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About Hal

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  • Birthday 10/07/1982

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  1. The best analogy for this is the private roads thing I was talking about in another thread. Imagine the government sold the entire road (and sidewalk) network in the centre of New York city to one company. This company would then have pretty much unlimited power - they would be able to go up to any large business and say "pay us $X million a year, or we will refuse to allow anyone to use the road or sidewalk outside your shop, and you will lose all your customers as a result". And the shop would be powerless to do anything about this - they could either agree to the extortion, or go out of bus
  2. As I said, the communications frameworks are a natural monopoly. Its not like opening a new shop that sells cheaper pencils than all the major pencil sellers - the model of market competition doesnt really apply here. Why not? Here's whatll happen: large telecom company X, who owns the communications infrastructure in a certain region, decides that they want to make some extra money. So they go to Google, and demand that they pay them 2 million dollars a year or they will limit their bandwidth to 56K speeds, and promote one of their competitiors instead (altavista or yahoo). Google now ha
  3. I just reread the article in the original post and I'm genuinelly curious where he thinks this 'free-market competition' is going to magically appear from. Communication lines are largely a natural monopoly - its not like there are several telecom companies in each state each with their own framework which the consumer can choose between. The writer seems genuinelly confused, especially since he mentions wi-fi as being an alternative - wi-fi lines still have to connect to the standard backbone at some point. The death of net neutrality will pretty much mean that telecom companies will be fr
  4. Hal


    Well yeah, I do - people who find these sounds offensive regardless of context are acting irrationally. There are legitimate reasons to object to these words (eg if someone calls you a 'c*nt' in a hostile manner then its disrespectful), but just hating the sound of them makes no sense. Perhaps a better example here is 'n*gger', which seems to cause certain people to have a very visceral reaction when they hear it. Again, there are rational reasons to be offended by 'n*gger' if its being used (eg) in the context of a racist attack on a black person, but having a physical reaction or recoiling i
  5. Hal


    No, I think the real question is "should you care if you are unintentionally insulting others through your ignorance of social convention?". If someone's ego is so fragile that they get upset about you eating with the wrong fork, or not asking how their day went just to make conversation, then you have to ask whether this is someone whose opinion you should care about anyway. The best fictional example of this is obviously Howard Roark, whose indifference towards arbitrary conventions tended to insult those around him, even though he wasnt doing anything wrong (although theres perhaps a differ
  6. Within the context of the behavioral scienceis, altruism normally refers to any actions taken by a creature which diminish its reproductive fitness, while increasing that of another. A textbook example would be animals which cry out when a predator is near in order to warn their group, even though this may attract attention to themselves. However the idea of an 'altruism gene' is very very silly, and I imagine that was the invention of the article writers rather than the scientists themselves. As far as I know, most people working in evolutionary theory have moved away from the simplistic id
  7. Yeah, I think reductionism is fairly silly outside of the hard sciences, and it smacks of scientism. The specific problem here is that youre not distinguishing between morality in an abstract sense, and the particular beliefs that an individual person holds. It may well be true that my next door neighbour Joe holds his ethical beliefs as a direct result of social pressure, and perhaps you will be able to invent a semi-plausible story about why some forms of cooperation are evolutionary advantageous. But this has very little to do with what Objectivists mean when they talk about morality and, a
  8. I'm not even convinced this is true. Sure, you can write a piece of awful free verse in a few minutes, but then you could write an awful rhyming poem in the same time. I'd call this free verse, and I dont see why it was easier to write than most sonnets. I know you said 'on average', but I'm honestly not sure what you mean. I'm not a poet so I dont want to start speculating about the construction process, but I would guess that writing terrible poetry takes very little effort and writing great poetry takes a lot, regardless of whether you use free verse or a great deal of structure. Although
  9. Yeah, I'd probably be prepared to go that far. As long as something is written in a manner which I'd call 'poetic', then I view it as poetry. I'm not prepared to draw a rigid boundary here, because I think theres just too many borderline cases. To take an example, I class certain passages from Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations" as being poetry, even though they occur in the middle of works of 'prose' philosophy (that is to say, if you took these passages out of their original context and just wrote them on a bit of paper, I'd call it a poem).
  10. Because the only actions which deserve 'moral condemnation' are those which are chosen, and I havent seen any evidence to suggest that being attracted to children is a choice. People who are attracted to young children yet manage to control their urges throughout their life deserve a huge level of respect, not condemnation. konerko - I'm curious why you chose the 12-15 age range? 16 as the minimum age for sexual intercourse is a fairly arbitrary convention and theres no real objective reason why its wrong to have sex with 14-15 year olds. Obviously when you start talking about actual paedop
  11. So how do you know about it? Sounds to me like youre just making it up to support your extremely dubious claim.
  12. Well yeah, exactly Thats pretty much all that's needed for some form of the 'true by fact' and 'true by meaning' distinction to get a foothold. It is theoretically hypothetically arbitrarily possible that we could find a superbaby that can actually read Atlas Shrugged, but we it is literally impossible for us to find a square triangle. Our concept of 'triangle' rules out the possibility of it having 4 sides, while our concept of 'baby' doesnt rule out the possibility of a baby being able to read Atlas Shrugged. Well in one sense, you can say that the meaning of the concept 'dog' is actua
  13. $15 is pretty ridiculous for a 50 page pamphlet, given that you could pick up the whole of Frederick Copleston's history of philosophy for the cost of 10 Peikoff lectures :/ However I'll probably end up buying one of them when they publish his lectures on later philosophy (eg Hume/Kant) because I'm mildly curious about his writing style.
  14. What sort of explanation do you want? Drugs are ingested, the chemicals interact with our brains in ways which are becoming more understood, and this produces changes in conscious experience in a way which we currently know very little about, but about which future science can hopefully enlighten us. If youre not interested in the Cartesian question and accept at least a basic materialism (our consciousness depends on, and is affected by, reactions in our brain) then I dont think there are any purely philosophical questions left here. I suppose it depends on the person, and type of experi
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