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Everything posted by Reidy

  1. The only part of #3 that I even think I understood is I spend a fair amount of time following OO instead of working for pay, but I don't see what this has to do with impotence. (Maybe it would if I were a gigolo in my day job, but I'm not.)
  2. You might be right, at most, about skilled, specialized jobs such as nursing, but most of the volunteer work people do is low-skill and wouldn't pay as much (i.e. wouldn't create as much wealth) as the volunteers' regular jobs. You'd have to assume that if people weren't volunteering they'd use the time doing wealth-creating work for pay. Most volunteer time, in my observation, comes out of people's off-hours, when they'd otherwise be relaxing or seeking entertainment. In these cases their efforts don't decrease the world's stock of wealth. If somebody spends his time working instead of volunteering, he increases GNP, as you point out, but that doesn't mean that the poor are better off. Conversely, in those rare cases where somebody turns down paid work in order to volunteer, the poor aren't necessarily worse off. You don't know where that wealth increase would have gone, but chances are that it wouldn't have gone to the beneficiaries of this particular charity. He probably volunteered precisely in order to direct benefits to particular charity recipents and not to the economy at large - i.e. to a beneficiary he can't choose. A familiar example of the same economic principle is the woman who cuts back on paid employment, or quits altogether, in order to raise her children. The GNP is indeed smaller for her decision, but her children are (presumably) better off; that's why she did it.
  3. Life is one of indefinitely many values we might hold and pursue, but with a unique feature: it's all-subsuming, residing at a higher level than the others you cite, because it's a necessary condition of any of them and because, unlike them, it's a natural stopping-point beyond which a series of "and why in turn do you value that?" questions can't go. ("Architectonic" is Aristotle's term for wider values or principles gpverning others.) Your examples are cases of replacing synonyms with one another. If the procedure looks trivial, that's because it is.
  4. A country's principal recourse against immune diplomats is its power to expel them, and countries regularly use this against, e.g. spies or drunk drivers.
  5. The first objection seems to be that Rand's argument leads to an infinite regress. Why do we act to gain or keep life? Because it's a value. Why is it a value? - and so on. The reason this doesn't get into an infinite regress is that value and what an organism acts to gain or keep are synonyms. To get a regress, the objects generating it must be distinct. Consider, for example, four is the sum of three and one and four is the square of -2. You can substitute 3 + 1 and (-2) ** 2 for one another as many times as you want, but this is not a regress. Instead of going backward indefinitely it goes back and forth sideways. An example of a true infinite regress is everything has a temporally prior cause. If the cause is temporally prior to x, it must be distinct from x. No matter how far back in the chain you go, you have to keep going back further. Each new cause is different from what it caused. Another example is Plato's third man argument, which is supposed to raise a problem for his theory of forms. We call something an F because it participates in the form F. We call that person a man because he participates in the form man. Very well, then, the form and the individual are both examples of man. They must then participate in a third form, which is also man. And if all three are men, they must participate in a fourth, and so on. At each step n, the n + 1st form is distinct from the first n examples. (Whether this is really a problem for Plato is a separate question.) Cases where the terms are the same, then, do not suffice to get a regress started.
  6. I took a quick look at FoxNewsLies.net and was not impressed. They say (presumably correctly) that Huckabee had opined that Romney ought to demand that Obama release his college applications if Romney releases his tax returns. Translated into crankthink this becomes: Huckabee said Obama is not a citizen. They said that the story of aid to the Brazilian oil industry was a lie, but they gave no evidence. I'm not an expert, but I've seen this in several reputable journalistic outlets; I think WSJ is one. When somebody calls a professionally estabished journalist a liar, the burden is on the accuser to document this and to come up with better-attested facts not subject to the doubts the accuser is prepared to raise about the claims at hand, not simply to say "I don't like it." They cite MediaMatters, which is crank central USA. Who knew there was anybody with less credibility than that? (And I only spent about ten minutes at FoxNewsLies.) Jayson Blair, Janet Cooke and the Rather memos are cases where news outlets spread demonstrable falsehoods. These are examples of the standard you have to meet.
  7. The situations you describe in the first paragraph of #14 already come under laws against solicitation of a crime, conspiracy and making a false police report. Once again, nothing new or controversial.
  8. You're right. Standard libel/slander law has been taking care of this for centuries. The proposal on the table is to make factual misstatements criminal rather than civil offenses.
  9. The fact that she didn't like to be called an empiricist doesn't prove that she wasn't. That would be a good dissertation topic for somebody. In the meantime I wouldn't take the link's word for it.
  10. That's interesting to Americans in light of the fact that Justice Ginsburg seems to prefer the SA constitution and says that if she were starting from the beginning she'd prefer it to the ours.
  11. Libel and false advertising already bear legal consequences. No issue there. What happens when a news outlet, deliberately or not, fails to get its facts straight is a good example of the free market in action. The competition gets the facts out and, if the falsehood was deliberate, people lose their careers (Dan Rather, Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke among others) and the outlet loses credibility (and audience and money). Lying might be harder to define and to prove in a particular case than you think. Laws against it would become a means to intimidate, opening the way for enormous malfeasance by prosecutors, judges and juries. This is probably why such laws have not been enacted to date. Let the market do its job. (Has FoxNews ever actually published a falsehood? I know about NY Times, CBS, ABC, LA Times, New Yorker and New Republic, but not Fox.)
  12. Pretty good, but I have some doubts about the historical claims. Where did Plato divide philosophy into metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics? He wrote on all these topics, but I'm not aware of his having laid down this taxonomy. Rand, in any case, would add a fifth - esthetics - and Plato wrote about that, too. This is the exact opposite of the truth. The ancients freely mixed the two, and Rand is in direct opposition to him on this. Somewhere in her early Atlas Shrugged diaries she says that he was at his worst when he didn't observe the distinction. Rand's remark about Aristotle being a "moderate realist" needs a lot more scholarly support than she ever gave it. If the author had said that Rand said this about him, he'd be on safe ground, but to attibute the position to Aristotle directly is hasty.
  13. No, it's a judgement about the value of my time. I don't watch infomercials to the end either. Did they say anything interesting after the 3-minute mark? It's relevant as a piece of evidence that junk science isn't as powerful as these people suggest and that conservatives and libertarians aren't the only or even the primary purveyors of it these days.
  14. You want opinions, look at the clip. I'd like information. Where does this clip come from? It appears to be Russian in origin, but I never heard of Alyona or of Rick Mooney. What are their qualifications? A cursory look (I didn't get past the three-minute mark) shows that these two, whoever they may be, aren't serious. Think about it: Al Gore could convince the mainstream media that he was qualified in scientific matters, but these people can't. This has got to be a symptom of something. It reminds me of a really cheesy infomercial, designed to look like a news show or documentary but really an advertisement, too amateurish to be taken for the real thing. The anti-science people, contrary to what Alyona and Rick say, are losing. Climategate, glaciergate, climategate 2 and fakegate have pretty much demolished global warming. Polls show that most Americans never did believe it, and the number is going down. Creationism never got off the ground in its efforts to hijack the schools. Republicans aren't the only anti-science people anyway. Opposition to genetically-engineered foods and to fracking are not Republican causes. Observe what happened to Larry Summers when he suggested that intellectual skills might be sex-linked.
  15. I find "Objectivist" uncomfortably culty as a term to describe how somebody lives his private life. Decades ago, before his kiboshing, Nathaniel Branden said that an Objectivist is a professional intellectual who uses and extends the theory in his work. At the time (1965), he said, this applied only to himself and AR though in the future it would come to include others. Apart from that, in a much looser sense, I'd presume in favor of calling anybody an Objectivist who claims to agree with Rand. Someone might overcome this presumption by showing systematic ignorance of the theory or systematic disagreement with it, but I'd wait to see the evidence.
  16. The best general introduction I've seen is Ackrill's Aristotle the Philosopher, which treats him as a contemporary technical philosopher facing down contemporary (though timelss) technical issues. Rand recommended Randall's Aristotle. I wouldn't advise going straight into Aristotle's text. Some philosophers (Rand, Plato, Locke, Hume) can be profitably read without a guide or introduction, but he isn't one of them.
  17. You (dadmanson) apparently think that the US ought to intervene. This is a philosophy forum. Let us hear what philosophical considerations have led you to your conclusion. I wonder why you think (if indeed you do) that such intervention would improve things. Most such actions have had the opposite effect. Grenada in the 80s and the Dominican Republic in the 60s are probably exceptions. Maybe Bosnia, though that's questionable if you subtract the bombing deaths and damages. Germany and Japan ended up with better political systems, though in these cases you have to adjust not only for war damages but for the fact that the war resulted in communist takeovers in China and eastern Europe. Most here would agree that the US shouldn't intervene militarily in this case, and presumably Paul would too, but that does not mean we agree with Paul in essential respects.
  18. TFAS, which publishes the site Monbiot links to, looks like a legitimate outift with free-market leanings and even Randian sympathies. Their faculty includes Eric Daniels, an ARI stalwart, and Roger Pilon, and their various boards include Mark Levin and WSJ's Fred Barnes. Thus I doubt that the this is a pirate edition. (I wonder if Monbiot stopped to think that, by leading his audience to a free copy of VoS, the most he'd accomplish is to bring it new readers.)
  19. In that case you might well be right (at least about the people who put the pirated version up). Can you provide a time in the video? I'm not about to sit through twenty-five minutes of Monbiot to find out.
  20. You can't libel the dead. Standard legal precept. End of story. (What in these videos or in the book do you think would have risen, during Rand's lifetime, to the high standard that applies in these cases?)
  21. The answer, methinks, is that publishers know that Rand's name sells. Did you ever see one of those ads or posters that say SEX! Now that we have your attention... ?
  22. I predict smoochy-faced pre-release publicity from the LA Times, a sympathetic but honest review from same, commercial failure and quick oblivion.
  23. Since this board is devoted to philosophy, I have two somewhat philosophical questions: 1. Can you give us a genus-and-species definition of "market failure"? You may have the materials for this in #8, but it would be cognitively easier to use in standard form. 2. What is the principle you're invoking with the example of plastic bottles? A statement of principle would help us to connect it to wider principles we already hold and to apply said principle to other cases. #8, so far, does neither.
  24. If pollution injures people or destroys their property, government ought to intervene to protect them. This has been standard tort law for centuries. Much of what government could do, rightly, is to recognize and codify property rights - e.g. to air and to water. Much of the pollution we see comes from treating these as free goods that nobody owns and nobody is responsible for. Once again, there's a lot of literature out there. The Cato and Reason websites might be good places to start your research.
  25. This asks far too many questions for a single answer, and those answers come largely from economics rather than philosophy. If you could break it down into narrower questions, some here (not I) could probably answer those questions or refer you to some readings.
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