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merjet

Correspondence and Coherence blog

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I’m sorry, how are the posts explicitly being related to Objectivism?  Is your plan to contrast or compare or comment in view of Objectivism?

Readers may be confused as to why you are presenting this material on this forum... specifically, what parts are being presented HERE solely as philosophy in general and what portions presented here are being related in some way (any specific way) to Objectivism.

Whenever philosophical ideas in general are presented absent any relation or discussion re Objectivism there is a danger that new readers will confuse what is presented as Objectivism, given the nature and purpose of this forum.

We also would not want to mislead any newcomers to believe that the forum is an appropriate place to discuss philosophy in general without any motivation to relate or contrast with Objectivism.  There are many general philosophy forums for that purpose.

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Most of the posts I make on this thread are only links to my blog, which clearly is not part of OL, and the thread is so titled. It's up to users to decide if they want to read them or not.

If others make unwarranted assumptions about me or my blog, that's their problem, not mine.

There are plenty of posts on OL with no obvious relation to Objectivism.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

Most of the posts I make on this thread are only links to my blog, which clearly is not part of OL, and the thread is so titled. It's up to users to decide if they want to read them or not.

If others make unwarranted assumptions about me or my blog, that's their problem, not mine.

There are plenty of posts on OL with no obvious relation to Objectivism.

You and I likely disagree, but it is precisely BECAUSE you provide "only links" to your general philosophy blog which runs afoul of the spirit of the posting rules.

 

If your blog posts are not about Objectivism, and you are not interested in initiating commentary comparing or contrasting your ideas with Objectivism...

 WHY post links to your blog HERE?

 

 

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As a follow up, please note the guidelines include:

"Consistency with the purpose of this site

Participants agree not use the website to spread ideas contrary to Objectivism. Examples include religion, communism, "moral tolerationism," and libertarianism. Honest questions about such subjects are permitted."

 

Honestly speaking, does your blog include any "ideas contrary to Objectivism"?

 

Whether or not you disagree with the guidelines, creating posts with "only links" to a blog, any blog, which expresses "ideas contrary to Objectivism" without any commentary or discussion likely does constitute "using the website to spread ideas contrary to Objectivism" which participants agree NOT to do.

Honest questions and discussion is allowed, and certainly any links to your blog content which is about Objectivism is likely also within the guidelines.

Healthy debate is welcome... having discussions about Objectivism even if your starting point is not agreement would not likely constitute "spreading ideas" contrary to Objectivism, because clearly your goal would be to explore evolving ideas rather than to merely and inflexibly "spread" them...

As for any of your ideas which are contrary to Objectivism, which you have no doubt about nor any reason to discuss with an Objectivist, I would suggest that you continue to maintain a desire for "spreading" them and pursue a course which in fact "spreads" those ideas... just not "using" this website. 

IMHO

 

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I appreciate all the links Merlin makes to his blog entries. They are informative, and convenient for me to go to from here. I don't get to follow up with comments usually, because I'm on other things for in-depth assimilation in these years of my life. Merlin's professional background and continuing study of economics and of philosophy are a lucky stream into this site. I'm delighted to see that such an old, old man is still learning. I remember 25 years ago when he and I together studied philosopher after philosopher concerning theory of truth. I'll try to link to some of his essays on that and on other subjects naturally of interest to learners who have an interest in the span of topics Rand undertook. 

I had not heard of this book and social theory of Walzer's until Merlin conveyed notes on it to us in this modern medium. Makes me kind of feel like being back with Merlin in hours after our business jobs, plodding our way through Spinoza. (I'm not kidding; to us that is interesting and very worthwhile.) I see that Merlin has summarized Waltzer through chapter 2 and that there are several chapters more he might think to convey notes on to folks here who might well be interested in modern theories of justice. Perhaps he will have some evaluations and Rand-comparisons at the end.

Good research and thinking from Merlin in these finished products:

Imagination and Cognition

Theories of Truth I II III 

On Probability

Pursuing Similarity

Perhaps some participants here would like to talk to Merlin right here in this thread about some things he wrote on these topics. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS - I first met Merlin, as I recall, listening to tape lectures being played at Northwestern in 1977. That was The Philosophy of Objectivism which had been recorded the year before in New York. (It was by Leonard Peikoff, and Ayn Rand participated, a fine experience.) It's quite possible one could get acquainted with this learned guy by attending OCON 2019. He and wife reside in that vicinity, and I know he attended OCON last year.

Edited by Boydstun

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SL maintained that there are plenty of forums for discussing general philosophy. If anyone knows of such that are online forums, I'd appreciate learning of them. I do know of one. It is called Philosophy Now. I participated there on one occasion and was personally attacked in every disrespectful way a fellow (anonymous, likely male) could think up for every thing I might say: because I mentioned and conveyed some Rand without distorting and belittling her. I've heard others (and not Rand-interested so far as I know) say they won't participate at that site because of the nastiness there.The fellow who was so disrespectful towards me there certainly achieved the purpose of shutting me up. I did not go back there. One thing I've liked about this site OO is that there is such a predominately civil exchange of views.

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Maybe the problem is that this should be in Member Writing. My impression is that Misc Topics is for single topics that otherwise don't have an appropriate forum.

While I'm here, I'll suggest adding a couple lines of description or opinion with each forum post. This might help stimulate interest or debate. Just posting a link potentially kills a thread later on, if the link goes dead. Having some substance in the post itself will keep the thread viable, even if the blog disappears.

Edited by MisterSwig

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I'm not so sure I've acted in my self interest raising this issue... 

Also, I have misunderstood and/or been negligent in honestly seeking the motivations of Merlin... justice demands an apology when treatment does not match desert... so Merlin I apologize for making this an issue,  I have no excuse or justification.

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A gracious apology on behalf of an issue that raised my eyebrow based on my respect for the source of the original charge. Thank-you StrictlyLogical.

Topic moved to Member Writing, albeit via links at this time. A fitting suggestion, MisterSwig.

Objectivism is truly a concept of method. The principles by which it is comprised offers a basis which can help serve as part of an individual's 'filter' for assessing existence. "The battle of the philosophers is the battle for man's mind." Miss Rand is one of many contenders in that regard, and quite the worthy adversary per the metrics she has offered up for use for delineating and objectively gauging the evidence on hand.

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Oh, my. The last 48 hours on this thread have been an adventure. I delayed responding to the posts StrictlyLogical made on Friday because I was hesitant about how to respond. Due to Stephen Boydstun's posts supporting me and some of our history, and StrictlyLogical's apology, my hesitation vanished.  

I reply to StrictlyLogical's Friday posts as follows. My blog isn't a "general philosophy" blog. Part of the content is philosophy, but not about philosophy in general or a wide range of philosophers. Much of the content has been about economics, finance, and technology, e.g. Marconi.

My purpose of giving links here is solely an invitation to anyone who might be interested in the content. It is not to spread or promote any philosophy as better than or against Objectivism. I will try to say a little more about the content along with the link.

Thank you, Stephen and StrictlyLogical. Thank you, dream_weaver, for moving the thread to its new forum. When I made my first post about 10 months ago, it wasn't clear to me where it fit best and I gave my okay to the moderators to move it. It just took a while. 🙂 I likely didn't choose its new forum because my blog doesn't consist of "poems, short stories, art, music, web designs, business deals, or graduations." 🙂

P.S. I will be attending OCON 2019.

Edited by merjet

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On 6/15/2019 at 4:04 PM, Boydstun said:

I'm delighted to see that such an old, old man is still learning.

You triggered my curiosity. What does "old, old" mean? Is it the same as "old-old"? I did find something on that. Here says old-old means 85 or older. Here says it's over age 75 and that I am "young-old." Here says its 85-94, and I am not even "old", but it doesn't mention "young-old". I like  "young-old." ☺️

Edited by merjet

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To what extent should chronological age be the criterion for classifying someone as old-old, young-old, or whatever?  Reminds me of a family anecdote.  When my parents were in their 20's my Mom described someone as middle-aged.  My Dad asked her to judge the man's chronological age.  He was probably in his 30's.  They decided right then that a middle-aged person is anyone 10 years older than you are.

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Spheres of Justice #5

Spheres of Justice #6

Walzer surely has a different idea about what laissez-faire means. For him it seems to mean that businesses can do whatever they want and business dominates the politics. Ayn Rand used liassez-faire to mean “no government intervention” in the economy. On the other hand, she was against the use of force and fraud. So it seems she meant “no intervention” to be no government control of what is produced, how, and by whom, but government interventions against force (e.g. slavery) and fraud are permitted.


 

Edited by merjet

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

So it seems she meant “no intervention” to be no government control of what is produced, how, and by whom, but government interventions against force (e.g. slavery) and fraud are permitted.

Support for this: "In a free economy, the government may step in only when a fraud has been perpetrated, or a demonstrable damage has been done to a consumer; in such cases the only protection required is that of criminal law" (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 129).

Her use of liassez-faire is many pages before 129.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

Walzer surely has a different idea about what laissez-faire means. For him it seems to mean that businesses can do whatever they want and business dominates the politics

From his view of its proper and necessary functions, the State and its politics, into which the economy may spill, or which business may influence or dominate, is a completely different creature from what Rand conceives as Government (proper) and its form in a laissez-faire system.

Indeed, the logical necessity of business dominating politics in Walzer's "laissez-faire" is a clear indicator that the there is no separation of the economy and the State in his conception of it... they remain firmly and inappropriately entangled with one another.

Rand's "Laissez-faire" is symmetrical.  The economy stands free of government coercion and the limited nature of its power insulates government from any non-objective or improper influence.  A proper government is proper precisely when it is separate from the economy, and when it is restricted to its only proper role of protecting individual rights (by a proper Constitution and objective law and the requisite checks and balances), no agent of the economy can wield inappropriate power "over" the government or anyone, having only the power perhaps to persuade or help fund a proper government. 

I suspect he cannot imagine a government or politics which cannot be dominated by business, nor imagine that in a lasses-faire system there would be no such thing as "political power" to be grabbed by business... He simply does not hold in mind the possibility that a proper government of a laissez faire system as Rand's would simply not wield the kind of powers Walzer sees the State as inherently having and over which interest groups and business might fight, and by which they might dominate each other and other individuals.

 

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Indeed, the logical necessity of business dominating politics in Walzer's "laissez-faire" is a clear indicator that the there is no separation of the economy and the State in his conception of it... they remain firmly and inappropriately entangled with one another.

That's a premature conclusion in my view. Please read all of Spheres of Justice #6. If that changes your opinion (or not), then we can discuss it some more.

Edited by merjet

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44 minutes ago, merjet said:

That's a premature conclusion in my view. Please read all of Spheres of Justice #6. If that changes your opinion (or not), then we can discuss it some more.

Ha! I've read it... I may have missed something... or perhaps "logical necessity" overstates it.  Could you point me to something I should pay a bit more attention to?

I suppose my point follows from his conception of the kinds of things government does (Spheres of Justice 5)... (which presumptions forms a context for all his subsequent musings) and the premise itself "business dominates the politics".

if business has dominance in politics it clearly could affect those things government does.... and would have a reason for making such dominance a goal.  If there were a complete separation of economy and State, "dominance" in politics would be rendered impotent and not a goal of any agent in the economy. i.e. "business dominates the politics" is impossible in a Rand laissez faire system.  The premise "business dominates the politics" requires a presupposition of entanglement between the economy and the State to make sense. IMHO

e.g. as you say "He is concerned about powerful business people capturing political power or bending public officials to their will. When money carries with it control, not just goods and services, but of people, then it crosses its bounds into political power (121)."

It is a valid concern that individuals can be bribed etc., but if the Government is ruled by law and not men, and it does not allow the creation of improper law, or rights violating government action, political power reduces to some kind of administrative tinkering rather than wholesale violation of rights we see today.  Anyone corrupted to act enough outside of the governments proper role, will rightly be called out as a criminal and/or a traitor and when discovered prosecuted justly as such.  As for actual political power, we might see one or another person assigned to fill the proper roles via elections, and voluntary taxes might be facilitated or augmented by private agents, but the roles themselves, the Rule of Law, the Law itself, and the system  would be proper and inviolate, NO ONE in a proper society would have the power (from where would it come?) to enact or enforce improper laws, or create any government branch or institution which violates rights. In the vein of a bad law is no law at all, improper powers are not powers of a proper government.

I may be equivocating, on the one hand I am saying "political power" is different in government systems of Laissez-faire as conceived by Rand and Walzer... on the other hand I am implying in the government system of laissez faire there is no real "political" power as commonly conceived and likewise by Walzer or equally that power is outside of government power...  I think this equivocation is solved by observing the concepts of "political power" is different in kind (not just in degree) in the two different conceptions of laissez-faire.

 

Some might say in Rand's laissez faire system there would be no "politics" and no "political power" to speak of, not as they are commonly conceived in the context of our mixed economy multi-party rights violating society. 

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15 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Ha! I've read it... I may have missed something... or perhaps "logical necessity" overstates it.  Could you point me to something I should pay a bit more attention to?

I point to the following in Spheres of Justice #6.

The marketplace, when free, awards all in accordance with the contributions we make to our own and others’ well-being (108).

The man or woman who builds a better mousetrap, or opens a restaurant, or teaches on the side, is looking to earn money. Why not? Who wants to serve or satisfy others only for gratitude? It seems only right that an entrepreneur, able to provide goods and services, should reap the rewards he had in mind when he went to work.

This is, indeed, a kind of “rightness” that the community may see fit to enclose and restrain. The morality of the bazaar belongs in the bazaar. The market is a zone of the city, not the whole of the city. But it is a great mistake, I think, when people worried about the market seek its entire abolition. It is one thing to clear the Temple of traders, quite another to clear the streets.”

The merchant panders to our desires. But so long as he isn’t selling people or votes or political influence, so long as he hasn’t cornered the market in wheat at time of drought, so long as his cars aren’t death traps, his shirts inflammable, this is harmless pandering. He will try, of course, to sell us things we don’t want; he will show us the best side of his goods and conceal their dark side. We will have to be protected against fraud (as he will against theft). But the exchange is in principle a relation of mutual benefit; and neither the money that the merchant makes by this or that consumer, poses any threat to complex equality – not if the spheres of money and commodities is properly bounded.”

[End]

Does this portray a free market very unlike how Ayn Rand or you portray it?

 

15 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If there were a complete separation of economy and State,

A complete separation is impossible. Ayn Rand approved of certain functions performed by police, the military, and courts. They cannot be completely separated from the economy or free market. Let’s consider them.

- The police must buy or lease buildings, cars, weapons, ammunition, office equipment, clothing, etc. Where will they get them if not the private sector? The police department makes them? To do, they would impinge on the market for labor, just as they do with their own personnel.

- It’s very similar for the military, except it also uses ships and planes.

- Are courts only needed when there is force or fraud? Are courts never needed for business disputes, business bankruptcies, or divorces, custody, or estates? Such business cases may involve fraud, but many do not.

- All of them employ support personnel, e.g. technology, procurement, accounting, etc. Thus, government must compete in the market for labor. Government employees get paid for their work. Money matters. That’s economics.

15 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I may be equivocating, on the one hand I am saying "political power" is different in government systems of Laissez-faire as conceived by Rand and Walzer.

I agree, but let’s not get mired in terminology. The free market as Walzer describes it fits pretty well with the free market Ayn Rand described. A “radically laissez-faire economy” as he describes it is something quite different that he imagines (and does not want). A “pure laissez-faire economy” as Rand idealizes it is also something different, and she imagined it. “A system of pure, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism has never yet existed anywhere” (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 45)

While Walzer and Rand would not see eye-to-eye on what all is proper for a government to do, Walzer holds that the government is an institution of coercion like Rand did. Rand held that government should not interfere in the free market. Walzer says it should not interfere in other “spheres” of social life – the market, family and friends, education. I paraphrased Walzer in Sense of Justice #2 as follows. “Politics is always the most direct path to dominance, and political power is probably the most important, and certainly the most dangerous, good in human history. Hence the need to constrain the agents of constraint, to establish constitutional checks and balances.”

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This post is not substantive, only a connection of thinkers. In the Acknowledgements prefacing his first book Anarchy, State, and Utopia(1974), Robert Nozick wrote: “Over several years, I have benefited from Michael Waltzer’s comments, questions, and counterarguments as I tried out on him ideas on some topics of this essay.”

Waltzer remarked  in 2003 here:

"I spent much of the sixties and early seventies learning to 'do' political philosophy rather than doing it, and Rawls and Nozick were two of my teachers. There was a discussion group that met every month in those years, in Cambridge and New York, that included those two and Ronnie Dworkin, Tom Nagel, Tim Scanlon, Judy Thomson, Charles Fried, Marshall Cohen, and a few others: a peer group for most of them, a school for me. In 1971, Nozick and I taught a course together called 'Capitalism and Socialism,' which was a semester-long argument – out of which came his Anarchy, State, and Utopia and my Spheres. Rawls, Nozick, Nagel, and Dworkin were, I suppose, the leaders of the return of philosophers to 'public affairs.' For me, there was no return; I had never been interested in anything else. But I did make an effort to write about politics in a more philosophical way. I don't think that I ever managed real philosophy. I couldn't breathe easily at the high level of abstraction that philosophy seemed to require, where my friends in the group were entirely comfortable. And I quickly got impatient with the playful extension of hypothetical cases, moving farther and farther away from the world we all lived in. I was writing Just and Unjust Wars in the middle seventies, and my decision to work the argument through historical examples was in part a reaction against the hypothetical cases of my friends. The current state of the philosophical argument about justice, as described and criticised by Anderson, follows from too much abstraction, too many hypotheticals, too great a distance from the real world. The Rawls/Nozick debate was, I think, pretty much over even before their deaths. In the philosophical world, Rawls and the Rawlsians won decisively; in the political world, I am afraid, the Nozickians won, but it isn't philosophers, it is economists, who relish the victory. Right now, the forces aren't engaged: consider how little criticism of the market model is carried in the journal that came out of our discussion group: Philosophy and Public Affairs."

 

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I suggest that anybody interested in what Walzer says about political power use the 'Look inside' feature on Amazon.  Chapter 12 is titled "Political Power." You can read pages 281-84 in print book mode. Enter "sovereignty" in the Search text box to navigate to there.

Edited by merjet

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