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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"

    Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    Notable Commentary

    "None of these problems [poverty, cronyism, and low economic growth --ed] has anything to do with the inequality gap between rich and poor." -- Yaron Brook, in "Economic Equality Is an Immoral Ideal" (PDF) in The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 40, no. 1.

    "[Coolidge] did not merely recognize medicine's contribution toward mitigating disease and increasing life expectancy, he went further, praising the root cause of those advances: reason." -- Jared Rhoads, in "Calvin Coolidge's Speech to American Doctors: Praising Medicine and Venerating Reason" at Coolidge Blog.

    "The Saudi regime's domination of women; the public executions of apostates; the floggings for blasphemers; the patrols of the morality police; the prohibition on buying or consuming alcohol; the subjugation of the individual under sharia law -- all of that calls to mind the horror of daily life in Raqqa, a stronghold of Islamic State." -- Elan Journo, in "Why Trump Should Disrupt the Scandalous US-Saudi Relationship" (blogged here) at The Hill.

    "[G]overnment health administrators might be more interested in using AIs to maximize overall cost savings for a large population by mandating 'cookie cutter' health guidelines." -- Paul Hsieh, in "3 Big Questions About AI-Guided Medicine" at Forbes.

    "[My 2014 book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels] argues that the way we have been taught to think about and discuss energy issues is wrong, and that if we follow a better method of thinking, we will conclude that the proper energy policy for the foreseeable future requires increasing our use of fossil fuels -- not dramatically and coercively restricting our fossil fuel use." -- Alex Epstein, in "A Straw Man Attack on the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels" (PDF, blogged here) at Energy Law Journal, vol. 37, no. 3.

    "The story switches midway from the-dollar-will-collapse to gold-will-go-up." -- Keith Weiner, in "The Gnome Underpants Gold Model" at SNB & CHF.

    "[Gold and silver] perform different functions." -- Keith Weiner, in "Will Gold or Silver Pay the Higher Interest Rate?" at SNB & CHF.

    "In a free country, soldiers who fight against an actual threat to America are not sacrificing what is most important to them -- they are upholding it." -- Peter Schwartz, in "Memorial Day -- but Don't Call It a Sacrifice" (2015) at Huffington Post.

    -- CAV Link to Original

    Does The End Require the Means?

    KALADIN
    By KALADIN,
    Query One: Objectivism's countenance of the (originally) Aristotelian principle that, to want for demonstration of all things is to betray a want for education, is obvious and indisputable. Both Rand and Aristotle share a crucial appreciation for the necessary existence of certain explananda which must be accepted as the metaphysically given -  as the precondition of man-made explanans (and their viability). Some have objected to this postulation of inscrutables by affirming that it is perhaps possible in some sense that the relationship between the human understanding and "true nature" of existence is asymmetrical; there might be some things "true of existence" which it is impossible for the mind to assent to without later contradiction. In my own words, there is perhaps an unavoidable rupture between metaphysics and epistemology, and there might be things whose postulation invalidates any claim to knowledge or methodological objectivity, but are nevertheless the way of things. In this sense then, contradiction is not simply a sign pointing to unchecked premises, but perhaps also a sign simply of metaphysical impasse insofar as ascension to whatever is the cause of contradiction and impasse is the case, but can nevertheless never known to be the case, ie. that the premise of "symmetry" between epsitemic method and metaphysical reality I mentioned earlier is unjustifiable (I think some aggressive lines of defense might be open to Objectivism in acknowledging that symmetry is man-made - it is constitutive of method). Is the proper rebuttal to remarks of this nature to affirm the necessary supposition of a knowing subject for epsitemic affairs and value? By this I mean is the solution to recapture the uniquely human viewpoint of Objectivism - the insistence on conceptual identity being not a bar but a precondition of epistemological purchase? Is the solution to affirm ineffable claims about "what is the case" as literally meaningless without the requisite means to establish those claims, ie. to affirm the meaninglessness of an uncaused knowledge? Query Two (hopefully related): Objectivists often make use of the principle that appeals to the impossible are fundamentally inappropriate. Indeed, they describe something like omniscience being a bar to certainty as an invocation of an inappropriate standard of certainty. Why must standards of judgment be possible? Isn't it part of the usual detractors' points that such things are impossible precisely in virtue of the impossible standard required?  Thanks in advance for any discussion.

    Reblogged:Burning Fossilized Thinking for Clarity

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    Over at the web site of The Energy Law Journal is a reply(PDF, from Vol. 37, No. 3) by energy advocate Alex Epstein to a non-review of his best-selling book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (MCFF). The piece is not a point-by-point rebuttal, because, "Such a rebuttal would require that her criticisms and arguments were of the actual content of the book; they overwhelmingly were not."

    I would add that such a reply would also be a waste of his and his readers' time. Epstein does much better than that: He takes the opportunity afforded by Harvard's Jody Freeman to introduce readers to his book for the first time, by explaining his overall approach -- and then demonstrating beyond the shadow of a doubt that, whatever Freeman was talking about, it wasn't his book. The latter Epstein does by comparing several passages from Freeman's "review" with passages from the book that contradict them. In the process of doing these two things, I think Epstein will (1) encourage any honest, curious reader to consider his book, and (2) help other fossil fuel advocates anticipate the kinds of evasive, context-dropping, and dismissive attacks they will likely encounter. For the second group of readers, this will be a good refresher. I recommend reading the whole thing, but will provide a couple of excerpts below.

    On his overall approach to the question of fossil fuel use, Epstein writes: It is too bad Freeman never actually gets around to understanding these arguments, let alone evaluating them. To wit, the following is a quote from Freeman's "review":"Yet MCFF repeatedly states that there is a warming effect associated with greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere," Epstein replies, before quoting what I thought was one of the more helpful passages of his book on exactly that matter:What I like about this piece, as I did with Epstein's debate with Bill McKibben, is that he does not allow himself to be drawn into squabbling over non-essentials (as McKibben's Gish Gallop was intended to do), but focuses on helping his audience think about the issues themselves. This approach not only promises hope for a more rational debate about energy, but about countless other issues.

    -- CAV Link to Original

    Subjectivity and Pragmatism in Objectivist Epistemology

    epistemologue
    By epistemologue,
    The following is a summary critique of "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" by Ayn Rand, that I'm going to post here in reply to Eiuol's question: The study of concepts is about the study of abstractions or universals - not the concrete things which are everything that man perceives (p. 1-2). The question of whether *concepts* refer to something real, something that exists, is a question of whether *universals* are real, whether they exist. Put another way, it's a question of whether there are "natural kinds" - are the concrete things in reality grouped into such natural "kinds", such abstract or universal "identities", or are the things in reality entirely concrete and unique, and there are no such *natural* kinds, no shared universal identity between things - no universals, no abstract *concepts*, only *categories* grouping together concretes? This is the real "problem of universals", the question that concerns whether concepts "correspond to something in reality" (p. 2, 52-53, 74). The issue of concepts is an epistemological issue, but it depends on metaphysics. If all that exists are concretes, if metaphysically there are no such things as "universals" (or "kinds", or "essences"), then this leads to a radically different epistemology than if such abstractions do exist metaphysically. When it's put forward that we group things based on measurable criteria, this can be interpreted one of two ways: if there *are* natural kinds, that these kinds have distinctive measurements, and we can identify their essence by the method of measurement (and no supernatural revelation is necessary, as claimed on p. 53-54) - or, if there are *not* natural kinds, and that we can define a type of measure with which we group things together as "the same" or "different" according to subjective or pragmatic standards. Everything in reality does have measurements, and we can objectively identify the measures of each thing, and choose to group things according to whether their measurements fit some given criteria. But such categories as we devise on this basis alone do *not* "have a basis in reality" - the entities are real, the measurements are real, and we can define groupings which do contain real things, but if there is no *natural* kind, a *natural* grouping of things that share the same measurements because of some underlying metaphysical *necessity*, then the category is not something based in reality, but rather it is based on our own subjective criteria. Either a concept is defined in order to *correspond* to a metaphysically real identity and *identify* its referents, or a category is defined in order to "provide an identity", by one's own subjective convention, and *specify* its referents (p. 11, 40). Subjective criteria outlined by Rand include: 1) defining categories based on the utilitarian requirements of the entities, as in defining a table by how we intend to use it instead of by its constitutive characteristics (p. 12, 22), 2) defining categories for the sake of unit economy, in cases where we have to employ long descriptions frequently and can shorten our thought by defining a new name (p. 63), or 3) constructing a definition of a category relationally, for the purpose of differentiating some group of entities from what's *not* in the category within your current context of knowledge (p. 13, 40), instead of constructing a definition for the purpose of identifying the constitutive measurements of the object itself (p. 42, 45, 73). The appeal to there being strict rules without any room for arbitrary whim does not mean that the formation of a category is not ultimately justified subjectively (especially if it's admitted there's room for optionality, as in p. 70-73) - it is still subjective as long as the formation is based on your own subjective, pragmatic requirements, rather than on the objective requirements dictated by the objects in reality (p. 43, 70-71). Such subjective categories cannot be held without contradiction as your knowledge expands. Since every individual concrete differs in at least some measure (p. 143), any universal claims over a category would be contradicted by at least some other concretes in the given category if there is no metaphysical principle that ensures they are essentially identical (p. 43). This is the usual justification for having a skeptic epistemology (such as those philosophies of science propounded by Popper, Kuhn, etc.) where all truth is subjective when coming from materialist and empiricist metaphysical premises (p. 48-49, 75). Another point that seems frequently equivocated: a concept is *abstract*, and thus subsumes all possible entities of a certain kind (whether any have been perceptually observed or not). The meaning of such a concept is the *kind*, and *all* entities of that kind (p. 17-18, 21). Creating a system of categories merely for grouping perceptually observed entities is rather concrete-bound, and the meaning of such a category is *only* the collection of those concrete entities that have been perceptually observed previously (p. 10), and *not* the kind itself, and the infinite variation of possible entities of that kind. A concept can, in principle, be reduced to a set of measurements and observable perceptions (which one may have never actually perceived), but a category is directly, concretely reducible to the set of one's previously observed perceptions which are a part of that category (p. 15). While it's true that a sensation itself cannot be communicated to someone incapable of perceiving it (e.g. the color blue to a blind person), the meaning of a concept can be, since a concept is abstract - it's only the meaning of a *category*, which reduces *concretely* to perception, which cannot be communicated (p. 40-41).   Either there is no universal identity between concretes which logically necessitates the universal concept and therefore our concepts are defined subjectively and pragmatically, and our claims over them have no real truth status, or else there *is* a universal identity, metaphysically, which holds it together and makes universal concepts, claims, and induction possible. You can't have it both ways. Since Rand vigorously denounces intrinsicism and essences on the metaphysical level, her epistemology must necessarily be subjective and pragmatic, essentially no different from any logical positivist or philosopher of science, and just as meaningless and lacking of rational justification. The same goes with the ethics and politics, too, I'm afraid.

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