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How is the market regulated?

- - - - - market patent money price need society moral code work value

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#1
human_murda

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Well, I'm new here and of course, I have some questions. (I've only just begun the 3rd part of 'Atlas Shrugged') First, in an ideal society how is the free market regulated?

Hypothetical Situation : Suppose there is great demand for a commodity that has not yet been invented but is being actively researched. One team finds the answer (while others are close), patents the product and sets an exorbitant price for it as well. Now the problem is, is it ethical for them to do so? They would get a lot of money but do they deserve it? Even though they worked for it, aren't they making more than should have? (I have the same questions regarding the patenting of 'Rearden Metal'. Sure, he should have been the only person collecting money for it in the beginning, but after he received a specific sum for his achievents, the patent should have expired [It seemed Rearden had no intention of it]). In such a case, where competition is effectively eliminated, how is money regulated? When patents are absent the situation gets worse, the original inventor would get little or no money. (Basically how is the money value for work determined?)

Secondly, from the point of view of an objectivist, it is our 'need' that the rest of the society functions according to our moral code (because an individual cannot make any money in a rogue society by just means and would probably not survive if he follows his own ideals). So we 'need' others to change as per our requirement. So this would mean we are holding others based on our needs, aren't we? (I know I am wrong but I dont know how to put it) Also how do we change others anyway?

#2
Greebo

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Secondly, from the point of view of an objectivist, it is our 'need' that the rest of the society functions according to our moral code (because an individual cannot make any money in a rogue society by just means and would probably not survive if he follows his own ideals). So we 'need' others to change as per our requirement. So this would mean we are holding others based on our needs, aren't we? (I know I am wrong but I dont know how to put it) Also how do we change others anyway?

Patent morality is a hotly debated topic here, so I'll leave that to others.

As to this: It is not *our* need, it is the basic need of Man that Man be free to act.

Do we need others to change? No. We can simply refuse to work.

Does us refusing to work exert some hold on others? How?

Ask yourself question - imagine two scenarios based on recent political events. In both scenarios, a gay married (or would be married depending on your state) couple wishes to rent a room in a motel. In the first scenario, the owner, who vehemently disapproves of gay marriage and homosexuality at large, refuses to rent them a room. (this actually happened in NH as I understand it) In the second scenario, there *is* no motel in the location where the gay couple wishes to rent a room.

In the first scenario, an argument that the motel owner was holding others (to wit: the gay couple) to his "need" (ie: his standard that gay is immoral) by leaving them no option to rent a room. In the second scenario the gay couple has no option to rent a room because no such room exists.

If the impact of our actions on others is exactly the same as the impact would be on others if we did not exist, what are we doing that can be said to hold anything over others? What force are we using?

Answer: None.

But now if you force the motel owner to rent his room anyway, what changes? The gay couple gets something they want, but what happens to the motel owner? If the gay couple did not exist, he wouldn't rent his room to them. If the gay couple gets their way, his room gets rented *against his wishes* - thanks to *their* "need".

Who was held to whom's standard then?

#3
human_murda

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We could be going off-topic here, but,

@Greebo:
I think I get your first scenario, here. Of course, the gay couple couldn't do anything if they couldn't find a room and we are, in a manner of speaking, not forcing them out. But I dont agree with your analysis on two respects :

(1) In the first scenario, you assumed that the gay couple needed to be kept out for whatever reason, so closing the motel is the only way to rightfully keep them out. But you are also assuming that you had accumulated enough money before you went on strike. You cannot survive if you go on strike (and in reality you would be the only one to go on strike, so the prospects dont look good). Basically what I am saying is, going on strike is not an option, you will only destroy yourselves in the process. The only other way is for others to change [which 'your' need], so that you can make money. Even in the book world most objectivists had inherited capital to work on, so they both maintained and took it forward and could afford to go on strike. There was even a case where Rearden and Dagny look at a young person and wonder if he could have been great : but he couldn't because he had no capital - he actually 'neened' the society to be different for him to achieve anything [and in order to achieve, he 'needed' a proper environment in which his mind could grow, which needs capital] and this guy certainly couldn't go on strike. We 'need' the society to change [only then can people with low capital achieve anything] and the only other way to make money [which you need to survive] is by becoming, at least partially, a looter. Even if the objectivists go on strike, I doubt the society would go into total chaos as it does in the book : there would be people to replace the strikers [people aren't that dumb, at least in terms of ability]

(2) I don't agree with you on the second scenario at all. The couple are the victim here. The motel owner is a worker who is basically holding others to his 'wishes' because he built a motel in a high-demand area (kind of like patenting). The only reason he makes money is because his original choice to build the motel here proved a boon and not because he is a hard worker. He is receiving cash he doesn't deserve (because of the patenting scenario) : kind of reminds me of what Rand said about how native americans did not hold a right to land they did not know how to use. The motel owner here is the looter because he makes money out of previlege rather than ability [As he doesn't/cannot trade properly, for whatever reason]. If you ask me, the couple had every right to be in that motel and if they 'get their way', nobody's right is broken. A room is not their previlege, but their right [because they have money to pay the owner like everybody else], and they could use force if they wanted to, as they are seeking their freedom. Basically, it is the motel owner's need that the couple stay out : based on his skewed assumptions, letting in the couple is bad for business [when in fact, it is only bad for his ego].

Hypothetical situation : Suppose the only country in the world is Russia [which exists as Rand describes it] and Rand is living in it. Obviously, she wouldn't sell as much as she would have sold in [real-world] America. Her work would have amounted to nothing. In such a case it would be her 'need' for the society to change, which would then increase the perceived value of her work. She would then have to exist at the whim of the people if she is to survive and obviously, she couldn't go on strike. Actually going on strike in the present world conditions are only possible for the conditions encountered by the objectivists in the book [to the advantage of these objectivists]: (1) Everybody else is too stupid (2)You already had enough capital to start working independently (3)All achievers are objectivists who are ready to take the plunge [strike] with you. (4)You are financially well-off at present.
Actually all four are only slightly correct if you compare it to a non-hypothetical world. So a strike could not work. The only thing that would work is social change [Your 'need']. So how would you bring it about (without initiating force in an already socialism dominated society [and I'm not talking about the government but rather, the people who refuse to change]).

#4
Spiral Architect

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Welcome to the forum! :)

There are people on this forum that are more informed on patent law Than I so I’ll leave that to them also. I’ll try to help though with some basic economic points


“Now the problem is, is it ethical for them to do so?”

There is no problem - It is theirs to use and dispose. It is our right to decide if we want to pay that price however. It is ethical for the creator to dispose of his property as he wants just as it is ethical for us to reward or punish him accordingly by voting with our wallet. Trading is built upon the freedom of choice of the participants and their evaluation of the values involved.


“They would get a lot of money but do they deserve it?”

The question is not whether someone “deserves” something, but if two or more people voluntary agree to trade. If so they both get what they want. Trade is about trading value for value and each of us has to determine whether or not we want the other value enough to trade the value we do have. Whether we should depends on the context of the situation and our own personal goals.

The term “deserve” implies an ethical standard outside of the two traders that they should be forced to adhere to. Who gets to decide that? Why should they be forced to adhere to someone else’s standard if they have agreed to their own?


“Even though they worked for it, aren't they making more than should have? (I have the same questions regarding the patenting of 'Rearden Metal'. Sure, he should have been the only person collecting money for it in the beginning, but after he received a specific sum for his achievents, the patent should have expired [It seemed Rearden had no intention of it]). “

Who gets to decide that? What is this ignoble number or point that working becomes immoral because you have earned more than what is acceptable? Acceptable to whom? According to the question it is not the two people trading with each other. I’d challenge you to consider this since the proponents of this idea keep the exact dollar amount that is “to much” vague since A)You can’t define it rationally, only emotionally, and B) The point is emotional and allows people to be envious of anyone who makes more than them.

The trader principle means that if you earn it, it is yours, and if you want to trade it you only need to trade it for a value from someone else. If this relationship is voluntary and everyone is trading earned values then the idea of “too much” is irrelevant as the only people that do matter are the ones trading.


“In such a case, where competition is effectively eliminated, how is money regulated? “

I honestly don’t understand the question. Could you clarify?


“When patents are absent the situation gets worse, the original inventor would get little or no money. (Basically how is the money value for work determined?)”

I answered this above. Once you realize that trade is value for value the answer is “however much agreed by the participants”. Although I would be curious if you mean this to be the inverse of your other question and now your worried people “will make too little”?

To make it simple, trade is between the participants and it is no one’s business what values are exchanged as long as the participants aren’t initiating force or fraud to do so.

Edited by Spiral Architect, 13 April 2012 - 10:26 AM.

Volition = Cognition - A deterministic philosophy is a contradiction in terms

#5
Nicky

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OP's first scenario:

It's easy to construct hypothetical situations in which real world patent laws, applied without full understanding of their purpose, will result in injustice.

I don't think your scenario is realistic. But, if I'm wrong, there will be time to fix that mistake once that does happen. As far as I know, it hasn't happened yet. In the real world, patent laws are either just or unjust towards the patent holders.

------------------------------------------

Point nr. 2: Yes, you can say that we need others to not act like savages and rob and kill us, sure. So? Are you suggesting that contradicts something Ayn Rand said?

If you consider the context of Rand's statements about need, and the context of your statement, you will note that the two contexts are very different, and with that in mind, the two statements don't contradict each other.

------------------------------------------

As for "How do we change others?", there are two answers:
1. Through logical arguments.
2. When 1. fails, we don't. We give up on trying to change them and we use force to ensure they can't hurt us.

Edited by Nicky, 13 April 2012 - 11:49 AM.


#6
Greebo

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We could be going off-topic here, but,

@Greebo:
I think I get your first scenario, here. Of course, the gay couple couldn't do anything if they couldn't find a room and we are, in a manner of speaking, not forcing them out. But I dont agree with your analysis on two respects :

(1) In the first scenario, you assumed that the gay couple needed to be kept out for whatever reason, so closing the motel is the only way to rightfully keep them out. But you are also assuming that you had accumulated enough money before you went on strike. You cannot survive if you go on strike (and in reality you would be the only one to go on strike, so the prospects dont look good)

Nonsense.

I can work for someone else and earn just enough to cover my needs, without contributing one whit more to the society which wishes to enslave me than I must. I could work as a janitor, or day laborer, or any number of things to keep myself going WITHOUT providing a hotel for them to sleep in - without creating any values for them that requirs the productive efforts of my mind.

Basically what I am saying is, going on strike is not an option, you will only destroy yourselves in the process.

I think you do not understand what self-destruction means.

The only other way is for others to change [which 'your' need], so that you can make money. Even in the book world most objectivists had inherited capital to work on, so they both maintained and took it forward and could afford to go on strike.

You may need to read the book again. I happen to be on my 4th or 5th iteration, and I think you're forgetting quite a bit of important detail. Think about Owen Kellogg, for instance.

There was even a case where Rearden and Dagny look at a young person and wonder if he could have been great : but he couldn't because he had no capital - he actually 'neened' the society to be different for him to achieve anything

Sorry, what?

(2) I don't agree with you on the second scenario at all. The couple are the victim here.

So it is your position that the gay couple has the right to force their trade upon the hotel owner?

#7
human_murda

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The question is not whether someone “deserves” something, but if two or more people voluntary agree to trade. If so they both get what they want. Trade is about trading value for value and each of us has to determine whether or not we want the other value enough to trade the value we do have. Whether we should depends on the context of the situation and our own personal goals.

The term “deserve” implies an ethical standard outside of the two traders that they should be forced to adhere to. Who gets to decide that? Why should they be forced to adhere to someone else’s standard if they have agreed to their own?

The standard here is objectivism, which is outside the subjective perceptions of the two traders involved and this is exactly a case of who deserves what. Just because two people agree on a trade doesn't mean that it is fair (and unfair trade happens all the time). More often than not, it is the sellers that set the "minimum" price for a commodity and the consumer is off to seek this minimum. Other than that they don't have much of a choice. Suppose there are limited number of rooms available for being rent to customers and suppose the owners of the place shoot up the price. Of course consumers have to pay this price and if they did, it was because they "agreed" to the price [as they had no other choice], but that doesn't make it a fair trade. The owner could even set different prices for different people or even unreasonably for different sex and customers have to pay what is asked of them [and if they pay, we'll assume that they agreed on the price]. There needs to be an objective regulator outside the traders.

Who gets to decide that? What is this ignoble number or point that working becomes immoral because you have earned more than what is acceptable? Acceptable to whom? According to the question it is not the two people trading with each other. I’d challenge you to consider this since the proponents of this idea keep the exact dollar amount that is “to much” vague since A)You can’t define it rationally, only emotionally, and B) The point is emotional and allows people to be envious of anyone who makes more than them.

This is actually a case of considering one single trade as part of a whole and that is both rational and non-emotional. I'm not talking about acceptability here. I don't care if a product is pricier than the moon [not to be taken seriously]. Consider the case of Rearden here. The only money he deserves is for his work on the metal. The workers deserve the money for producing the product. The market price of the metal is roughly the sum of these two. Now once an adequate no. of the product is bought so that Readen receives the money he deserves, all subsequent collections should go the workers as now Rearden is out of the equation. Any money made is that deserved by the workers and if Rearden presumes to claim it as his, he becomes a looter to the workers [basically the boss who does nothing and makes profit]. The only profit which Rearden deserved was for his own work which has been fulfilled. His work was finite and he can't get away with more than his work allowed. On the other hand, the workers work regularly and all money should therefore flow to them. It is not "working" that becomes "immoral", but making money out of work you didn't do.If Readen kept making money we would have the simple scenario of "rich getting richer" (unfairly, that is). I guess Rand just missed this detail.

“In such a case, where competition is effectively eliminated, how is money regulated? “

I honestly don’t understand the question. Could you clarify?

I was talking about patents not allowing others to produce. So the seller can set whatever high price they want and buyers have no choice but to "agree" to the trade.

I answered this above. Once you realize that trade is value for value the answer is “however much agreed by the participants”. Although I would be curious if you mean this to be the inverse of your other question and now your worried people “will make too little”?

My basic question is this : how do we make sure people get exactly what they deserve for their work? Patents nearly always make sure that the "inventor" [think Rearden] gets too much money while its absence does not ensure the inventor enough money [in comparison to the exact amount he deserves].

If you consider the context of Rand's statements about need, and the context of your statement, you will note that the two contexts are very different, and with that in mind, the two statements don't contradict each other.

I'm not saying there is a contradiction. I think there are problems with wordings, that's all. For eg., when Rand goes on about selfishness, she does not use the word like most people do [who think it means it is an achievement of that which they are jealous of, mostly status-related] but rather, she is mostly referring to self-respect and self-loving. I feel there may be a fundamental difference in what Rand actually meant by need [as you can see here it applies in different ways for different contexts], leading to superficial contradictions.

Nonsense. I can work for someone else and earn just enough to cover my needs, without contributing one whit more to the society which wishes to enslave me than I must. I could work as a janitor, or day laborer, or any number of things to keep myself going WITHOUT providing a hotel for them to sleep in - without creating any values for them that requirs the productive efforts of my mind. I think you do not understand what self-destruction means.

I think I understand quite a bit of what self destruction means, thank you. The only reason the strike worked [did it? I have yet to read the last part] is because every producer took part it. Mass bunks can't work with a single person. Now if you took the plunge, you would be destroying yourselves [Even worse, there could be people to replace you]. You would just grow old and die and that's the end of the story : it would not effect the change you wished to make. Even Dagny had great trouble allowing any producer to destroy themselves by not working. But she finally agreed to it [did she?] when she realised that they had a fighting chance [which you don't have] to effect a change [as every producer agreed to do it, collectively] and then refusal to work becomes more productive in the long run than working presently. You [Greebo] also have the added disadvantage of being in a world where the looters are not as dumb as in the books and constantly evolving as well. They may even replace you and it's "nonsense" to believe that something like that may actually work.

Sorry, what?

I was talking about around the time when Rearden and Dagny reached the 'Twentieth Century Motor Company', when they say a couple of guys making off with loots. I can't seem to find it ; may be I just imagined it?

So it is your position that the gay couple has the right to force their trade upon the hotel owner?

Why not? It is fair trade. They could just lock the owner in the basement [if he isn't willing] until their holiday ends and just remember to pay him afterward. You can use force for what is rightfully yours [as property or by fair payment]. The owner had no right to keep away a fair customer [he should be fined if you as me]. Sure he could close his doors to villains but not a fair trader. Sure he has rights to close his motel if there are only bad customers ; he can even close the motel to keep off all customers, good or bad, out of his own; but there is one thing he has no right to do : keep the door open for people who are "acceptable" to him [God knows, good or bad], while keeping away fair traders : this is unjust. It doesn't matter if force is used to ratify this so long as it is reasonable.

#8
DonAthos

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Why not? It is fair trade. They could just lock the owner in the basement [if he isn't willing] until their holiday ends and just remember to pay him afterward. You can use force for what is rightfully yours [as property or by fair payment].


But this isn't "trade" at all, fair or otherwise.

The idea of trade is one of mutual, voluntary consent -- not taking what you want by force, which is the precise opposite of a trade. What you're proposing is akin to stealing from a man, then tossing a few coins at him as you leave and calling it a "purchase." There's nothing about that which is "trade."

Now you can use force for what is rightfully yours, as you say, but the use of a room which another person owns is not "rightfully yours" until the owner of that room gives his voluntary consent to your use of it.

#9
Nicky

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I'm not saying there is a contradiction. I think there are problems with wordings, that's all. For eg., when Rand goes on about selfishness, she does not use the word like most people do [who think it means it is an achievement of that which they are jealous of, mostly status-related] but rather, she is mostly referring to self-respect and self-loving. I feel there may be a fundamental difference in what Rand actually meant by need [as you can see here it applies in different ways for different contexts], leading to superficial contradictions.

I don't think people misunderstand the meaning of the word selfishness. They choose to smear that meaning, by claiming it is the source of evil, but they understand what it is. Using the word makes it clear that Objectivism is antithetical with that notion, and that we hold selfishness to be the source of good.

That's not an artificial disagreement, caused by a misunderstanding over what selfishness means. It is a fundamental disagreement. It should be named as bluntly as humanly possible. Ayn Rand does exactly that.

Edited by Nicky, 14 April 2012 - 05:53 PM.


#10
human_murda

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Now you can use force for what is rightfully yours, as you say, but the use of a room which another person owns is not "rightfully yours" until the owner of that room gives his voluntary consent to your use of it.

Actually, the owner gave his full voluntary consent when he opened his motel to the general public and it should be assumed that he wanted to do it by fair means. Now when he closed the doors on these two, it means that the owner was incapable of doing fair trade [which isn't discriminatory. The only question after the owner gave consent to make a fair trade is whether or not the buyers are capable of paying. Other unnecessary imaginary (emotional) values don't come into play. But the owner obviously is allowing these imaginary standards (entirely subjective) to become part of the trade, which is unfair]. Now the couple would be doing him a favour by forcing him to make fair trade [which he is incapable of doing by himself] and one of the ways of doing it is by shutting him up in a basement and paying him afterward. [This would actually be punishment for being unfair].

That's not an artificial disagreement, caused by a misunderstanding over what selfishness means. It is a fundamental disagreement. It should be named as bluntly as humanly possible. Ayn Rand does exactly that.

Language is an artificial construction. There is no 'fundamental' meaning to a word other than what people choose to give it. Now, an idea is fundamental and the publicly accepted idea behind 'selfishness' somewhat overlaps with a looter's way of living [gaining things while violating the rights of others]. Rand had another idea regarding what 'selfishness' means. Maybe she should have coined a new word for it so that we wouldn't confuse the two. Using the same word for two conflicting meanings is a bad idea. [She probably kept the word for the 'shock' factor. This would be akin to telling a religious guy that you worship the devil, when in fact, you may be too-much in love with Science. Basically the love for Science would be compared to devil-worship. This is just another case where the true meaning of an idea is lost by choosing inappropriate words for it]. The publicly accepted meaning of 'selfishness' is bad, even from an objectivist perspective [They comprise the bad-rich in the books. The word 'selfishness' was originally meant for them, and this is the people's understanding of the word 'selfishness' - those who gain by harming others]. The problem here is not smearing. English has a lot of words which have meanings that seem to contradict what you can make out by dissecting the words. But the only thing that matters is the association of a meaning of a word. Here, there is the problem of two conflicting ideas associated with the same word.

#11
DonAthos

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Actually, the owner gave his full voluntary consent...


Hang on. A bit at a time here.

His "full voluntary consent" to what? Since this ends up with the owner locked in the basement (i.e. against his will), I guess he's not actually giving "full voluntary consent" to the specific events under discussion. So he must be giving "full voluntary consent" to something else. What?

...when he opened his motel to the general public...


"The general public"? Do you mean to say that if I wish to do business with one person, I must be required to do that same business with all people, irrespective of my specific wishes? How so?

Why can't the owner open his motel to all those customers with whom he wishes to trade, but no others? (After all, it is his motel.)

...and it should be assumed that he wanted to do it by fair means. Now when he closed the doors on these two, it means that the owner was incapable of doing fair trade [which isn't discriminatory. The only question after the owner gave consent to make a fair trade is whether or not the buyers are capable of paying.


Money/capability of payment is not the only consideration a person might make when deciding on with whom to trade (or whether there is going to be a trade at all).

But further, on the issue of consent, there's no such thing as a "general consent to trade" without specification of some actual party with which to trade. Just as a woman does not consent generally to "sex with any man who applies," but is fully empowered to "discriminate" in selecting her partner, whether anyone else judges her criteria "fair" or otherwise.

So too, a motel owner doesn't just generally consent to rent to "anyone who wishes to rent a room," but enters into specific, discreet transactions, one at a time. There's no trade at all (let alone a "fair trade") until both parties agree to it. Thus when you say "the only question after the owner gave consent to make a fair trade," you're jumping the gun; the owner never gave consent in this scenario to any trade at all.

Other unnecessary imaginary (emotional) values don't come into play. But the owner obviously is allowing these imaginary standards (entirely subjective) to become part of the trade, which is unfair]. Now the couple would be doing him a favour by forcing him to make fair trade [which he is incapable of doing by himself] and one of the ways of doing it is by shutting him up in a basement and paying him afterward. [This would actually be punishment for being unfair].


The motel owner, in the terms he sets to trade, does not have to account to you (or anyone) his reasons -- the motel is his to rent, or not, at his discretion.

Similarly, if you wanted to buy a baseball card from me, and I quoted you a price of a million dollars, you may well deem that price "unfair." You might even be right, if your standard is some sort of card buying guide estimate or etc. My reasons for setting the price that high may be inscrutable to you (it could be according to some sentimental attachment, or something else you might call "unnecessary" or "imaginary" or etc). But none of that matters. As the card is mine, I may set the price as I please, for reasons good or ill.

And then you're free to accept or reject my price, or even to try to persuade me to adjust my terms. But what you are not free to do is to force me to "trade" according to the terms you deem "fair," taking my card from me at the price you wish to pay, by force. (Perhaps attacking me physically in the process, both to attain the card, and as "punishment for being unfair.") If you tried to do me this "favour," which is quite literally "theft," I would receive it for what it is -- an initiation of the use of force -- and I would feel compelled to defend myself, by whatever means were necessary.

#12
human_murda

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His "full voluntary consent" to what? Since this ends up with the owner locked in the basement (i.e. against his will), I guess he's not actually giving "full voluntary consent" to the specific events under discussion. So he must be giving "full voluntary consent" to something else. What?

His full voluntary consent to doing fair business. The punishment for not doing so is out of his control. Looters don't give consent for themselves being punished for anything bad they did. They actually consider it an achievement. The only way to correct this is by force [I guess you agree with me that his trade was unfair?]. Of course he never gave any consent for this particular scenario. He just wanted to get away with it [as he thought no one would stop him]., But he knew that what he was doing is wrong and so assuming he isn't mentally retarded, he deserves punishment.

"The general public"? Do you mean to say that if I wish to do business with one person, I must be required to do that same business with all people, irrespective of my specific wishes? How so?

Objectivity

But further, on the issue of consent, there's no such thing as a "general consent to trade" without specification of some actual party with which to trade. Just as a woman does not consent generally to "sex with any man who applies," but is fully empowered to "discriminate" in selecting her partner, whether anyone else judges her criteria "fair" or otherwise.

The only case where sex is trade is prostitution and the prostitute has to have sex with "any man who applies". The seller cannot choose her partner as the business is open to all but the buyer can.
There is no trade involved when a woman chooses her partner; she doesn't even advertise herself as a product so the situation is irrelevant here [She can never be a victim here as the choice is fully hers. She would never lose money to an unfair trade].

The motel owner, in the terms he sets to trade, does not have to account to you (or anyone) his reasons -- the motel is his to rent, or not, at his discretion.

But he has to carry out his job to the limit of his ability.

Similarly, if you wanted to buy a baseball card from me, and I quoted you a price of a million dollars, you may well deem that price "unfair." You might even be right, if your standard is some sort of card buying guide estimate or etc. My reasons for setting the price that high may be inscrutable to you (it could be according to some sentimental attachment, or something else you might call "unnecessary" or "imaginary" or etc). But none of that matters. As the card is mine, I may set the price as I please, for reasons good or ill.

And then you're free to accept or reject my price, or even to try to persuade me to adjust my terms. But what you are not free to do is to force me to "trade" according to the terms you deem "fair," taking my card from me at the price you wish to pay, by force. (Perhaps attacking me physically in the process, both to attain the card, and as "punishment for being unfair.") If you tried to do me this "favour," which is quite literally "theft," I would receive it for what it is -- an initiation of the use of force -- and I would feel compelled to defend myself, by whatever means were necessary

There is no theft. The consumer is only responding to injustice by force (like any proper legal system should). As to the fairness of enforcing justice, there is actually no debate. The only issue here is about the fairness of trade and not the use of force as you claim. My analysis isn't subjective. There are no emotional values in trade [from the perspective of the seller]. The only job of a seller is to make a product and market it at a fair price. The only job of the consumer is to choose a product and pay the price. It is the customers who choose the seller and not the other way around. Sure the seller can stop working but when he is doing business, he cannot discriminate between customers based on their whim. [You almost make sound as though an unjust trade is the right way to do business]. A trade is only fair when it is balanced. Any trade where one gains [by money] more than he offers is theft [The owner (and you) would be a thief for carrying out an obviously unjust, so called, trade]. Thus there exists an objectively defined price following which a trade won't be a theft. The question is not whether or not it exists or whether it is objective. It is not I who deem the value fair. A fair value exists and anything out of it is theft [and you are the thief if you support a thief's moral code]. This brings me back it my original question : how do you determine this value? or to quote myself : "Basically how is the money value for work determined?". Sure you can't have a beam balance to determine it but the "fair price" exists, nevertheless. And my original statement stands : "there is one thing he has no right to do : keep the door open for people who are "acceptable" to him [God knows, good or bad], while keeping away fair traders : this is unjust."

Consent is not merely enough for a trade : there also the factor of fairness [otherwise it wouldn't be free trade]. Even a looters trading system could flourish by mere consent. We have to bring an objective standard here : fairness. I actually am surprised that nobody is considering it here. Actually some of the comments sound as though I am being unjustly "selfish" here, as though fairness is my 'need' that doesn't have to be enforced. Basically some of your statements go like this : "The motel owner deserves the money he gets unfairly because it is his 'need' and because the majority sanctions his moral code, the couple have no right to claim fairness. The owner deserves the money because he needs it. It doesn't matter if he he is doing fair business so long as the majority approve of it and are comfortable with the arrangements". Seriously isn't this exactly what Rand was against? When somebody gains unfairly somebody else [most likely a producer] will lose unfairly. Isn't this the looter-producer principle? Maybe this isn't my forum and I will no longer reply if no one makes any decent arguments [The only argument you provided me is regarding the choice of the owner. If he is a criminal there is no reason to pay any attention to his "choice". He made his choice and should be punished for it. The consent of majority can't decide on that. Only an objective standard can. You are not arguing in terms of fairness but rather on your wishes which are the wishes of the majority. Your unfair wishes are simply your needs and you can't vote to decide whether you are right or wrong].

But what you are not free to do is to force me to "trade" according to the terms you deem "fair," taking my card from me at the price you wish to pay, by force.

Why do you think law exists? It exists exactly for the purpose of forcing people to manage everything by fair means. What you are suggesting is anarchy. The only force used in the described situation is what is proper for just functioning of society [and punishment is no doubt a part of it]

#13
DonAthos

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His "full voluntary consent" to what? Since this ends up with the owner locked in the basement (i.e. against his will), I guess he's not actually giving "full voluntary consent" to the specific events under discussion. So he must be giving "full voluntary consent" to something else. What?


His full voluntary consent to doing fair business. The punishment for not doing so is out of his control. Looters don't give consent for themselves being punished for anything bad they did. They actually consider it an achievement. The only way to correct this is by force [I guess you agree with me that his trade was unfair?]. Of course he never gave any consent for this particular scenario.


But his consent for this particular scenario is the only consent that matters (as we are discussing this particular scenario). Apart from that, you're supposing this nebulous "full voluntary consent" our hypothetical owner never gave, for situations that don't apply here. Renting to Person A, for instance, is not consenting to rent to Person B... or anyone other than Person A, in fact.


But further, on the issue of consent, there's no such thing as a "general consent to trade" without specification of some actual party with which to trade. Just as a woman does not consent generally to "sex with any man who applies," but is fully empowered to "discriminate" in selecting her partner, whether anyone else judges her criteria "fair" or otherwise.

The only case where sex is trade is prostitution and the prostitute has to have sex with "any man who applies".


1) People trade all manner of things, explicitly and implicitly, and not just for coin.

2) Putting this all together, would you say that a man who has been refused by a prostitute has license to force his "fair trade" on her?

Sure the seller can stop working but when he is doing business, he cannot discriminate between customers based on their whim.


A seller can discriminate between customers based on his reasoned assessments, or based on his whim. If you mean to say that "it is not wise for the seller to do thus," you may have a point. But refusing to sell to a customer is perfectly within the rights of the seller. And despite your disagreement on this point, to take something from a man when he refuses to sell it to you (i.e. without his consent) is theft. In fact, that's almost the definition of theft.

A trade is only fair when it is balanced. Any trade where one gains [by money] more than he offers is theft [The owner (and you) would be a thief for carrying out an obviously unjust, so called, trade]. Thus there exists an objectively defined price following which a trade won't be a theft.


Who sets this "objectively defined price," and by what means?

The question is not whether or not it exists or whether it is objective. It is not I who deem the value fair. A fair value exists and anything out of it is theft [and you are the thief if you support a thief's moral code]. This brings me back it my original question : how do you determine this value? or to quote myself : "Basically how is the money value for work determined?". Sure you can't have a beam balance to determine it but the "fair price" exists, nevertheless.


A person sets the price at which they're willing to trade. If people agree on said price -- the terms of trade -- they trade. They must assess the respective values for themselves, and engage in those trades they find "fair," and avoid the others. That's it.

#14
Greebo

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I think I understand quite a bit of what self destruction means, thank you.

I submit that you do not.

I submit that you have mistaken "self destruction" with "not producing".

If you need an example of self-destruction, I suggest you study Gail Winand from The Fountainhead, and Dr. Robert Stadler from Atlas Shrugged. Both men destroyed themselves - in two different ways. And Stadler's self destruction did not occur at Project X, by the way.

But she finally agreed to it [did she?] when she realised that they had a fighting chance [which you don't have] to effect a change [as every producer agreed to do it, collectively]

No, that's not why she went on strike. Try reading it again.

I was talking about around the time when Rearden and Dagny reached the 'Twentieth Century Motor Company', when they say a couple of guys making off with loots. I can't seem to find it ; may be I just imagined it?

Indeed.

Why not? It is fair trade. They could just lock the owner in the basement [if he isn't willing] until their holiday ends and just remember to pay him afterward. You can use force for what is rightfully yours [as property or by fair payment]. The owner had no right to keep away a fair customer [he should be fined if you as me].

So the hotel owner uses his time, money, blood sweat and tears to create a hotel, and some couple can come in and force him to trade with them if he doesn't want to?

Have you forgotten that a sale requires the consent of the seller?

[q]Sure he could close his doors to villains but not a fair trader. [/q]
Why does your having money entitle you to force me to sell you my grain?

You have said they have the right to do it - defend that claim. Prove the source of that right.

#15
Spiral Architect

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There is so much to respond to in this thread that it is tangled mess to sort out, so I'm going to try to bring it back to a fundamental point.

Why do you want to force people to do what you think is right and by whose authority have you granted yourself this power?
Volition = Cognition - A deterministic philosophy is a contradiction in terms

#16
human_murda

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Prove the source of that right.

Justice. & Ragnar Danneskjöld. That's all I am going to say (in addition to what I've said before : a person can use force to do what is right and force, even in justified situations, occur in the absence of consent of person against whom it is used & objectivism says nothing against using it to achieve justice). If you can't figure out the rest by yourself, I see no point it explaining any further.

Edited by human_murda, 15 April 2012 - 06:18 AM.


#17
human_murda

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One more thing. How do you guys propose to solve
(1) The patenting type issue
(2) Discrimination at the market

If your answer is : "do nothing", I'll just assume that Objectivism (as you people see it) has no solutions for these real issues. I'll construct my own morality then as 'Objectivism' doesn't seem to be all about rights and reason as you pretend it to be (I also sense a fear among the people who commented here of going against what Rand said even if it is regarding doing a right thing).

#18
Nicky

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Language is an artificial construction. There is no 'fundamental' meaning to a word other than what people choose to give it.

You are failing to differentiate between words and concepts. A word is an arbitrary collection of sounds, that refers to a concept.

A concept can be either a logical representation of reality, or a subjective construct. Ayn Rand's concept of selfishness (egoism/ 利己的 / etc.) is an objective, logical representation of reality: it is chosen based on a set of objective rules of concept formation, described in Objectivist Epistemology, to refer to a category of actions: the actions of volitional beings directed towards self preservation.

The definition according to which that same category of actions involves criminality, immorality, etc. is not based in reality. One of the definitions is right, the other one is wrong.

If you wish to define your terms objectively, go ahead. If you continue claiming that that's impossible, then we have nothing to talk about. If your concepts are formed arbitrarily, then they are removed from reality and therefor meaningless.

Edited by Nicky, 15 April 2012 - 11:07 AM.


#19
human_murda

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@Nicky : I have the same thing to say to you : You are failing to differentiate between words and concepts. Concepts are based on objective reality. Words are made by people to communicate. Its existence is arbitrary. I was just going around the 'Harry Potter' Related forums and found this: (a surprising coincidence too)

I also think everyone debating the selfishness/selflessness needs to remind themselves that Rowling did not use the definitions of those words that people on this board use. She used the popular definitions...and the ones that I tend to think of as the correct ones anyway, but I don't want to beat that dead horse again. However, I think we should all be able to agree that Harry's "selflessness" was virtuous, if you accept Rowling's apparent definition. Similarly, Dumbledore's previous "selfishness," was immoral...but he was redeemed.


and this [by another person on the same page]:

This may come as a shock, but the ideas Objectivists known are not widely known. This is by Rowling, not Rand. I don't expect the former to think like the latter. I forgive the different definitions of words, because "selfless" and "sacrifice" were used doesn't mean it's meant in the way we understand it to be. Most people hold this idea that sacrifice leads to you getting something better... it's odd, but that's how it's commonly used.


Care to explain?

The link: http://forum.objecti...pic=10054&st=25 (2nd page)

The definition according to which that same category of actions involves criminality, immorality, etc. is not based in reality.

That's exactly the reason why Rand had to choose a new word. The word 'selfishness' had that same bad, stupid meaning before Rand was even born. It was just tactless [except for the shock factor] for her to gave a different meaning for this same word. The 'right' meaning is the old meaning because words are human constructs and are only used for communication. That is the only reality for 'words'. Sure, 'selfishness' may take a different meaning in the future, but that is only because the language would have changed, but there is nothing fundamental that changes [You claim words are 'objective', implying that there is something fundamental about it when there isn't].

If your concepts are formed arbitrarily, then they are removed from reality and therefor meaningless.

Don't make random claims and then use it against me. I only said that words [and not concepts] are arbitrarily accepted means for communication. Suppose I give you some random words you never heard before. You cannot figure out their meaning because there is nothing real or fundamental about them. Sure you may make some associations with words you may already know, but the fact remains that words are arbitrary entities. Your assumptions are immediately nullified when they contradict with generally accepted definitions. When more people accept the new definition for 'selfishness', then that gives the word a new meaning. But the original definition stands [and may be the only definition, say, for people who have never heard of Rand]. This leads to superficial contradictions which was tactless on the part of Rand.

@ other posters : For the record I would like them to give their take on any kind of discrimination. Also explain the difference between freedom and power [and explain this from the point of view of the biased seller].

#20
Spiral Architect

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One more thing. How do you guys propose to solve
(1) The patenting type issue
(2) Discrimination at the market

If your answer is : "do nothing", I'll just assume that Objectivism (as you people see it) has no solutions for these real issues. I'll construct my own morality then as 'Objectivism' doesn't seem to be all about rights and reason as you pretend it to be (I also sense a fear among the people who commented here of going against what Rand said even if it is regarding doing a right thing).



You solve something by taking responsibility to act on it. Sort of like this post is my response to your threat of condemnation if we don’t just arbitrarily accept your premise.

1. There is no patent issue as you describe it. If you invent it then you have a right to the good or bad consequences of your work. You have the right to the good or bad consequences of all your actions. Period. People have a right to say no. No one is forcing people to trade. To force an arbitrary scale of “fairness” on people without their consent is a contradiction – Nothing is fair when you force people to obey you. That is what you are suggesting. You want to force choices on people then pretend it is fair or objective despite the fact the original two people have no say in the matter.

Simply put, if you don’t like it then don’t trade with them. I do this all the time in the grocery store. There are thousands of inventions I have never purchased. It’s really quite easy actually.


2. Discrimination, and by which I assume you mean something like racism, is easy to resolve - Don't do it and don't support those who do. Again you seem to think that outside force will somehow solve this problem. Forcing choices on people is a contradiction in terms. The answer is not “do nothing” but man up and not trade with the person and more importantly condemn them.

It is your job to evaluate people and deal with them directly, not punt the responsibility to George Bush/Barak Obama then act like you did something about it. Pro-tip: You didn’t. You just forced someone else to do it so you can ignore it. Now who is “doing nothing”?

Don’t act like there is a “fear of doing the right thing”. There isn’t. There is such a lack of fear in Objectivism that people are willing to take moral responsibility for their actions and the consequences in how they deal with others, a responsibility that is remarkably fearless since they are willing to live like a man and deal with people directly. I’ll leave it to you to determine what that says about those who need Washington to do this for them.
Volition = Cognition - A deterministic philosophy is a contradiction in terms

#21
Nicky

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Care to explain?

Nope.

#22
human_murda

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Before I say good-bye to all I would like to say one more thing : (To everyone:) You people exaggerate your rights. Pull down your egos and stop pretending that every great thing in history is associated with you (This was actually a problem with Rand and she got blinded by it, especially with the capitalism she promoted, which had lots of flaws which she overlooked. This process becomes almost unnoticeable when people start congregating. So maintaining a forum could actually contribute to this. This has been the problem with every culture in history and I am afraid 'Objectivism' is becoming more and more of a culture [and don't pretend you are free from the ill-effects of culture]). Every one of you need to learn the difference between freedom and power (and freedom can never be abused but power can. Abusing power is not your right). I've been browsing the internet and observe the same trends (and it is only due to fear). I'll rejoin the forum when people actually man up [and not just pretend to be].

So there's one final thing to do : how do I delete my account?

#23
Greebo

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Justice. & Ragnar Danneskjöld.

Ragnar Danneskjöld hijacked Government owned ships carrying goods taken by force from producers.

Your parallel falls flat on its face.

That's all I am going to say (in addition to what I've said before : a person can use force to do what is right and force, even in justified situations, occur in the absence of consent of person against whom it is used & objectivism says nothing against using it to achieve justice). If you can't figure out the rest by yourself, I see no point it explaining any further.

This is the kind of language used by people who cannot actually defend their positions, in a blatant attempt to transfer the guilt over their own failure to think to the person who does think.

You are right about one thing, though.

There is no point in discussing this with you further.

#24
Greebo

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I was talking about around the time when Rearden and Dagny reached the 'Twentieth Century Motor Company', when they say a couple of guys making off with loots. I can't seem to find it ; may be I just imagined it?

For the record, I finally found what 'human_murda' was talking about. It amounted to about one paragraph in the book

It was after Hank's trial, when he was engaging in black market trading to buy coal from an abandoned mine that had been taken over by a young man who in a different era, Hank suspected would have been a great industrialist, but in the highly oppressive anti-free trade world they were in, was likely destined to be a criminal.

And once again, human_murda completely missed the point. "he actually 'neened' the society to be different for him to achieve anything" - no, what he needed was a free society based on respecting free trade. What he HAD - what drove him to be a black marketeer - was the kind of society the OP proposes when he declares that everyone has to get a "fair share" and that "having money gives them the right to buy, no consent of the seller needed!"

#25
human_murda

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The question is not whether someone “deserves” something


"A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved.... A trader does not expect to be paid for defaults, only for his achievements." -Rand

If that means anything.



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