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  1. Yesterday
  2. Jonathan, The reason courage is necessary to act on one's judgment is because we rational people live in an irrational society. When some people in society act irrationally, we cannot always predict their response to our act of integrity. It especially requires courage to confront the persecution that comes from being a rational agent. See "Can a rational man live in an irrational society." and "America's Persecuted Minority."
  3. Jonathan, Philosophy is very helpful training for leadership. Training with concepts allows you to "see the self." You can witness your thoughts as they occur, classify them, work with them, and execute on them.
  4. Ms. Rand alludes to heuristics in the main chapter of The Virtue of Selfishness, entitled "The Objectivist Ethics." She says that once our emotions are programmed by the values of our mind, they serve as "lightning calculators" of our interests. Emotion is quicker than reason. As long as our emotions are properly programmed by our values, they can be useful for quick answers.
  5. As if saying it enough times will make it so, Dennis Prager has written yet another column asserting that a secular society is -- somehow -- also therefore a less free one. Somehow? you might ask. Well, you tell me:Image by Alex Shu, via Unsplash, license.Here is something any honest person must acknowledge: As America has become more secular, it has become less free. Individuals can differ as to whether these two facts are correlated, but no honest person can deny they are facts. It seems to me indisputable that they are correlated. To deny this, one would have to argue that it is merely coincidental that free speech, the greatest of all freedoms, is more seriously threatened than at any time in American history while a smaller-than-ever percentage of Americans believe in [God] or regularly attend church. [bold added]Does this not seem like an odd way to open an argument about secularity ... Gosh! what is that word? -- necessitating? ... the decline of freedom in our great republic? In case your'e having a hard time putting a finger on why it does, let's consider an uncontroversial phrase that I would have thought was also familiar to almost any educated adult and certainly should be to any intellectual:Correlation does not imply causation.Prager frequently equates the left with what he calls "secularism." I personally think the left looks more and more religious by the day, and "nature" is a strong candidate for one of its gods. Be that as it may, let's run with Prager's assumption for a moment that religion necessarily implies belief in a god of the Judaeo-Christian sort. If so, then I completely agree with him on both counts: America is both less religious (in that sense) and less free, and those facts about our culture are likely correlated. But so, too are US spending on science, space, and technology -- and US suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation, from 1999 to 2009 -- according to the web site, Spurious Correlations. Those numbers are facts and so is the correlation. But I don't think even Dennis Prager would seriously argue that one of these causes the other. Prager's article says not a peep about causation, but that's something we really ought to consider. America has become less free and less observant of traditional Western religions over the past century. Anyone who values freedom would do well to ask that question. Prager, oddly, just assumes -- or seems to want the reader to assume -- that less religion somehow causes less freedom. At least one thinker I am pretty sure Prager has heard of, Ayn Rand, would beg to differ, as her greatest student, Leonard Peikoff, once outlined in some detail in his essay, "Religion vs. America." Within, Peikoff argues in part:Point for point, the Founding Fathers' argument for liberty was the exact counterpart of the Puritans' argument for dictatorship -- but in reverse, moving from the opposite starting point to the opposite conclusion. Man, the Founding Fathers said in essence (with a large assist from Locke and others), is the rational being; no authority, human or otherwise, can demand blind obedience from such a being -- not in the realm of thought or, therefore, in the realm of action, either. By his very nature, they said, man must be left free to exercise his reason and then to act accordingly, i.e., by the guidance of his best rational judgment. Because this world is of vital importance, they added, the motive of man's action should be the pursuit of happiness. Because the individual, not a supernatural power, is the creator of wealth, a man should have the right to private property, the right to keep and use or trade his own product. And because man is basically good, they held, there is no need to leash him; there is nothing to fear in setting free a rational animal. [bold added]If the case for liberty is actually secular, then something other than an some woozily-implied causation of less freedom by an absence of Christianity might be causing the two cultural trends Prager brings up, but doesn't seem very serious about understanding. To wit: His "opposition to slavery was based entirely on the Bible," even if true, does not imply that without religion, we would all advocate slavery. As witness the oath of Ayn Rand's most famous character, "I swear by my life ... and my love of it ... that I will never live for the sake of another man ... nor ask another man ... to live ... for mine." As for what might be causing the two trends, my note about the left becoming more quasi-religious should offer a clue, but a more full explanation would come from Rand's and Peikoff's extensive analyses of the baleful influence of Immanual Kant -- whose mission was to save Christian altruism from the Enlightenment -- on our culture over time. In short, our society continued moving away from Christianity, but also, thanks to Kant, began moving towards a duty-based ethos and its anti-freedom political correlate of statism. -- CAVLink to Original
  6. Last week
  7. Book III 2 - Intelligence is in the greatest proportion in the animals that show love and familiarity to their young. This is mentioned in relation to survival benefit to the young. 4 - Aristotle notices that greater gestation time and greater size of the young contributes to decreasing how many young are produced. 10 - A great deal is said about how bees generate, especially to argue against existing theories about bees. It's all sensible enough, based on observation. Yet Aristotle acknowledges directly that this is what appears to be the truth, and specifically based off of premises, but that all the facts are not sufficiently grasped yet. He says that credit must be given first to observations rather than theories, and theories only if they agree with observed facts. Book IV 1 - Aristotle mentions other theories about how male and female is differentiated during development, but basically in the end dismisses any thorough refutation because they are not based on facts as they are now understood. Nature assigns an organ to the corresponding faculty. 2 - This chapter interestingly allows for an easier interpretation of virtue as a mean. By analogy, too much fire burns meat, too little fire doesn't cook it. In either case, the process is a failure. The focus is actually on a successful process caused by the proper proportion of characteristics. Aristotle speaks of an embryo becoming male when it prevails in its movement, which makes me think of Nietzsche because there is a certain biological willing that occurs. Although it can also be thought of as certain requirements being met compared to a default. All embryos actually start out as female, so in a way Aristotle is right, because becoming male must be actively created during development. But he also mentions the individual prevailing or the male principle prevailing. 4 - Monstrosities are contrary to nature, but only contrary in the sense of contrary to how things usually are but can still happen in other ways. 6 - Nutriment in development goes towards the size of the young, or in the other direction towards the number of young. Book V This book makes much more sense either in Parts, or History. Nothing is about generation. It actually makes most sense with Meteorology book IV. This book deals with hot and cold affecting organic things. Book V of Generation deals with hot and cold producing incidental traits in animals, such as hair color, eye color, and characteristics of skin. On the other hand, it does describe the generation of incidental characteristics. These characteristics are not because of any final cause about the animal. There can be numerous causes concretely speaking, these characteristics don't have to be because of an animal's definition.
  8. At RealClear Markets, John Tamny ably discusses the prospect of what an economic downturn in China -- specifically due to a return to communist policies -- could mean, and rightly offers the following warning:Image by CRCHF, via Wikimedia Commons, license.[W]hile some may contemplate a wrecked, economically retreating China with glee, the view here is that they're not thinking very expansively. And they're not thinking much at all about what a Maoist scenario for China would mean for the United States. The economics of such a lurch would be very harmful for the U.S. economy. In other words, a declining China would very much pull down the U.S. To see why, consider the aforementioned ubiquity of American restaurant brands in China's cities. As the economy has grown in China thanks to rising freedom, the prosperity of its people has surged. And they in many ways went on an all-things-American buying spree. There are 3,700 McDonald's restaurants in China, over 4,000 Starbucks locations, hundreds of Carl's Jr.'s. Assuming a lurch back toward socialism or communism, American companies with large footprints in China will suffer in a big way. And that's only part of the story.This is true, and I agree with most of what Tamny says about this looming problem, with one major exception. While Tamny holds that such a change "would also take a strike on Taiwan off of the table," I am not so sure. Certainly it would, long-term, but China has a large military now, and a great deal of manufacturing capacity that hasn't been hobbled yet, and might last long enough to cause a problem. I've heard countries like this likened to batteries, in contrast to capitalist generators, and I think the comparison is a good one. And if the CCP is so clueless as to make good on its threat, I don't see it taking a lesson when that causes economic problems. In fact, the situation reminds me of something Ayn Rand once said regarding the relationship between freedom and war:Statism -- in fact and in principle -- is nothing more than gang rule. A dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When a statist ruler exhausts his own country's economy, he attacks his neighbors. It is his only means of postponing internal collapse and prolonging his rule. A country that violates the rights of its own citizens, will not respect the rights of its neighbors. Those who do not recognize individual rights, will not recognize the rights of nations: a nation is only a number of individuals. Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production. Observe that the major wars of history were started by the more controlled economies of the time against the freer ones. For instance, World War I was started by monarchist Germany and Czarist Russia, who dragged in their freer allies. World War II was started by the alliance of Nazi Germany with Soviet Russia and their joint attack on Poland. [bold added]To make matters worse, the troubles with Evergrande, which I have seen compared to a Ponzi scheme, could both jump-start the process and provide ideological cover for (and economic blinders to) the CCP: Capitalism will get blamed for whatever occurs because of that, regardless of whatever state interventions made it possible in the first place, and whatever China might attempt to soften the blow if it follows a "too big to fail" policy of mitigation. -- CAVLink to Original
  9. We had Robert Bidinotto on the podcast. He was an investigative journalist and active in the Objectivist movement for many years. He now writes vigilante thriller novels centered around his hero Dylan Hunter. The first part of this episode focuses on his history in the nonfiction world of journalism and Objectivism, while the second half (52:00) is about his fiction writing and thoughts on justice. Check it out!
  10. Both 'sides' can hold strange, irrational, unscientific theories about vaccinating. One of them, however, the vaxxers, is trying to force their way on the other, the so-called anti-vaxxers. You won't see the latter loudly and angrily trying to force non-vaccinating upon people and denouncing them (on FB and elsewhere). Although you point to an admittedly false alternative, where one person/side is for individual choice and the other is for collective obedience, I know where my sympathies lie.
  11. LOL. Try it out, lad. Make an original and substantial - Objectivist - argument against anything I have said. I suggest DM, not to pay attention to this "captious or fallacious reasoner, quibbler". ["Sophist" def.]. Mr Quibbles will let you down.
  12. No, by many scientists, possible and future mutations of the virus could be most harmful to the repeatedly mass-vaxxed especially. There are those who definitely should, in self-interest, get vaccinated because of preexisting conditions. Their risk-benefit ratio, Covid infection v. vaccination, is heavily weighted in favor. There are those who don't need to. There are those who don't want to. All have the rights to refuse or be temporarily hesitant, regardless of the reasons for those choices.
  13. Even if they make the Delta strain worse specifically, that's only harmful to the people who are not vaccinated. In which case it's not really vaccination that makes the Delta strain worse, it is the fact that a vaccine exists but specifically there are people who don't want to get the vaccine. Incidentally, this would mean they are making it worse for themselves. Not the vaccines. The better approach is to use whyNot as a punching bag for practice on finding fallacies and errors in reasoning. He has a lot of them and it's good practice.
  14. We must not let this push us into swinging to the other side of the same false coin.
  15. An example of necessary increase in risk would be a case where someone has a legitimate medical reason for not masking or not vaccinating. We may need to work on this some more for the purpose of writing laws. I am trying to clarify one philosophical point. I am not trying or claiming to give an encyclopedic treatment of all the technical issues of medicine and the philosophy of law that might be relevant to deciding what exactly the law should say. I am not doing, advocating, or condoning any of these things. I am not asking for an absolute guarantee. I am saying we should rationally determine at what point increasing physical risk rises to physical force.
  16. No, I am not saying that. That's a wrongheaded way to look at it. We do not need to identify any chains or individuals in chains to prove that failure to mask or to vaccinate increases the risk of spread of the disease. It appears you will never understand that I am saying that unnecessarily increasing such risk can rise to physical force. It is a technical issue whether we emphasize controlling spread or we let the spread rip and hope for natural immunity. I do not trust your sources of technical information.
  17. Seen, a mention of Rand, on The Wife's Facebook page among a largely freedom-orientated, rational and thoughtful thread (unusual and glad to know) by several South Africans: "For the record, all the antivaxx arguments - pro-choice, my body, experimental, microchips, Bill Gates, natural immunity, Big Pharma, a New Holocaust - it's all selfish, Ayn Rand, individualist, libertarian, bullshit". Notice the package-deal. Against forced vaccines - must - equal 'microchips' etc.etc. For his angry conclusion: generally for Oists one presumes, and essentially, absolutely true. The writer reveals profound awareness that the enemy of the collective is the individual. That is the main war, of which vaxxes and masks and so on, is a subsidiary.
  18. What is "unnecessarily"? One man's standard of necessity will not be an other's and the criterion of 'judgment' will be subjective/relativist so none can judge objectively. It's necessary for a rational man to take all possible risks into account - and assume, benevolently and fearlessly, that no one is "out to get him" deliberately. If there are a few who will dangerously fire off guns in public, that is a remote reality he accepts for going out, pursuing his goals. Otherwise, for any who are so scared of people, be consistent - hide away from society on a mountain top or deserted island. (Or cover yourself up/take the jabs, etc.) This argument you pose resorts to alarmism, and sounds like the horde of vaxxers trying to intimidate and 'guilt' any others into compliant behavior. Only some libertarians' version of "initiation of force" (NAP) ~might~ lend your argument credibility. I.e. then NIOF is a floating abstraction, detached from man's nature, and ethics and individual rights. "You will NOT do such and such - you can't guarantee others may not be harmed!" (Ending up in practice a primary concern for 'the other', a rigid, self- restrictive commandment, inimical to an individual's freedom of action).
  19. This morning, I read a column by a cranky old man urging his fellow New Yorkers to "get real" about returning to work in their offices. To Steve Cuozzo's credit, he did concede that there were some advantages to working from home as opposed to going to the office. And he is absolutely correct to start off by noting that employees are contractually obligated to work how and where their bosses want them to. Cuozzo might even be right that lots of people are selectively afraid of Covid when it comes to office work, but brave when it comes to filling restaurants and bars. And he might be right that productivity took a nosedive with widespread at-home working -- although unfair to grouse about people spending time with their kids. (Remember all those union-driven school closures?) So far, so good, but what does he build up to?Image by Israel Andrade, via Unsplash, license.Memo to those who say, "I don't care if I never go back to the office," and to companies that say, "We'll get there when we get there": The issue is bigger than you. Indefinitely empty office buildings will doom this city. Without the fortune in tax revenue that the buildings generate, our $98.6 billion annual budget won't be carried by parking-violation and unleashed-dog fines. Tenants need to engage their employees on these issues more than they have. Or we'll see an endless cycle of office-return postponements until companies say enough! Let's keep everyone home for good. Should that happen, and strip the value off thousands of office towers with a half-billion square feet and wreck the economy, don't blame the banks. Don't blame Trump, Biden, Dr. Fauci or China. It's all on us for not tackling the problem head-on, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. [bold added]No. The issue is between you and the person who is giving you money to perform work. If that work satisfies him, even when you do it at home, you might be able to negotiate working from home for some or all of the time that work takes. Or not. And your employer's proper concern is how profitable his business is, not feeding Leviathan or serving as some kind of charity. Ayn Rand frequently commented on conservatives never having the moral high ground on leftists, and this column is, unfortunately, a great example of that. If conservatives did not share the same altruistic ethical base, there would be no silly talk like this of a cause -- taxation (!) -- being "greater than oneself," and if conservatives were not basically collectivists, Cuozzo might have taken the strong possibility of a diminished tax base for New York as a point of departure for perhaps finally starting a conversation about rolling back the city's government to its proper scope, of protecting individual rights, rather than treating us all like milch cows. If conservatives could stop whining about how we aren't just mindlessly returning to old routines, they might consider questioning them and beyond. Until they do, they'll keep sounding like grumpy Democrats and wondering why they can't seem to win elections against the the party that undeservedly attracts most of the young, energetic idealists. Freedom to pursue one's self interest inspired at least one successful revolution against tyranny in this country. I suggest conservatives get real about giving that a try for a change. -- CAVLink to Original
  20. Life requires risk. Living IS risk. Or else one wouldn't get out of bed every morning. DM, you are stuck in a single and linear modality: person-to-person transmission. So you come by unending culpability for random others' health/illness, at risk of initiating force. Clear, you don't know the facts. A virus becomes an epidemic and pandemic when it has a greater transmission rate than one. When it has an R0 factor of (e.g.) 3, one may calculate that only five generations of infection starting from one person will lead to 1000 cases over a short period. Then show which person in the exponential chain is responsible for physical force, or, all of them... The transmission is "out of control". Basic questions of strategy 1. do you try to clamp down on the spread? (an unsuccessful policy, as fatality results show us. With a host of knock-on problems and damage, we won't see the end of for decades). or 2. do you self-select and select the "vulnerable cohort" for special protection, allowing the spread in the vastly less-risk population until natural herd immunity had been reached? (and it would have been) - then following up with vaccines for the vulnerable when they are later developed. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Endemics,_Epidemics_and_Pandemics "The WHO defines pandemics, epidemics, and endemics based on a disease's rate of spread. Thus, the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic isn't in the severity of the disease, but the degree to which it has spread. A pandemic cuts across international boundaries, as opposed to regional epidemics. This wide geographical reach is what makes pandemics lead to large-scale social disruption, economic loss, and general hardship. It's important to note that a once-declared epidemic can progress into pandemic status. While an epidemic is large, it is also generally contained or expected in its spread, while a pandemic is international and out of control".
  21. This requotation needs addressing as an example of many such scientists who independently have voiced similar reservations (for the very long term, not side effects). They are gaining nothing out of it, quite the opposite, their reputations are being slurred. No one can doubt that there has been information censoring/filtering throughout the pandemic by the 'legitimate' scientists. The rush to coerce vaccinations on whole populations must give pause for thought. If even a theoretical possibility, vaccinations "may be making mutant viruses worse". So what does the individual, who wants to follow the proper science, believe in and do? Place automatic faith in govt., media and pharmaceuticals? Take the jab when he/she has no pressing need of it? If they have any hesitancy, given the scientific dissent, previous cover-ups and noble lies, and they have the slightest reasonable doubt - their reluctance to be sacrificed for the common good is eminently supportable by Objectivists, you'd think. These people probably represent the last remnants of the independent individualists in collectivist societies. Mandates. Who benefits? If 'Society' is the beneficiary, not oneself and one's own, you not only have the right to refuse you have the moral right to refuse.
  22. Actual and potential are reflexive terms. Something is not absolutely actual or potential, but in regards to something else. Example: the acorn is actually an acorn, but potentially an oak tree. The oak tree is actually a tree but potentially a rotting log. In a similar way, a bullet just leaving the barrel could be potentially hitting its target, while at the same time an actual initiation of physical force. A threat could be potentially damaging your car, but an actual initiation of physical force. I know that's not a complete answer to your question but it's a start.
  23. How could it be? If I shoot a gun, the bullet going towards you has not actualized the damage yet, but you know it will very soon. The bullet hasn't "done its work" so to speak, meaning that since the bullet isn't doing anything to you yet, the damage can't be actual just yet. The damage isn't doing its work either. It remains as potential until the time you're hit. The difference with disease in many cases is just the amount of time for the damage to be actualized. Furthermore, the fact that there is time until the damage happens introduces a degree of uncertainty. It is not an absolute guarantee that shooting a gun will cause damage, because of so many random things that might happen. With a concrete like this before something happens, all you have is potential, the realistic possibility that damage will happen, albeit with a high probability. I agree that what matters is how it will reach that dangerous state, so I guess I could say that potential and actual about the harm isn't primary. What is primary is the context and condition in which things are happening. Disease might, in some instances, be like a bullet shot from a gun, but as with the bullet, we don't discuss the risk involved. Rather we talk about if the conditions are met to cause damage, as far as anybody would reasonably expect (crowded areas, direct line of sight, proximity, etc.).
  24. I am not asking for a blanket elimination of risk. I am saying that unnecessarily increasing physical risk can rise to physical force. My comment about risk and death was a response to the bizarre statement that life increases risk.
  25. Does this mean we should not have laws against reckless driving, reckless firing of a gun, reckless burning when fire danger is high, or any other form of reckless endangerment? I am not saying that possible future infections are fully actual. I am saying that already existing germs are fully actual and that physical endangerment can rise to the level of physical force. We would need such information to justify suing or prosecuting someone for actually causing harm. We do not need it to prove endangerment. An immigrant does not endanger anyone by simply entering the country; there is no justification for restricting entry. Anti-immigration is driven largely by xenophobia, racism, protectionism, and blaming immigrants for violating laws that violate their rights. Exactly what sort of gun control? Exactly what sort of environmentalism?
  26. That's not at all how the word risk or how statistical expectation values are used. If you take a Methods 100 level class, here is one way you'll learn to use the word risk: risk₁ - the statistical expectation value of an unwanted event which may or may not occur With this, you could use something like the average number of deaths from the last 10 years is the risk of some potential event. You see how you can't assign to a state that had already occurred an expectation value because you are no longer talking about something that may or may not occur. But just in general, ordinary language, the word "risk" means several different concepts. One is something like: risk₂ - an unwanted event which may or may not occur Example: “Lung cancer is one of the major risks that affect smokers.” Or something like: risk₃ - the cause of an unwanted event which may or may not occur Example: “Smoking is by far the most important health risk in industrialized countries.” Or probably the closest ordinary usage to the statistical usage: risk₄ - the probability of an unwanted event which may or may not occur Example: “The risk that a smoker’s life is shortened by a smoking-related disease is about 50%.” Problem: none of these tell me precisely what an initiation of physical force is, or what would qualify as an initiation of physical force. So if someone were to say something like "risk is physical force" or "identifiable increases in risk must be restrained with physical force" or something along those lines, you can safely disregard this person as a source of knowledge on the issue. This attempt at tying individual rights to risk, rather than initiation of physical force, will cast such a wide net that nearly all human activity would be restrained or prohibited. Almost everything a person does imposes some risks on others. Just by walking down the hallway at work for example, I impose the risk of spreading cold or flu. The prohibition or penalization of some risk would also itself impose other risks, and introduce a large amount of insecurity into human life, as Nozick pointed out, that having an indefeasible right not to be risk-exposed would be self defeating.
  27. Writing at RealClear Politics, Susan Crabtree notes the inevitable jumps to conclusions performed by the Democrats after their all-out campaign to save Gavin Newsom's hide succeeded last week in California:The only way to go was up, so they ... kept digging!? (Image by Josh Kahen, via Unsplash, license.)... President Biden deemed the recall's landslide defeat a "resounding win" for Democrats and his administration's vaccine and COVID-related mandates. California voters rejected the "Republican brand that is centered around insurrection and denying the pandemic," Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told reporters Wednesday. The true takeaway is far more basic. Republicans never stood a chance without a big-name mainstream celebrity running in a state where Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden by nearly 30 percentage points last fall and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin. [bold added]Or, as GOP consultant Matt Gorman put it more tersely, "[That's] like me bragging about winning a [campaign] in Alabama." (This is true, but the GOP's allegiance to Donald Trump is doing it no favors.) The piece also hypothesizes that the November gubernatorial race in Virginia, where both parties are competitive, will be a much better gauge of the national mood. I am inclined to agree. Until and unless the people of California begin to realize that many of their state's biggest problems are a direct result of the policies enacted by the people they elect, and consider the alternative of greater freedom, they will become increasingly irrelevant to national politics -- beyond the fact that they can be counted on to provide a bloc of left-wing officials to the House and Senate, and handicap the Republicans in every presidential race. At best, one could say that many Californians reacted quite strongly against the GOP due to its foolish continued allegiance to Donald Trump, but I suspect that, since Trump is basically an abrasive version of an old-fashioned Democrat, a lot of that is for the wrong reasons, and certainly not because they share my wish that the GOP upheld capitalism. To the rest of us, it boggles the mind to see Newsom, so plainly unfit for office, not booted out, if only for the purpose of sending a wake-up call to his party. Indeed, Republicans might do well to consider running against California in those states with enough voters who might be receptive to an alternative to the likes of Newsom, Pelosi, Feinstein, Harris, and other similar examples of the ... sensibilities ... of that place. -- CAVLink to Original
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