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Everything posted by Reidy

  1. Textbooks on logic are easy to find. With help, you can discover what follows or not from a set of statements, and from there you can go on to apply it to the statements you come across in conversation or in the news. David Kelley is an Objectivist, so his textbook might be a good place to start. A technique I've learned (but can't really teach) is to ask, when somebody makes an asserition (typically about ethics or politics), what the principle behind it is. If your interlocutor can't or won't, then the assertion isn't worth taking seriously. If he does, use your book learning to spin out the consequences.
  2. Not to stick to your outline: I'm not convinced that it's a problem. Hume, who raised the issue, said that no number of non-evaluative premises (is-statments) could ever yield an evaluative conclusion (ought-statement). To say that a set of premises can't entail what's not implicit in the premises is a tautology. A more interesting question is whether evaluative statements can be. like is-statements, i.e. claims of fact that are either true or false. In more modern terminology such statements are natural statements, and the question is whether or not ought-statements can be natural. Early in the twentieth century, G.E. Moore convinced many philosophers that oughts cannot be natural and that to treat them as such was to commit the "naturalistic fallacy". Many followed up on Moore with explanation of what oughts might be instead: exhortations, commands, emotional self-reports and so on, utterances that look like declarative sentences but really aren't. Yes, I think that Rand's account shows successfully that oughts can be statements of fact. That living organisms can be helped or harmed is the matter of fact that non-naturalists said you couldn't find. Rand wasn't the only one to hit on this, though. It all traces back to Aristotle. (Yes, she admired him in other respects, but she said expressly, in The Objectivist Ethics, that he didn't have much of value to offer in ethics. Branden agreed in his NBI basic course, dismissing his writings as "little more than a manual of etiquette".) In the twentieth century, Philippa Foot, a mainstream academic if ever there was, followed a similar line, starting at about the same time as Rand, though I'm confident neither had heard of the other when they first hit on these insights. Foot's last book, Natural Goodness, cites several others who've followed the line. She later came to know of Rand; Tibor Machan, who knew her personally, called the book "a carbon copy of the Objectivist ethics"; he also said she was an intellectual snob, freely acknowledging the insights of her academic colleagues but not Rand's.
  3. Everybody on Facebook or Twitter is there voluntarily. If these providers want to set some standards and exclude people who don't meet them, that is their business. If you complain and somebody is excluded, you have not violated anybody's rights, and neither has the provider. Under some circumstances a threat might be a violation of criminal law. I doubt that any online posting would be close enough to the real act to come under such laws. Threats to the president might qualify more easily as crimes.
  4. I agree that Rand's books are the best place to learn about Objectivism, but the request was for a place to learn about Objectivist reactions to Trump. For that I recommend Steve Simpson's commentary at the ARI site.
  5. I wonder what AR would think if she could see where India has gone in recent decades under free market reforms, and if she knew that she has a sizable following there. Objectivism and India Sexualty and Society (same speaker)
  6. My policy is to give the conspiracy people three years to come up with proof. This was enough for the Watergate crimes and for the Clintons' crooked real estate deals. Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination and 9-11 (which was simply a replay of the Pearl Harbor stories) failed the test.
  7. You'd do well to point out that white supremicism, Jim Crow, whites-only voting and all the rest of it came from the Populists and Progressives. The locus classicus for this is The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward, a scholarly history that came out in 1954 and won a Pulitzer and which has been perennial in college history classes ever since. The author starts by refuting the common notion that blacks made progress after the Civil War only as long as military occupation prevailed. He shows that progress went on until the 1890s, when the Populists squelched it. (Shorter sample of Woodward) In the class where I read Woodward's book we also read excerpts from Slavery Defended. In one of the essays, as I recall, a mid-19th-century Marxist argues that a plantation with slaves is the perfect each-according-to-ability-etc commune; the master just happens to have greater needs. More recent and more partisan sources are Liberal Fascism by Goldberg and Wrong on Race by Bartlett. They document a long history of complicity between racism and welfare statism. Some of this history has come back into the news in the past few years in connection with Woodrow Wilson, famous progressive and famous white supremacist. For example, he issued executive orders requiring segregation in the Capitol visitors' galleries and in Washington government offices. The people who wanted to take Wilson's name off the school at Princeton (where he was a history prof and university president) have apparently just discovered what libertarians have known for decades. It went on for much longer than that. George Wallace was a big-government type and an early (pre-nomination) supporter of JFK; William Fulbright, founder of the Fulbrght fellowships and early mentor of Bill Clinton) and Albert Gore the elder are some more cases in point. Another topic worth taking up is the ways in which the welfare state has hurt the poor regardless of race. Thomas Sowell's and Charles Murray's writings are the usual places to start.
  8. RealClearPolitics has some of the features you describe, linking to op-ed pieces and brief news stories. It isn't partisan, but I notice that where they offer opposing views, they usually list the libertarian or conservative second, thus giving him the last word.
  9. Property ownership was a requirement for eligibility to vote in the 18th and 19th centuries. Maybe it's due for a comeback. The fact that artists rarely own media companies is, I suspect, simply a matter of division of labor. Some people are good at music or acting while others are good at running companies. With the internet, musicians can go directly to the public without a middleman, and they've had the option of producing and promoting their own concerts or exhibiting their own paintings, etc. for much longer. Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and so.me other actors got together and founded United Artists in the 1920s. They didn't put MGM out of business. The artists in any medium who've gotten rich are, just the same, the ones who've worked with record companies, concert promoters, galleries and the like. Maybe they're on to something.
  10. Competition for resources does not explain rising house prices. Land-use regulation does. Competition for resources is a constant. Land-use regulation is not. In a free market, if population is expanding, people have an incentive to provide more housing. New York city in the 1950s is the stock example of rising population, rising housing stock and stable prices. Population is not increasing in the US today at a rate that would explain what's happened to real estate prices, much less in the places where the increase is the greatest - urban, coastal California in particular. To conflate this with the effects of Social Security and of student loans is to misunderstand the issue seriously. As for ownership, I own up to a refusal to get into ad hominem arguments.
  11. I'm not convinced that the Brexit voters had anything to do with this. May came to power as an after-effect of the vote, but she wasn't much of a supporter herself (1) (2), and that would still be short of telling us about the sentiments of the people who voted yes in the referendum that led to Cameron's resignation, which led in turn to her getting the job.
  12. A court has blocked the rule for now. Some court might revive it in the future if the administration wants to keep up the fight. The rule wasn't an act of congress, so the Trump administration could reverse it, in which case the legal question would be moot.
  13. You and Lucas are right, but I'm willing to overlook Maloney's statement, protected as it is by the three-week rule. People say a lot of fatuous things when they've lost an election (though never as much as in 2016). My policy is to waive adult standards of rationality and good will for three weeks; after that, back to normal.
  14. Ebell's story reminds me of what happened to Vaclav Havel and possibly others in eastern Europe: imprisoned and banned under the old regime, president in the new one. This is smaller-scale, but the symbolism is the same.
  15. This announcement may be redundant, but the problem has been around since ancient times.
  16. Peter Keating would agree. So would James Taggart, who was happy to point out the profits his railroad was making as a result of decisions his sister disapproved. I doubt that anyone here would, though.
  17. Oh yeah!?! How about someone who didn't get enough nutrition for proper brain development? Somebody confined and restrained as a child so that he missed the elementary steps of cognitive growth? Whose mother put LSD in his formula? Or who simply suffers from birth defects? I could go on for a long time with cases that would seem to raise problems for your hard-line position. How long could you go on rejecting them?
  18. I am reminded of a guy I knew in school, who had attended NBI in New York. He coined the phrase "post-nasal drip syndrome" in describing the air of tragic, nose-in-the-air hauteur cultivated by young women who identified with Dominique Francon.
  19. Here's another trip down memory lane. Check out the sources in the right column. The Natural Resources Defense Council link is especially interesting. The PolitiFact article says it consulted the article in 2009. Click on it today and you'll find the old article memory-holed in favor of one written in 2016. Not even the same title. The revised 2016 version avoids testable predictions before 2100 - when anybody who reads the article this year will be dead.
  20. All I know about his judicial positions is his saying that his sister would make a good justice and his enthusiastic approval of the Kelo decision, upholding the right of government to use eminent domain for the benefit of private developers. I can't imagine why anybody here at OO would be optimistic about him on this question.
  21. All of which is just what I said: a novel with a painter as protagonist would not be Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead or anything close.
  22. In either case you wouldn't have a story recognizably like the one Rand wrote. Painters don't typically open offices or take jobs in them. A painter works entirely alone most of the time, with nothing comparable to clients (except in the case e.g. of a commissioned mural) or to cooperation with lenders, insurers and contractors. Much less concern (hardly any, I should think) with the client's budget. The case of Rearden is even harder to imagine. No Rearden metal. No John Galt Line. No Equalization of Opportunity bill. Probably no meeting with Dagny, since she didn't know any artists. Probably no Lillian, since few painters are wealthy enough to interest her, and thus no discovery of the meaning of sex. One might ask What if Rand had written a novel about a painter? Not having her imagination, I don't know. She did write a painter in Ideal, and he's an unsympathetic character.
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