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William O

Evaluating Non-Objectivists Morally

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When I considered moral degrees in that other thread you referred to earlier, I was told there's no middle ground.  For the sake of consistency, I presume you mean here that there are degrees of good or bad, but something that is less bad can never escape being immoral, or considered in the same context to be less good, and therefore still moral.  Likewise, when you said in your last post, "There is a lot more to consider, especially since most people are pro-murder", I presume you actually meant most people are anti-murder.

 

When I refer to the Objectivist Ethics, the following statement suggests (to me) a tipping point (baseline/benchmark) I can agree with:

 

"The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.

 

Since reason is man’s basic means of survival, that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil."

 

What is required for my survival as a volitional being (man qua man) is to be allowed to choose how to live.  I don't require others to live as I choose, and I sure as tootin' wont tolerate others choosing for me.  So again, in the context of the OP, why should I care what someone does with their life so long as the preservation of my life isn't impeded by their choice?  Since you've already provided an answer to that question, I won't be offended if you choose to leave it at that, just perplexed by your use of moral relativism to describe what everyone apparently accepts as moral behavior (boring or otherwise)

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What is required for my survival as a volitional being (man qua man) is to be allowed to choose how to live.  I don't require others to live as I choose, and I sure as tootin' wont tolerate others choosing for me.  So again, in the context of the OP, why should I care what someone does with their life so long as the preservation of my life isn't impeded by their choice? 

Be careful! You're dangerously close to repudiating 'The Golden Rule' here.

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When I considered moral degrees in that other thread you referred to earlier, I was told there's no middle ground.  For the sake of consistency, I presume you mean here that there are degrees of good or bad, but something that is less bad can never escape being immoral, or considered in the same context to be less good, and therefore still moral.  Likewise, when you said in your last post, "There is a lot more to consider, especially since most people are pro-murder", I presume you actually meant most people are anti-murder.

In the other thread, I explicitly said CHARACTER varies by degrees, but SPECIFIC ACTIONS are only good or bad.

 

I'm only objecting to your simplistic view where all you even want to do is judge who violates rights. It's moral relativism to care about that and not really care past that. I'm saying in pretty direct terms that even a rabid Marxist academic may not violate rights, they are still immoral to the degree their errors are probably dishonest. Their presence in your life is probably a negative by not promoting rational thought. It is against your values to keep them in your life - the person impedes your flourishing. My first posts were to qualify exactly what sort of moral judgments one ought to make of others, considering how some people compartmentalize or make errors; a Marxist academic isn't morally equivalent to a murderer, or to Steve Jobs.

 

And yes, regarding pro-murder, I meant to say "aren't".

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In the other thread, I explicitly said CHARACTER varies by degrees, but SPECIFIC ACTIONS are only good or bad.

 

I'm only objecting to your simplistic view where all you even want to do is judge who violates rights. It's moral relativism to care about that and not really care past that. I'm saying in pretty direct terms that even a rabid Marxist academic may not violate rights, they are still immoral to the degree their errors are probably dishonest. Their presence in your life is probably a negative by not promoting rational thought. It is against your values to keep them in your life - the person impedes your flourishing. My first posts were to qualify exactly what sort of moral judgments one ought to make of others, considering how some people compartmentalize or make errors; a Marxist academic isn't morally equivalent to a murderer, or to Steve Jobs.

 

And yes, regarding pro-murder, I meant to say "aren't".

Here at Salamanca U perhaps 90% of the student body of 20,000 define themselves as 'Marxist'.

 

Now being in the tiny minority, i really wouldn't go out and scream 'immoral' at them--or else the'd politely forget to invite me out for tapas and wine, as is the case every night!

 

But more to the point, the dominant 90% has yet to accuse me of 'immorality', despite the fact that my views on Political Philosophy, while having been performed on a master's level, are still rather ambiguous with regards to polemical sides. (Actually, I took a Merlieu-Ponty-esque pov that all sides of present discourse seriously err in their shared frame of reference!).

 

I also feel that accusing your opponent of 'immorality' is a conversation-stopper at best, an ad hominem at worse. Likewise, i believe that your indignation stems from the puritanical background which Hawthorne wrote about in The Scarlet Letter. 

 

In other words, the discursive world is full of Marxists; learn to deal with them on a neutral playing field. 

 

Andie

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Be careful! You're dangerously close to repudiating 'The Golden Rule' here.

 

leven en laten leven ~ Dutch Proverb referred to in Lex Mercatoria, supportive of early attempts to promote intellectual property independent of state regulation via ethical reciprocity

https://www.bookbrowse.com/expressions/detail/index.cfm/expression_number/178/live-and-let-live

 

Don't get me started ;)

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What is required for my survival as a volitional being (man qua man) is to be allowed to choose how to live.  I don't require others to live as I choose, and I sure as tootin' wont tolerate others choosing for me.  So again, in the context of the OP, why should I care what someone does with their life so long as the preservation of my life isn't impeded by their choice?

You may not care about a person who has little impact on your life. Therefore, you may not be bothered to evaluate him. However, whether he is moral or not, is not based only on the impact he has on your life or the life of others. Two people may have just the same impact on the life of others and yet one might be far more moral than the other -- if we ever had the desire to evaluate them. Edited by softwareNerd

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When I ask why should I care about the moral behavior of someone beyond the fact that their existence poses no threat to my life and property, I am looking for some element beyond an appreciation for life and property that would be morally injurious for me to be exposed to. As I have been working my way through this thread I have yet to find one. So long as I remain free to pursue my happiness, what moral danger is there?

 

I suppose it is being argued here that peace and harmony can exist between a moral person and a immoral one, and one risks being tainted by association; or that one may grow to tollerate immorality for the sake of maintaining peace and harmony. But isn't the reverse also true; that a immoral person may become tainted with morality? If my morality isn't strong enough to hold its own against the morality of others, then I have some serious premises to check*.

 

The idea that my morality depends on the morality of others smacks of altruism to me; of a desire to surround myself with moral servants who only cater to what I want to see, hear and feel. I think that's far more injurious to me than associating with others whose morality may, or may not be inferior to my own.  If I discover nothing else of value in the association, I remain free to seek other associations, taking with me a better understanding of what works (and what doesn't).

--

* I arrived at this notion in part, due to listening to Ayn Rand (in Philosophy, Who Needs It),  who encouraged others to examine all philosophies, and by doing so, believed they would lead themselves back to Objectivism.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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I also feel that accusing your opponent of 'immorality' is a conversation-stopper at best, an ad hominem at worse. Likewise, i believe that your indignation stems from the puritanical background which Hawthorne wrote about in The Scarlet Letter.

At least to us around here, immoral also refers to stupid/unwise/rash/unreasoned actions or people, not necessarily great evils. I don't have a great indignation towards Marxist academics, after all, I said people really do compartmentalize sometimes, so I don't know what they do in other parts of their life.

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The idea that my morality depends on the morality of others smacks of altruism to me; of a desire to surround myself with moral servants who only cater to what I want to see, hear and feel. I think that's far more injurious to me than associating with others whose morality may, or may not be inferior to my own.  If I discover nothing else of value in the association, I remain free to seek other associations, taking with me a better understanding of what works (and what doesn't).

I had a longer response, but it got lost somehow. I remember my important sentences, though.

 

If you can discover that a person has no value to you and then seek other people out, aren't you implying there is a "moral danger" to you? Immorality is impotent only if we take no stand against it. You seem to agree. Elsewhere in the thread, I talked about how to evaluate people with opposing beliefs without demanding agreement.

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Remember that I am choosing only associate with individuals that present no clear and present danger.  If a stranger approaches me with a gun, I'm certainly not duty bound to allow him 1st choice whether or not to shoot me.  Turning the other cheek is a choice that follows choosing to place your cheek in striking range.  And you are absolutely right...

 

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke

 

But seeking other people out is what rational/moral traders do, e.g., to be entertailed yes, but more importantly, to have someone to talk to and get feedback from.  The only danger there is hearing something offensive, but perhaps true, or at least worth considering... a value to be evaluated and accepted, or rejected, by choice.

 

I'll look back for you're earlier comments about how to evaluate people with opposing beliefs without demanding agreement... post # ??  I expressed my position in this matter to softwareNerd in post #23.

 

Also, in original post (#11), I suggested that if (by choice) you would improve their lives (moral inferiors), offer them something more productive to pray for (value).  You can't get there by dismissing them out of hand...

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Occam don't you want to know what Oism-Rand says about judging the morality of others instead of what other people who claim to be Oist say?

 

The claim that there is only "what Oism is to me" is an anti-Objectivist position that is unambiguously called subjectivism in the 1976 lectures Dr. Peikoff gave in Ms. Rand's presence... Essential to the premise of objectivity is the notion that humans are all in the same world with the same type of consciousness and unity in agreement is possible via an objective method based on the form of consciousness possessed as a result of their particular identity. Of course this does not remove the responsibility of each human to be first handed in their pursuit of knowledge.

 

Their is an entire lecture by Dr. Peikoff on the topic here:

 

https://estore.aynrand.org/p/99/judging-feeling-and-not-being-moralistic-mp3-download

 

I am listening to it myself currently. I don't yet know when it was recorded and I am personally careful to not take any one else's words as Oism, including Dr. Peikoff, unless she personally sanctioned it while alive. Its an enormously important subject that comes up daily in any Oist life. I do not recommend starting with what others here think is the right method for judging moral culpability.

 

One interesting thing is to consider how Ms. Rand treated others personally while applying her philosophy and how some claim that Oism  counsels one to do so. Don't forget to ask if even her behavior is consistent with her principles either...

 

I have these question in my mind personally while researching this.

 

1). If principle "is a not a matter of degree" can one apply a moral principle to a context that is a matter of degree?

 

2). If "every is implies an ought" and "one cannot separate fact and value", can there be such a thing as amoral evaluations- values?

 

 

Here are some quotes from Ms. Rand on the topic:

 

 

Morality is the province of philosophical judgment, not of psychological diagnosis. Moral judgment must be objective, i.e., based on perceivable, demonstrable facts. A man’s moral character must be judged on the basis of his actions, his statements and his conscious convictions—not on the basis of inferences (usually, spurious) about his subconscious.

A man is not to be condemned or excused on the grounds of the state of his subconscious. His psychological problems are his private concern which is not to be paraded in public and not to be made a burden on innocent victims or a hunting ground for poaching psychologizers. Morality demands that one treat and judge men as responsible adults.

This means that one grants a man the respect of assuming that he is conscious of what he says and does, and one judges his statements and actions philosophically, i.e., as what they are—not psychologically, i.e., as leads or clues to some secret, hidden, unconscious meaning. One neither speaks nor listens to people in code.(......)

The precept: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” . . . is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.

There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.

The moral principle to adopt in this issue, is: “Judge, and be prepared to be judged.”

The opposite of moral neutrality is not a blind, arbitrary, self-righteous condemnation of any idea, action or person that does not fit one’s mood, one’s memorized slogans or one’s snap judgment of the moment. Indiscriminate tolerance and indiscriminate condemnation are not two opposites: they are two variants of the same evasion. To declare that “everybody is white” or “everybody is black” or “everybody is neither white nor black, but gray,” is not a moral judgment, but an escape from the responsibility of moral judgment.

To judge means: to evaluate a given concrete by reference to an abstract principle or standard. It is not an easy task; it is not a task that can be performed automatically by one’s feelings, “instincts” or hunches. It is a task that requires the most precise, the most exacting, the most ruthlessly objective and rational process of thought. It is fairly easy to grasp abstract moral principles; it can be very difficult to apply them to a given situation, particularly when it involves the moral character of another person. When one pronounces moral judgment, whether in praise or in blame, one must be prepared to answer “Why?” and to prove one’s case—to oneself and to any rational inquirer.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/moral_judgment.html

Edited by Plasmatic

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"You can't get there by dismissing them out of hand..."

I never said to dismiss someone out of hand anyway, that is rarely rational if ever. By saying someone has done something immoral, I'm not always advocating avoiding all interaction, and I'm not saying I can't be in error. It does, however, mean using moral judgment as a measure to determine what value they have to offer. Unfortunately, for some people, making a moral judgment against someone is so infused with anger that it is hardly rational. To me, it only -has- to be saying "it's a stupid idea to do that". It varies though.

post # 2, 5, and 25 address ways to consider exactly what impact a person has on you. Keep in mind that immoral actions indirectly harm values of yours insofar as the person is in your life and is connected to at least a few values, so it's a lot to do with attaining value without promoting vice.

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Occam don't you want to know what Oism-Rand says about judging the morality of others instead of what other people who claim to be Oist say?

 

Very good post, Plasmatic, thanks. I asked for people's views here because I had already arrived at a conclusion about how to judge non-Objectivists on the basis of my observations and my knowledge of Objectivism, and I wanted to see if the people here had any additional thoughts to add. I have already read quite a bit of Rand's work.

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...

 

Keep in mind that immoral actions indirectly harm values of yours insofar as the person is in your life and is connected to at least a few values...

 

Indirect points back to the risk of being tainted by another's immorality, or tolerating immorality.  But again, I think that's a shared risk where the moral individual has the upper hand.  I don't think of moral value as a zero sum game, so I can share mine without the risk of diminishing them.

 

...  so it's a lot to do with attaining value without promoting vice.

 

Amen

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Occam don't you want to know what Oism-Rand says about judging the morality of others instead of what other people who claim to be Oist say?

...

 

 

I appreciate the reference to William Occam (William O's avatar?).  His razor is a useful tool in tis forum, even if he (like Aquinas) played for the other team.

 

2) So long as the ought doesn't contradict the is, the evaluation of a deliberate action yields a moral preference.

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In theory, if someone has not and will not initiate force against me, they are to be tolerated. The problem is identifying "threat". A lot of psychology and past experience involved in judging threat. But that should be the main arbiter of tolerance.

No matter what their philosophy, I can't act harmfully against them based on any negative judgment I have toward them. It is to my interest because I want the respect myself.

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