Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Jason Hunter

The family cannot survive without duty.

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

On 10/13/2018 at 7:50 PM, Jason Hunter said:

A little bit of irrational duty to family is important to a stable society because family is important to a stable society and duty is important to family.

Do realize that part of your claim is that irrationality is not always immoral. We could argue about the details of exactly what the effects are, but the whole premise I'm working from is that rationality is moral, irrationality is immoral. I treat those as basic facts. If we don't agree on that much, the very moral foundation we are using is completely different. 

Much of your position so far is a historical one based on correlational rather than causal relationships. To be sure, aspects of irrationality will often coexist with aspects of rationality within a society. This doesn't mean that the irrational aspects contributed to the positive development of that society. Your reasoning is fine about family in general, yet again, you insist that duty is the aspect of family that change society for the better.

Another issue is I think you conflate obligation with duty. Based on what 2046 said, the way Cicero meant duty is more like an obligation. You treat these words as identical. Obligation would be like, for example, if you were raised well by your parents, you owe at least something to them. Their value isn't nothing, and as a matter of justice, when you benefit from someone, you ought to pay them back in some way. Duty is more like *because* they are your parents and for no other reason you owe them something. If you add reasons like they were good parents, or they help get you into a good elementary school when you're going up, or they instilled some of your values like honesty, this would be an obligation. So when I say loyalty, I'm thinking of this. If they treat you well, or do right by you, you should acknowledge it and act in a way that reinforces it. 

On 10/13/2018 at 7:50 PM, Jason Hunter said:

Rationalists don't place much, if any, value on history. For them, it doesn't matter how long humans have been doing something a certain way.

I actually find history to be extremely important. All I've been saying is that you have failed to connect historical evidence to a moral principle. Historical evidence isn't proof, because proof requires additional inferences. Correlation is never sufficient. The same goes for etymological arguments. It is interesting to note that "blood is thicker than water" is a phrase has been around for a long time. Whether it demonstrates anything else depends entirely on how you used induction to conclude that duty to family is critical to the development of civilization.
 

Share this post


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

Do realize that part of your claim is that irrationality is not always immoral. We could argue about the details of exactly what the effects are, but the whole premise I'm working from is that rationality is moral, irrationality is immoral. I treat those as basic facts. If we don't agree on that much, the very moral foundation we are using is completely different. 

I'm not claiming rationality is moral or immoral. My argument in this thread is not about morality. It is about whether Objectivist pricinples are compatible with the family as it exists in reality, regardless of what is right or wrong or how one defines what is right or wrong. 

Quote

Much of your position so far is a historical one based on correlational rather than causal relationships. To be sure, aspects of irrationality will often coexist with aspects of rationality within a society. This doesn't mean that the irrational aspects contributed to the positive development of that society. Your reasoning is fine about family in general, yet again, you insist that duty is the aspect of family that change society for the better.

As far as I understand it, practically everything is only a correlational relationship. Statisticians cannot even agree on what constitutes a causal relationship but the bar is very high to determine a causal relationship as a concrete fact. It seems like you're asking the impossible. 

I argue the evidence strongly suggests this is the case to a very high degree based on the way humans behave in reality across different cultures and times. The evidence is enormous. Just take the example I gave you about China. A culture that literally regards sacrifice to your parents as a key virtue stretching back thousands of years? Or Christians who have always taught that it is our duty to have children? 

Or take the evolution of Chivalry (inherently duty based). 

But I don't just rely on history. There is a logical argument at play too. Humans have evolved to protect and sacrifice for their family. It is perfectly natural for our species to evolve this way. How else would we survive without giving and expecting loyalty to one another to our families, communities and countries? 

This is how civilisations and empires are/were built. It was based on the premise that the land and people inside a given area were "us" and outsiders were "them" and one should be loyal to those inside over and above those outside. 

One of the common talking points about Brexit and immigration was the idea that we Brits should "look after our own" first. Trump: America first. You cannot believe this is based on a purely rational argument? (Unless you argue it is rational to be true to human nature and therefore true to a form of tribal loyalty to country). 

Quote

Another issue is I think you conflate obligation with duty. Based on what 2046 said, the way Cicero meant duty is more like an obligation. You treat these words as identical. Obligation would be like, for example, if you were raised well by your parents, you owe at least something to them. Their value isn't nothing, and as a matter of justice, when you benefit from someone, you ought to pay them back in some way. Duty is more like *because* they are your parents and for no other reason you owe them something. If you add reasons like they were good parents, or they help get you into a good elementary school when you're going up, or they instilled some of your values like honesty, this would be an obligation. So when I say loyalty, I'm thinking of this. If they treat you well, or do right by you, you should acknowledge it and act in a way that reinforces it. 

Yeah I said before I see no difference between loyalty duty and obligation and that I have been using all three to mean the same thing. 

"if you add reasons" - then they are the reasons. 

You owe nothing to them (according to Objectvism). Your only owe allegiance to your principles and so you only judge your parents based on their values. If you don't like their values, they are not family (blood has no significance) and you certainly don't owe anything to them even though they raised you. 

If you do like their values then yes you may want to voluntarily do something for them. That is not an "obligation", "duty" or "loyalty" and Rand would not use those terms to explain a voluntary action based on judging values. She would only talk about chosen obligations like choosing to promise to do something for them (after judging their values) and therefore being obliged to fulfill that promise and maintain your integrity.

If you are doing the action for them based on anything other than the trader principle, then this is outside the realm of Objectivist philosophy and it is outside this aspect - the realm of pure value trading between people - that loyalty, duty and obligation exists (unless to principles). 

Now some people may call this realm human nature and then justify it by saying that one ought to be true to human nature and therefore it is rational and also in ones self interest. But then this is no different to insisting one is obliged to have children because reproduction is inherent in human nature. 

And I believe this is what Cicero is getting at but I haven't studied him in depth yet so im hesistant to commit to this. Cicero says it is unjust to live as a loner outcast from society because it is inherent in human nature that we are social animals. 

Quote

I actually find history to be extremely important. All I've been saying is that you have failed to connect historical evidence to a moral principle.

That was never my aim. I have no concern with morality here. 

If you haven't read it, I'd recommend checking out The Great Debate by Yuval Levin. It gets right to the heart of the conflict between rationalism and conservatism. 

Edited by Jason Hunter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Craig24 said:

But is that really a duty?  It wasn't god, people or nature that imposed this responsibility on the parents.   There are options: abstinence, safe sex, abortion, adoption.  If you choose to bypass all four, you're choosing to be a parent.

But what if you choose it because you believe it is your duty? That would then make it irrational according to Objectivism. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

I'm not claiming rationality is moral or immoral.

I'll phrase it differently then, because there is a lot of overlap between the two. Exactly because some amount of duty is irrational, it is incompatible with family. There are other more fundamental aspects of family besides duty, even if duty is common.

58 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

As far as I understand it, practically everything is only a correlational relationship.

Yeah, that's not what statistics is for. Statistics is to deal with uncertainty and measure uncertainty. A scientist uses statistics as evidence of a phenomenon, but needs to use further reasoning techniques to induce a new idea rather than to deduce one. So I'm saying you didn't even try to make a causal relationship. We disagree what counts as evidence in the first place, or what makes for sufficient evidence. 

58 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

How else would we survive without giving and expecting loyalty to one another to our families, communities and countries? 

This is how civilisations and empires are/were built

This is a huuugggggggeeeeeeeee leap in reasoning. You basically ask how could be otherwise, and stated therefor civilizations were built this way. I'm not asking you to write a book for your case, but I am asking you to have more than one sentence about us/them mentality.

58 minutes ago, Jason Hunter said:

If you don't like their values

sNerd explained how this is not quite accurate. It's not about simply how many values you like that a person holds. I'm not sure where you get this idea that you judge a person based on how you like their values that they hold. You value a person for the value they provide to you. If a person helped raise you, they have literally provided a value to you; they allowed you to develop into an adult. To that extent at least, you owe them something. Because of this, likely they will share some values with you. You might like them more if they share more values with you, but it's considerably more complicated than that. 

Duty, in the sense most of us here are using it, is not even looking at the value the other person provides. You wouldn't need to justify valuing your parents because they helped raise you, you wouldn't even need to think about value. Saying they are your parents would be enough.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

But what if you choose it because you believe it is your duty? That would then make it irrational according to Objectivism. 

Only if you choose it not because you believe it's a rational value but because you feel obligated by others to choose it. In other words, you let others dictate the choice for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/12/2018 at 9:41 PM, Jason Hunter said:

Duty to your family members. To help them, to be there for them, to give them another chance purely because they are blood (or have spent a long time with the family). This behavior appears to be inherent in humans and central to the family in reality. 

Feel free to read through my replies to others in this thread.. At this point I have thoroughly expanded on my position with several lengthy replies. 

Why does being genetically linked to a group of people somehow create demands on yourself if you don't share the same values as they do or even worse find them to be evil? And if it does, since *all* of humanity is genetically linked when you go back far enough, then everyone would have this "duty" not apply to everyone else in existence through all time? And since *all* life on earth is genetically linked and has a common ancestor this same duty would require you to treat cyanobacteria living 10 miles below ground with the same duty you treat your mother because we are all part of the same "family".  Either genetic "bond" requires "duty" to all members in a class or such duty should not properly exist in reality as it implies something that supersedes and subordinates free will. 

Edited by EC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I'll phrase it differently then, because there is a lot of overlap between the two. Exactly because some amount of duty is irrational, it is incompatible with family. There are other more fundamental aspects of family besides duty, even if duty is common.

But are you making a moral claim here? Irrationality is bad therefore it is incompatible with the family? 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I'm not asking you to write a book for your case, but I am asking you to have more than one sentence about us/them mentality.

Okay let's take a modern day example. Football (If you're American I'm talking about soccer). 

Football is by far the most popular sport on the planet, with an estimated fan base of roughly 3 billion. It is adored in practically every culture, race, religion. 

It is an expression of (or an outlet for) our inherent tribal nature. Duty, obligation and loyalty permeate throughout the sport. Players who leave their teams for bigger pay checks are derided as soulless mercenaries whereas one club men like Totti are celebrated for their undying loyalty and devotion. 

Coaches often refuse to manage the rivals of their former teams. "True" fans are described as those that stick by the team through thick and thin, no matter how boring their style of play or how poor their results. Many fans only support the team they do because their father did or because "they grew up supporting them". Those that do jump ship and support better teams are derided as glory supporters. 

I'm not saying I support this behaviour or I think it is rational, or moral. I have a very different view on support in football.

But one cannot deny this overwhelming evidence about human behaviour. Only a fool could think this will ever change without literally re-engineering the brain. 

Perhaps in the future with a possible fusion between AI and the human brain (or replacement of), plus the exciting horizon of bio-engineering, humans will radically change and even change their nature. Even the current method of reproduction could change to "growing" new humans outside the womb - a possible next stage after surrogacy.  

I don't completely rule out a society without the family as it currently exists in reality. 

Objectvists must confront this issue head on and think about what the family would really look like in a truly Objectivist world. 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

sNerd explained how this is not quite accurate. It's not about simply how many values you like that a person holds. I'm not sure where you get this idea that you judge a person based on how you like their values that they hold. You value a person for the value they provide to you. If a person helped raise you, they have literally provided a value to you; they allowed you to develop into an adult. To that extent at least, you owe them something. Because of this, likely they will share some values with you. You might like them more if they share more values with you, but it's considerably more complicated than that. 

I think you've hit on an important point here. I said the values you like because Rand describes the relationship as one based on "shared values". If you have no shared values, why would you want to do anything for them unless you made a promise that you would? 

But I have also used the concept in the way you have described by saying "valued gained". Now you say it is considerably more complicated than that but for me I read that as something which is undefinable and very fuzzy. 

If someone helped raise you, you have no obligation to them. Up until the age of 18, you are under the responsibility of the adult because you are not deemed a rational independent human yet. To be obliged to help them in return in adult life would surely be an unchosen obligation. * 

The Atlas society states something similar to your case, that whatever the parent does for you above the obligatory minimum while raising you, you owe in return which rationally justifies you helping your parents in old age as values traded. But i refer to my sentence above * 

And any case, how does one define the obligatory minimum? And how does one define the correct amount of value traded? These are impossible tasks. 

In reality, humans just don't think this way. They usually believe it is their duty to look after their parents as a inherent obligation. 

And also if you share no or little values with your parent, what do you "owe" them? 

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Duty, in the sense most of us here are using it, is not even looking at the value the other person provides. You wouldn't need to justify valuing your parents because they helped raise you, you wouldn't even need to think about value. Saying they are your parents would be enough.

Yeah I agree, I'm using it in this sense too, but including a limit. We all agree it is reasonable to leave a family member in extreme cases. But yeah the duty/loyalty/obligation aspect is in a realm separate from any value consideration. 

As a side note, I remember when I first read about Objectivism, I started worrying about all my actions and thoughts and whether they were rational or not. Every now and then I'd type in a random act or desire into google and ask if it was rational according to Objectivism or try to find what Rand thought on the matter. 

This idea that we have to rationally process every single thing in our brain is incredibly stressful to keep up. Have you ever had a similar experience? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is impossible to prove a causal relationship using statistics alone.  A proof of a causal relationship must include an explanation of how the causal relationship works. If a statistical correlation is used as evidence, it must be accompanied by consideration of whether there can be other explanations for the correlation. This does not mean that it is impossible to prove a causal relationship, just that statistics alone doesn't cut it.

History is full of wars.  This does not mean that wars are necessary or conducive to human survival.

Hormones and the actions they prompt people to have played a very important role in the evolution and survival of the human genus and the modern human species.  We should not completely ignore them in making choices.  But our rational conclusions should overrule any hormonal promptings that we can see are irrational.

Are you saying that Objectivism is a type of rationalism?  How do you define rationalism?

If a person chooses to participate in a team sport, he or she accepts an obligation to act accordingly and to make the success of the team an important purpose.  A professional athlete is providing a service for pay.  It can be rational and moral for an athlete or fan to change teams, regardless of how many billion people disapprove.  But it can also be rational, moral, and consistent with Objectivism to build a relationship with a team, as either a member or a fan, that makes one reluctant to change teams.

The mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis of ideas has historically dominated most people's philosophy, whether explicit or implicit, and has therefore played a very important role in their thinking, and thus in their actions.  We can achieve a great deal of change by re-engineering people's philosophy, without any re-engineering of the brain whatsoever.

One of the things we must decide rationally is how much time and effort to spend analyzing any given decision.  How much time and effort should I spend deciding which item to order from a restaurant menu? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

But are you making a moral claim here? Irrationality is bad therefore it is incompatible with the family? 

If something incorporates duty, it will work against the interest of any individuals involved. That doesn't mean any amount of duty will immediately destroy and ruin lives, but its effect is negative. That is, duty is not a stabilizing force. From this information, I conclude that it is immoral to include duty with family. 

6 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

But one cannot deny this overwhelming evidence about human behaviour. Only a fool could think this will ever change without literally re-engineering the brain. 

Nothing about the brain is inherently tribal. It's not programmed into your brain any more than language. We can discuss why it's common, but it isn't an inevitable result of the human mind. Your dispute then is really over the idea that man is rational by nature. Your position is more like "yeah, it is better to be rational, but the masses are all irrational, and that's how it always will be". 

6 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

If you have no shared values, why would you want to do anything for them unless you made a promise that you would? 

Shared values are part of it. I mean, if someone provides value to you, there's usually something in common. What really counts is if they provide value, or provided value in the past. As a matter of justice, it's important to provide at least something to the other person, because you are gaining value from someone. If you gain something good and positive, it's in your interest to do something for the other person. Often, improving their life improve yours as well. When it comes to blood family, probably none of them would share as many values as you would with your best friend. But to the extent that they are decent people, and you spent so much time with them just out of convenience, you're bound to share something in common. Maybe you share a common work ethic. It's not very hard to find something in common, if your blood family actually has decent people in it. 

This is true even in cases where you didn't choose to get a value from them. For example, you might get into a really bad accident and need a blood transfusion. Suppose the only person who could do that is someone you just met. So they give you transfusion, which you can consent to because you were unconscious. When you wake up, would you refuse to even say thank you? "I didn't ask for the transfusion, why does it matter to you?" I don't mean you should commit the rest of your life to their desires because they saved your life, but appreciation is good, and you have reason to get to know them further. 

No one asked to be born. But we can be grateful for the opportunities our parents gave us, or bought us books when we were growing up, fed you, give you a place to sleep, or took you to the doctor. Certainly, you gain value from them if they do this for you. They might also cause you pain, or be out by physically abusive, which is not valuable in any sense. Presumably, you like your life, so if your parents had any role in this, it would be silly and even irrational to act as if you owe nothing at all. If your parents were never there, and all they did was give you a place to sleep and food to eat, you probably don't owe them much of anything. Maybe even nothing. The point is, you have to figure it out. There is no steady rule to use to decide these things.

Absolutely, how do we define obligatory minimums? How do we know we've traded to a fair and proper degree? These are difficult tasks. They don't need to be impossible, unless you want to quantify specific numbers. That won't happen. It doesn't need to happen. This is why ethics is a complicated science. Maybe on the outside Objectivism looks to you like a philosophy of pure and cold rational calculation of rational self-interest. Yes, it is completely about rationality, but rational thought is about reflection and consideration of everything around you. A consideration of reality. It's not about running an algorithm and a set of rules. It's not about being a ninja where at every moment, you have intense focus, thinking on overdrive every moment. Even if you were a ninja, you couldn't do this. Good habit is also very important, gradually developed over time. 

6 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

In reality, humans just don't think this way. They usually believe it is their duty to look after their parents as a inherent obligation. 

Some people might not reflect on their family or the meaning of family. Still, in general, people are plenty capable of reflecting on what's around them and making a decision. It takes time to develop tribalistic patterns of thought. Confucian philosophers even had to instill values of filial piety.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/14/2018 at 5:26 PM, Jason Hunter said:

It is a good that is in your own self-interest because it is in your own self-interest to be true to human nature, right? And procreating is an inherent aspect of human nature. This is your argument? 

 If so then it stands to reason that all women, whether they want to or not, have a duty to have children because it is just a part of human nature. This is exactly the type of duty I argue is required for the family but it is incompatible with Objectivism

That's right.

Human nature is the standard from which we define self-interest, because "is" implies "ought". Rand identifies life as the most defining characteristic of human nature, and so life is the ultimate standard of value. I've argued here that sex is also a deeply defining characteristic of human nature, and so is also a major standard of value.

Whether my arguments are "compatible with Objectivism" or not is up for debate. I think that the logic I've just given follows the basic Objectivist meta-ethics, and is in that sense compatible. And yet Objectivist meta-ethics is a hairy subject, there is quite a lot of literature dancing around trying to avoid any categorical commitments while hanging on to the basic logic of "is implies ought". I think these arguments fail.

(ask 10 Objectivists and you will get 10 different answers - see Moen's paper, https://reasonpapers.com/pdf/342/rp_342_9.pdf and David Kelley's response for some of the disparate approaches to Objectivist meta-ethics).

That being said, the metaphysical and ethical arguments I've made here are not found in Objectivist literature, and indeed you will almost universally find arguments against duty (with some minor exceptions).

Objectivism is very light on metaphysics. Almost none of the central issues of that foundational branch of philosophy are really dealt with at all. And as mentioned, and I think as a consequence of the gaping holes in metaphysics, Objectivist ethics and meta-ethics is a mess.

Objectivism as a philosophy is incomplete, and in places, inconsistent, and we need to start from the foundational roots of metaphysics in order to fix the problems with the philosophy.

Share this post


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

That being said, the metaphysical and ethical arguments I've made here are not found in Objectivist literature, and indeed you will almost universally find arguments against duty (with some minor exceptions).

It is worth noting that there isn't just one sense of the word duty. We can talk about it in a teleological sense, or we can talk about it in a deontological sense. As was mentioned earlier about Cicero, duty could be about pre-existing commitments to human nature, which we all ought to be committed to regardless of our preferences and desires. This commitment doesn't need to be justified more than the fact that you are human. And we could then talk about duty to family in the sense that moral obligations will follow directly from the good they give you (or fail to give you). 

A deontological sense of the word is different, where the rule itself defines human nature rather than human nature defining the rule. Your obligations wouldn't fall from value offered to you, but what exists before any value is offered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Eiuol I'm not sure where you are getting your ideas. That all sounds very mixed up.

1. "duty could be about pre-existing commitments to human nature, which we all ought to be committed to regardless of our preferences and desires. This commitment doesn't need to be justified more than the fact that you are human."

This is what is meant by duty in general, this is the deontological justification for ethics.

2. "we could then talk about duty to family in the sense that moral obligations will follow directly from the good they give you (or fail to give you)."

This is not what is meant by "duty", but rather it's opposite, this is a value calculation.

3. "the rule itself defines human nature rather than human nature defining the rule"

What is this referencing? I've never heard of such a thing.

4. "Your obligations wouldn't fall from value offered to you, but what exists before any value is offered."

... like human nature, as in point #1?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. You and I disagree a lot about what counts as deontological or teleological. Often, I think what people mean by duty varies. But also that many people mean emphasis on the concept being an imperative such that "no matter what" you owe something to another person. So if you agree with the way I explained what duty can and should be, then the only disagreement here is about word choice. My emphasis is on the older way of thinking about these things, pre-Kant and pre-Scholastic.

2. Yes, it is a calculation, but the calculation is in determining if in fact the sense of duty even applies.  It's not that the calculation itself determines what you owe to somebody, but you need to calculate in order to figure out if that person qualifies as deserving some value in return. No value exists with your family until they offer some value, so that's why your obligation to family shouldn't be "pre-existing".

3. Sorry, it's something I thought of. 

4. Well, that's referring to social interactions. This would be the sense of duty I oppose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Eiuol@Doug MorrisIn your last replies, both of you have hit on the fundamental disagreement at play here. It is a disagreement about human nature. 

One of Rand's basic assumptions about human nature is that we are born Tabula rasa. This doesn't just mean we are born without knowledge but also without any innate tendencies. 

Man may be limited by nature in a physical sense but in terms of his character, attitudes and behaviour etc, man's mind is free reign. 

If you hold this blank slate view of man, all emphasis is on nurture rather than nature. It means you place far greater significance on the influence of competing ideologies to explain past human behaviour rather than particular ideologies, practices, traditions etc resulting out of man's attempt to deal with human nature as it is. In this sense, Objectivism shares a fundamental root with the left wing. 

This view of man flourished in the age of the enlightenment and led to great optimism about the potential of mankind. Man could mold society to his will, end poverty and war and accomplish it all through the power of reason. Paine's famous line encapsulates the movement: "we have it in our power to begin the world over again". 

This view of human nature set the stage for the horrors of the 20th century. It was central to the progressive era, and the rise of Communism and Fascism.

While a conservative might argue that the long history of conflict and war indicates an inherent tendency in man, Rand would argue they had their premises wrong. That war is the result of collectivism and individualism is the cure. In other words, war can end through reason. The left tend to agree. This view dominated in the 1930s causing the rise of pacifism and disarmament in the west allowing the rise of Hitler. 

@intrinsicistalso hits on some important points regarding this. Because Objectivism relies on the is implies ought logic, a different view of human nature would cause drastic changes to the philosophy. The facts about human nature and the nurture/nature argument isn't settled and yet Objectivism is so reliant on it. What if reproduction was included in Rand's definition of life?

This critique linked by Boydstun in another thread hits on these issues and is highly relevant to this thread. Objectivist Ethics: A Biological Critique 

Regarding duty, it cannot be based purely on value calculation. It has to exist outside of it, at least partly. For example, we all have a pre-existing duty to our family up to a certain extreme value calculation. That would be the conservative view. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/15/2018 at 9:41 AM, Jason Hunter said:

But what if you choose it because you believe it is your duty? That would then make it irrational according to Objectivism. 

It's still not a duty.  If you believe it is and choose accordingly you are just wrong.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have time to read the whole biological critique linked to by Jason Hunter, but I read his post and the conclusions of the critique.  A few points.

There may be hormonal or other promptings toward certain actions, but we have the power to overrule these promptings by reason.

The key to successful living in high-density societies is respect for individual rights.  To the extent that this is not practiced, it creates conflict and becomes more and more destructive as time passes.  To the extent that it is practiced, it creates a workable society which is in everyone's interest.

It is an example of the stolen concept fallacy to question one's own existence.  It is not a fallacy to question whether the people who brought one into existence should have done so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JH

What do you mean by the term "duty"?

Is it a feeling you have, or perhaps share with others, maybe some group, the majority, or perhaps a feelings other people had in history, whether famous or not..?

Is it something like an idea residing in another plane of existence, which you can access as a revelation, using only your supernatural "senses" perhaps even a specific "sense of duty"?  Is that other realm the world of forms or God or something else?

Is it something in reality, which a man responds to in order to achieve an outcome?  What outcome?  Why does any man choose that outcome?

What exactly do you mean by Duty?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

One of Rand's basic assumptions about human nature is that we are born Tabula rasa. This doesn't just mean we are born without knowledge but also without any innate tendencies. 

No, that's not what Rand means. She doesn't mean no innate tendencies. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by innate tendencies, but the only types of innate tendencies she really opposes are claims like "it is human nature to feel a duty to family". While much behavior and patterns of history are described in terms of how control over one's destiny and future as well as control over political and ethical motivations, that isn't to say there are no innate tendencies whatsoever. It's more that whatever innate tendencies we might have, we have a great deal of control and how to guide our own behavior.

3 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

This view of human nature set the stage for the horrors of the 20th century. It was central to the progressive era, and the rise of Communism and Fascism.

There may be overlap with early progressivism, but early progressivism had no emphasis on individual rights. Neither did any of the more radical ideologies that developed.

Communism to a great deal denies that we have the capacity and ability to choose our own future because it is so materialistic, and Fascism especially emphasizes duty to family and atavistic ideals as human nature rather than relating these values to reason. Although Communists tend to think innate knowledge wasn't a thing, many certainly believed in innate motivations and desires. In a way you could say Communism focuses on nurture, but it denies that you have much of if any control over it due to the innate tendencies that exist. At the very least, Fascism puts virtually all emphasis on nature. The main thing in common between these two is denying the power of reason.

Rand never discussed the end of wars. Besides, I think you've missed how individual rights are the main emphasis here. It's not that overemphasis on reason left a black hole of power in Europe. It's that the disregard for individual rights made things worse.

It's like you're saying we should avoid the emphasis on reason so that we don't end up like progressives, and instead be more like Fascists. But then also not be Fascists.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If anyone's interested in shifting gears just a bit (because, honestly, enough already with this duty nonsense), here's a take on the disintegration of the concept of family that I stumbled upon by accident, and found interesting. I'll admit, I was looking for all the sex talk in the first 13 minutes of the clip...the relevant conversation, starting at the 13:00 minute mark, which connects the breakdown of family life back in the 60's, 70's and 80's to the current cultural crisis going on in the United Sates, I stumbled upon by accident...and I found it very compelling, figured I'd share:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_SP8wwu0QE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Nicky said:

If anyone's interested in shifting gears just a bit (because, honestly, enough already with this duty nonsense), here's a take on the disintegration of the concept of family that I stumbled upon by accident, and found interesting. I'll admit, I was looking for all the sex talk in the first 13 minutes of the clip...the relevant conversation, starting at the 13:00 minute mark, which connects the breakdown of family life back in the 60's, 70's and 80's to the current cultural crisis going on in the United Sates, I stumbled upon by accident...and I found it very compelling, figured I'd share:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_SP8wwu0QE

Too bad there wasn't more substance.  I would have liked to have heard about what the childhood traumas were, why they occurred, what parents failed to do at those crucial times... and why the journey of transformation of child into adulthood of those people was thwarted in some way... why did it fail and produce so many adult children or partial adults?

I'm also a bit circumspect regarding his claims about Narcissism.  He may be entirely (more likely partly) correct, but I see something more akin to a simple lack of self-esteem and self-regard, resulting in a mix of self-abnegation and sadism and tyranny toward others.  His definition of Narcissism might include way too much... in which case his conclusions about it as a causal factor would have to be disassembled to determine what is and what is not valid.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

No, that's not what Rand means. She doesn't mean no innate tendencies. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by innate tendencies, but the only types of innate tendencies she really opposes are claims like "it is human nature to feel a duty to family". While much behavior and patterns of history are described in terms of how control over one's destiny and future as well as control over political and ethical motivations, that isn't to say there are no innate tendencies whatsoever. It's more that whatever innate tendencies we might have, we have a great deal of control and how to guide our own behavior.

I thought that might get picked up. Apologies for being vague. Let's put it this way, human behaviour is seen as far more malleable for Objecivists (and many of the englishtenment thinkers). It stems from a firm belief in the power of reason to overcome human flaws and irrational behaviour. 

While conservatives also believe we have a great deal of control (individual responsibility is a corner stone of their ideology), they also believe there are significant flaws inherent in human nature that can only be constrained not cured. They place less importance on the power of reason and more importance on the power of incentives to guide human behaviour. 

Take theft. This is something humans have always done everywhere you look. And often they're perfectly capable of understanding it is wrong. Even more seemingly moral people would steal if they knew they could get away with it. It is said the true test is seeing if someone steals when they know no one is looking. 

Out of this inherent problem in human nature arose a counter measure: the all-seeing God. If God is watching you all the time, another layer of resistance against theft is achieved. This is is far more powerful than reasoning with someone that stealing is bad. This is just an example, I'm an atheist /agnostic. 

Of course, Objectivists and the left come to very different conclusions but the fundamental assumption about the power of reason and the malleability of human behaviour opens the door to a multitude of harmful policies. 

I mentioned the rise of pacifism in the 30s as a direct result of this belief. (Rand was also critical of US entry in WW2). Another example is the focus on criminal rehabilitation over punishment to reduce crime. 

Quote

There may be overlap with early progressivism, but early progressivism had no emphasis on individual rights. Neither did any of the more radical ideologies that developed.

Communism to a great deal denies that we have the capacity and ability to choose our own future because it is so materialistic, and Fascism especially emphasizes duty to family and atavistic ideals as human nature rather than relating these values to reason. Although Communists tend to think innate knowledge wasn't a thing, many certainly believed in innate motivations and desires. In a way you could say Communism focuses on nurture, but it denies that you have much of if any control over it due to the innate tendencies that exist. At the very least, Fascism puts virtually all emphasis on nature. The main thing in common between these two is denying the power of reason.

This topic could warrant a separate thread. I agree there were a multitude of reasons for the fall of the old order pre-1914. I wasn't claiming the blank slate view was the only or most important cause. However, the rejection of tradition (including the Christian tradition of objective morality and emphasis on individual responsibility) and the focus on starting the world over again was significant to say the least. Fascism was a hybrid. It used traditional symbolism as it's face but it piggy backed off of the progressive ideals including building a new world. (Germany was the most progressive country in western world pre-1914 and the largest party was socialist in 1914). Fascism was a reaction to communism but both ideologies were fishing from the same pond.

They didn't deny the power of reason. HG Wells, a leading progressive light in the 30s, spoke at Oxford calling for us all to become "enlightened fascists". And Lenin believed he was part of a vanguard elite, an enlightened minority meant to guide the masses. There are many parallels with Objectivsts (who also consider themselves part of an intellectual elite) but they come to different practical conclusions.  

I agree with your comment about individual rights but the term was just reinvented. They believed in a different kind of rights and claimed they were on the side of morality -"the freedom to" rather than "freedom from". 

Quote

Rand never discussed the end of wars. 

She wrote an essay "roots of war" and I thought she discussed the end of war with Donahue in an interview on YouTube. Maybe I'm misremembering. I agree with a lot of what she says. The problem I have is the basic assumption that reason (or lack of) is at the core of war and that it can be solved through reason. Interestingly, the ARI has taken a different view on interventionism, promoting it in the Middle East. 

Regarding your last point, fascism is a hybrid (check out the book liberal fascism which points out its progressive origins) so it's entirely possible to not be fascist and not elevate the power of reason. The ideology I'm referring to is conservatism; small state, prudence etc - what fascism isn't. 

Edited by Jason Hunter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/22/2018 at 1:29 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

JH

What do you mean by the term "duty"?

Is it a feeling you have, or perhaps share with others, maybe some group, the majority, or perhaps a feelings other people had in history, whether famous or not..?

Is it something like an idea residing in another plane of existence, which you can access as a revelation, using only your supernatural "senses" perhaps even a specific "sense of duty"?  Is that other realm the world of forms or God or something else?

Is it something in reality, which a man responds to in order to achieve an outcome?  What outcome?  Why does any man choose that outcome?

What exactly do you mean by Duty?

 

I suppose the strongest argument would be that it comes from nature as we are reproductive beings. How do you describe the Objectivist duty to pricinples? What exactly is that duty where does it come from etc? Whatever your answer, just add reproduction as a value as well as your own life. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/22/2018 at 1:25 PM, Doug Morris said:

I don't have time to read the whole biological critique linked to by Jason Hunter, but I read his post and the conclusions of the critique.  A few points.

There may be hormonal or other promptings toward certain actions, but we have the power to overrule these promptings by reason.

The key to successful living in high-density societies is respect for individual rights.  To the extent that this is not practiced, it creates conflict and becomes more and more destructive as time passes.  To the extent that it is practiced, it creates a workable society which is in everyone's interest.

It is an example of the stolen concept fallacy to question one's own existence.  It is not a fallacy to question whether the people who brought one into existence should have done so.

If one has the opportinity to steal but the likelihood of getting caught is very high and the punishment severe then one can reason the risk outweighs the benefit. In this sense reason has a clear role to play. 

But the idea that without this deterrent, humans could rely on reason alone to deter themselves is absurd and flies in the face of history. Only a tiny minority could ever live that way. (And it probably wouldn't last).

In an objectivist world, if the deterrent has any role to play in why one acts morally, then reason is failing to the extent to which the deterrent is working (certainly reason from Objectivist premises). 

In the real world, whatever power we do have over our inherent leanings means very little if we don't exercise that power, if we disagree on what is and is not reasonable or if most of us simply don't have the time or interest to ponder what is and is not rational. 

Instead of relying on reason, social institutions and traditions arise (with duty as a key component) and combine with reason to deal with those inherent leanings as more effective tools than reason alone could ever be. 

Regarding the population density, it is the least relevant to this thread and I found it confusing. Certainly the weakest argument. 

I found the sections on the family and human nature especially compelling.(he said "sort of" like the fallacy. The general point stands that it is strange reproduction is missing from the philosophy when it is so interconnected with life). 

It is worth the read if you do get the time. 

 

Edited by Jason Hunter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

How do you describe the Objectivist duty to pricinples?

There is no DUTY to principles. 

IF you ignore principles which are true and/or follow principles which are false, you will bear the negative consequences in reality of your DOING SO.  IF you ignore principles which are false and/or follow principles which are true, you will reap the positive consequences in reality of your DOING SO.

2 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

What exactly is that duty where does it come from etc?

Inapplicable. (see above)

2 hours ago, Jason Hunter said:

Whatever your answer, just add reproduction as a value as well as your own life. 

The subject of value is a separate issue which does not have bearing on the meaning of DUTY, which you still have not explained.  So what if one is a "reproductive being"?  Pointing out the sheer fact that one has the capability to do something is not tantamount to showing why a person has any duty to do that something... let alone serve as a definition of what "duty" as such IS independent of any particular example of what you purport to be an example of a duty.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

There is no DUTY to principles. 

IF you ignore principles which are true and/or follow principles which are false, you will bear the negative consequences in reality of your DOING SO.  IF you ignore principles which are false and/or follow principles which are true, you will reap the positive consequences in reality of your DOING SO.

Inapplicable. (see above)

Thank you for the correction. I haven't read "Philosophy, who needs it?" but I can't can see Rand has an essay called "Causality vs duty" and ive just read sections of it available on the lexicon and it basically explains in more detail what you've said there. 

2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The subject of value is a separate issue which does not have bearing on the meaning of DUTY, which you still have not explained.  So what if one is a "reproductive being"?  Pointing out the sheer fact that one has the capability to do something is not tantamount to showing why a person has any duty to do that something... let alone serve as a definition of what "duty" as such IS independent of any particular example of what you purport to be an example of a duty.

I am suggesting if one were to start trying to rationally justify duty, they might start with the fact that we are reproductive beings.

I currently do not have the knowledge to get into that and you're best off seeking out the best arguments already out there to justify duty as I will do. 

My focus in this thread is about the utility of duty. I have never claimed to justify it rationally but I do not dismiss the possibility that it can be justified rationally or morally. 

I am simply observing the way human beings behave in reality not how they *should* behave based on abstract priciniples. 

Its almost as if Objectivism is saying "if only humans behaved this way, there wouldn't be any wars, crime, lying, no conflicts of interest no contradictions etc and society would be at peace etc" but the problem is they simply don't think and act that way and they never will. 

It's like saying "if only humans didn't act like humans". 

And pointing out an extreme minority that apparently claim to behave that way (Rand declaring she is living proof - a single human being) is hardly indicative of human nature compared to hundreds of millions of humans across times, locations, cultures and races .

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
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×