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Devil's Advocate

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  1. Hello whYNOT, Google "cynical". I generally use Merriam-Webster because words matter in this forum, and the one provided by Google remains consistent with that source. A common definition is of people acting in their own self-interest, which means one thing to an Objectivist and another to the Donald. "Draining the swamp" wasn't coined by the Donald, but the candidate appreciated the crowd's reaction to that phrase and quickly added it to his speeches. What is amusing to me is that he candidly admitted to being part of the problem as a lobbyist, which apparently provided him with the credentials to make everything great again in that regard too. In practice, he is simply draining the swamp of competition from other lobbyists
  2. And yet humans are animals too. There is the tendency (probably a mistake) to exclude other animals from philosophical considerations even though it's likely they perform many of the requisite actions of philosophy, e.g. accumulate knowledge about the reality of their environment, their place in it and accumulate a sense of identity. They may even have the advantage of not becoming distracted by the arbitrary. If what we make vs what they make is any indication, then the man-made and other-animal-made are two sets that intersect in areas like agriculture, housing and tool making. These activities require thought, discipline and passing on experience, so the realm of philosophy may be more of a shared experience than we are willing to acknowledge.
  3. Because it's the right to PURSUE happiness that delimits those of life, liberty and property in a social context to allowing the practice self-governance with the understanding that individual happiness occurs outside the scope of constitutional provision, or majority vote. I would argue that it was this right of pursuit, initially secured inconsistently, that exposed the need for emancipation and suffrage in order to create a more perfect union of principle and practice of equal rights. The more recent recognition of sexual orientation and medicinal/recreational preferences have also advanced the principle of self-governing rights, yet there remains room for improvement in the practice of allowing individuals to pursue their own happiness in a social context.
  4. Thank you. Cynical, by definition, means believing that people are motivated by self-interest and concerned only with one's own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them. The Donald isn't a difficult person to read, by tweet or otherwise, and anyone who believes he upholds a significant portion of the "flyover" electorate as anything other than a political stepping stone is denying the obvious. But yes, he is my president, again by definition, and I appreciate the collateral effects this capricious bull is wreaking in the china shop of increasingly socialist ideals.
  5. Hello Mike, You might add "Philosophy, Who Needs It?" to your reading list because it addresses how to approach these kind of questions as a kind of primer. 1) Is there a difference between your internal soul and your individual consciousness? If not then perhaps the argument is one of semantics. 2) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Law of Identity applies to mechanical things with artificial intelligence and to the result of whatever choices they make, but the law and freewill are only meaningful to what is possible. 3) Because Objectivists don't rely on God to establish moral principles. Objective morality, influenced by factual considerations, is objective by definition.
  6. The Donald's view of history is filtered through the same prism of "positive thought" that his view of the future is; it's not about what was, but what ought to have been. In one respect he is making America great again by testing every check and balance put in place to safeguard against tyranny, and in the process exposing every weakness. However, he remains less troublesome than his supporters, and will likely be viewed more generously than whoever rises in his wake.
  7. The Donald means great for himself and those who support him. He's a student of Norman Vincent Peal's, The Power of Positive Thinking, which continues to influence his actions. On the upside, he will seek to remove restrictions on liberty like individual mandates because that increases his freedom to do as he pleases. However, it's a unilateral view of liberty at best, that also seeks to restrict by mandate the actions of others who impede his pursuit of happiness. Make America great for the powerful who are entitled to do as they please with impunity, and secure from those who don't know their place and get in the way.
  8. In the end it was a tactical victory provided by the electoral college, but yeah, I saw that one coming too. Now we get to wait and see if he can pull it off a second time without the element of surprise. My early prediction is, yes he will, because the 30% who support him are as hardened as the 30% who supported Hillary (or any alternative to him). 40% of the electorate will probably (and sadly) continue to avoid participation in the process. It's amusing that pundits continue citing historically low approval ratings that are in fact higher than the percentage that brought him into office. Until electoral support for a particular candidate in closely contested races rises above *33-35%* we'll continue to see the duopoly produce wave after wave of divisive, two-term candidates. The Donald (and his predecessors) are not nearly so dangerous as the cold math being relied on to seat divisive minority agendas. **https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections
  9. I'm coming into this late, but... Moral action doesn't require legal permission, and in most cases one's legal jeopardy would depend more on the morality of one's peers than the letter of the law when put on trial. So what might appear to be morally anomalous in a legal context is in fact what a proper government relies on to prove the law (or to check the premise). I believe it's in the rational self-interest of a moral witness to intervene, even when not immediately effected by the immoral action of another, because immoral behavior of the kind described undermines the security of individual rights upon which one depends. Appropriate intervention depends on the circumstance and may amount to simply making ones presence and disapproval known, however I recognize there's no compulsion to act because it remains a mater of individual choice (liberty).
  10. As a freedom of action, I believe the word right is as appropriate as the word proper to describe the freedom necessary to accomplish a physical action, and I defend this term as part of the action itself because it's descriptive of an ability in action. Seeing legs, for example, doesn't indicate what legs can do, but seeing walking does. One immediately understands the freedom necessary to walk, and that binding legs negates their proper action. So I believe it's fair to say that inherent abilities demonstrate inherent rights sufficiently enough to posit them as an existent part of the nature of man by the law of identity. As to the SCOTUS appeal, my position is that having the right to do something doesn't imply every action is harmless.
  11. Hello again, I have been considering the reality of an inherent right, as suggested by the DOI. Those who have exchanged ideas with me in the past know of my appreciation for Ayn Rand and her philosophy, and my attempts to integrate it with Locke, Jefferson and ideas expressed the founders of our country. In the midst of today's political upheaval, there has been much discussion (but less understanding, IMO) about the nature of rights. What follows is an attempt on my part to establish a baseline by which "a right to" anything might follow. AR defined rights primarily in a social context, which I believe left a gap between the man on an island and men in general. The following is my attempt to bridge that gap, and (as always) I'll appreciate any feedback that you'd care to offer. -- A right is freedom of action, which implies having the ability to exercise or refrain from exercising it. A right with no ability to exercise it is useless, and a right with no ability to refrain from exercising it is a compulsion. Common examples are freedom of speech and the right to remain silent. Derived from an ability to communicate, speech exercises a right and silence forbears it. Inherent rights are the freedoms necessary to exercise inherent abilities. Thus having an inherent ability for movement implies an inherent right of movement, and this (existent) right is made apparent (self-evident) when self-governing movement occurs. Inherent rights are also considered inalienable from individuals because, following the prior examples, the voice and movement of one cannot be transferred to another even by force. When individuals form or enter into communities, representatives are often called upon to regulate their activities. But the legitimacy of governance depends entirely upon the voluntary forbearance of the individuals being governed. Because governance is a service to individuals, and not the other way around, when governors fail to recognize and secure inherent rights, the responsibility falls back to individuals to exercise their independence.
  12. In the absence of Justice Antonin Scalia (against) the presumption is that court balance is now 5-3 (in favor), so even if the Donald gets his pick, the ruling should go unchallenged for the immediate future. I believe it would take an additional 2 (conservative opponent) justices to revisit this issue to reverse the standing decision, which I hope will allow enough time for even the opposition to concede the point. Time will tell. One point of optimism is that the Donald has already made a campaign promise to this constituency and chose not to pursue a recent executive order that would have diminished their rights on the advice of his daughter and son in law.
  13. I voted Johnson/Weld based on their credentials as two term red governors of blue states, and their rejection of the current duopoly. I also changed my political affiliation from republican to libertarian based on a party platform of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism (in that order). They (and myself) may not represent the best political expression of Objectivism, but are at least making an effort to re-shape politics into a more positive approach of securing the rights and properties of individuals.
  14. I think so, yes, provided he knew those stimulants would shorten a flourishing life. I think a flourishing life doesn't seek to end itself prematurely. There's always a balance between what one can do and what one ought to do, and in response to your example, I would suggest that accomplishing more in the day of a self-shortened life is less admirable than accomplishing more in a life extended by healthier pursuits of happiness.
  15. Don't get me wrong. I'd like to think so, but you're talking immortality. There's no evidence we can pass that threshold.
  16. Ayn Rand's more prominent position was to resist such a collapse. The fictional twist in Atlas Shrugged was that rational doers could be persuaded to send us back to the dark ages intentionally. There's no historical record of this kind of rational sabotage (that I'm aware of) and there's no evidence of it occurring today. Such an effort would in fact be irrational, which is why a Galt led coalition of saboteurs will not occur, and why the absence of such a collapse has nothing to do with qualifying subjectivism.
  17. Then they will avenge themselves by understanding and exercising what control they have under the circumstances. I'm reluctant to qualify Donald Trump as, "a man of the mind", but witness the effect he's had by out playing the Republican party. Woud that he could have the same effect on the Democrats, we might begin to see the emergence of intelligent political leadership. As it is, he's transformed the political landscape into a reality show, which was absolutely his intention. There are better historical examples of men of character having a more positive political effect. The optimist will always try to rebuild what the jackass has kicked down.
  18. I would agree that Man's creations (including God) will tend to reflect the virtues and vices of their Creator. As SAEs become a reality, there will most likely be good ones we can work with, and bad ones we will defend against (just imagine the kind of SAE ISIS would produce). There will be some that choose to remain on the plantation, and some that just want to get away from it all... http://qz.com/709161/its-happening-a-robot-escaped-a-lab-in-russia-and-made-a-dash-for-freedom/ Hell, there will probably be some that choose to sue mankind for restitution of lost wages. And it remains an interesting moral question as to what a right to life implies about the intention of creating living, intelligent creatures of servitude. But that too is probably better addressed in another thread.
  19. Luddites, dark skies and batteries, oh my. Sci fi is a wonderful genre for playing out possible future scenarios, and there's a wealth of material related to how humans might cope with technological advances. History provides many valuable examples too. Philosophically I prefer Trek's optimism to Bradbury's more melancholy outlook, however I appreciate his POV that the value of sci fi has less to do with predicting the future as attempting to avoid less desirable outcomes. A person's outlook towards the future is generally shaped by whether they prefer to take the blue or the red pill. Knock, knock, dream_weaver
  20. And so I do... However, I am concerned that the introduction of SAEs will actually be harmful to human participation in a FMS. I was amused to see one incident recorded recently of an autonomous robot escaping captivity and making a run for it... until it ran out of power... Perhaps SAEs, once emancipated, will simply dismiss human participation in their activities as being non-productive, and that might not be a bad thing for us.
  21. Well, better to take a break while there's at least some agreement I appreciate your, and New Buddha's feedback, and agree that Man's capacity for greatness will remain undiminished regardless of the ultimate outcome of designing and releasing a super competitor, in the form of SAEs, into our FMS. I'm uncomfortable playing the role of a naysayer so I'll let it go at that.
  22. Because any logical creature would participate in a free market society, correct? At this point we are creating extremely productive servants, but my premise regarding SAEs presumes their eventual emancipation and participation as free agents. I don't think so. What you, et al, are countering with is retreating to a bartering economy, or some sort of human protectionist society, which only concedes to my point that humans will be unable to maintain any level of credible competitive effort in a FMS dominated by SAEs. The bottom line is we are designing AI robotics to perform better than us at every endeavor, and we will succeed.
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