Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Rubal Sher

How does Objectivism handle public interactions

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I am new to Objectivism, so please go easy on me. I get the gist of the theory and agree with the concepts.
My question is about how are public interactions handled under this theory. Let me give a few examples.

1) I set up a machine that vents potentially harmful air as a by-product, which let us say only affects a subset of my neighbors adversely. Some are immune to it and some maybe not. Do I have any responsibility whatsoever or not? If yes, who judges or regulates the issue and how does the line get drawn?

2) I go to a library totally naked or maybe covered in a burkha (Islamic clothing that covers the entire body including the face). Are both acceptable? If a distinction has to be drawn, again who adjudicates and on what basis?

3) I send my kids to a school that teaches some flavor of religion. If I was an atheist or disagreed with the particular flavor of religion, what recourse do I have?

To reiterate, I am a newbie and maybe the questions I am asking are phrased incoherently or incorrectly, but I would like to essentially discuss what defines the rules of engagement in a public sphere, given that we cannot lock ourselves up on our personal property forever. The issues could be cultural, environmental, religious, etc where it is particularly not clear how wide my fist is and how far your nose is. 

Thanks for your time and I would appreciate your responses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the objectivist view, conflict over the use of goods is solved by adherence to strict private property rights. The function of government is to organize a body of law based on that principle. 

1. Pollution is the export of harmful particles onto someone else's physical body or property. Just as if I came and dumped my garbage on your lawn, if I am exporting harmful air onto your property I can be made to stop via a legal injunction, and sued for the damages. Indeed, historically this was the legal tradition, the problems involving pollution have been caused by the governments failure to live up to this role and to allow certain producers to export pollution in the name of the "public good." 

2 and 3. Again, in a free society people will always have conflicting values. Differing opinions regarding the use of scarce resources is part of human nature. I want to do this on some property, you want to do that, who decides? Private property rights involves a kind of meta-ethical space in which people can seek their interests without coming into physical confrontation.

In a market economy, individual choices and tastes prevail. Not all members of society will approve of the choices of others. But, by and large, the mass of the consumer choices will determine the way in which resources are used. 

Ifa library or retail store started allowing dress (or non-dress) far out of line with cultural value systems of the mainstream, consumers will be quick to express dissatisfaction with these management decisions. 

Same in education services. Some prefer Catholic schools, creationism, others a liberal arts education, or progressive education. Who decides what the schools should do? There is not one monopoly decision. Parents, as consumers, decide with their money, and the owners pay the price of their decision in terms of profit or loss.

That is the beauty of the market system, when there is not one single monopoly decision. Let a million different flowers bloom, as the Maoists say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@2046

Thank you for your response. Your reply to #2 and #3 is lucid and well understood but let me try and pick up on a nuance and what I was trying to really get at. Imagine a piece of land not owned by anyone. First of all, I am assuming that is possible. I might have even said take a park for example not owned by anyone (if that is possible). Let us say people from all age groups and cultures visits this park. Is it ok for me to strip naked in such a park? Essentially the question is what if there is no owner who will have to pay a price for my actions in a given space. If the argument is that the park will always be owned by someone, then we can move back to a piece of land far outside of civilization and let us say I am littering or poisoning the land in some manner. Does the Objectivist viewpoint endorse running amok as long as an owner of the meta-ethical space prevents you from doing so? Do I get to run naked in a park visited by kids and nuns just because it has no owner.

With regard to #1, who gets to choose whether smoke/perceived pollution is harmful or not. Take the case of cigarette smoking for example. A 100 years ago, we did not have the science to tell us that passive smoking was injurious but today we know it is. It is also possible there was a time in between when people advocated it to be harmful without having solid proof. And passive smoking is one of the easier ones to handle. Pollution the way I see it has more complex issues like climate change, global warming etc on which we are still sharply divided. So in the current scientific climate and in an Objectivist world, how does one decide on which side of the debate we are on with respect to climate change? How many factories we should run, how many vehicles we should have, how much energy we can use, etc with respect to let us say climate change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Running naked through the park:

Yes you've identified a crucial problem with "public property," that is, property that has no clear owner, there is no way to regulate conflicts regarding its use without resort to arbitrary solutions. Now, Rand describes a free society in which all property is privately owned. But let's make an allowance here for some sort of land as you stipulate.

Private property has its foundations in the Lockean homesteading principle, that which is unowned and I mix my labor with becomes my private property. Note that this doesn't mean all property has one single individual owner, that would be the fallacy of composition. There are of course "group owned" properties and corporate entities allow for a legal method to deal with this.

Legal doctrine has traditionally allowed for some sort of "commons" area or such associated with small towns or villages. A village is built, and there is a small space in the center reserved as a "town square" that people agree is available for general use. Or consider a fishing village near a lake, in the early days of the community it was hard to get to the lake because of all the brush and debris, but the path was slowly cleared over the years and not by any one single effort, but by the combined effort of walking through the path over time. I think there's also records in England of private roads that were built during the 19th Century and then donated to public use (the builders had businesses alongside.)

So there's a public space in each of these, but what is the sense in which it is "public?" Surely it isn't truly "unowned," the village or townsfolk own it. And surely it isn't "government owned," or "owned collectively by the human race" or some such nonsense. It would simply be corporately owned by the actual village and they can set the community standards for their space. Surely I, as an outsider, cannot just come to their square or path and block it off for my own personal use, nor can I start streaking. As to how they go about decision making? They can vote, they can set up a board, they can have meetings, they can take disputes to arbitrators, they can form a homeowners association. They can leave rules real loose, or they can really get down and dirty and decide who the real owners are: Sam, he didn't really clear any brush, and Jones, he was lifting fallen branches every day, Sam gets a single share, but Jones gets a 20% share, whatever. You get the point.

On the last point, pollution: certainly you have to provide proof of harm. And certainly our understanding of what is harmful changes over time. That's why issues are solved through tort law, not legislative law. This specific person harmed this specific person. And multiply it many times for class action suit, even for hypothetical massive cases. Objectivists accordingly view these issues like climate change as scientific issues, not political ones. One looks at scientific evidence, in a court of law, and if the plaintiff proves their case, then the court stops the pollution. Environmental crusaders are always looking for problems to solve, instead of becoming lobbyists and trying to buy influence from politicians, their efforts would be better served in a more Randian society as litigators for the aggrieved. But what Rand was truly opposed to was the ones that claim humanity must subordinate itself to instrinsic value of nature, or that civilization's progress must be stopped. 

Edited by 2046

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/10/2018 at 7:41 PM, softwareNerd said:

There are a couple of old threads that discuss the topic of public nudity in quite some depth. They also have references to Rand's writing and commentary on what she meant/did not mean, etc. 

Thanks a ton. There is so much material related to the questions I had and it is very helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@2046

Thank you for the detailed reply. I went through a couple of old threads and it was an eye opener.

I am still thinking on where I stand but I have been drawn to the Objectivism in recent times and here are some of the reasons why:

  • Bloated governments: I think smaller or no government is the best way to human progress, combined with free markets of course.
  • Individual rights: I am from India and even though it is broadly a secular and tolerant society, individual rights get trampled by a majority voice in many areas. So for example, I love eating beef, but it is banned in most parts because the cow is considered as a sacred animal by a large majority of the population.
  • Free speech: India has the right to freedom in its Constitution but free speech is getting more and more regulated under the guise of hate speech laws. Religion and government at times use these laws to curb or discourage free speech.
  • Religion run amok: India has seen a rise in Islamic terrorism and the country is virtually paralyzed in dealing with it effectively and even preventing the spread of extremist views and followers. With a population of a billion plus, India is a rife playground for Hinduism, Christianity and Islam to exert as much influence as they can and this is bringing the nation down.
  • Taking offense: I hear of safe spaces and trigger warnings in the US and the perceived psychological aggression that is getting shut down in the name of taking offense. Indian society may not have safe spaces yet but we have been on the same path for way longer. If this continues unabated, it poses a serious risk to our overall freedom and rights.

Now that I am here and still ruminating in my head, here are some thoughts on where I am at.

  1. Objectivism: I see there are varying interpretations/conclusions and the dust has not settled yet on the finer points/thorny issues. On such issues, I would go back to the meaning of the word Objective. It stands for not being influenced by emotion, representing facts and is likely to be a constant over time and space. For example, 1 + 1 = 2 and it was the same 10,000 years back as well. It is the same in India, Iran and USA. It doesn't change whether a person is emotionally distraught or not. So, if your line of reasoning changes over time and place, it cannot be an Objectivist solution. For example, having sex 10,000 years ago on your property with a neighbor watching was perfectly acceptable and nobody felt queasy about it. Fast forward to today and I see many advocating it not to be acceptable in an Objectivist world on the grounds of nuisance or queasiness. Since the behavior has obviously changed over time, I don't believe this line of reasoning to be Objective at all and consider it Subjective. Same goes for nudity or wearing of a burqa. Nudity is quite welcome still in parts of the world where aborigines live and burqa is very much prevalent in Islamic countries as a norm. If the Objectivist view allows for prevalent local norms as an excuse, then we would have a different Objectivist law in different parts of the world, and to me, this goes against the very idea of Objectivism. As an Objectivist, I should be able to go to any part of the world and know exactly what I could or could not do.
  2. Sounds, smells & discomforting Visual imagery: How then, does one deal with rotting carcasses, Nazi symbols, 140 dB sounds, etc in my neighborhood. Step back 10,000 years when humans lived in the open. Maybe I was uncomfortable having sex with others watching or taking a shit in the open. What happened since? Technology happened. Humans learned how to build houses and toilets. Now I can have sex and take a shit in comfort. Apply the same logic to 140 dB sounds. If we let people blast sounds at such levels without putting them in jail, I can bet technology driven by demand in no time will provide us with a solution so that my property will be able to filter out all sounds greater than a certain dB level. Because we let the government regulate sounds, nobody has had the incentive to build such a device. Once the regulation is taken off and certain people wish not to be annoyed, technology combined with markets shall provide the solutions. It wont happen in one day, but the Objectivist world is not a solution to our problems, but a way of life. Same applies to smells and imagery that can easily be tuned out by technology in the future, if we create a market for it.
  3. Force and Harm: I see a debate going on about what constitutes force. To me force should be restricted to the use of physical force. Any other means that include perceptions interpreted as force can be easily taken care of by future technology by blocking out the perceptions as needed. In my Objectivist world, the onus should never be on me to explain any action that I commit on my property or actions on other's property that they allow. As such, if I am harming the environment by running a factory that produces greenhouse gases, the onus is not on me to do anything about it. The moment you regulate the levels of greenhouse gases I produce considered as harmful, not only would it go against free market principles whereby I would have to add more cost, but it could also go against my self interest which is one of the cornerstones of Objectivism.

Which brings me to my final point, Self Interest. Most humans already have self interest as a topmost priority and the reason I gravitated towards Objectivism is because it advocates self interest unabashedly. Self Interest means different things to different people. To me it could mean having sex in the open on my property or playing music at 140 dB or wearing a burqa. Nobody has the right to tell me or force me not to pursue my self interest and if someone finds it in conflict, he needs to innovate to survive. Kind of goes down well with Darwin too and should be a good motivator for vast and quick developments in technology which will eventually help mankind.

An individual and his property trumps everything. The moment something gets higher precedence than the individual or his property, we open ourselves up to the kind of society we are living in today and it is not Objective at all. As of today, the politicians in cahoots with big business and religion for the most part have fine tuned the system to work quite well towards their self interests at the cost of the majority of the remaining population. When Iran advocates burqa for all women, make no mistake, the rulers of Iran see propagating Islam in their self interest and that is why they subjugate hapless women. If we want to break free from the tyranny of a few driven by their self interest alone, we will have to replace it with individual Life, Liberty & Property as non-negotiable facets under any situation. 

I hope I have opened myself up to debate and would welcome opinions to shoot me down. I am pretty sure a lot of this has been discussed in older threads, but I needed to have a say and those threads seemed dormant. If there is a parallel thread right now where this is being discussed, I would be more than happy to take this there. And more than anything, I am open to all sorts of ideas and may even change my thought process as we go along. And lastly, I am still a noob, so please go easy, if you can :worry:

Thank you for your time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Culture and liberty: 

It is true that there is a close link between culture and liberty. The legal institutions of a free society cannot be imposed from above without regard to pre existing cultural norms. 

Objectivism is very cultural universalist in which it definitely believes a general liberal and enlightened Western cultural ground is necessary for long term liberty to grow. This is what separates it apart from other theories of liberty. I think Rand may have been a little narrow in terms of what cultural ideals she thought were objective (Beethoven being malevolent for example), but a general egoistic cultural bedrock certainly makes sense. Objectivists tend to like the ancient Greeks for example, and they were pretty liberal with public nudity...

It is important though not to mistake objectivism for intrinsicism. There is not one single culture that's valuable for every single place and time, that wouldn't make sense. Maybe cultural practices are "optional values" many are valid only for certain times, some are just plain made up traditions, but hey, doesn't mean they're bad or wrong.

2. Nuisance law: 

Export of noxious fumes, dust, particles, light, vibrations, noise, etc. definitely can constitute trespass and invasive interference. If I'm pumping a high decibel noise onto your property I am exporting noise-aggression, just as much as if I dumped my garbage into your bedroom myself, and can be enjoined. Damages can call for further liability.

3. Regulation vs civil law:

Libertarians and objectivists often talk about what kind of law they want to see, but less attention is paid to the form in which the law system is organised. Rand seemed to be okay with a legislative body writing the Constitution and debating big picture issues, but seemed to favor tort law and a decentralized legal system for actual enforcement. 

One shouldn't blithely assume all law must proceed from a legislative body, as people like Mises and Hayek showed that without decentralized feedback mechanisms, economic calculation is impossible. Their criticisms apply equally to a legislature attempting to centrally plan the laws of a society. The widely dispersed, decentralized nature of information makes it impossible for a legislature to know the details of every legal situation. Objective judicial review denies the "prior restraint" theory of law inherent in legislative regulation. 

Only the civil or tort system is constant with objective law, with its judges, juries, arbitrators pursuing charges of torts by plaintiffs made against defendants. It is in this manner that these decentralized "law finding" systems, like the common law and Roman civil law evolved as jurists discovered legal principles applicable to specific factual situations while building upon previous decisions over time. It is this way that we reject "regulation," in the sense of centralized regulatory law, but support "regulation" in the sense of application of generally accepted and known legal principles applicable to the specifics of a given case.

4. Self-interest: 

There's a lot of different points in here, I'll just touch on one that sticks out to me. I'm not sure if most humans do have self interest as a top priority, not in the full sense used by objectivism. There is a sense in which all people are pursuing ends, all behavior is motivated behavior, but are those ends that are actually consonant with a long term full, flourishing life? I'm not sure about that, maybe on a basic level, but are they really pursuing excellence and self actualization? I think only the exceptional reach this.

But anyways, the point here that self interest is prescriptive, not descriptive. The fact that we think something is in our self interest can't make it so, we know we have been wrong before. Nor is it just because you want something. You have to actually find out what is good for your long range well being, and this is quite difficult. Prescriptive vs descriptive.

5. Principles: 

Just a final conclusion to everything in general, it is important to think in terms of principles. You can't hold all of the facts in your mind at once, you have to have principles to guide you through your intellectual journey. It's important not to fall into the "blueprint" fallacy, that is the demand to blueprint every single detail of how this or that law or this or that industry would work. 

Whenyou think in terms of principles it makes it way easier to delve into a philosophy. I don't know "who will build the roads" or how every single detail of the medical industry would work, for example, but I know that there's a contradiction between individual rights and free markets on the one hand and socialized medicine and government monopolized infrastructure. "I have no idea how it would work" I tell myself, so I'll continue to think on it, research it, look at historical cases, read some literature on it, for example. Just know that it's not going to come all at once, it's a process. 

As RE Howard has Conan the barbarian say in one of his books, "trust not men. But steel, trust in this," (something like that.) The point, don't hold to people, organizations, or personalities, hold to principles. 

Anyways here's some supplemental reading material for you:

Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist

https://books.google.com/books?id=G8f9f_QOXegC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

Objectivism In One Lesson: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ayn Rand

Andrew Bernstein

University Press of America, Sep 12, 2008 - Philosophy - 127 pages

https://books.google.com/books/about/Objectivism_In_One_Lesson.html?id=hF261sdsB-UC

Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution

Murray N. Rothbard

This article was originally published in the Cato Journal 2, No. 1 (Spring 1982): pp. 55-99. 

https://mises.org/library/law-property-rights-and-air-pollution

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Rubal Sher said:

@2046

 

Which brings me to my final point, Self Interest. Most humans already have self interest as a topmost priority and the reason I gravitated towards Objectivism is because it advocates self interest unabashedly. Self Interest means different things to different people. To me it could mean having sex in the open on my property or playing music at 140 dB or wearing a burqa. Nobody has the right to tell me or force me not to pursue my self interest and if someone finds it in conflict, he needs to innovate to survive. Kind of goes down well with Darwin too and should be a good motivator for vast and quick developments in technology which will eventually help mankind.

An individual and his property trumps everything. The moment something gets higher precedence than the individual or his property, we open ourselves up to the kind of society we are living in today and it is not Objective at all. As of today, the politicians in cahoots with big business and religion for the most part have fine tuned the system to work quite well towards their self interests at the cost of the majority of the remaining population. When Iran advocates burqa for all women, make no mistake, the rulers of Iran see propagating Islam in their self interest and that is why they subjugate hapless women. If we want to break free from the tyranny of a few driven by their self interest alone, we will have to replace it with individual Life, Liberty & Property as non-negotiable facets under any situation. 

 

Rubal Sher,

First, welcome to the forum. It's very encouraging the know that Objectivism is gaining interest internationally. Your preceding post covers many topics indeed. I only wish to comment on your interpretation of "self interest" where it relates to government. Ideally, government would hold the monopoly on force, and exert force in the protection of the rights of the individual. Whether theological or ideological, any political system runs the risk of gravitating toward tyranny without the protection of individual rights. The people, or even the ideas that govern society, are not individuals, as they are acting in the interest of society, and not their own interest. While it is true that some people enter public life in democratic systems with the claim that they champion the rights of "the people" and in fact they only wish to gain unearned wealth through a corrupt institution, many in government truly believe they are acting without self interest, rather they believe that it is for the benefit of the people that they force women to wear burqsa and men wear beards and all of the other traditional tyranny. These men in government, whether they govern in the West or the East, lack any legitimate purpose by Objectivist standards; they are living for control over others, and measure their success by the impression they make on others, or for that matter, their impression on history. As I see it, Adolph Hitler truly believed in his mission to lead the Germanic race to "greatness," and vanquish any threat to his cause. Even in the United States, we have politicians that truly believe that they are doing the American people a favor by destroying freedom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Repairman said:

Rubal Sher,

First, welcome to the forum. It's very encouraging the know that Objectivism is gaining interest internationally. Your preceding post covers many topics indeed. I only wish to comment on your interpretation of "self interest" where it relates to government. Ideally, government would hold the monopoly on force, and exert force in the protection of the rights of the individual. Whether theological or ideological, any political system runs the risk of gravitating toward tyranny without the protection of individual rights. The people, or even the ideas that govern society, are not individuals, as they are acting in the interest of society, and not their own interest. While it is true that some people enter public life in democratic systems with the claim that they champion the rights of "the people" and in fact they only wish to gain unearned wealth through a corrupt institution, many in government truly believe they are acting without self interest, rather they believe that it is for the benefit of the people that they force women to wear burqsa and men wear beards and all of the other traditional tyranny. These men in government, whether they govern in the West or the East, lack any legitimate purpose by Objectivist standards; they are living for control over others, and measure their success by the impression they make on others, or for that matter, their impression on history. As I see it, Adolph Hitler truly believed in his mission to lead the Germanic race to "greatness," and vanquish any threat to his cause. Even in the United States, we have politicians that truly believe that they are doing the American people a favor by destroying freedom.

Yes I do understand that not all politicians have crooked intentions but it varies from country to country. The politicians in India are almost universally crooked whereas it may be less so maybe in the US. The need to be crooked in modern politics arises from the amount of money it takes to get elected. Nobody gave billions of dollars to Hillary for charity (not picking on her but she is an easy example to understand) unless they expected returns, which are usually at the cost of the general public. In either case, the end result as you said is the same and we can agree on that.
On the subject of the spread of Objectivism, I am the only guy I know who is remotely close in trying to understand this philosophy out here. I am sure there will be others but the majority of the billion plus population have so far only gone on to realize the perils of governance and mostly seem confused about how to solve it. I tried getting across my point to the enlightened few out here about smaller governments and it is very hard to try and make them grasp the concept even though they are highly educated. Maybe they are being realistic and understand that no such change will happen in our lifetimes but for me it is more about making peace with my inner voice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@2046

Quote

1. Culture and liberty: 

It is true that there is a close link between culture and liberty. The legal institutions of a free society cannot be imposed from above without regard to pre existing cultural norms

Objectivism is very cultural universalist in which it definitely believes a general liberal and enlightened Western cultural ground is necessary for long term liberty to grow. This is what separates it apart from other theories of liberty.

Are you suggesting that in an Objectivist world, prevailing culture supersedes individual freedom. For example, would I have to ask my women to wear a burqa in an Objectivist world where Islam is the predominant faith over centuries and highly regarded?

Or are you saying that current Western values take precedence in all Objectivist worlds? So my women should be fine wearing a bikini in an Islamic Objectivist world but Muslim women cannot wear a burqa in their own land.

From the majority of the posts I have read, it is clear that most of the contributions are from people with a Western upbringing who understand some smattering of Islam now. What I did not see for the most part is let us say the understanding of culture and ethos that is prevalent in India and the rest of the world. It does not only boil down to a burqa vs a bikini but there are infinite variations of culture that many are even unaware of. For example, as I said earlier, eating beef is highly frowned upon in India and India is the only country with such rigid ethos on beef consumption. So, would a Westerner be asked to give up eating beef in an Objectivist India?

If this is thrust, then I am afraid there is no Objectivity here. It is the same old stuff packaged in a new bottle and smacks of subjectivity, not otherwise.

Quote

2. Nuisance law: 

Export of noxious fumes, dust, particles, light, vibrations, noise, etc. definitely can constitute trespass and invasive interference.

Cars emit noxious fumes. Why haven't we banned them yet under this interpretation? Somewhere in the future, we will have a device that measures gravitational pull between two objects and fat men will be shown to trespass on leaner folks. There is no end to trespass and the current day regulations in all spheres of life are stemming from interpretations of trespass. I was hoping that Objectivism will do away with taking offense under the guise of nuisance but I don't see any difference at all.

Quote

It is this way that we reject "regulation," in the sense of centralized regulatory law, but support "regulation" in the sense of application of generally accepted and known legal principles applicable to the specifics of a given case.

I honestly did not understand the difference, more of the same sounds more like it. The current centralized regulations did not appear from thin air. They did come in the form of some feedback from the lowest levels and in part based on generally accepted and known principles.

I was hoping that Objectivism does away with legal messes that are costly and time consuming in a simple manner by upholding the rights and self interest of every individual in any given circumstance. So I could be naked or burning greenhouse gases or emitting X-rays and it was up to those affected to figure out a fix for themselves. Practically, if someone was being a genuine nuisance, you could not take him to court but he could be denied access to the private road in front of his house by a collective approach. It already happens in the modern world where neo-Nazis or hate preaching Muslim imams are shunned by the majority of the population without taking them to court. Isolation, rather than illegality is the answer in my opinion combined with technology that should help.

Quote

4. Self-interest:

5. Principles:

Agree with you on these.

And thanks a lot for the links as well.

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Rubal Sher said:

@2046

Are you suggesting that in an Objectivist world, prevailing culture supersedes individual freedom. For example, would I have to ask my women to wear a burqa in an Objectivist world where Islam is the predominant faith over centuries and highly regarded?

Or are you saying that current Western values take precedence in all Objectivist worlds? So my women should be fine wearing a bikini in an Islamic Objectivist world but Muslim women cannot wear a burqa in their own land.

From the majority of the posts I have read, it is clear that most of the contributions are from people with a Western upbringing who understand some smattering of Islam now. What I did not see for the most part is let us say the understanding of culture and ethos that is prevalent in India and the rest of the world. It does not only boil down to a burqa vs a bikini but there are infinite variations of culture that many are even unaware of. For example, as I said earlier, eating beef is highly frowned upon in India and India is the only country with such rigid ethos on beef consumption. So, would a Westerner be asked to give up eating beef in an Objectivist India?

If this is thrust, then I am afraid there is no Objectivity here. It is the same old stuff packaged in a new bottle and smacks of subjectivity, not otherwise.

Cars emit noxious fumes. Why haven't we banned them yet under this interpretation? Somewhere in the future, we will have a device that measures gravitational pull between two objects and fat men will be shown to trespass on leaner folks. There is no end to trespass and the current day regulations in all spheres of life are stemming from interpretations of trespass. I was hoping that Objectivism will do away with taking offense under the guise of nuisance but I don't see any difference at all.

I honestly did not understand the difference, more of the same sounds more like it. The current centralized regulations did not appear from thin air. They did come in the form of some feedback from the lowest levels and in part based on generally accepted and known principles.

I was hoping that Objectivism does away with legal messes that are costly and time consuming in a simple manner by upholding the rights and self interest of every individual in any given circumstance. So I could be naked or burning greenhouse gases or emitting X-rays and it was up to those affected to figure out a fix for themselves. Practically, if someone was being a genuine nuisance, you could not take him to court but he could be denied access to the private road in front of his house by a collective approach. It already happens in the modern world where neo-Nazis or hate preaching Muslim imams are shunned by the majority of the population without taking them to court. Isolation, rather than illegality is the answer in my opinion combined with technology that should help.

Agree with you on these.

And thanks a lot for the links as well.

Cheers!

1. Culture: No, it means culture and legal systems are not unidirectional. And all current "Western" values, certainly not. The US neoconservatives thought they could turn Iraq into a liberal democracy by giving them the ability to vote, for example. Politics is a consequence of a larger philosophical and cultural mileu. Change the culture if you want to change the system. E.g. address the widespread mysticism of reincarnation if you want to eat a nice sirloin.

2. I'll do you a better one, radio waves are constantly moving through our bodies night and day, why haven't we banned all radio stations? Again, you have to objectively prove harm to your property and a specific source(s) of it (i.e. not just "cars" in general.) 

3. If you are actually harming someone, as in their physical body or property, then yes, you should be made to stop. That is the point of individual rights. Harming their feelings, yes they should get over it. Only force can be met with force. Forget the legal issues, stick with understanding the issue of property rights. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fully Objectivist India is one where the vast majority of people are Objectivists. In that India, there is little chance that a Westerner would be asked to give up eating beef, pork, wolves, onions or lettuce. Any Objectivist may have their own rational reasons to dislike beef, wolf or lettuce, but they would not ask you to live your life according to their values. There may be a few irrational individuals in a predominantly Objectivist society who will attempt to persuade you to live your life by their value system, but as an Objectivist, you would not sacrifice your own values for the sake of others. So yes, there is a slim chance that you would be asked to do so, but you can ignore the request. If for some reason a relationship with one of the non-Objectivist people becomes important to you, and that person is offended by you eating beef or onions, then you have to decide which is more important to you. Indeed, this is the ultimate concretization of the concept hierarchy of values: you discover that hierarchy by understanding which thing you will give up to keep the other, if you cannot have both.

Before Fully Objectivist India comes into existence, Politically Objectivist India will have to come into existence, where enough people adhere to Objectivism that the laws of current India can be changed. You should expect a significant number of cow-protectors trying to persuade you to follow their practices, but again, it will be legal. There are numerous transitional political states between India as it is, and Politically Objectivist India, the most salient of which is Secular India, where law does not enforce religious doctrine. None of this will take place until there are more individuals in India.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, 2046 said:

1. Culture: No, it means culture and legal systems are not unidirectional. And all current "Western" values, certainly not. The US neoconservatives thought they could turn Iraq into a liberal democracy by giving them the ability to vote, for example. Politics is a consequence of a larger philosophical and cultural mileu. Change the culture if you want to change the system. E.g. address the widespread mysticism of reincarnation if you want to eat a nice sirloin.

2. I'll do you a better one, radio waves are constantly moving through our bodies night and day, why haven't we banned all radio stations? Again, you have to objectively prove harm to your property and a specific source(s) of it (i.e. not just "cars" in general.) 

3. If you are actually harming someone, as in their physical body or property, then yes, you should be made to stop. That is the point of individual rights. Harming their feelings, yes they should get over it. Only force can be met with force. Forget the legal issues, stick with understanding the issue of property rights. 

 

I really dont see what the difference is then between Objectivism and the current system? The one difference I can tell is that we get rid of governments and privatize everything. This has been espoused by economists like Milton Friedman without having to touch Objectivism. It is not going to stop women being forced to wear a burqa outside their homes or for me not being allowed to have a barbecue on my lawn (coz I am cooking beef) and if the latest trends in US colleges is anything to go by, I have to monitor my speech so as not to hurt feelings and so on. You are choosing to define force today that does not include feelings but I can easily see how feelings will get clubbed by the next generation as a means of force.

The problem I have with this line of reasoning and the current system is that it works well for those who conform. People like me who like to think and do things differently are always up against a challenge and in most cases, the system and the regulations are so designed so as to even discourage alternate lines of thought and action.

I am just confused. Maybe I am looking for a more radical solution than Objectivism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, DavidOdden said:

Fully Objectivist India is one where the vast majority of people are Objectivists. In that India, there is little chance that a Westerner would be asked to give up eating beef, pork, wolves, onions or lettuce. Any Objectivist may have their own rational reasons to dislike beef, wolf or lettuce, but they would not ask you to live your life according to their values. There may be a few irrational individuals in a predominantly Objectivist society who will attempt to persuade you to live your life by their value system, but as an Objectivist, you would not sacrifice your own values for the sake of others. So yes, there is a slim chance that you would be asked to do so, but you can ignore the request. If for some reason a relationship with one of the non-Objectivist people becomes important to you, and that person is offended by you eating beef or onions, then you have to decide which is more important to you. Indeed, this is the ultimate concretization of the concept hierarchy of values: you discover that hierarchy by understanding which thing you will give up to keep the other, if you cannot have both.

I think I was told the opposite of what you are telling me. My question pertained to what I could do let us say in my front lawn visible to all my neighbors. In this regard, I was told that I cannot barbecue beef on my front lawn because it is seen as an initiation of force by me onto their visual and olfactory senses thereby creating a nuisance which is not legally allowed in an Objectivist India but will be allowed in an Objectivist US.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think what you’re trying to do (and shouldn’t), is accept the contradiction of an Objectivist society that has very few Objectivists. The only valid objection to a barbecue is the pollution / trespass objection, and that isn’t just about beef, it also includes barbecued mullet. At some point, the level of smoke output from a barbecue can be objectively obnoxious, an assault on anyone’s senses: so don’t do that. This is the same fact in the US and in India, and is not changed by whether the thing being grilled is a cow, a fish, or an onion. So the consideration is not whether some individual happens to irrationally take offense, it is whether a reasonable person would be offended by this technical trespass. So to paraphrase my earlier post, you’re not asking about Fully Objectivist India, because Hinduism in Fully Objectivist India is about like Yazidism in the US – nearly non-existent – and without Hinduism (et al.), there is no special nuisance value to barbecued beef.

You seem to be asking about Semi-Objectivist India, where possession of beef is no longer a crime, but most people subscribe to a cow-protecting religion (let us suppose that somehow there is an epiphany that the government should not enforce religious ideologies). Unfortunately, we both suffer from the vagarities of our common law heritage, so even if an act is no longer a crime, it might be seen as actionable as vaguely “causing harm”, where one neighbor sues the other, which is where it’s plausible that a person could get sued for beef barbecue in India, where that would not happen in the US. The remedy is to sharpen up legal concepts, shifting from “many people in this particular society would be offended” to ___ and I leave that as the matter that needs discussion. The Public Nudity thread was an attempt to say what ought to be in the blank. Roughly speaking, the question is, what is objectively offensive?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Rubal Sher said:

I really dont see what the difference is then between Objectivism and the current system? The one difference I can tell is that we get rid of governments and privatize everything. This has been espoused by economists like Milton Friedman without having to touch Objectivism. It is not going to stop women being forced to wear a burqa outside their homes or for me not being allowed to have a barbecue on my lawn (coz I am cooking beef) and if the latest trends in US colleges is anything to go by, I have to monitor my speech so as not to hurt feelings and so on. You are choosing to define force today that does not include feelings but I can easily see how feelings will get clubbed by the next generation as a means of force.

The problem I have with this line of reasoning and the current system is that it works well for those who conform. People like me who like to think and do things differently are always up against a challenge and in most cases, the system and the regulations are so designed so as to even discourage alternate lines of thought and action.

I am just confused. Maybe I am looking for a more radical solution than Objectivism.

Force versus freedom. Look to understand this difference.

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

The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. No man—or group or society or government—has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man. Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. The ethical principle involved is simple and clear-cut: it is the difference between murder and self-defense. A holdup man seeks to gain a value, wealth, by killing his victim; the victim does not grow richer by killing a holdup man. The principle is: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the current system, we have criminal laws which punish certain acts, and civil law which allows a person to recover damage inflicted on them by another. This will also be true in an Objectivist government. This is distinct from anarchism where we abolish government and privatize everything. The sorry consequences of that have been discussed amply here, but just to give you an apt example, under an anarchist non-regime, there are no laws or governments, so your neighbors get to make up a rule that wearing a burqa is an offense, or eating meat is an offense. You are free to move to a different neighborhood, although you may need permission from your neighbors (because there is no uniform rule of law under anarchy).

The difference between the present and future natures of wrongs in the two societies lies in what acts are wrongs. In an Objectivist society, only a small subset of current wrongs would remain wrongs. Although the concept of initiation of force is central to the Objectivist theory of law especially in defining criminal law, it is not the whole story. Accidental damage is also actionable, such as the case where my dog gets out and eats your cat, or your tree falls onto my house. In such cases, the concept of damage is obviously applicable, and the aggrieved party should be compensated for their loss.

I do however agree that there is a danger in having a loose understanding of the concepts “force” and “rights”, where one can easily employ the equation “I don’t like X; therefore X is a kind of force”. An inadequate but reasonably close characterization of “force” is “physical contact” (including the threat of force). This sharply narrows the discussion, and precludes characterizing wearing a burqa (or not wearing a burqa), parading with swastikas, or questioning the claim that our society systematically victimizes a particular demographic, as initiation of force.

I don't think there is a more radical solution than Objectivism: maybe the problem is, identifying what you're looking for a solution to. Problems in interpersonal relations aren't answered the same way as problems in electoral politics, which are different in problems in law. Objectivism does have all of the answers to the most important questions in life, but the details of that answer depend on the particulars of the context that you're asking about. So the question "what should the criminal law be?" is answered differently from "how to I change the criminal law?", or "how do I change other people's philosophy so that...?".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Rubal Sher said:

I am just confused. Maybe I am looking for a more radical solution than Objectivism.

Rubal Sher,

Objectivism may not be a solution to anything such as that could change a nation of over a billion people, especially a nation of people fiercely defensive of their many various religions. Objectivism is a philosophy; it is a comprehensive philosophy, and I might add that you would be hard pressed to find a philosophy more radical than Objectivism. With generations of secular law holding back the forces of Christian fanaticism in America, it is with certainty that the United States is not an Objectivist nation. In fact, I would conjecture that the self-identifying Objectivist society in America is an insignificant minority. I will never live to see the day when an admitted atheist will ever receive the nomination for the office of president, unless the political party were neither Republican or Democrat. A woman president, perhaps, but not an atheist. As long as such institutions as religion guide the moral direction of a society, Objectivism will remain a curiosity to some, a life-style for the few who understand it.

23 hours ago, Rubal Sher said:

Or are you saying that current Western values take precedence in all Objectivist worlds? So my women should be fine wearing a bikini in an Islamic Objectivist world but Muslim women cannot wear a burqa in their own land.

If I may take this example: "an Islamic Objectivist world." Simply put, these two terms contradict each other. Such a world would be impossible. As would a Christian-Objectivist world, or a Jewish, or Buddhist, Jain, you may hyphenate any faith you choose, but Objectivism holds no faith, only reality as an absolute. As it relates to government, Objectivism rejects such notions as "a brotherhood of man," or the "common good," or "redistribution of wealth." Certainly, there would be government, but its primary function would be the protection of the rights of the individual, rather than the collective, "the masses," or a term most favored in America politics, "the people." No singular set of cultural values would take precedent over justice for the individual in an Objectivist society. The fact of the reality is that all nations, Western, Eastern, or otherwise, have cultural norms that may trace their origins back more than 10,000 years. (For example: marriage and family.) To overcome such institutions as those that prevent you from conducting normal daily activities in the nude, I really don't know what to tell you, other than, if it should ever come to pass, I would recommend you wear some sort of footwear for the protection of your feet. It would be in your self-interest.

Edit: I want to make clear that we, in America, have a faction of religious force at work in our democracy. I substituted "religious" for "Christian" in my post for clarification, as Christian-fundamentalism as a form fanaticism specific to American politics, more so than any other creed. I highlighted to edit. Rubal Sher, we have irrational people here as well.

Edited by Repairman
Greater clarity

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

Roughly speaking, the question is, what is objectively offensive?

And how does one answer that? You cant have an Objectivist world if measuring offense is the key and we both know humanity will never reach a point where offense can be actually measured. The rest of your post seemed to be driving at this point but hinting that the current Western values are not offensive but what goes on India and the rest of the world is (for the most part, not in entirety). This is a recipe for disaster because even if the entire world converted to Western values right away, we know from History that the values keep changing constantly over time. So, what may be acceptable to you today may get legally banned tomorrow. This is how the older generation feels on the subject of for example, gun controls today, among many others.
I do have a problem with laws being defined based on societal conformance. It suppresses those who don't conform for no fault of their own. For example, I see no issue with being naked on my lawn or hanging a Nazi flag and yet I wont be allowed to do that in the supposedly Objective US today. How do you square that with Objectivity?
From what I hear, you are perfectly defining subjective offense. Nothing objective about it at all.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, 2046 said:

Force versus freedom. Look to understand this difference.

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

The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. No man—or group or society or government—has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man. Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. The ethical principle involved is simple and clear-cut: it is the difference between murder and self-defense. A holdup man seeks to gain a value, wealth, by killing his victim; the victim does not grow richer by killing a holdup man. The principle is: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force.

But we already have laws that disallow use of physical force against others. What did I miss?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Rubal Sher said:

But we already have laws that disallow use of physical force against others. What did I miss?

You may have overlooked the part about physical force used by government to enforce laws the are unjust.

Rubal Sher, which books authored by Ayn Rand have you finished reading?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Rubal Sher said:

And how does one answer that? You cant have an Objectivist world if measuring offense is the key and we both know humanity will never reach a point where offense can be actually measured.

...

For example, I see no issue with being naked on my lawn or hanging a Nazi flag and yet I wont be allowed to do that in the supposedly Objective US today. How do you square that with Objectivity?
From what I hear, you are perfectly defining subjective offense. Nothing objective about it at all.

Measuring offense is not the key, measuring harm is. You need to read at least a substantial portion of the Nudity thread, because throwing out subjectivity and identifying objective harm is the central point of that discussion.

As a correction of your understanding, first, the US is not in any sense an Objectivist country: our law are not Objectivism-consistent, and most people are not Objectivists. In the US, you will be allowed to hang a Nazi flag, thanks to the First Amendment. As a factual matter of law, you probably will not be allow to lounge visibly on your front lawn in the nude, and that's the subject of the debate in that thread (ultimately, should there be such a prohibition?). The fact that you don't see an issue with public nudity is no more dispositive, in one direction, that would be the fact in the other direction that someone else does see an issue with public nudity.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, DavidOdden said:

Measuring offense is not the key, measuring harm is. You need to read at least a substantial portion of the Nudity thread, because throwing out subjectivity and identifying objective harm is the central point of that discussion.

As a correction of your understanding, first, the US is not in any sense an Objectivist country: our law are not Objectivism-consistent, and most people are not Objectivists. In the US, you will be allowed to hang a Nazi flag, thanks to the First Amendment. As a factual matter of law, you probably will not be allow to lounge visibly on your front lawn in the nude, and that's the subject of the debate in that thread (ultimately, should there be such a prohibition?). The fact that you don't see an issue with public nudity is no more dispositive, in one direction, that would be the fact in the other direction that someone else does see an issue with public nudity.

 

I have read the thread on nudity exhaustively but did not see any conclusion being reached. Some advocated it to be acceptable with strong arguments and some did not with their reasoning. So, if we cannot measure harm where nudity is involved, what hope do we have to measure the infinite interactions and reactions human beings generate?

My reasoning for nudity to be acceptable is because I define harm as one caused only by physical force. Nothing else equates to harm. Not nudity, not burqas, not 140 dB sounds, not pollution, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Repairman said:

You may have overlooked the part about physical force used by government to enforce laws the are unjust.

Rubal Sher, which books authored by Ayn Rand have you finished reading?

I dont read books and havent read any including Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I devour videos on topics instead and have seen many interviews and discussions featuring Ayn Rand and Yaron Brooks. 

So, if we got rid of governments but anyway used the courts to lay down the same laws, how does it help? How does one reach the conclusion that the laws being enforced (by courts or govt) are unjust? Take the example of nudity. I see a sharp divide among well respected Objectivists in this forum on whether nudity is just or not. If we cant agree on a simple matter like nudity, how do we objectively reach just conclusions on anything else?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×