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The Aethereal

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  1. I think I've come to two possible errors in my reasoning, and you two may have just touched on one of them. 1) I am expecting the initiation of force to be intrinsically wrong, to be wrong regardless of the consequences, and this is what I am asking to be proved. This is a manner of thinking I thought I had dropped years ago. I remember back in a high school ethics class, I said that it was wrong to lie, regardless of the consequences. That if someone with an axe showed up at my door and asked if my wife was home, I should tell the truth. I view that as insane now, but that is basically what I am asking to be proved now in regards to the use of force. 2) I am possibly giving other people too much credit. This is what you each touched on. Objectivism works for me as a moral system. I wouldn't steal because I would feel horrible doing so. There is no amount I could steal that would make it worth it, because the more I steal, the worse I'd feel. But there are people who seem to be able to steal without it effecting their psychology. They seem to be able to initiate force without consequence. However, I've never understood people. It's always been a mystery to me why they do the things they do. So is the slave owner happy? I have no idea. I do know that if I have to understand the minds of others in order to understand what is right, I'm in a lot of trouble. I'll follow Eiuol's path to see where it will lead. Lets say I see a wallet on the street, I pick it up, and take $300. Now, my primary value is my life. The things that make me happy are things that further my life. I have plenty of resources to meet my immediate needs (food, shelter, etc.), so I am going to take this money and buy books, which I will use to learn or improve skills, which I can trade for more money. Stealing this money does not effect my values (my life). In fact, as it secures my life, it achieves my values. Shouldn't I be happy?
  2. This is the core of what I am failing to grasp. Could you (or someone else) go into more detail on this? I wonder if I may just been looking for too simple of a solution where non exists.
  3. He doesn't care about their survival, or their use of reason. He is perfectly happy to substitute his reason for their own. And in doing so, he lived a long, happy, prosperous life. Perhaps the slave owner recognizes that he too could be enslaved and would have no moral argument to make in response, but he is white in 18th century American, so this is very unlikely. And he doesn't care if his slaves live qua man. To be clear, I agree that the slave owner should want to live in a world without slavery. He should vote to abolish slavery. But since it is legal, and he can't change it, how is it in his interest to abandon slavery?
  4. I don't think anyone here would say that it is impossible to commit a crime with no external consequences, or rather, no counter-force applied. And because it is not impossible, that argument can't prove that initiation of force is inherently wrong. However, I think many people here do claim that initiation of force results in, as you say, "the destruction of one's own integrity as a rational being". If this is true, it is destroying man's means of survival, and therefor certainly not in his interest, regardless of rewards, and is therefor wrong. Here is what I am missing, and I suppose I'll get in to this now because the other discussions I have been reading are starting to deteriorate as the participants grow angry with each other. Reason is man's primary means of survival, but at some point, man must act on what his reason has shown to be right. Objectivists seem to claim that if you are initiating force, you somehow failed to exercise reason. This is the issue I am struggling with. Let us take, as an example, an 18th century American plantation owner. He owns slaves, becomes wealthy, grows old, and eventually dies. He could do this openly and honestly, as the government recognized this as acceptable. He didn't have great alternatives. To pay free workers a wage they would accept would price his product out of the market, as there was no way he could compete with slave labor. How is it against his self-interest to own slaves? How does it destroy his reason?
  5. Thanks for the replies, everybody. The page linked by Eiuol is 36 pages, I am on page 8. It will take me some time to get through it all. Most arguments, such as the one linked by Marc K, suggest that it is wrong because you might get caught, or fear getting caught, or have some other social difficulties due to your crime. While this is true in 99% of cases, it isn't hard to imagine a situation where the crime was so perfect, you are going to get away with it and have nothing to fear. Maybe you are even in a non extradition country where you can admit your crime openly, and have no trouble spending your money. Basically, those arguments don't prove that use of force is inherently wrong, no matter the situation, and that is what I am after. khaight's argument is much more in line with what I am looking for, but I have yet to be persuaded by any such argument. I'm just not making the leap from reason as man's primary means of survive to never use force under any situation. Let me finish reading the link Eiuol provided, as well as various other discussions that are linked there, and if I'm still unconvinced, I'll come back and state my specific problems with khaight's response. I don't want to waste your time if the answer has already been provided somewhere.
  6. Why can't I use force to obtain the things that will make me happy? Lets say I want to steal some money. I won't say I know I won't get caught; to do so would be asking you to speculate on the morality of an omniscient being. Let's say I'm 99.99% sure I can steal a million dollars and not get caught, and that that number is accurate. This money would aid my survival. Why shouldn't I do it? I can't find a good moral justification for this anywhere. I understand why, at a government level, force should be banned. A society where we can't use force is good for everyone, even the would be criminals. But I can't see why force with little chance of counter-force is against my self-interest. Any ideas on this would be useful. If Rand or anyone else has writings on this, a source would be good too. But I have read most of Rand's stuff and haven't found many useful ideas on this. Just assertions without backup. Note: I do "feel" that use of force is wrong, but I can not prove it. - Dave
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