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Veritas

Critique of Ayn Rand’s Ethics

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"Interesting, I don't know if it applies to anyone's views here, but what I think - often -  is the root cause of disagreement debating the objective ethics, is lingering and/or implicit mysticism and neo-mysticism. One party in the original belief that "man" is a supernatural being, outside of reality; and its apparent (at first) obverse: a forceful opposition to a metaphysics, or the fact that consciousness has a metaphysical identity. (Metaphysics = "mystical" - to many secularist thinkers, I've noticed, and the "brain" is just meat, after all)."

Which philosophers would you put in each category/party? (Incidentally, most philosophers today are moral realists, according to the Philpapers survey (as most philosophers historically have been moral realists)).

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8 hours ago, Eric D said:

"You are concluding then that in this sense that matter could be a standard for value equal to a strong nuclear force equal to life and that if life could be said to be the standard then any of the above mentioned (matter or strong nuclear force) could be said to the the standard as well.  From this you might also ask why not just say “existence is the standard of value”.

"I want to make sure I completely understand what you are saying before I respond.

"Is this correct?"

Hi Veritas, it's very close, but not precisely right.

I'm not saying that matter or etc. could be the standard of value, but that as far as the reasoning goes (as I understand it), we have just as much reason to conclude that it's matter or etc. that is the standard of value as we do to conclude that it's life. So the claim is that life is a necessary condition for value, and that this claim - life's being a necessary condition for value - is somehow relevant to life's being the standard of value. My point was that there are plenty of necessary conditions of value, and so there's no reason to pick this one necessary condition - life - over the others. That is - and this is important - there's no reason given by the argument (viz. the argument from life's being a necessary condition of value to its being the standard of value). Now of course we could come in and then, post hoc, adduce all sorts of reasons to conclude that it's life that is the standard of value, and not any of the other sundry necessary conditions. But then it's not at all clear what argumentative work identifying life as a necessary condition of value did to move the reasoning closer to the conclusion that life is the standard of value.

Ok, so in terms of understanding you I need to retain that you point is the “reasoning” from A to B is the issue. Wouldn’t the correlating reason over and above x,y,z be understood in the meaning behind the words used, such as, life, standard, etc,.

There is a lot of reading that digs deeper. Greg Salmieri has some entries in “Blackwells Companions to Philosophy”. I hope you continue in this route to further refine your inquiries. Although, I also understand that people here who endorse her philosophy gives quick access to a response. I would like to be able to fill that role as well as notice the gaps in my own understanding. But, there are great resources if you find value in digging any deeper outside of this forum or having exhausted the replies by others here.

Maybe instead of doing textual criticism on what she said in VOS we can just start here. 

1. I exist

2. In order for me to exist to be meaningful I have to exist in a particular way (law of identity)

3. My particular existence is subject to my particular identity, which is a living organism.

4. Me as a human living organism cannot live without taking particular actions, which are dictated by my particular identity.

5. I need an ultimate guide to continue to exist as a human organism. The guide is morality.  Its why we need morality at all. Otherwise whats the point? 

6. Morality as it applies to me is a guide for looking at what I am and what I should do. 

7 The most fundamental choice I have to decide is to live or to die.

8. The standard that I have to make that particular choice is an understanding that “mans life”, which would include me requires life giving values (food, shelter, etcs,.) and the method for discovering those values is my mind. It is the only method. My mind learning reality (the identity of everything) and a specific application of what I discover to my unique existence as a human organism.

 

Also, what are you philosophical leanings? You mentioned Kant (nemisis ;-)). Are you sympathetic to his approach to morality?

 

 

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Hi Veritas, thanks for that.

To answer your question directly, yes, I'm very sympathetic indeed to a Kantian approach to ethics. I'm also very sympathetic to an Aristotelian approach, and think that Aristotle's ethics and Kant's are not nearly as far apart as many suppose (I'm more or less aligned with thinkers like Korsgaard here).

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23 minutes ago, Eric D said:

Hi Veritas, thanks for that.

To answer your question directly, yes, I'm very sympathetic indeed to a Kantian approach to ethics. I'm also very sympathetic to an Aristotelian approach, and think that Aristotle's ethics and Kant's are not nearly as far apart as many suppose (I'm more or less aligned with thinkers like Korsgaard here).

You might really appreciate the Irfan Khawaja chapter in the ARS volume I linked earlier, as well as Khawaja's 2008 PhD dissertation "Foundationalism and the Foundation of Ethics" which defends a thoroughly Randian ethical egoism and engages deeply with Korsgaard in chapters 7, 8, and Appendix B:

https://www.academia.edu/1826457/Foundationalism_and_the_Foundations_of_Ethics

Edit: Also you can probably just email him, or post a question on his blog or FB, he's pretty responsive to students and much more knowledgeable about Rand than keyboard philosophers on any forums you're going to find.

Edited by 2046

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1 hour ago, Eric D said:



Which philosophers would you put in each category/party? (Incidentally, most philosophers today are moral realists, according to the Philpapers survey (as most philosophers historically have been moral realists)).

https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/spr2012/entries/kant-hume-morality/

Excerpt: "Kant regards all moral theories prior to his as failing to explain the categorical nature of moral obligation..."

Also, I refer you to an essay in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "Eliminativist materialism".

"...by denying that there is an ego or persisting subject of experience, Hume (1739) was arguably an eliminativist about the self. Reductive materialists can be viewed as eliminativists with respect to an immortal soul".

Edited by whYNOT

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2046, thanks for the link.

"Kant regards all moral theories prior to his as failing to explain the categorical nature of moral obligation..."

That's true enough about Kant, but I'm not sure how that claim - that he 'regards all moral theories prior to his as failing to explain the categorical nature of moral obligation' - places him in one of the two categories you laid out above.  

 

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