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    Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy

    In the universe, what you see is what you get,

    figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,

    and each person's independence is respected by all

  • Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words

    • "Metaphysics: Objective Reality"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
    • "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
    • "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
    • "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"

    Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality

    By epistemologue,
    I was curious if anyone else has read this book by Scott Ryan. I am still only on Chapter 1, but I think the author has a lot of clear insights that I haven't read anywhere else. The argument in Chapter 1 is that she missed the "problem of universals" entirely - which is properly a *metaphysical* question, not an epistemological one. Personally I've always thought it was odd that she began the book stating that it was all about the problem of universals, but the word "universal" is not defined, nor is it ever actually substantively used again at all throughout the rest of the book. Instead she talks about epistemological "abstractions". She seems to dismiss and avoid the metaphysical issue entirely. The only thing she mentions is that Plato and Aristotle (and intrinsicists in general) are wrong, that universals do not exist on the metaphysical level. But her only argument is that such universals could not be "perceived" directly, by no means - which is not a necessary feature of intrinsicist metaphysics. And her entire epistemology seems to be aimed at the idea of creating abstract concepts which themselves have both universality and correspondence with reality. If there are no such metaphysically real universals, then to what would these correspond, what meaning or use could they possibly have? The typical nominalist who denies intrinisicist metaphysics doesn't try to steal a notion of universal "concepts" like this, they will openly admit that concepts refer to a collection of concretes and have strictly pragmatic value (and are not any kind of universal abstractions which correspond with reality). Available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Objectivism-Corruption-Rationality-Critique-Epistemology/dp/0595267335 Available in pdf here: http://www.scholardarity.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Objectivism-and-the-Corruption-of-Rationality-Scott-Ryan.pdf  

    Protection From the Abuses or Accidents of the Economically Powerful

    By Will_to_Know,
    Objectivist intellectuals have been very good at standing up for business. What I have never seen, however, are Objectivist discussions of the tools that individuals can use to push back against immoral businesses. Because big businesses and individuals with immense wealth can have an enormous impact on individuals, it seems to me that there needs to be discussion about how individuals can protect themselves when such influence becomes damaging. (As an aside, I also haven't fully understood why Objectivists want an immediate reduction of government when they argue that Libertarianism is morally bereft. If an ideology isn't already present in society before government is removed, then the economically powerful (as well as ordinary individuals), will have a much greater chance of acting irrationally. Under such conditions, I would guess that unscrupulous business practices would be more commonplace, meaning that individuals would have an a very urgent need for protective tools.) Examples for discussion: Toxic dumping that affects a community downstream Say members of the community bring the company to suit. How could a group of ordinary citizens have the financial ability to stand up to a wealthy offender who could hire an army of lawyers, bribe investigators, or expertly hide his tracks?  If the wealthy lacked any regulation requiring transparency or the need to keep records of certain activities (waste disposal in this case), how would individuals know that said company was the cause? Libel or other legal claims that can be used to sue. If a wealthy party decides he didn't like what a person said or did even if the party knows that the person didn't do anything legally or morally wrong, he me might be able to find an avenue to sue. The wealthy party may not care if he wins or loses; but rather, he would be mostly concerned with financially ruining the alleged offender through legal defense fees.  Third-party legal funding (probably similar to libel) The case of Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker is a good example as Peter Thiel's billions funded Hogan. Regardless of what you think of that particular case, how might an innocent, ordinary individual protect himself under such circumstances and should would such a thing even be legal? Organizing Boycotts I looked over another topic thread on this site about how to decide when to boycott a company/individual. The number of people that need to be included in a boycott has to be large to have any serious impact on the offending party. If people are irrational, or subscribe to a, perhaps, legitimate idea that "because toxic dumping happened in small-town Alabama and not in California where we live, there is no imperative for us boycott," what are affected individuals supposed to do there? Disproportionate Consequences Because wealthy companies have such immense resources and needs, a company that poisons people through faulty pharmaceuticals or toxic dumping has the capacity to harm or kill scores of people. Even if a suit brought against the offender ruled against him, how could retribution really be served? Let's say that hundreds of people die. Even if the offender were executed (which, I would argue, probably wouldn't happen, especially in the case of an accidental wrong), so what? How does that in any way square with the death of hundreds?  Or, what would be more likely I'd guess, is a company dumping toxins in the water that have no apparent affect until the children at the time start developing cancer at the age of 60. The person primarily responsible may be, by now, dead. So, after the lawsuit, the company goes under, even though the current CEO is an upstanding person who runs a highly safe and moral company. Is that justice? A company going under is nothing compared to premature deaths; and besides, the current incarnation of the business isn't even the offender anymore.  Without answers to these questions, which would help satisfy the rational desire to protect one's life from those who are exponentially more powerful, I have a hard time thinking that Objectivism will go very far. Principles are necessary, but if we don't show people that they have recourse against abuses of power that far outweigh them, are people really going to want to live in a laissez-faire society? 

    Reblogged:Gray "Lady" Bares Teeth at Tech

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    The Gray "Lady" has published an op-ed to the effect that the government should break up some of our largest tech firms or regulate (i.e., run) them like "natural" monopolies. The piece contains several glaring contradictions, not the least of which is its ridiculous assertion that the tech giants are somehow stifling innovation:
    Jonathan Taplin will "begin" a little late for many of his readers, namely, any reading the above on a smartphone, which is one of many recent innovations not to have emerged from Bell Labs. Call me crazy, but dirtying my hands on the old kind of "access point" to (day-old) news strikes me as a step backward. And excuse me for pointing out that it isn't the fault of Apple (Oops! There's another "access point!") et al. that newspapers either find new channels of distribution unacceptable or haven't yet found a better way to make money. Throughout history, genuine improvements to our standard of living have caught the unprepared off-guard or killed off entire industries premised on an old, outmoded way of doing things. Taplin's solution, by the way, would effectively reduce the two (major) "access points" to one, the government. No thanks.

    That said, Taplin does raise a legitimate issue, although it has nothing to do with the size per se of any company: Some companies, like Google, have undermined protection of intellectual property, and not just copyright. The remedy for this problem is governmental, but it involves enforcement of intellectual property rights. Amazingly, Taplin, the same man who bemoans the loss of revenue to Old Media, conjures up as part of his solution to this problem, exactly the opposite type of measure:
    If you're going to deny patent-holders the right to set their own terms, you have no business complaining about revenues lost when copyrights are violated. Furthermore, Taplin makes it seem as if the kind of licensing agreements that lead to start-ups would never occur without government strong-arming. This simply isn't the case as history amply demonstrated long ago in the caseof the now taken-for-granted sewing machine, and has repeatedly, ever since.

    I could go on and on about how self-contradictory, rights-violating, and antithetical to innovation and prosperity Taplin's proposal is, but I will leave it at that and the following question: If a single, large company (which must obey the law) controlling an industry is so dangerous, how is it an improvement for another large entity (which, because it must enforce the law, can be said to be above the law) to control that industry and all others? It is revealing that the same man who insults our intelligence with such a proposal speaks so enthusiastically of "force" regarding Facebook, Apple, or Google.

    -- CAV Link to Original

    Taxation is not theft

    By epistemologue,
    The normal, dictionary definition of "taxation" is "the practice of a government collecting money from its citizens to pay for public services." "compulsory" is not in the definition. There's absolutely no necessity for it to be compulsory, in fact it should not be, as that contradicts the entire concept of a government based on the consent of the governed. Taxation is, properly, a contractual payment due. A proper government should have an explicit contract with its citizens, and allow them to leave the contract at any time. In the case of a rights-respecting government, the payment that is "demanded" by the government is demanded contractually. The contract between citizens and government is special for a lot of reasons, that's why we have a special word for the collecting of funds. The term only applies to the funds collected by the government from its citizens, and can only take a certain form. Donations or lotteries are not a tax, and it's not just a generic "fee" of any kind. Taxation is legally defined policy of government funding that you agree to pay on an ongoing basis. Of course a voluntary contract can be revoked at any time, when the citizen terminates their agreement with the government that's called renouncing one's citizenship, and no further taxes are due. "citizenship" is a term indicating the special relationship between the citizen and the government, which properly should be a voluntary one, based on contract. It is not an arbitrary designation. In the US you are opted-in automatically by birth, and there are fees and restrictions associated with renouncing one's citizenship. I disagree with these policies, I think they are improper, and to some extent definitely unjust. Citizenship should be a written contract that every individual has to qualify for and agree to in writing, and someone should be able to leave at any time without onerous fees or restrictions. But that doesn't change the fact that the US is essentially a government based on the consent of the governed, despite its flaws. One can condemn the individual instances of injustice and work to resolve any ongoing issues within the system without having to "surmise that America is currently in a state of anarchy", or "dedicate one's life to abolishing our wicked 'government' and to exposing those Satanic politicians". In summary, compulsion is not essential to the definition of taxation; there can be such a thing as a government based on the consent of the governed, where citizens are citizens of the government by voluntary, contractual agreement, and the taxes that the government levies (and the penalties applied for not paying them), are agreed to in advance by the citizen, who can terminate the contract at any time. Taxation is not theft, it is consensual. If Netflix is charging your credit card every month and you want them to stop, you can't just declare "I don't consent!", you have to actually go in and unsubscribe. Netflix will stop charging your credit card, and you will no longer be a member who has access to their services. The same principle applies here. If you don't want to pay taxes then renounce your citizenship, and you will no longer be protected by the government. Nobody is forcing you to be a citizen.

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