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  1. No, "doing whatever we can to survive" is not the only option that remains: You could instead choose to not do whatever you can to survive. People occasionally do choose to kill themselves, after all. Trying to survive (rather than trying to get yourself killed) obviously would be the rational choice, since you value your life. However, this means that rational action is still possible.
  2. Then why did Rand say that self defense was a moral imperative? It sounds to me like she did think there was a rational/moral option. The question wasn't about who has responsibility for the outcome- it was about the reason why violence is immoral in Objectivism. Ayn Rand doesn't seem to think that all the victim's options are equally valid: she claims self defense is a moral imperative. Thus, the victim is still able to act morally, in his own rational self interest.
  3. Here's the problem, folks: Ayn Rand said violence could be justified - but only if it was taken in one's self-defense. "The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative." -Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness So here are the options: 1. "Self defense is impossible, since the victims of violence are forced to act against their rational self interest." -If this is the case, then Ayn Rand is contradicting herself, since she said that self defense was a moral imperative, which presupposes that it is possible. 2. "Self defense is possible, and is in one's rational self interest" - If this is the case, then Ayn Rand is also contradicting herself, because she said the victim of violence is forced to act against one's rational self interest. 3. "Self defense is possible, but is not in one's rational self interest" - If this is the case, then Ayn Rand is also contradicting herself, since she says that self defense is a moral imperative. Having the right (and the moral imperative!) to act in one's own self-defense presupposes and depends on the fact that the victim of violence is not forced to act as the attacker wishes. As long as I can act in my self-defense, I am not being forced to think or act against my self interest. Thus Ayn Rand contradicts herself. In objectivism, what makes violent actions wrong is not their intention, but the (supposed) inability of the victim to be rationally self interested.
  4. The issue was never about whether your ability to reason, think and act were ever impacted; it was about whether you were forced or not. Once again, the same is true of divorce threats. I think it's time for a re-cap: Lets say a mugger confronts you with a gun, and gives you a choice: "your money or you life!" The mugger has not drugged you. He does not have mind control powers. Since he cannot control your mind: you still have the ability to think and reason You still have the ability to imagine possible courses of action that weren't suggested by the mugger (e.g. physically retaliating or running away) You still have the ability to evaluate which possible choice of action is the best, according to your rational self interest You still have the ability to decide on a course of action, even if you'd be disobeying the mugger when doing so (e.g. physically retaliating or running away) You still have the ability to act on your decision, rather than submit to the options provided by the mugger. Given that you retain all these abilities, in what sense can you said to be forced by a threat?
  5. Actually, I was hoping for a clarification. I'll try to explain my train of thought though: First you said: "Right, that's why "having to choose between options you don't accept" is not the criterion for a rights-violation. The initiation of physical force by human beings is." Later you said: "If your wife threatens you with divorce there is no initiation of force because the criterion of a rights violation is not "not getting my every whim."" But if you take these two statements together, you end up with the conclusion, that "If your wife threatens you with divorce there is no initiation of force because the criterion of a rights violation is the initiation of physical force by human beings."" ...anyways.. Why, exactly, does that cause the loss of one's "right" to make a choice? Where do these rights come from? Are they socially constructed, or objective? And how can you tell? Also, I think you are making an implicit assumption: you seem to be assuming that if someone lacks the right to do something, then that means that they are forced to not do it. But there's no reason why this should be the case- the fact that some people rebel and retaliate against muggers proves that people are not prevented from acting by the lack of a right to do so. In fact, it seems to me that this would be the rational choice- shouldn't one's choices be guided by one's own self interest, rather than the desire to adhere to ideals like "rights"? On the contrary, I was not equivocating because I was only referring to freedom of will (objective freedom). Once you start talking about social freedoms, you're talking about social constructions, rather than objective reality. Consider this: It is possible for a person to have the freedom(of will) to reason and to act in his or her own self interest, yet simultaneously lack the (social)freedom to reason and act in his or her own self interest. Right? If I am being mugged and I choose not to retaliate or otherwise act in my rational self interst because I don't have the (social)freedom to act, then how can we say that the mugger is what prevented me from acting? No, the thing that prevented me from acting was my own sense of rights and social freedom, not the mugger himself
  6. Yes- I was citing the objectivist position. But I don't agree with the objectivist position. A violent threat is not a form of mind control. A violent threat does not prevent you from thinking, reasoning, evaluating the available options, making a decision, disobeying the mugger, or taking action (e.g. fighting back). So in what sense can you be said to be forced to act against your own reason?
  7. In terms of making decisions and reasoning, getting shot to death is not the same as being threatened. You can still think, reason, and act while you are alive; you can't while dead.
  8. Now you're putting words in my mouth. Obviously there is a difference- its just not a difference that is relevant to the point at hand. As I understand Objectivist ethics, violence is immoral for a reason- and that reason has nothing to do with the physical pain or harm a person might experience. Obviously having your kneecaps broken is much more painful (physically, at least) than going through a divorce- but the morality of the action does not depend on how much physical or emotional pain the victim experiences- the morality of the action depends on how it affects the other person's ability to reason and act.
  9. I didn't say that there was no difference. Obviously there is a difference; the onus is still on you to show why that difference matters.
  10. And here I thought Objectivism relied on logic and reason instead of emotional appeals....
  11. Because they estimate that violent threats are more likely to get the victim to do what they want.
  12. Just because the choice to resist is available doesn't mean it's the most rational one. In fact, unless you are some sort of martial arts superman, the choice to resist a violent attack is almost certainly irrational. But it's still a choice - not even the mugger can force you to not resist- he can only react to your decisions.
  13. I may have gone too far there, but I'm sticking to my point: The victim still has free will- even if threatened with a gun.
  14. When I ask why violent threats are immoral, I get answers about how it is violating your rights by forcing your choices. But as I have shown, people retain their free will, even if threatened- and so thus far I have seen no reason to conclude that non-violent threats (and other forms of persuasion) don't force your choice just as much as a violent threat. Both violent and non-violent threats are cases where other people influence your decisions to their benefit and your loss by giving undesirable options. In both cases, if you refuse the threat, you risk facing negative consequences to your self interest. The only real difference is that the violent threat deals with violent, physical force- but you can't use this fact to prove that it is immoral, because that would be circular logic.
  15. Strictly speaking, those are the choices he wants me to consider. I still have other options- I could try running away, or retaliating, or simply refusing. I could even try calling his bluff- just because he makes a threat doesn't mean he actually intends to follow through. Once that's established, it merely comes down to making the choices that likely to have the best consequences for my self-interest. I might not like the choices that are available...but that's life. Reality isn't obligated to cater to my whims. Right?
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