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Objectivism: "Closed" system

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If one person holds that Objectivism is compatible with the divinity of Christ, okay, that's Objectivism to them. If another thinks that Objectivism is compatible with taxation, that's Objectivism to them. Etc.

Allow me, for now, to address this -- we'll see if, in so doing, I can clear up some other confusion.

Objectivism is what it is. In reality, it is what it is. And it is not "what each individual believes Objectivism to be", but "what Ayn Rand identified it to be."

However, it is true that "if one person holds that Objectivism is compatible with the divinity of Christ," he may well conclude that "that is Objectivism." You and I know that he is mistaken.

In such a case, if we were discussing matters with him, we might point out how his belief in the divinity of Christ -- or rather divinity as such -- is inconsistent with that which we can all agree is Objectivism; i.e., by reference to the essentials. (If we cannot agree on those essentials, then the person we're talking to does not understand "Objectivism" at all, and further conversation is useless.)

If we were to successfully demonstrate this inconsistency, the "Christian-Objectivist" would then have a choice. He could reject his belief in divinity, in keeping with the essentials of Objectivism, or he could keep his belief in divinity by rejecting and/or modifying one of the essentials of Objectivism. In the latter case, he would no longer be an Objectivist.

In reality, there is no such thing as a Christian-Objectivist. However it is also true that a given person might be confused on this point. Contradictions do not exist in reality, and they do not exist in Objectivism, but they can exist in the mind of someone who is trying, but failing (however temporarily), to understand Objectivism.

Edited by DonAthos

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Allow me, for now, to address this -- we'll see if, in so doing, I can clear up some other confusion.

...

I agree with what you said.

I guess that what I am still confused about is just what it is that we disagree about.

[surely, we can find something to disagree about.]

Edited by Trebor

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I have asked you to cut the rhetoric, then told you to be civil. In either instance, you could simply have agreed, or even just stuck to arguing what's important -- it's not like I was looking for an apology or anything, though you probably should have offered one. After all, insults are unnecessary to reasoned discussion, so why not respect a specific call for manners? But instead you've chosen to defend being insulting? And also to persist? (And to anticipate what I think would otherwise be coming: ad hominem and "insult" are not synonymous.)

Sorry, but I don't have time for this kind of "discussion." I'm interested in talking philosophy as a sincere mutual enterprise to better understand things, not as gamesmanship. I don't need to be friends with everyone I talk to, but I do need the conversation to be pleasant. You've chosen to make it unpleasant. And that's disappointing, but I'm not going to try to make it otherwise anymore, because you're clearly not interested in what I am.

Playing the victim is itself a rhetorical ploy, an appeal to pity and compassion. As I made no insult, it is also a lie to insist I did. It is also a red herring, a diversionary tactic to avoid responding to substantive arguments against your position. If you deplore rhetoric, why do you deploy such a blizzard of bullshit? (Bullshit in the specific meaning of Harry G. Franfurt author of On Bullshit)

No, I will not pretend your arguments are good while unfortunately being false through not fault of yours. You are the cause of your bad arguments. How unpleasant to be confronted with that. What interests you is pleasantness not truth.

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I agree with what you said.

I guess that what I am still confused about is just what it is that we disagree about.

[surely, we can find something to disagree about.]

LOL! :)

As to the remaining confusion, to be frank, I'm not sure that we do have any substantial disagreement. But we may, and if we do, I'm sure we'll figure it out eventually. This thread hasn't (apparently) been resolved to peoples' satisfaction in the six years since its creation -- or at least not to mine -- so we don't have to rush to a conclusion just yet. In the meantime, you've spoken about reviewing the relevant historical writings, and the thread, and I'm doing those things too. We'll deal with issues as they come up, one at a time.

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In principle, yes, I would say that the financing of government is actually an integrated principle of Objectivism in as much as all philosophy has to say [on financing the government], or Objectivism at least, is that government is properly financed only by voluntarily means. If the finance is not forthcoming, voluntarily, then yes the government would fail, not the philosophy. My point was that if Objectivism were to hold that taxation is a or the proper means of financing the government, Objectivism would contain an egregious contradiction, collapsing it as an integrated system, as a philosophy.

I do not see it, taxation, as a peripheral issue philosophically, but only as a practical issue in transitioning from a mixed economy to a free society. Given where we are, it is going to be one of the last problems to resolve - there's no way to support our government as it is without taxation. But our government as it is, is corrupt.

How can people's self-interest and their benevolence intersect in a rational, non-coerced society that permits even a modest about of coercion, coercion in the sense of the initiation of force, the violation of individual rights and implicitly the rejection of all of Objectivism?

I know only that AR was considering ways to raise finance (lottery, as one possibility) with no conclusion. Where did the idea of - even speculatively - Objectivism upholding taxation come from? Even then, how can this affect the O'ist axioms?

You are missing my point - in a non-taxed society, the rational citizens would voluntarily support minimal g'ment , for the value of having Law, policing, and national defence.

Willingly, by the principle of mutual trade.

If you don't accept Objectivism as being hierarchical, then I can understand how lesser, peripheral, practical issues would trouble you.

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Trebor,

The whole question of minimal government rests as much on its citizens as its own nature. (imo)

In a rational society (imagine Galt's Gulch of millions of inhabitants) the survival of individual rights and government protecting them, will depend on each individual's self-interest...and benevolence.

The first is self-evident, while the benevolence would be each of us trusting that other people are as rational as you or I are. In other words, we would look stupid if we were the only ones paying a voluntary amount to the government for its basic services, and the rest were free-loaders.

Of course this society would perish.

I think this is the true meaning of benevolence - in Ayn Rand's sense, although Kelley does expand on it - that one should assume other people to be as moral and rational as you are.

Until, or unless, one finds they are not.

Therefore, such a society pre-supposes a 'co-operative' in effect, with a majority of rationally selfish people, which is a pre-condition for a minimal government.

No taxation, no coercion, and so no threat to the non-contradictory nature of Objectivism.

(I should add that most of this is my own 'take' on financing a government, and I have no expertise on the subject.)

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I know only that AR was considering ways to raise finance (lottery, as one possibility) with no conclusion. Where did the idea of - even speculatively - Objectivism upholding taxation come from? Even then, how can this affect the O'ist axioms?

I do not know either where the idea of Objectivism upholding taxation came from this time (I've still not read the entire thread through), but it is not an uncommon question for people to ask whether or not Objectivism supports taxation, or to suggest and argue that it does and even requires taxation.

I had quoted Dr. Peikoff: "A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system."

Ninth Doctor asked: "Just what does “collapse the system” mean, anyway? Reason and Egoism are toast if it turns out that Government can’t be financed by voluntary means?"

I replied: "f government cannot be financed voluntarily, if some initiation of the use of force by the government is required for its existence, then yes, Reason and Egoism are toast and Objectivism fails as a philosophy, as a system of system of interconnected, immutable, non-contradictory principles."

You then said: "For instance, I read earlier a poster say that if there could be found no moral way for a limited gonernment to tax its citizens , then Objectivism as a complete entity will have failed!

An obvious fallacy - taxation is simply a peripheral matter that hinges on core principles, but does not affect them in return. A one-way street."

I then said: "I'm the poster who stated that "if there could be found no moral way for a limited gonernment to tax its citizens , then Objectivism as a complete entity will have failed!" although I didn't put it in those terms. I stand by what I said. A philosophy is a system of integrated (non-contradictory) principles, and, as Dr. Peikoff said, it "cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed."

Here's how I put it and what you're remembering: "And yes, if government cannot be financed voluntarily, if some initiation of the use of force by the government is required for its existence, then yes, Reason and Egoism are toast and Objectivism fails as a philosophy, as a system of system of interconnected, immutable, non-contradictory principles."

To which you said: "However is the financing of a government actually an integrated principle of Objectivism?

I agree that the principle of individual rights in society would depend on it, but if the finance is not forthcoming, it is the government that fails - not the philosophy. Surely?

That is why I view it as peripheral - a practical problem with solutions."

To which I replied: "In principle, yes, I would say that the financing of government is actually an integrated principle of Objectivism in as much as all philosophy has to say [on financing the government], or Objectivism at least, is that government is properly financed only by voluntarily means. If the finance is not forthcoming, voluntarily, then yes the government would fail, not the philosophy. My point was that if Objectivism were to hold that taxation is a or the proper means of financing the government, Objectivism would contain an egregious contradiction, collapsing it as an integrated system, as a philosophy.

I do not see it, taxation, as a peripheral issue philosophically, but only as a practical issue in transitioning from a mixed economy to a free society. Given where we are, it is going to be one of the last problems to resolve - there's no way to support our government as it is without taxation. But our government as it is, is corrupt."

And lastly, you've replied: "You are missing my point - in a non-taxed society, the rational citizens would voluntarily support minimal g'ment , for the value of having Law, policing, and national defence.

Willingly, by the principle of mutual trade.

If you don't accept Objectivism as being hierarchical, then I can understand how lesser, peripheral, practical issues would trouble you."

My turn again:

But I do in fact accept, and understand, that Objectivism is hierarchical. There are fundamental ideas and there are less fundamental, derivative, ideas in a structure of non-contradictory dependence and interdependence, the fundamentals requiring that the ideas that depend upon them be consistent with them.

Slavery in America was not consistent with the fundamental idea of individual rights (of the U.S. Constitution). Individual rights is the fundamental. Slavery, although it would be compatible with certain fundamental ideas, is not compatible with individual rights. Something had to give in the face of such a contradiction. Either slavery had to be rejected, or the idea of individual rights had to be rejected. The two ideas are contradictory.

So too are the ideas of taxation and individual rights contradictory. A philosophy that embraced individual rights as well as taxation holds a contradiction. Either individual rights must be rejected or taxation has to be rejected.

Typically, fundamental ideas are the last to be challenged or rejected. Regardless, as long as there's a contradiction, one or the other has to go. If taxation is embraced as a proper means of supporting the government, then the principle of individual rights has been rejected entirely, if not explicitly, then implicitly, and the arguments become not on whether taxation is proper, but on how much taxation there should be. Regardless, individual rights has been rejected completely. What's left from individual rights is the influence it had had previously, but given its rejection, slowly but surely, until and unless it is embraced again, not only will taxation grow, but so too will other attacks on individual rights. There's no principle to stand in the way.

The fact that a derivative depends upon a fundamental idea does not mean that one can embrace ideas that contradict fundamental ideas with impunity.

This applies to a government, and it applies to Objectivism or any other philosophy.

If Objectivism embraced taxation as moral, it has rejected, implicitly, its fundamental ideas. It would be a contradiction. Either the contradiction is resolved, or either the fundamentals are rejected and taxation supported, or the fundamentals are re-embraced and taxation is rejected.

So, I disagree with you, it's not a one-way street where although derivatives (as you put it: "taxation is simply a peripheral matter that hinges on core principles, but does not affect them in return. A one-way street.") depend upon fundamentals, they have no impact on fundamentals. They do. It is a two-way street.

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Trebor, I appreciate your exhaustive revision of the debate.

I am going to try again by going back to basics. At least we agree on the top-down, or center-outwards, hierarchical nature of Objectivism.

Now, my understanding and conviction is that the only threat to the veracity of Objectivism, is if Reality is discovered to be a fraud.

(For the hell of it - say it is proved beyond doubt that we exist simultaneously in several parallel universes; and also, that all human beings are spiritually inter-connected.)

That would chuck out of the window: Reason, the Primacy of Existence, Metaphysics, the Epistemology, the morality of rational selfishness, and O'ist theory of politics/economics - and destroy Objectivism (obviously).

However, if one starts way down at the other end of our chain of principles, (as you choose to do) and finds something contradictory, only then does it become essential to check our premises.

Which will be accomplished by moving up to the previous principle, and the next - until the contradiction is discovered. Correct that, and what derives from it can also be corrected.

(In this respect - the investigation of the contradiction - I was wrong with my 'one-way street' metaphor.)

Therefore, to begin with 'the financing of proper government' - which you agree is a practical methodology (I'd add as 'application' or as 'peripheral', too) - way down the bottom of the 'chain', is the tail wagging the dog, in my view.

The method of 'practical application' cannot possibly have an effect on core axioms or principles, otherwise Reality as we know it is false.

Self-evidently, if any semblance of force and lack of voluntarism is involved in raising funds for government, we would have a terrible contradiction. So some method without IOF would need to be implemented - because the protection of individual rights is a key principle, and this would cost money. Perfectly do-able.

But anyway, unless there comes such a time any Objectivist actually proposes taxation, the whole subject is moot.

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Trebor, I appreciate your exhaustive revision of the debate.

Thank you. It took some effort, but I did it in hope of making a self-contained post for clarity.

I'm having a lot of trouble understanding the rest of your post. So, I'll just comment as I can.

I am going to try again by going back to basics. At least we agree on the top-down, or center-outwards, hierarchical nature of Objectivism.

Or bottom-up? There are fundamental, broad principles and there are corollaries and there are derivative principles. The axiom "Existence exists" colors everything that logically depends on it. Same with the Law of Identity, the Primacy of Existence, etc. So, yes, we agree that Objectivism is hierarchical, that to understand Objectivism, one has to understand its Metaphysics and Epistemology in order to understand its Ethics, Politics and Esthetics, etc.

Now, my understanding and conviction is that the only threat to the veracity of Objectivism, is if Reality is discovered to be a fraud.

(For the hell of it - say it is proved beyond doubt that we exist simultaneously in several parallel universes; and also, that all human beings are spiritually inter-connected.)

That would chuck out of the window: Reason, the Primacy of Existence, Metaphysics, the Epistemology, the morality of rational selfishness, and O'ist theory of politics/economics - and destroy Objectivism (obviously).

This is where I start getting confused. If Reality is discovered to be a fraud? Fraud? Discovered how, using what means? Reason? A fraud is a purposeful deception created by an intelligent being, a human (since we do not know of the existence of any other intelligent species).

Is there a distinction between the concepts "Reality" and "Existence"?

In his podcast, Episode 67 -- June 22, 2009 (13:04), Dr. Peikoff replies to the question: 'What is the difference between "existence" and "reality" as concepts?'

Here's his answer, as I've transcribed it:

Existence is the basic concept, and it means that which is, the sum of that which is. "Reality," Ayn Rand defined as, "Existence as correctly perceived by man." So, there are no degrees of Existence. It either is, or it isn't. But there are degrees of Reality. For instance, a mother gives birth to a baby; she knows that he exists, but she says, "It's not real to me; it's not fully real." It's something that she can't integrate into the rest of her mind and ideas and information. Then, when she finally does integrate, it is real to her. So now she fully perceives the fact, this fact of existence. Fully perceive in the sense of, it's part of her cognition and not just an out-of-context piece of data. It's in that sense that "Reality" is Existence as correctly or fully perceived by man. So it's a valid, very valid distinction, but the metaphysical term is "Existence." "Reality" is not a metaphysical term...unless you want to communicate the idea like Plato, "There's two realities." You wouldn't say "two existences."

So, in accord with the distinction that Dr. Peikoff makes, with which I agree, a view or theory of Reality might be a fraud (someone might have purposefully deceived others, few or many, as to what exists), but Existence itself, whatever it actually is, cannot be a fraud.

If it were proved beyond doubt that we exist simultaneously in several parallel universes (whatever that means) and that we are spiritually inter-connected (whatever that means), then it has been discovered and proved beyond doubt by Reason as to what is the nature of Existence. To the extent that either parallel universes or spiritual inter-connectedness do not exist, then we haven't proved them beyond doubt, nor could they be proved beyond doubt. (I don't really know what a parallel universe(s) is supposed to be, nor do I understand what spiritual inter-connectedness is or would be.)

That confuses me.

However, if one starts way down at the other end of our chain of principles, (as you choose to do) and finds something contradictory, only then does it become essential to check our premises.

Which will be accomplished by moving up to the previous principle, and the next - until the contradiction is discovered. Correct that, and what derives from it can also be corrected.

(In this respect - the investigation of the contradiction - I was wrong with my 'one-way street' metaphor.)

I think we're in agreement on this. I'm sorta stuck on viewing the fundamental principles (Axioms, etc.) of Objectivism to be its base and therefore bottom, but it doesn't really matter whether one calls Objectivism a "bottom-up" system of interconnected, hierarchical principles or a "top-down" system of interconnected,hierarchical principles, as long as one understands that it is a philosophy of interconnected, hierarchical principles.

Therefore, to begin with 'the financing of proper government' - which you agree is a practical methodology (I'd add as 'application' or as 'peripheral', too) - way down the bottom of the 'chain', is the tail wagging the dog, in my view.

The method of 'practical application' cannot possibly have an effect on core axioms or principles, otherwise Reality as we know it is false.

Self-evidently, if any semblance of force and lack of voluntarism is involved in raising funds for government, we would have a terrible contradiction. So some method without IOF would need to be implemented - because the protection of individual rights is a key principle, and this would cost money. Perfectly do-able.

This is confusing to me as well. I did not begin with "the financing of a proper government" except in as much as the issue was whether or not taxation is consistent with Objectivism.

Anyway, perhaps the tail can wag the dog in the sense of the point I have tried to make, namely, that were one to endorse taxation, one is calling into question the fundamentals of Objectivism. Although one's view of what is the proper means of financing a government depends upon one's basic philosophical principles (Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics), by supporting taxation one is implying basic philosophical principles contrary to Objectivism.

So, unless I misunderstand your point, the "method of 'practical application'" does have an effect on core axioms or principles. By embracing taxation, for example again, one has rejected, implicitly, the core axioms or principles of Objectivism. If the contradiction is pointed out, then one either rejects taxation as a proper method of 'practical application' or one rejects the core axioms or principles, meaning that one rejects Objectivism.

All of the various taxes we currently have, our public education, conscription (when we've had it), our "War on Drugs," our licensing laws, etc., are a rejection of the principle of individual rights. "We" in America pay lip-service to the principle of rights, but that's what it is, lip-service. As a principle, individual rights have been rejected.

But anyway, unless there comes such a time any Objectivist actually proposes taxation, the whole subject is moot.

I agree, kinda.

Edited by Trebor

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I only want to ask how "closed" Objectivism could possibly be.

I am aware that Ayn Rand herself can no longer contribute to it, and none of us can edit what she has said and present it as her quote.

However, Ayn Rand herself made the point that reality is not subjective, and that if she could be proven wrong, then she was wrong and there was no real exceptions to that truth.

I agree with her moral logic, and the way she defines "good" and what is "good" vs. what is "bad". So in many senses it doesn't need to change. Same issues that have been discussed forever already..

At the same time she valued reason and logic above all else.. I really feel pretty safe in saying that Ayn Rand herself would say that just because she is dead, she doesn't mean she wants us to suddenly cling to everything she said as the final word on the subject. That would really be the opposite of many points she made throughout her works.

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Thank you. It took some effort, but I did it in hope of making a self-contained post for clarity.

I'm having a lot of trouble understanding the rest of your post. So, I'll just comment as I can.

I'm going to attempt to speak to the discussion you and whYNOT have been having in light of the Essential System that I've proposed throughout this thread.

Advisable of me? Probably not. But if I err, I'll count on your kindness and patience to set me straight.

I think that whYNOT's essential meaning is this: that whether or not there's ever shown to be a contradiction within "Objectivism's principles," the fundamental fundamentals -- Reason, Reality, etc. -- are not going anywhere. Should such a contradiction ever be demonstrated with respect to something like a theory of proper taxation, we will not up and conclude, "ah, well, reason must be flawed; time to resort to divine revelation" -- we will instead know that the problem must lie with the theory of taxation. In this sense, our investigation is a "one way street," because there is nothing, nothing at all, which could ever lead us to reject reason and reality.

Conversely, I believe that Trebor is discussing the Objectivist theory of proper taxation in full context. Meaning that he grasps that the Objectivist theory of taxation comes from Objectivist theories on politics and ethics, which in turn come from reason and reality, so that to accept the fundamentals, the essences -- to be an Objectivist -- is to accept all that which comes from them. Thus reason, reality, rational self-interest, laissez-faire, and voluntary financing of government are all one -- an integrated, interconnected system that stands and falls together. (Or rather, just stands.) In this way, Objectivism is very much a "two way street."

I think that both arguments are correct, which is part of the problem in resolving the dispute. ;)

There's no question in my mind that Rand's view on taxation was correct. Taxation is coercive. Is theft. Is immoral. And a proper government would need to be financed voluntarily (the details of which to be worked out by political science, proceeding on the correct fundamentals of Objectivism). And so I am of Trebor's "two way street."

However, just as an earlier example we've discussed -- the "Christian-Objectivist," who believes that Objectivism is compatible with a belief in the divinity of Christ -- there could exist someone who accepts all of the Objectivist essentials, but fails to grasp their proper relationship to taxation. Let's say that such a man joined us for this discussion. We might proceed as follows: we would ask him to argue for his case.

How would he do that? His effort, if he wanted to be convincing, would have to entail demonstrating that his views on taxation are consistent with the essentials of Objectivism. In contrast, we would argue that he was mistaken, and show him that his views on taxation are actually inconsistent with those essentials. In short, our conversation would proceed on the assumption that the flaw in reasoning (which he would believe is on our part, and we would believe is on his) is with respect to the view on taxation and not the essentials of Objectivism. That is, we would argue as though it is a "one way street." And this is proper, because to be an Objectivist means accepting the essentials first, foremost, and foundationally, and then accepting all of their implications. If, in our argument, we allowed for the possibility that "reason" and "reality" were actually in err, we would no longer be arguing within the system of Objectivism; we would no longer be arguing as Objectivists.

Edited by DonAthos

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I only want to ask how "closed" Objectivism could possibly be.

This five part series, "Closed System vs. Open System," by Roderick Fitts (2008) may be helpful in understanding and resolving this dispute, Objectivism - open vs. closed.

Here's an index, with page links, of his article:

Closed System vs. Open System: Why the Open System Fails (Part 1 of 5)

Introduction and Key Points Concerning the “Open” and “Closed” Systems

Closed System

Open System

Academia and Closed Systems

Closed System vs. Open System: Why the Open System Fails (Part 2 of 5)

Kelley’s Misunderstanding of Philosophic Principles vs. Scientific Principles

Closed System vs. Open System: Why the Open System Fails (Part 3 of 5)

Why I Don’t Accept Kelley’s “Outline” as Essential to the Open System Claim

Why the Open System Needs to Conflate the “Philosophic Principle/Scientific Principle” Issue

Skepticism of Principles as the Necessary Result of the Open System View

Closed System vs. Open System: Why the Open System Fails (Part 4 of 5)

David Kelley, the “Knowledge as Contextual” Principle, and the Destruction of Systems

The Open System as a Rejection of Objectivism as an Integrated System

Concluding remarks

Closed System vs. Open System: Why the Open System Fails (Part 5 of 5)

Why the Closed System is Misunderstood, and the Strawmen that are Associated with It

Conclusion

As well, on his blog, "Inductive Quest," Roderick Fitts (same person) has, as I mentioned, a two part article on this same issue (2010):

Closed vs. Open Part 1: Introduction, and the Issues

Introduction

The Issues in Dispute

Conclusions and Comments

Part 2: The History of the Dispute, and the Closed and Open Systems

A Brief History in the Second-Generation Objectivist Movement

Objectivism: Three Claims about the Closed System

On Kelley's View and the Open System

Also, in post #153 of this thread I posted my transcript of Dr. Peikoff's responses to a couple of questions (in two different podcasts of his) on whether or not Objectivism is "open" or "closed" and what those two ideas mean.

You might find his answers helpful as well.

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I only want to ask how "closed" Objectivism could possibly be.

This five part series, "Closed System vs. Open System," by Roderick Fitts (2008) may be helpful in understanding and resolving this dispute, Objectivism - open vs. closed.

Here's an index, with page links, of his article:

All that Trebor has provided in his response to you is good for the purpose of introduction to this topic. However, I also feel obliged to add that, through the course of this thread, I have also developed a position that what Fitts does (along with most others who discuss these issues) is to present a false dichotomy and then argue one side of it.

For a full presentation of what I'm talking about, I can only direct you to the content of this very thread beginning from post #107 (though it would do no harm to start at the very beginning). Along the way, it will probably be necessary to read other commentary and documents as referred by the various posters.

Edited by DonAthos

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I had quoted Dr. Peikoff: "A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system."

Ninth Doctor asked: "Just what does “collapse the system” mean, anyway? Reason and Egoism are toast if it turns out that Government can’t be financed by voluntary means?"

I replied: "f government cannot be financed voluntarily, if some initiation of the use of force by the government is required for its existence, then yes, Reason and Egoism are toast and Objectivism fails as a philosophy, as a system of system of interconnected, immutable, non-contradictory principles."

This applies to a government, and it applies to Objectivism or any other philosophy.

If Objectivism embraced taxation as moral, it has rejected, implicitly, its fundamental ideas.

If we return to what started this taxation business, we see that Ninth asked speculatively if government financing would make reason and egoism "toast".

(He may even have been dangling a red herring, for all I know.)B)

Anyhow, do you mind if I change the scenario?

How about an Objectivist Nation, in the future, which arbitrarily decided to invade Iceland?

No just cause - possibly for increased territory, or mineral wealth.

Right - initiation of force, obviously.

What impact would this have on Objectivism as philosophy?

Zilch, and zero.

And why? because Objectivism can't do anything - people do.

The fact would remain that those 'Objectivists' had broken their own crucial principle. The contradiction would be theirs', and not Objectivism's.

So it is with this other speculative IOF: with taxation. If it ever came to being, it would not and could not threaten the immutable core of Objectivism; the fault would be all with those people enforcing it and accepting it.

If we come back to the present topic - all I am trying to establish is that Objectivism as philosophy does not need any special treatment or molly-coddling.- or protection from "openness". (Actually, this is tantamount to insulting it.)

No, surely, it only requires the minds, integrity and convictions of men.

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At the same time she valued reason and logic above all else.. I really feel pretty safe in saying that Ayn Rand herself would say that just because she is dead, she doesn't mean she wants us to suddenly cling to everything she said as the final word on the subject. That would really be the opposite of many points she made throughout her works.

There is no demand stated that Rand be deemed as infaliable.

The point of the closed system debate is that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

If you add, subtract or change it it is no longer the philosophy of Ayn Rand so by definition no longer Objectivism. It could be good, it could be great, but it would be something other than Objectivism.

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I'm going to attempt to speak to the discussion you and whYNOT have been having in light of the Essential System that I've proposed throughout this thread.

Advisable of me? Probably not. But if I err, I'll count on your kindness and patience to set me straight.

As Steve Jobs said in closing his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford - Text and

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

I think that whYNOT's essential meaning is this: that whether or not there's ever shown to be a contradiction within "Objectivism's principles," the fundamental fundamentals -- Reason, Reality, etc. -- are not going anywhere. Should such a contradiction ever be demonstrated with respect to something like a theory of proper taxation, we will not up and conclude, "ah, well, reason must be flawed; time to resort to divine revelation" -- we will instead know that the problem must lie with the theory of taxation. In this sense, our investigation is a "one way street," because there is nothing, nothing at all, which could ever lead us to reject reason and reality.

Conversely, I believe that Trebor is discussing the Objectivist theory of proper taxation in full context. Meaning that he grasps that the Objectivist theory of taxation comes from Objectivist theories on politics and ethics, which in turn come from reason and reality, so that to accept the fundamentals, the essences -- to be an Objectivist -- is to accept all that which comes from them. Thus reason, reality, rational self-interest, laissez-faire, and voluntary financing of government are all one -- an integrated, interconnected system that stands and falls together. (Or rather, just stands.) In this way, Objectivism is very much a "two way street."

I think that both arguments are correct, which is part of the problem in resolving the dispute. ;)

Although "Existence exists" is a self-evident truth, how is it grasped [conceptually]?

From our awareness of many and varied self-evident existents, we induce that "what is is," or "Existence exists." Although they may not state it in that form, even young children grasp that "Existence exists."

As well, how are the ideas, such as: "reason is man's only means of knowledge," "the virtue of selfishness," and the principle of Individual Rights grasped and validated? In my view, if one has grasped that reason is man's only means of knowledge, then one has grasped, implicitly at least, that man has rights and that those rights can only be violated by the initiation of the use of force by others.

Those fundamental ideas (fundamental fundamental ideas?) and their validity are not gasped by way of deduction from "the fundamental fundamentals", not by way of deduction from "Existence exists" or "A is A," the "Primacy of Existence," etc., but by way of induction from facts, facts of existence and man's nature which the individual is aware of, facts informed by the grasp of previous, more fundamental fundamentals.

To grasp the principle of individual rights, one would have to have already grasped (via multiple experiences and conclusions drawn from those experiences) that man is a being of a specific nature existing in a universe of a specific nature, that he has a specific means of knowledge, and that by his nature he has specific requirements that he must meet in order to live as a human being:

"The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational." "Man's Rights" [emphasis added]

By grasping his ethical requirements, man grasps his political requirements. What is right for him by his nature requires that others recognize and respect his nature in that regard, else what is right for him, appropriate for him by his nature, is thwarted by others.

And, to have grasped that much he has to have data — not just the knowledge of the fundamental fundamentals — in order to induce such knowledge, in order to draw general conclusions, to induce principles. Such data which would have to include examples and experiences of his own (and other's) thinking and making choices and pursuing his values, as well as examples of the use of force among individuals — force used in initiation and force used in defense against initiated force — and the consequences of the use of such force, and he would have to have made the distinction between the two uses of force, grasping that initiated force stops an individual from being able to pursue his chosen values [and that force in self-defense counters initiated force, enabling him to pursue his chosen values]. He would have to have awareness of the initiation of the use of force by some individuals against others on an individual basis, for example: assaults, theft, murder; and he would have to have awareness the initiation of the use of force by governments (or even tribal leaders with the power to enforce their rules), for example: taxation, conscription, licensing requirements, etc.

In other words, to grasp and understand even the non-fundamental fundamentals of philosophy, man has to have lived enough to have experienced many things upon which he could induce the "fundamental fundamentals" as well as the non-fundamental fundamentals.

To grasp the idea of individual rights and that such rights can be violated, he has to have already grasped examples of such violations. The common denominator of all of the violations of rights is that they involve the initiation of the use of force and that they frustrate an individual's volitional, chosen actions. Without such use of force, the individual is able, free from initiated force, to act in accord with his choices. With respect to other individuals, who are in kind like him (have the same nature), the use of force by others is the only thing that can stop him from acting in accord with his own choices, and his only means of stopping others from acting in accord with their choices.

So, while I agree with you in a sense, that if it is discovered that there's a contradiction with one of the non-fundamental fundamentals of Objectivism in relation to the fundamental fundamentals of Objectivism, the first thing to do would be to attempt to resolve the contradiction of the non-fundamental fundamental with the fundamental fundamentals. If it is concluded that the initiation of the use of force is in fact required (to support government or anything else), then it does challenge and dispute all the rest, even the fundamental fundamentals of Objectivism.

Were that the case, were it concluded that the initiation of the use of force is sometimes required, then Rights, which can only be violated by the initiation of the use of force, are out in principle. If Individual Rights are out, then presumably the individual sometimes should act, and/or be forced to act, against his own reasoning, his own choice. So then Reason cannot be his only guide, his only means of knowledge. By that time, what's left? When is it appropriate for man to use [and follow] his reason, and when not? When are the conclusions the individual draws by using his reason valid, when are they not? Reason has been surrendered to authority. Who decides? How? Using what means? The authorities [decide], those with the power to enforce their decisions, decisions that are not bound by reason, their own or those whom they control.

With reason surrendered to authority, faith is in. If faith is in, even "Existence exists" is vulnerable. "Reality" becomes negotiable, "determined" by those with the power to enforce their view of what is real. [see the history of religious domination.]

It is all or nothing with Objectivism, and I believe that this supports the idea that it is a "closed" system of philosophy.

There's no question in my mind that Rand's view on taxation was correct. Taxation is coercive. Is theft. Is immoral. And a proper government would need to be financed voluntarily (the details of which to be worked out by political science, proceeding on the correct fundamentals of Objectivism). And so I am of Trebor's "two way street."

However, just as an earlier example we've discussed -- the "Christian-Objectivist," who believes that Objectivism is compatible with a belief in the divinity of Christ -- there could exist someone who accepts all of the Objectivist essentials, but fails to grasp their proper relationship to taxation. Let's say that such a man joined us for this discussion. We might proceed as follows: we would ask him to argue for his case.

How would he do that? His effort, if he wanted to be convincing, would have to entail demonstrating that his views on taxation are consistent with the essentials of Objectivism. In contrast, we would argue that he was mistaken, and show him that his views on taxation are actually inconsistent with those essentials. In short, our conversation would proceed on the assumption that the flaw in reasoning (which he would believe is on our part, and we would believe is on his) is with respect to the view on taxation and not the essentials of Objectivism. That is, we would argue as though it is a "one way street." And this is proper, because to be an Objectivist means accepting the essentials first, foremost, and foundationally, and then accepting all of their implications. If, in our argument, we allowed for the possibility that "reason" and "reality" were actually in err, we would no longer be arguing within the system of Objectivism; we would no longer be arguing as Objectivists.

I agree.

Edit: minor editing for clarity

Edited by Trebor

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If we return to what started this taxation business, we see that Ninth asked speculatively if government financing would make reason and egoism "toast".

(He may even have been dangling a red herring, for all I know.)B)

Anyhow, do you mind if I change the scenario?

Not at all.

How about an Objectivist Nation, in the future, which arbitrarily decided to invade Iceland?

No just cause - possibly for increased territory, or mineral wealth.

Right - initiation of force, obviously.

What impact would this have on Objectivism as philosophy?

Zilch, and zero.

And why? because Objectivism can't do anything - people do.

The fact would remain that those 'Objectivists' had broken their own crucial principle. The contradiction would be theirs', and not Objectivism's.

I agree.

So it is with this other speculative IOF: with taxation. If it ever came to being, it would not and could not threaten the immutable core of Objectivism; the fault would be all with those people enforcing it and accepting it.

I agree.

If we come back to the present topic - all I am trying to establish is that Objectivism as philosophy does not need any special treatment or molly-coddling.- or protection from "openness". (Actually, this is tantamount to insulting it.)

No, surely, it only requires the minds, integrity and convictions of men.

I agree, "Objectivism as philosophy does not need any special treatment or molly-coddling."

However, depending upon what "openness" means, Objectivism may need to be defended as "closed."

I knew that you would like that answer!

I'm slow at working out replies, and I have other things to do. As such, I yet again have to say that I've not read all that I intend to read on this "open" vs. "closed" dispute. I appreciate that DonAthos has pointed to a good post - post #107 - for me to start reading earlier in this thread (until I can, or will, read the whole thing, something that I find it hard be get too motivated to do, as I've done such before, with an even longer thread, and it was a real chore.)

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Were that the case, were it concluded that the initiation of the use of force is sometimes required, then Rights, which can only be violated by the initiation of the use of force, are out in principle. If Individual Rights are out, then presumably the individual sometimes should act, and/or be forced to act, against his own reasoning, his own choice. So then Reason cannot be his only guide, his only means of knowledge.

Not so.  If it were ever shown that it can be rationally selfish to initiate force, then rational selfishness would retain its identity; Objectivist politics would have to be thrown out, but morality would remain.  This is necessitated by the hierarchal structure of the philosophy itself.  If a derivative principle were to contradict its basis then the former would constitute a stolen concept, but the discovery of its invalidity need not (and should not) carry backwards.

 

Objectivism is not Peikoff's delicate house of cards.  It is made of something far more tenacious than that.

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You know the tree by the fruit it gives forth,  sayeth the Bible:) If Peikoff and ARI's thinking results in not mentioning the works of folks like Kelly,  Sciabarra,  Hospers, Machan,  or the Brandens, there is something foundationally wrong. 

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10 minutes ago, Mike Joyous said:

You know the tree by the fruit it gives forth,  sayeth the Bible:) If Peikoff and ARI's thinking results in not mentioning the works of folks like Kelly,  Sciabarra,  Hospers, Machan,  or the Brandens, there is something foundationally wrong. 

Not at all. Consider Miss Rand's own words in her initial Columbia University radio broadcast between the times of 11:00 and 16:35 minutes into the program.

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As an addendum to my last post, an individual does not need to be 180° off of Ayn Rand's position to be slightly opposed to her intent. Any deviation from 0° is a variation. She offers the criteria that need be taken into consideration. If any variation is to be considered at all, it it under such guidelines the bar has been set.

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Dear Dreamy:)Did you actually read Six Pillars of Self-esteem or Hospers' Introduction to Philosophical Analysis? If what Rand says leads to censoring truths,  then it's necessary to check our premises. Rand has led me to many wonderful truths and clarifications,  but if the folks who purport to spread Objectivism make me feel like the theologians who refused to look at Galileo's telescope, there is something wrong. I listened,  by the way,  to part of the broadcast you mentioned. Please state the principle behind avoiding looking for truths. Setting the bar at 0 degrees feels exactly like religion to me:(

Edited by Mike Joyous
I had another thought I wished to express

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I do own, and have read Six Pillars of Self-esteem. No, I've not read Hospers' Introduction to Philosophical Analysis. However, what Rand says does not lead to censoring truths. It merely states that Objectivism consists of what she has written on the subject, nothing more, nothing less. As to looking for truths,  you might want to consider your criteria that "truths" needs to meet in order to be considered as such.

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21 minutes ago, Mike Joyous said:

 Please state the principle behind avoiding looking for truths

:) Of course nobody is going to say this is a principle.

The strawman from the other side will say something like "Please state the principle by which you call the opposite of Objectivism "Objectivism"

Candidly, it matters not one whit!

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Is there any material idea in Six Pillars that is untrue? If so,  please state it. 

Rand's insistence that her ideas are all that Objectivism is about has to be taken in context. It was a time when Objectivism and Rand were besieged by folks who did not understand her works. To speak that way about Branden makes no sense. At that time,  Branden understood her work but was not honest much of the time. However, in openly confessing his misdeeds, in his creativity in his field,  and his zeal in applying Objectivism within his field,  I see his cry for redemption. When Rand treated him as beyond hope,  that was shameful. 

I think it's really important for us all to look at many of her ideas critically. I am not talking about her fundamental principles,  but about many of her applications. 

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