implicit understanding was that sex was okay with her only if he was interested in at least attempting a short-term relationship? Are you also implying that he did not change his mind, i.e. he did not meet the girl of his dreams the next day; rather, he just wanted a one-night stand but said he wanted a relationship? Are you implying that he decided that since the meaning of the term "relationship" had not been spelled out in terms of days, he would define it arbitrarily to suit his purposes, knowing fully that his definition was contrary to the implied meaning, and to the meaning that any rational observer your take?

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The post doesn't match the heading - You do not know what Objectivism condemns.  Not trying to be rude it's just your thought exercise is lacking lots of context (likely because those who are the so-called guardians of sex morality, religion, don't care about context) and the question becomes moot.  We need to know the full understanding between the two couples - People generally know if they are in a long term relationship or not.  If not then there is bigger issues going on and that is well documented.

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It needs to be understood that "Objectivism" is manifested in the behavior of individuals, each self-responsible for his/her own actions.  There is no Objectivist Star Chamber where such decisions are made.

 

Your hypothetical is pretty broad to merit much discussion, and in the end, you'll still need to decide the answer for yourself based on your understanding of ethical/unethical conduct.  Also, your perspective on ethical/unethical behavior can change as you gain additional knowledge.  We've all done some things that we later regret.

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Are you implying that the man knew that the unspoken, implicit understanding was that sex was okay with her only if he was interested in at least attempting a short-term relationship?

 

Bingo. When selling a used car, a seller may not disclose that the transmission will need to be replaced soon at great cost--we say caveat emptor. Is one's ethical duty simply to make true statements, or are we obligated to try to try to ensure the buyer's impressions match reality? Most people have one standard when it comes to business, and another standard when it comes to personal relationships. What does Objectivism require?

 

Are you also implying that he did not change his mind, i.e. he did not meet the girl of his dreams the next day; rather, he just wanted a one-night stand but said he wanted a relationship?

 

Yes, he wanted a one-night stand, but agreed to a "committed relationship" per her definition.

 

Are you implying that he decided that since the meaning of the term "relationship" had not been spelled out in terms of days, he would define it arbitrarily to suit his purposes, knowing fully that his definition was contrary to the implied meaning, and to the meaning that any rational observer your take?

 

 

No. The term "committed relationship" was defined by her as, "only dating her and he has to end the relationship before seeing anyone else".

 

 

She should have asked him if he loves her

 

No claim to love her was made.

Edited by AProblemForYou

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Your hypothetical is pretty broad to merit much discussion, and in the end, you'll still need to decide the answer for yourself based on your understanding of ethical/unethical conduct.  Also, your perspective on ethical/unethical behavior can change as you gain additional knowledge.  

 

Objectivism allows a great deal of flexibility--e.g., while some virtues such as honesty are universally helpful assuming you meet the basic precondition of seeking life, you ultimately choose your values. Thus, whether or not I donate $20 to a charity is neither per-se good or bad--it all depends on whether I value that charity and/or it goals. My curiosity in this thought experiment is whether the actions described in the one-night stand and used car scenarios are good or bad per-se, or as I feared Objectivism has nothing intelligible to say, unless on a whim you decide to value certain things.

 

We've all done some things that we later regret.

 

 

Of course, but shouldn't we aim for an ethical system that provides guidance to maximize happiness and minimize guilt and regret?

 

Edited by AProblemForYou

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Does Objectivism....

 

Objectivism allows...

 

You've twice used Objectivism in a dis-embodied, third party voice.  In doing so, I'm assuming that you are reifying Objectivism as something that exists independent of the behavior of an individual who follows, to the best of his understanding, the precepts of the philosophy.

 

"....unless on a whim you decide to value certain things."

 

Who is the "you" in the sentence?  Me? You? Spiral Architect?  If the three of us disagree on the value of something, does that render our decisions Subjective?

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Bingo. When selling a used car, a seller may not disclose that the transmission will need to be replaced soon at great cost--we say caveat emptor. Is one's ethical duty simply to make true statements, or are we obligated to try to try to ensure the buyer's impressions match reality? Most people have one standard when it comes to business, and another standard when it comes to personal relationships. What does Objectivism require?

 

Pretty simple. The guy lied that he wanted to date and disregarded any apparent impact on his own values. That's immoral, given what you stated. I mean, I don't think anyone is stupid enough to think that "dating" is "one date" or all the other presumptions you mentioned. If he is that socially ignorant, well, that's different... If say, he was from a culture with really radically different dating norms, then his lack of knowledge may make sense, meaning he did nothing wrong per se.

 

Why are you asking this? It seems like you're insinuating something.

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Who is the "you" in the sentence?  Me? You? Spiral Architect?  If the three of us disagree on the value of something, does that render our decisions Subjective?

 

I'm interested in what Objectivism permits and condemns, independent of one's individual values and preferences, beyond the basic preconditions.

 

If the three of us disagree on the value of something, does that render our decisions Subjective?

 

No. If you're a Ben Kingsley fan and Spiral Architect despises him, watching "Iron Man 3" may be right for you and wrong for him. We can all three of us objectively agree on the right actions for each of you. And I am okay that Objectivism offers me, with no strong opinion of him, no guidance on what movie to see. I'm quite happy with Rotten Tomatoes, and the feelings of hurt or regret at having seen / not seen a movie are usually low for everyone involved!

 

The one-night stand and used-car scenarios are different. They have a greater potential for hurt and regret for all parties involved. I'd expect an ethical system to have more to say than, well, if you value that other person you won't screw them or pawn off that flaky car, but if you don't, it's all good.

Edited by AProblemForYou

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Objectivism requires, in a nutshell, that you do not attempt to gain values through dishonesty. This means more than simply ensuring that what you say isn't technically a lie; it requires that you endeavor to appeal to others' reason and intelligence rather than their stupidity and gullibility. In both of your examples cited above, the person is clearly behaving dishonestly, and in both cases it comes in the same form.  The person is failing to disclose a fact that they know will be material to the decision of the person that they are tricking.  In your original example, the guy clearly knows that he's going to leave this girl as soon as he sleeps with her, and he also knows that she wouldn't sleep with him if she knows this.  He's deceiving her by withholding this fact and pretending that he has the intention of dating her.  Similarly, the fact that some part will soon go out at great cost is a fact that is material to the buyer's decision to buy.  Withholding it is fraud, and clearly dishonest.

 

Objectivism holds that this method for gaining values will not serve your life and happiness in the long term. Relying on dishonesty to gain values requires that you seek out the dumbest and most gullible people to deal with, rather than the most intelligent and perceptive.  It institutionalizes a fear of certain facts, namely the facts that will expose your lies, rather than encouraging an attitude of unreservedly confronting all facts of reality, which is the policy that one needs in order to be successful over the long term. Furthermore, relationships founded on dishonesty cannot become the kind of deep relationships that are integral to one's happiness, where another person truly sees and understands you. No short-term gains of one-night stands or car sales are worth this kind of life.

 

Thank you Dante, that makes sense.

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Tara Smith explains how Objectivism implies many virtues--rationality, honesty, independence, justice, integrity, productiveness, and pride. However, Shylock makes the point that Justice is nothing without Mercy or Compassion. What of this case?

 

A couple of points on this.

 

First of all, I would strongly disagree that Shylock represents true justice in The Merchant of Venice.  His whole motivation is a personal grudge against Antonio, and he attempts to use the laws of his time to carry out this vendetta.  The proper counter-point to this sort of behavior is not blanket mercy or compassion, regardless of whether the individual deserves it.  These are just two sides to the same false choice.  The real alternative is true justice, which can include extending mercy and compassion, but only when the individual is deserving.  Rand's own statements concerning compassion express this aspect:

 

I regard compassion as proper only toward those who are innocent victims, but not toward those who are morally guilty. If one feels compassion for the victims of a concentration camp, one cannot feel it for the torturers. If one does feel compassion for the torturers, it is an act of moral treason toward the victims.

Mercy can also be appropriate in certain cases, but this must be determined by the circumstances of the case itself.  For instance, we might be inclined to show mercy in a courtroom for someone's first offense, or if there were mitigating factors, whereas we should not show mercy to an unrepentant violent criminal.  The idea that must be shed is that indiscriminate mercy or compassion, a blanket policy of always turning the other cheek, is the moral ideal.  It is not.

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I'm interested in what Objectivism permits and condemns, independent of one's individual values and preferences, beyond the basic preconditions.

I'm truly not trying to be a pedantic jerk or a grammar Nazi, but who is this person "Objectivism" that you keep referring to?  Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff?  Or the consensus of people participating in this forum?

 

You determine what is right are wrong, and you don't do so "....independent of one's [your] values and preferences, beyond the basic preconditions".  It's nice if we can find people that share common values - but the objectivity of your values is not determined by others.  And your "personal preferences" are not some how existentially less objective, therefore less important, than your position on  taxes or private property. 

 

Objectivism is not a form of Sharia Law or 10 Commandments carved on stone tablets handed down by God.

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"Condemn" may not be the right verb or "Objectivism" the right subject, but Rand's readers know that she would not admire a man who wants such a relationship in the first place or the woman who's inclined to want him in return. She strikes me as an insecure, dependent sort who doesn't trust her own desirability. The situation would never come up between people of good character.

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New Buddha said:

 

Objectivism is not a form of Sharia Law or 10 Commandments carved on stone tablets handed down by God.

 

No, its a careful record of a volitional mind who reproduces the metaphysically given, presented to one by reality...

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