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Posts posted by bkildahl

  1. Rand escapes that regress by pointing out that we have a choice to think or not to think. Our choice to focus or not is what determines what causes our actions: a well thought out motive, or a poorly thought out/mindless one


    (note: I used the awkward "what determines what causes" to make it abundantly clear where choice occurs and where it doesn't occur; it occurs when we either focus or not, it doesn't occur at any other point: we cannot choose our actions independently of our motives or of our fundamental choice to focus or not).


    I thought the choice to live, the choice to focus, and the choice to think were synonyms in Objectivist lingo.

  2. Your interlocutor's argument implies an infinite regress of reasons.  Why A?  Because B.  Why B?  C.  Why C?  D.  Why D?  E.


    I think Rand escapes that regress with her premoral and prerational choice to live.  At the end of every one of those chains is the answer:  Because I choose to live.  And the follow-up why is invalid, because it asks for a rational argument to support a prerational choice.

  3. He had a bigger budget then.  I got to meet him at Freedom Fest years a go when he was promoting his first book and one tid bit was that he was already an outsider with many at the Network so my guess is that they did not renew his contracted deal from when he took over the anchor possition on 20/20.  The original deal included him getting his Specials to do the reporting he wanted and I can see ABC not wanting it when time came to negotiate a new contract.   


    That makes sense.  I remember thinking of him as my favorite journalist back when he was taking on the Teacher's Union, but stuff like that probably rankled ABC.

  4.  Analyzing the morality of the choice to live doesn't work because you have to use rationality to do it (for example, "it's illogical to make that decision without moral values"), and rationality also presupposes the choice to live.   By the same token, analyzing the rationality of the choice to live doesn't work because you have to imply a moral evaluation to do it (for example, "it's bad to be arbitrary"), and moral evaluations also presuppose the choice to live.


    Both the applicability of morality and the applicability of rationality presuppose the choice to live, and these two ideas run interference for each other.


    I have to think about this some more, but it seems like a great argument.  Thanks.  I'll post in this thread again if I think of more questions.

  5. As others have hinted: the question is illegitimate.


    Here is an excellent explanation of that answer from Craig Biddle of "The Objective Standard".


    At 01:40, Biddle says, "unless you choose to live," asserting that there's a choice to live made prior to the need for values.  If that's the case, how should the decision to live be described?  If arbitrary is the wrong word, what's the right one?

  6. The only way you could leap to your wild inference that thinking about standards implies the choice of standards is arbitrary is if you believe that thought itself is necessarily wild, uncontrollable and always produces arbitrary results.  That is an indefensible premise and no further response need be made.


    I don't think thought is uncontrollable.  What I'm trying to figure out is whether or not morality is objective.


    And I think the way I got to my inference was by misunderstanding your bullet points.  Maybe I can clarify by asking this: Is every instance of human thought an example of moral evaluation? If not, what can a human think about that doesn't involve moral evaluation?

    • valuing and thinking are nearly the same thing
    • valuing requires standards


    When you say valuing and thinking are nearly the same, are you implying that valuing is a very large subset of thinking?  If so, what does man think about when he's not valuing?


    Is the answer (as suggested by the second bullet point) that he thinks about what his standard of value should be?  If so, is this an implicit admission that his choice of standards is arbitrary?

  7. My dictionary defines "why" as "for what purpose or reason." Also, "for what cause."


    If you prefer, we can substitute one for the other.  For what reason should one continue to live?



    The question you seem to ask should be properly formulated as "what gives rise to choice?"


    The existence of the faculty of reason gives rise to choice, but says nothing about what choices should be made.

  8. The question "why choose to live" is a question involving context dropping: "why" presupposes purpose, reason, self-esteem.


    "Why choose to (continue to) live?" doesn't presuppose purpose.  It's a question about the possibility of objective purpose, which is given rise to by the existence of choice and the recognition that man makes a fundamental one with regard to his life.

  9. the reality is that pleasure or pain are generally how people end up "choosing" life as babies.


    What infants do and why is irrelevant to the issue of whether or not continuing to choose life as an adult human being is moral.


    Objectivist ethics only revolves around how you need a code of ethics to live, but it makes no argument for why one should choose life.


     If Objectivism can't support choosing life over death (never mind choosing to live it fully with, paraphrasing Allison, happiness as the end of the game), then the morality of capitalism and Romanticism vanishes in a puff of smoke.

  10. Let me get at it philosophically this way. What if someone said to you, "Words are meaningless." You could say to them, "But you just use words to say that words are meaningless. You borrowed the presupposition that words do have meaning, in order to contradict that very presupposition. Your position, therefore, is self-referentially incoherent." This is a type of transcendental argumentation. You point out that a person must accept as a presupposition the very concept they are trying to deny. They cannot deny it, without affirming it. Therefore, they can't deny it.


    "Words are meaningless" is, as you point out, self-defeating.  It relies on the meaningfulness of words to declare them non-meaningful.


    "There's no reason to choose to continue to live" is not.  Yes, I'm alive while saying that, but being alive isn't the same thing as relying on the morality of being alive.



    So if you agree with me that one (who is alive) ought not to die, then there is only one other choice, right?


    You're continuing to equate "It can't be shown that one ought to die" with "One ought not to die."  It being morally correct to live and it being morally correct to die are not all-encompassing.  It's possible that neither is moral.

  11. Why, then, would you choose the pain of death?


    So why then, when you are able to conceptualize and integrate concepts using rationality, would you then choose pain and death?


    I isolated these two questions to reiterate a point from earlier.  Human life is sustained volitionally, not automatically.  Staying alive is not the default state.  It requires knowledge of life's requirements and the choice to meet them.


    I'm not defending the idea that one ought to die.  I'm asking you to defend the idea that he should live.  In other words, it's possible that neither of these options can be shown to be moral, so defeating the morality of one doesn't affirm the other's.


    And as far as I understand it, your defense of choosing life is the hedonistic argument that death is painful and should therefore be avoided.  Well, it's a fact that death can be painful, but that fact doesn't make staying alive morally correct (and consider the absurdity that if this were the right argument, it would only be correct to avoid painful death.)

  12. anyone who asks me "why continue to live?" has already chosen to continue to live.


    I wasn't asking whether you're currently alive or what decisions you've made in the past.  I was asking why you continue to choose to live.



    If you kill yourself, then the question of values becomes null and void.


    Yes it does, but that says nothing about what your choice should have been.



    Why should you keep yourself alive? Because it's painful to die, and there is no benefit in death (in most cases).


    This is question-begging hedonism.

  13. As expected, the first wave of such intellectual attacks  accepted the Quran as absolute, but by questioned Quranic interpretation and non-Quranic hadith.



     Yeah, that's what Jasser does too.  He also refers to Christianity as having taken 1790 years to come to appreciate the need for the separation of church and state, implicitly giving more credit to the religion itself for the founding of the U.S. than I'm comfortable with, but making the point that he wants Islam to do the same.

  14. I'm interested to get this community's take on Zuhdi Jasser.  He's a former Navy officer, doctor, and devout Muslim who has spent his free time for the last few years talking publicly about religious reform.  He considers Islam compatible with the principle of individual rights, and though his point of view is probably very much in the minority, I've never heard someone who gives me more hope for the future of the world's second largest religion.


    Here's one of the debates posted on his YouTube channel:




    What do you think?

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