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Showing content with the highest reputation on 07/06/18 in all areas

  1. 1 point

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Let us review the Rand quotation again: "Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action " (Rand 1964, ix-x). If we're going to take the Randian "literalness" approach, where one does not "translate it" nor "endow it" with some "meaning of your own," then it seems neither necessarily follows. My (1) would be something like: [T]he actor must always be the beneficiary of his action, and no one else. My (2) would be something like: [T]he actor must always be the beneficiary of his action, and others can too. Both add a predicate that is not literally present and endow it with meaning that is not literally present in the original single quotation. So if we're going on the literalness approach alone, you can't say only (1) follows. Strictly speaking, we don't know if others are allowed to benefit, based singularly on the literalness of the quotation. We don't know that they are or aren't. It is neither logically excluded or entailed. Suppose in some cave somewhere, a long lost scroll of Socrates' writings were found. The scroll contained the following passage: Scroll 1 Socrates: S must always P. Suppose Scholar A had the following interpretation: Scholar A: What Socrates means is S and only S must always P, and no one else. It's the only literal interpretation! Suppose Scholar B had the following objection: Scholar B: Well that's not literally what Socrates says here, clearly not the only interpretation. I assume Socrates means S must always P, and sometimes Q as well. Strictly speaking, based on the Scroll 1 alone, both interpretations are "live options" as academics say, we can't infer one or the other just on the literal words of Socrates. Suppose then a second scroll is uncovered: Scroll 2 Socrates: Men trade their goods or services by mutual consent to mutual advantage, according to their own independent, uncoerced judgment. Every agreement is delimited, specified and subject to certain conditions, that is, dependent upon a mutual trade to mutual benefit. In a free society, men deal with one another by voluntary, uncoerced exchange, by mutual consent to mutual profit... Men trade their goods or services by mutual consent to mutual advantage... It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit... The deserved belongs in the selfish, commercial realm of mutual profit; it is only the undeserved that calls for that moral transaction which consists of profit to one at the price of disaster to the other. (And I know I'm shifting from symbols to text here, but bear with me.) What would we then say about Scholar A's interpretation? Perhaps in the days when all we had was Scroll 1, it was a viable option. Even then, it wasn't the only option, because the predicate "and no one else" was added, that is, not literal, an endowment, if you will, like the character from the Chris Rock movie "Head of State," whose campaign slogan was "God bless America... and no place else!" It was an interpretation that wasn't logically incompatible, if not logically entailed. But now that we have Scroll 2, what would we say if Scholar A persisted that his interpretation of Socrates was the only one true logical interpretation? We might say that's just silly.
  2. 1 point

    All About Evasion

    It's hard to know when you reach the point where a conclusion is evident for the other person. 1) You need to know that you spoke clearly. I think a lot of people take for granted that they actually spoke as clearly as possible. Many times, I've seen people get upset at me because I said that what they said doesn't make sense. 2) You need to know that the other person understands your terminology. I've gotten into many disagreements that are resolved just by ironing out what it is we're both referring to. 3) You need to know that they are capable of reaching your conclusion. Some conclusions would require extensive experience in a field. If a physicist explains something to me, and I don't get it, it doesn't mean I am evading. I might genuinely have a hard time reaching a conclusion unless I studied physics extensively. 4) You need to understand other commitments they might have, meaning that they might have other things going on in their life that need more attention right now. If someone stops talking to you, it doesn't necessarily mean they are avoiding the topic. Because of these issues and difficulties, if you want to jar somebody, if you suspect they are evading, use their own words. Quote them word for word, especially if two quotes next to each other are in direct opposition. That way, you can ask them about it. One way to know if somebody is evading could be their emotional reaction to you. If they engage in personal attacks, appeal to emotion, getting visibly upset even if you are very calm, passive aggression, are all possible signs that the person is evading. It's not foolproof, it might mean they are impatient and need to learn how to calm down. That's also a moral error, but it's not nearly as bad as evasion.
  3. 1 point
    It's a tricky topic, but for present purposes it suffices to say that existents are commensurable if they can be meaningfully ordered by some property. E.g., rocks are commensurable in that they can be meaningfully ordered by hardness. But you can't say that rocks are commensurable in that they can be classified by type; there is no non-arbitrary ordering of the types of rocks (as far as I know). Similarly, colors are commensurable because they can be meaningfully ordered by how they appear in a rainbow.
  4. 1 point
    That which is random is out-of-bounds to human knowledge; you cannot predict or understand it. For instance, you could tell me that there's a 1/6 chance of a die landing on any given side or a 1/2 chance of a coin flip landing heads or tails; I assert that this doesn't count as functional knowledge. If you had to build cars or skyscrapers that way, we would end up "knowing" that only 1/6th of people who use them will die horribly. If you planted crops with statistical and probabilistic knowledge, you would starve one year in six. For something to "truly" be random is for it to be causeless (because there's supposedly no reason for any one outcome, instead of another) which ultimately defies the law of identity. Truly random particles would behave illogically. That which has no identity is beyond the scope of human understanding; that which is out-of-bounds to reason, for all intents and purposes, doesn't exist. It's semantically null to debate over the nature of things we cannot understand; it is as futile as debating how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. So if there are parts of the universe which we can never understand, there is no reason whatsoever to discuss or even think about them. If you can't understand it then it's a waste of time to try- if you cannot think about something then it "exists" in exactly the same way that unicorns do. But, again, this isn't metaphysical but epistemological. Note that nowhere in here did I assert whether or not the Copenhagen Interpretation is true; all I'm saying is that even IF it's true, it renders itself irrelevant to the whole of humanity and utterly meaningless.
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