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Everything posted by emorris1000

  1. The heisenberg thing is interesting, but it's another discussion on the tautologies of axioms and what a contradiction of an axiom implies. But anyways, let me try again from the start because I will admit that my initial statement wasn't well caged. Objectivism is, in part, a study and appreciation of reality. Intentionally ignoring reality is immoral. Science, flawed as it may be, gives the most fruitful descriptions of reality known to man. Fruitful, in this sense, means that the descriptions of reality in science are predictive enough to be used to build something. Like a plane. Or whatever. Because the desciptions of reality can be fruitfully used to manipulate reality, it is implied that they have some kind of accuracy. Now, what kind of accuracy it is is questionable, of course. Consider Newtonian physics. They *very* accurately describe the physical world within a certain set of scale. However at other scales (molecular) they do not describe reality. It's true that science gives an approximation of reality, or a best fit with given data, and is not in fact an absolute description of reality. BUT ITS SOMETHING. That's indisputable. So how is it that someone who has a reverence for the knowledge of reality can say that it is not necessary to study science?
  2. Ok, lets restrict my argument then. There are two broad kinds of arguments that can be made by a philosopher. There is an introspective argument, where someone looks at the nature of their philosophy for the sake of the philosophy (like "how do you define property"). Then there is the extrospective argument, where you use your philosophy to look at real world issues. My concern is with the latter. When you examine a real world issue, like environmentalism, there is a basic level of aptitude in the applied science being discussed that is required. Without an understanding of the applied science, there can be no hope of finding contradictions to refine a position. Your only hope is repeating what someone else said or dogmatically sticking to views that clearly contradict reality. For instance, f I were apply an aesthetic philosophy to mixology that led me to the conclusion that, because cherries and chocalate go together so well, a mixture of Grenadine and Godiva Chocalate Liquer will obviously make an amazing drink, I could potentially make a huge ass out of myself if I didn't also know that grenadine will make milk curdle. And this is true of so many things. If you want to apply your philosophy to a field you can't simply throw your hands up and say "well the previous philosophy in this field was bad, so i don't need to learn anything in it before I talk about it." That's what bothers me. Look, I know enough about physics and dif eq, for instance, to know that I have no business going *anywhere* near advanced physics. I mean, I'll mess with molecular physics and some basic qm, but throw down some UV spectra of a Plasmon and I'll throw in the towel willingly. But yet I see people constantly jump into PhD level topics without even a freshman level of understanding of the subject and argue that it was unnecessary to learn the advanced material, or even the basic material, because there was a fundamental flaw in the science which invalidated all the other stuff, so it wasn't even necessary to learn it. This is what, in the long run, leads to what are known as "crackpot" theories, like the dude explaining to me how he had reduced quantum mechanics and special relativity, but had never heard of the ultraviolet catastrophe and didn't understand that his simplification fell down the same hole. Edit: I guess what I am asking is, if the foundation is the sole issue, why even try and attempt applied sciences before we perfect the foundation? Also ask yourself some time if its a sound philosophy of science that makes planes fly, or one thats "good enough" and a hell of a lot of applied science elbow grease.
  3. Fair enough. I appreciate that I did derail a bit. So I can bump that thread? Or should I make a new one?
  4. I'll agree that philosophy is fundamental, most definitely. The way I've always seen the interchange between philosophy and science is that philosophy is the concrete foundation, science is the house built on it. A bad foundation will lead to a house that won't stand. But the foundation on it's own is pointless, moreover without an understanding of the house that will be built upon it how well can you truly understand the needs of the foundation? Historically you will notice that the most profound of the philosophers of science: Aristotle, Euclid, Popper, Newton, Galileo, etc, are ALL scientists as well as philosophers. Also, returning to the metaphor of the house and foundation, its important to understand that while the foundation determines the integrity of the house, the foundation produces NOTHING on its own. It is the house, the science, that produces. It is the philosophy that defines its integrity. I would argue they have less, seeing as they never took the time to learn any of it. Consider Richard Feynman, one of the most prolific, important, and really just cool scientists of the 20th century. He produced some of the most important physics of the 20th century. He considered the philosophy of science to be a complete waste of time. I disagree with this, but his complete disregard for that philosophy didn't stop his ability to do what he did. Now, in his specific case it wasn't an issue because he innately understood philosophy of science. He was a savant of sorts (he has probably the best quotes of any scientist I have ever read). In other cases you could very well have someone that was intelligent but didn't understand the philosophy. Marx, Freud and Adler are examples of this. But in both cases, good or bad, they actually produced. The idea of someone spending all of their time on the foundation and none on the house makes me think of the pigs from animal farms or any other intellectualocracy, where the contribution of some only has to be their thoughts, not any actual production. Which, ironically, is something I would think Rand would have hated. Then you had terrible teachers. My professors made very sure that we spent time on stuff like this, at least some. I'm glad you mentioned those last topics. Please explain to me how ANYONE could argue about global warming or evolution without having an understanding of the science beneath. Without that science the arguments fall to appeals to authority where you quote an expert, or talking about "beliefs" and "values" in realms where they have absolutely no role. Edit: As an aside, consider the commentary Rand herself made on this in Atlas Shrugged by making all of her magic three students who understood the value of both science and philosophy, who understood that both were required to reach their own standards of value.
  5. Is it unethical, as an objectivist, to lack a strong knowledge of science? I was going to add the caveat "up to your capabilities", but then I realized that anyone who claims to be an objectivist must be pretty well read in philosophy, which means they have an analytical mind, which means they whould be able to learn quite a lot of science. The only justifiable hampering could be a constraint of time, but....I dunno most people have more time than they give themselves credit for. -------- The first reason I ask this is that I have always found it a bit disconcerting that Ayn Rand did not seem to have much actual knowledge of science. Maybe I am wrong here, but I never got the impression she actually knew much science. Peikoff as well, for that matter. He has a background in philosophy, but I've not seen much to indicate a strong education in science.
  6. How do you know this? You know this second hand (in fact its like third hand but whatever). Granted, there are a lot of second hand sources telling you this, which gives you a high degree of certainty, but that is different from a Fact (capital F). I mean, we get away with calling them facts in day to day discourse because it's a pain the butt to say "a historical assertion with a very high level of certainty" So we're on the same page here. I've never really bought the difference between "contextually certain" and what I am talking about. They're the same thing. But you have to understand that even that the effectively certain is not devoid of doubt. Facts and Truths with a capital F and T are a pretty sacred bit of territory for me. Menos Paradox is the backbone of this.
  7. While I do believe that profanity can be used as duct-tape for shoddy rhetoric, I generally find the other extreme of overly flowery language to be more offensive. The former is at least understood by the speaker to lack quality, but the latter is an attempt to hide the lack of quality. Unnecessary legaleese in a philosophical paper is a bit of a red flag to me that the writer is trying to hide the fact that he doesn't have any idea what he is talking about.
  8. Warning: Incoming rant based on the first couple of pages. I couldn't get through the rest of it. Please feel free to ignore this. ugh, this is what happens when people play with the philosophy of science while ignoring the science itself. I had a philosophy of science professor (who had no background in science at all) try and explain a proof for negative probability he was working on that was clearly based on a massive misunderstanding of the underlying physics of the double slit experiment. Anyways. A first cause isn't necessary, a circle is proof of that. End of story. Yeah, its hard to wrap your head around ("But where did the circle come from?"), and its not common sense, but so is most science when it gets too big or too small. You get too big you start talking about curved space, gravitational lensing, and time dilation. You get too small you start talking about quantized energy and probabilistic positional wells that make ZERO sense to the human mind as it is conditioned to think. Hell even just talking about the internal refraction of photons on a piece of glass will result in you throwing your hands up and saying "THIS DOESN"T MAKE SENSE." And the idea that "there are no infinites"? is appallingly bad science. Oh you mean there are no infinities outside of math? Ok what about recursive intermolecular force effects? Oh you mean just talking about physical stuff? Ok what about infinitessimal space? Oh that doesn't count either? Or are you now going to argue that space is quantized? How many exceptions do we have to add on to make that statement less idiotic?
  9. If you are going to defend fascism as a definable term then please provide a definition. Fascism is a term that has been abused so frequently that its now just a soft piece of silly putty that can be put into any hole. Based on your own usage Fascism seems to be any kind of authoritarian government that does not operate under consensus. Which is like every government in existence.
  10. It's not just a matter of them not having paid. Of those that don't pay there are two subcategories: A) Those that did not pay because they rationally decided that the proposed spending was not in their own self interest B ) Those that believed that the proposed spending was in their self interest, but chose not to pay while masquerading as A. There is nothing inherently wrong with not contributing, but refusing to contribute to something that you privately acknowledge is in your self interest because there is no way for others to know what your reasons are is completely unethical.
  11. Yeah, free riders. But how could you even identify them?
  12. At this point I am not trying to justify involuntary taxation, I am just trying to ascertain how to deal with intellectual dishonesty, ie people who know they will benefit from the public spending but realize that, since it is voluntary, they don't have to pay in. Kind of like donations at museums.
  13. You know that an argument is trying to weasel when it takes a simple question and makes it more complex in an attempt to give the answer desired. The fact is that what you wear is a choice you make, based on your desires. If you don't care what you wear, then it is no compromise to go with whatever is culturally approved. If you do care what you wear, then wearing the culturally aprroved attire in spite of your desires is a compromise. And since yall keep wanting to bring Rand into this, would she have worn a headscarf in the middle east, since it was culturally approved? edit: If you want to, for you own dogmatic reasons, acquit Roarke then just say that he didn't care.
  14. You know, the Soviets were avowed atheists. Therefore atheism is evil right? Or maybe its just a fallacious argument.
  15. While I find the concept of an "objectivist video game" silly, I do think that a game that exemplifies what is meant there (capitalism, the power of the individual, struggling for goals motivated by self interest, etc etc) is EvE online. Single player games, imho, can't really do this because you only set yourself up to compete against a computer algorithm. When there is only one "self" involved then there is no concept of self, as it is the existence of others that defines self. So only multiplayer games can do this. Most MMOs though, are far too forgiving for consequences. You screw up and you die and there are negigible consequences. The world you are put in does nothing to punish you for incompetence, beyond simply withholding a reward. Moreover there is generally little real competitive motivation in most MMOS. There is almost no reason NOT to work together, so much so that, as was mentioned before, the concept of the individual actually dissapears into the concept of the group. EvE is different. The consequences in that game are incredibly significant, and there are many reasons to go it alone or to work together. There is a real dynamic driven by the individuals interacting, so that each individual maintains his identity while either working together or in a group, or at least has that option. Many choose to abandon their individuality for personal gain, and join the larger alliances and become another faceless peon that contributes nothing beyond simple mechanical responses to orders given by commanders. Others, however, refuse to work with groups like that because they know that the faceless blobs stymie competence, so you have smaller organizations with less heirarchical structure but far greater competence. It's a truly fascinating game world to be perfectly honest, and this is helped along by it being a single server. But its not for everyone. There is no leveling grind in it, which you would think would make the game more casual, but on the other hand it is so consequence driven that it is difficult to play casually. Plus there's the fact that the interface is not particularly great, so it requires a lot of talent from the players. A lot of people are turned off by that.
  16. I have no certainty of the ties between what is said and what has actually happened. In current events you can have a single event told 20 different ways by different reporters. There was a period of time where I would listen to the news by channel surfing between Pacifica and Fox News Radio. It was amazing how differently the same story could be told from two perspectives. And that's current events. We're talking about history. If I had to recreate the American experience solely from the books and videos of Glenn Beck and Bill O'reilly, 2000 years after the fact, how close would I really be? And that's what a lot of historical writing is. You get a handful of works by Plutarch or Josephus, and from that and a lot of other fragments have to inductively recreate history. Inductive, hence, probabalistic. Reliability is a tricky thing though (if we're talking about written sources), because it is ultimately an appeal to authority. A lot of the histographers through time would do a great job of telling the facts as they were until they started talking about something they had an interest in, and then they would embelish the hell out of it. The true story of Troy is still MASSIVELY debated because of this problem. All of the historians had a vested interest in writing this way or that, and it taints their writing. Edit: I should be clear that reliability plays an important role in determining the probable certainty, but I would be hard pressed to say that there are any historians in existence whose reliability alone justified certainty. I guess though that when I said that it is probablistic/conjecture I was being a bit to simplistic. Just because its probablistic doesn't mean that the probability can't be high enough in some cases to provide effective certainty. The Roman Empire, for instance, can be said to have existed with effective certainty, as can the existence of Julius Caesar. The existence of Nero and and Caligula are also equally effectively certain. But what about the assertions of the details of their reigns? Was Caligula actually a creeper? Did Nero really marry a horse? Or what about if we go back farther? Are you certain Confucius existed? What about Lao Tsu?
  17. Fascism as a term is simply weasel language intended to mean something bad about the person your using it against. It can be applied to anything from republicans to democrats, the papacy to the wbc, from the US to the middle east, from my cats to my dogs. You can use it against anyone who does something you don't like, because that action you don't like is therefore oppressive to you. It's a pretty good hallmark of the beginning of a rant not worth listening to.
  18. Ok, I'll accept your point that the devaluation of a property is not a violation of rights, whatsoever. I kind of got into one of those things where you get an idea in your head and the momentum just keeps building and building and it gets harder and harder to find the early flaw. So, let's go back for a second to the military defence thing. 90% of the people acknowledge it is in their best interest, 5% of people say its not (which is ok because they are allowed to devalue my property.) However, there's another 5% that determines that it is in their best interest to do this, but then says that it isn't so they can get it for free. For these last people it isn't a matter of them devaluing my property, they are flat out stealing it. Would that be a proper interpretation?
  19. That's interesting and I will have to chew on that for a while.
  20. You know, pretty much anyone who uses the term "Fascist" to describe an opponent is pretty much given up any pretense at making a real argument. Orwell put it best:
  21. Its semantics because the meaning isn't different, just the words to describe them. In both cases you are arguing that it is ok to proscribe force onto another person because they are acting in an irrational way that threatens your self interest. I'll admit that my usage of words there was obtuse, but yeah it's about the proportionality of response. Like, if someone comes at me with a gun and the intent to kill I am well within my rights to kill him in self defense. However if a clumsy neighbor continuously runs his lawnmower over my petunias, can I kill him? The reason the granularity matters has to do with the abdication of rights by the irrational. What rights are abdicated for what levels of irrationality? This is about the problem of defining a group concept of "what is rational", which is the entire principle of democratic governance. The most basic version of this is what I'll call the Law & Order ™ legal system (like the show, so its murderers etc.) We have agreed that it is irrational for a person to murder someone else or to molest a child, and that someone who acts irrationaly like this abdicates their rights to freedom (they go to jail.) The more complex, and more interesting version of this is in government spending. For instance: a large number of us agree that it is rational to provide funding for the Law & Order legal system, so that they can catch and imprison dangerous people. Let's just assume for a moment that this is in fact rational (we'll come back to that). But there are others who irrationally disagree with this. They do not want to pay for this. But by not paying for this they make it more costly for the rational members of society to get their Law & Order. Therefore their irrational acts are in fact damaging the property (Law & Order) paid for by the rational For this level of irrational behavior, is it wrong to force the irrational members to pay for it? They are acting irrationally and by doing so are damaging our property. Now, I assumed in this case that it was a rational choice to pay for Law & Order. But how do I actually know that, especially when there are those that disagree? How can a group direct a government to rational action when there is no arbitrary definition of what is rational?
  22. Ok then. Lets say that its self defense instead of an abdication of rights (although I would argue that's semantics.) Then self defense is ok right? At what level of the violation of your own rights does self defense become permissable?
  23. To the OP: You can't KNOW history, you can just have a probabilistic understanding of it. As for experts, personally I would take them all with a grain of salt. Determining the truth of history is like putting together a puzzle where the pieces are made of wet clay, in the rain. So just understand that history is conjecture and go from there. I have no idea how a conversation about history got to a conversation about religion and science, but I'll throw in my 2c. You simply can't have this conversation until you define your terms.
  24. At first I thought you were just being pedantic, but you have a point. I'll come back to this later. The form of the tax is irrelevant. If it's a tax I disagree with and am forced to pay then it is by the definitions given an assault on my property. The only difference with a sales tax is that its better hidden. But that dilutes the value of the property (military defence) that I have paid for. If 100 people all chip in 100$ and get 10k$ of [military defence] you would think I was getting 100$ worth of defence back, but if that defence is expected to protect 200 people then I am only getting 50$ worth of defence in return. By not contributing they have devalued my property. Que? Well, I can make an argument for why a national military defence force and police force is in my self interest, it's not hard. Please give me an example of a form of government spending that is not couched in the "greater good" argument. ------------ Anyways, back to the first thing. I think that the issue has to do with the rights of the irrational. Lets say you are sitting in a room with a locked door that is slowly filling with water. There is another man in there and he has a key to leave the room. However, he irrationally does not want to open the door. He has the key, and the only way you can take it from him is by force. Because he is irrational, however, he no longer has the rights to the possession of the key, and you have the right to take it from him by force. This seems reasonable correct? Now then, consider the military defence force thing. Lets assume there are 2 points of view. One is that it is rational to have a military defence force that we all support jointly to protect our property. The other is that it is rational to NOT have a jointly bought military defence force yada yada. At this point there must be a contest to determine which is the rational point of view, the less rational view looses their rights in the instance in question. How do you do that? Do you sit down and talk it over until there is an acceptable consensus on the decision? Do you call upon the great arbitrator REASONTRON 5000 and have him given you arbitrary truth? These two options represent the two major types of government. Democracy vs Dictatorship. The purpose of the governments themselves is to determine the rational answer to a problem. They are both fundamentally flawed though: Democracy: Argumentum ad Populum (it's rational because we all say it is.) Dictatorship: Appeal to Authority (it's rational because that dude says it is) Now, going back to self interest you can see how self interest lacking intellectual honesty can break both of these systems. People may choose irrational results for the sake of greed (the bad kind of greed). Anyways...I guess my point is that determining rational self interest as a group is pretty hard.
  25. That subjective critique of the effectiveness of the institution isn't relevant to the argument of whether the institution is by definition a logical fallacy. It's a red herring. I mean, there's a conversation to be had there, but it's an entirely different one than what we were talking about.
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