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Everything posted by 425

  1. I got 8/11. My strategy was: if it looked like the artist was at least trying to make something attractive (an attractive mix of colors as opposed to an unattractive one), I chose "toddler art."
  2. As I understand the situation, the only positive that could come out of the shutdown is if the Democrats flinch first and a budget is passed that does not include funding for the ACA.
  3. 425

    Animal rights

    I'll help out and answer a few of these. If I make a mistake in my answer, though, I'm sure someone will point it out. I'm fairly confident I won't, though. 1. Objectivism is opposed to animals rights essentially for the reason that you said. Because animals cannot understand the concept of rights and therefore cannot respect them (a tiger will not respect your right to life if you are thrown into its cage), rights do not apply to them as an ethical principle. This does mean that animals have no right to not suffer or anything else. Animals do not have any rights because they do not have the faculty of reason. I think I can safely say that most Objectivists are not in favor of dogfighting or animal torture, and many of us think that these practices are evidence that the people doing them are anti-life. I would guess that, psychologically, there is not a major leap between enjoying torture of animals, particularly mammals, and enjoying torture of people. But the fact that I find this practice reprehensible and anti-life does not justify the use of legal force to end it. I would also be shocked and angered to hear of a man buying great works of art and defacing them (perhaps buying statues of heroic figures and breaking off their arms), but it would not be morally justified to put him in prison, since statues have no rights. While it is more disgusting to torture animals than to break statues, animals also have no rights so there is no rational justification to jail people who torture them. One of the major parts of laissez-faire capitalism as a political system that people struggle with is the part where you have to let people do things that you have no rational reason to outlaw. Animal abuse is probably one of the most common ones with which people struggle. I know I did. But there's simply no rational justification for outlawing it (this of course does not eliminate social ostracism as a tactic to use against people who abuse animals). 2. No, competing Objectivist governments would be irrational. And unnecessary. The idea of a government is that it holds a monopoly on use of retaliatory force in a certain geographic area. The idea is that the government has only objective laws and therefore is empowered to enforce them. Now, there are certain areas of law that are "grey zones" where you have to draw some of kind of line that isn't objectively determined. You mentioned a couple of these, namely age of consent and duration of patents/copyrights. There isn't some objective way to determine that, okay, because of the nature of a man as a rational being and his individual rights, an individual is old enough to consent to sex at 17. For age of consent, a government has to draw a line. Now, there are lines that are more and less rational. For that example, I think 12 and 21 would both be irrational ages of consent. I think 16 and 18 are more rational. This is because most 12 year olds are not mature enough to make decisions about sex, and most people are mature enough to make these decisions long before they turn 21, but 16-18 is a time when many people do reach that maturity level. I think maybe the most rational solution is to set the age of consent at 17 or 18, but allow people who are younger than that age to take a test that demonstrates that they understand what is involved in sex and what its consequences are, but even that solution brings up a number of questions like whether parental consent should be necessary to take such a test, how old one will have to be to take it, what questions would be on it, and how the government would administer it. There is a similar level of ambiguity regarding patent and copyright duration, though Ayn Rand supported life + 50 for copyrights at least, and this seems to be a fairly rational solution, since it protects the owner throughout his life and the life of one generations of descendants. All this is to say that there is no one rational standard for these things, but that governments can and should set rational lines for these things (abortion, on the other hand, should absolutely be legal). In any case, it is necessary for one government to exist in a geographic area, even if they only differ on these issues. Imagine, for example, that two 17 year olds have sex and are caught by their parents. One set of parents subscribes to a government with an age of consent of 18, the other subscribes to a government with an age of consent of 16. How do you resolve the dispute if the parents who subscribe to the stricter government decide to sue? This is why it is necessary to have one government in a particular geographic area. However, if having a minor difference in age of consent or patent duration is very important to you, you could probably move from one state to another where the laws are different. Hope this helps!
  4. I have never seen one satisfactorily respond to that argument. If such responses are as easy to find as you say, please present one. I would agree. There is a difference between someone who is acting on mistaken premises and is wrong because of them, and someone who intentionally avoids truths. I've seen anarchists confronted with this argument on other forums before and in my experience they respond by arguing that the good force users would somehow manage to overpower the bad ones. This, to me, is not a satisfactory argument, because it relies on a lot of guesswork. It does not solve the problem — I'm sure anarchists would have to concede that there is a possible scenario in which bad force users could overpower the good in a society without a government (since men have free will and can choose to be good or evil). It merely asserts that it could never happen. I don't hold a malevolent universe premise, but the current state of our world tells me that this view is at least a little bit naïve at best and outright evasion of man's volitional nature at worst. Evasion is intentionally avoiding knowledge of a fact of reality when presented with it. There are people who hold explicit philosophies that are fundamentally evil and yet, they have never been presented with the facts of reality that prove this and thus cannot be evading. But if an anarchist is shown the flaw in their plan and refuses to consider it, then that anarchist is practicing evasion. If they present an argument, and someone then points out that it does not solve the problem, and they proceed to refuse to consider THAT — they are evading. I'd be totally fine with you proving me wrong, I would just like you to do it rather than merely asserting that I am wrong. I'm not wedded to the evasion description, and I'm inclined to think I may have been a bit too harsh in making it. But on a matter of principle, I won't rescind it until and unless someone proves that it is incorrect.
  5. Unless you can explain how anarchists are able to convince themselves that bad people will never be able to accumulate more force than good people in a society without a government, then yes, I do really think that. Anarchists seem to evade the fact that their system can be easily exploited by anyone with malicious intent and the means to obtain weapons and manpower, since such a person would be on a level playing field with any organization of force-wielding do-gooders (which anarchists call DROs, Dispute Resolution Organizations. I'm familiar with this stuff, I didn't discover "anarcho-capitalists" yesterday). There are many reasons socialism doesn't work, but I'm sure you know them. I don't see how "because they can't get anyone to take out the garbage" is one of them, though. I would think socialists would take out the garbage by means of a government-run garbage collection service, which would probably be just as efficient as other government-provided services. Also, "the non-taking out of garbage" is not exactly a flaw as massive in its importance as "malicious force users permitted to accumulate power." I'm not using her rhetorical devices casually. If I had said something like "how would people solve disagreements in an anarchy? Blank out," then I would have been, because I know full well that anarchists support the formation of Dispute Resolution Organizations as private companies to handle such issues. "Blank-out" means "evasion," and anarchists do seem to evade the fact that the lack of a government could lead to an uninhibited rise of malicious force-using groups. The closest I've seen to an answer provided by anarchists on this is basically the idea that the good force-users would outnumber the bad ones, which is not exactly the type of guarantee I'm looking for. Anarchists also seem unable to answer what would happen if a force-using corporation turned its force on its consumers, in effect becoming a government, complete with involuntary taxation. If you or anyone else would like to answer these satisfactorily, I will be glad to repudiate my statement that these constitute evasions on the part of anarchists. Until then, I'll stand by my claim. And I come off like a troll? I don't see how. You seem willing to disregard the entirety of my post, which was clearly non-troll-like, in favor of one line (in parentheses, no less!) where I used a Rand quote to say that on a certain issue, it seems to me that anarchists practice evasion. I did not put words in her mouth (I did not suggest that she had come up with the idea that anarchists practice evasion on that issue), I merely pointed out an observation I had made using a pithy literary allusion with which just about everyone on this board should be familiar. An Internet troll is someone who comes onto a message board or comments section for the main purpose of angering people or causing mayhem. I don't have as long a posting history on this forum as you do, but I think it is sufficient (along with my post in this very thread) to show that I am not here solely to anger people or cause mayhem. If you don't like a literary allusion I made, fine, explain to me why you think I was wrong to use it. I'm willing to have my mind changed. But I'm only willing to change it when I'm confronted with a rational argument, not claims that I am a troll.
  6. "AnarchObjectivism" is a contradiction. "Objectivism" refers to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and Miss Rand explicitly rejected anarchy in her philosophical writings: (From "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness. Link.) You are, of course, free to disagree with Ayn Rand in the field of politics, but you are not free to use her name (in the form of "Objectivism," which means "the philosophy of Ayn Rand") to promote a philosophy with which she explicitly disagreed. You also should not ascribe to her characters motives that they do not display in her novels (because it would be the same as ascribing to her ideas that were not hers). As can be seen in the conclusion of Atlas Shrugged, when Judge Narragansett (I think, it's been a while) adds his own modification to the US Constitution. This action on his part (which is supported by the other strikers) is explicit endorsement of the idea that a government must exist as an objective monopolist on retaliatory force, enforcer of contracts, and arbiter of disagreements. On the topic of anarchy, I agree completely with Miss Rand (as you can probably tell). Anarchy is the same as rule by mob, because permissible force is not placed under the sole authority of an objective and restricted body but is permitted to any men who may choose to use it. In an anarchy, anyone could use force to enforce any laws they choose, because it is quite simply rule by brute force (You can say that initiation of force would be inadmissible, but without a government, who would prevent it from occurring? Blank-out). It is far more moral and practical to place force under the control of an objective government than to eliminate the concept of laws altogether and leave men with no objective body to protect them from brutes. I would rather live in a society with the modern American mixed system than in a society with no government, because at least some of America's current laws are objective while the concept of objective law would not even exist in a system of anarchy.
  7. I may be splitting hairs here, but you are taking my remark a bit out of context. The way you cut my sentence, it seems like I'm accusing Obama of trying to enact regime change without saying so. In the context of the sentence, I'm saying that either his only concern is punishing chemical weapons and he doesn't care about the impacts of US military action (which would not be unprecedented behavior for the US government - look at the brilliant plan to let Islamist Pakistan distribute US aid to the anti-Soviet groups in Afghanistan), or he is trying to enact regime change without saying so. My statement was not a bold accusation about Obama's motives, it was a conclusion based on the following premises: 1) Attacks on the Assad government will serve to weaken said government. This government is fighting a civil war against a group of insurrectionists who seem to have popular support. Therefore, any act to weaken the government will tip the scales in favor of the insurrection and likely lead to its success. 2) Given that I understand this and I am not an expert in military planning, it is likely that all of the President's many advisors, who are experts in military planning (and who include but are not limited to the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), also understand this. The conclusion must then be that either Obama does not care about these outcomes (i.e., that he considers the benefits of military action to be worth it) or that he considers them desirable. Or, I suppose, that Obama made the decision to request military action without listening to his foreign policy advisors, but that is unlikely. If the Obama Administration is actually thinking the way you guess they are, then I would have to judge that, unless they have information that I don't know about to the effect that the insurrection is weaker than it appears, they are incorrect about the impacts of US military attack on the Assad government. The impacts should not be judged based only on military implications but on things like popular opinion and morale (of both Assad's forces and insurgency forces). I don't think there's a good argument for intervention in this particular scenario, at least from a perspective that an Islamist government, even if popularly elected, is a highly undesirable outcome (there are people in this country and in Europe who disagree with this; they interpret the Declaration of Independence to mean that any popularly elected government is good. I need not explain why they are wrong because I'm speaking to Objectivists and students of Objectivism). Intervention would lead to Islamist control unless the US placed a pro-West dictator in power (like Mohamed Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran), which is a tactic that, historically, when implemented in a Muslim country, has led to popular backlash in support of a more fundamentalist form of Islam. Dr. Brook is unfortunately right; the best option is for the US to stay out of Syria and the best outcome currently is for the civil war to continue. I do agree that in other scenarios, intervention can be good. I think it was a good idea in Grenada, for example, where a despotic regime was overthrown via US intervention and replaced with a freely elected pro-West government (and done so with minimum bloodshed). I think it wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea in North Korea if China continued to dissociate itself from it and so long as there was a means to connect the South and North with the landmines in the demilitarized zone as an impediment. I think this would work better than anything in the Middle East because once the communist government was removed from power, it would be relatively obvious to the North Koreans that the quality of life in capitalist-leaning South Korea is far better and they would quickly assimilate into a Korea under a government in Seoul. I would support such an overthrow so long as there was no threat of retaliation from China. But yeah, it's often messy the way these things work out, particularly in countries like Vietnam with communist leanings or like Iraq with Islamic leanings that are generally just unresponsive to western-style capitalism and republican government. And particularly in Syria right now, intervention is a very bad idea due to the political environment there.
  8. The problem with using cruise missiles is that the outcome of their use will be regime change. Obviously it's better that there won't be American soldiers on the ground because that makes it highly unlikely that there will be US casualties, but the outcome will be the same. If the US uses missiles against, say, Syrian military targets, that will weaken Assad and embolden the revolutionaries, and will probably be enough to tip the balance of power. Obama knows this, or at least he has advisors that know this. So he either doesn't care that regime change will be the result or he wants to enact regime change without coming right out and saying it. I agree that Assad's use of chemical weapons is bad, and I also have concerns that lack of foreign intervention could embolden other dictators in this regard. I don't like what's going on in Syria any more than anyone else, and I hate that innocent civilians are being harmed in the struggle between these two evil forces. This is overall a very bad situation. But what I think we need to look at before rushing in is whether or not our involvement will help anything. I.e., what is the likely impact of our intervention? So we weaken Assad and the revolutionaries manage to remove him from power, then what? Well, there will either be an election that is won by the Islamists or a direct Islamist takeover. Either way, the Islamists will have control. And who are public enemies number one and two for the Islamists? Israel and the United States. The way it is now is bad for the Syrian people, no question about it. But at least right now Syria is focused in its civil war. If the Islamists consolidate power in Syria, what you're going to see is a country very close to Israel becoming a state that will strongly support al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and all the other Islamist terrorist groups. You're going to see more violence against Israel, and you're going to see al-Qaeda grow stronger and sponsor more acts of global terrorism. I hate what the Syrian civilians are having to endure right now. I hate that there's no way for the US to put a stop to the oppression in that country. But I take a long range view and I look at the consequences of intervention. It's obvious that what's at stake is a choice between the possibility of more chemical weapons use worldwide or the safety of American, European and Israeli citizens and interests (the Syrian civilians would be slightly worse off in the former situation, but there really isn't a good outcome for them right now). I reject, as Objectivism does, the idea that one group of people ought to be sacrificed for another. But when a group of madmen is holding the detonator of bombs strapped to both innocent groups, you have to make the choice that 1) harms the fewest people and 2) includes the best possibility to get rid of the madmen down the road. To sum this up, I would love to take out Assad. But we mustn't do that because more madmen will rise to take his place, these ones with the destruction of America and Israel as stated goals and top priorities. And America is the last chance to save the world and Israel the last chance to save the Middle East, so our first priority in foreign policy must be protection of these countries.
  9. The United States should not intervene in Syria (even though it looks like President Obama is about to announce it. Assad's use of chemical weapons is bad. It's more than bad, it's evil. Assad is an evil man and his government is a force of evil. But if we remove him from power, we clear the way for a radical Islamist group to take power in Syria. Radical Islamists, of course, are also evil. But which is a greater threat to the security of free states around the world, particularly Israel? Obviously the radical Islamists, who are hellbent on the removal of the Israeli state from its control of Jerusalem. If we knew for sure that the dominant group of anti-Assad Syrians supported a free, secular state (or at least supported more of one than Assad does), then intervention would be justified. In fact, it might even be an action in defense of our ally, because Assad is a threat to Israel, too, just not as much as an Islamist regime would be. But as it stands today, intervention would be at the detriment to the security of Israel and the rest of the free world. Actually, Dr. Yaron Brook put it better than I did: http://www.peikoff.com/2013/08/19/ybrook-do-you-think-islamic-forces-are-going-to-take-over-syria-if-so-should-the-united-states-avoid-helping-to-remove-assad/
  10. I would say that in a free society, some things parties could differ over might be: - How the defense department/military should be run, i.e., how large should it be, what type of technology should it employ, what type of espionage should it use - How the society should deal with other, unfree societies - should we embargo them, should we try to overthrow their governments, etc. - How judges would be appointed and how juries would be selected. - Appropriate levels of punishment for certain crimes. - How, specifically to fund the government, whether that be through lottery, through fees for legally enforceable contracts (an idea of Ayn Rand's), through voluntary contributions, etc. As for what would happen if a non-Objectivist party won an election, this would presumably not be a problem so long as there was an establish constitution that strictly tied the power of the government down to its objectively appropriate role as an arbiter of retaliatory and only retaliatory force. I think the worst that could conceivably happen if such a constitution was in fact airtight is that foreign policy or criminal justice decisions might be made that don't totally line up with the views of Objectivists (for example, a choice could be made to purse rehabilitation instead of retaliation as a dominant policy in prisons).
  11. I keep reading that the DOJ is now going to go after Zimmerman in some kind of civil rights case, hate crimes, I believe. Is it possible that this isn't a violation of the double jeopardy provisions of the 5th Amendment? I mean, the guy has already been acquitted for murder and manslaughter. A jury has already determined that there is not sufficient evidence to prove that Zimmerman committed a crime. But now the executive branch of the FEDERAL government can go after him for what amounts to the same offense when you take away the rhetoric? Luckily, it sounds like there is even less of a chance of conviction there. They would have to prove that Zimmerman acted out of racially motivated ill-will toward Martin, and there's no way to even come close to proving that since, well, he didn't, and he's the only person who can provide testimony to what he was thinking.
  12. The previous two posts really cover it all, but I do want to just emphasize this point: Following someone is not a crime. It might not be a smart idea. It might be a good way to make someone angry or paranoid. That could lead to getting questioned by police or having a verbal confrontation. It could also lead to, as George Zimmerman learned, a physical confrontation. But that does not make it a crime, or an initiation of force. One important thing to take away from this is that these publicized trials ensure that people like George Zimmerman will struggle to ever get their lives back. This is one of the reasons why I normally frown on the sensationalization of criminal justice and why I tried to ignore Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias. I also believe that it distracts from real issues of national importance by over-emphasizing local issues. And, as ultra-liberal (but sometimes still insightful) screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said in The Newsroom, a lot of the Casey Anthony trial was turning a real criminal case into a reality television show (off-topic: I think Sorkin is a great example of someone with a terrible explicit philosophy but a fairly benevolent sense of life). The reason I got invested in this case, unlike the Casey Anthony one, is because it was highly exaggerated and politicized by race-baiters. It just shocked me when I learned about this case how overblown the media bias was against GZ in this case, which really shouldn't have even made it into an American courtroom and certainly not with words like "second degree murder" being thrown around. And yeah, I hate seeing people unjustly go to jail, so I got a little emotionally invested in it, but really for me this has been mostly about ridiculous media bias and trial by public opinion. On that note: CNN is making me sick with its out-and-out bias. They're acting like it's an established fact that GZ racially profiled TM and pursued him. And they just put up an NAACP statement basically calling for racial discrimination to be outlawed, without even for a minute discussing whether it would be a good idea to scrap the first amendment and make it a crime to think certain things. Edit: CNN is now showing Piers Morgan's interview with George Zimmerman's brother. Piers is pushing the whole narrative I described above, in his uniquely irritating style (he keeps mentioning the Skittles). And the brother is just handling it so well. He's clearly sad about the fact that Martin died but is being ferociously rational in his defense of his brother, by pointing out the facts of the case and citing law regarding self-defense. Piers is basically trying to use emotional appeals to try to get him to "admit" that GZ isn't innocent, but the brother is just not taking any of it. I don't know much about GZ, certainly not enough to judge him, but if he's anything like his brother, I don't think I could help but to like certain things about him.
  13. The amount of evasion necessary to believe something like that having read the facts of the case... It's hard to believe that someone could evade reality that much.
  14. An eyewitness who is not Zimmerman would probably be enough to prove it (assuming of course that there is no reason to assume that the witness is lying, etc). As far as I know, the closest to such a witness that exists is a neighbor who saw Martin on top of Zimmerman and Zimmerman calling for help. This certainly is evidence that they fought and that Martin was winning until Zimmerman shot him, and it certainly suggests that Martin started the fight, but it is not conclusive since (if I am correct about this) the witness did not see the beginning of the fight. As far as I know, there is no such eyewitness, but I am willing to change my perspective if there is one that I do not know about. I do, again, want to qualify my statements by saying that I think it is far more likely that Martin initiated force based on circumstantial evidence (what I posted earlier suggesting that Martin doubled back, 911 tapes suggesting Zimmerman planned to wait for the police to arrive, Zimmerman's significant injuries compared to relatively few aside from the gunshot on Martin). And that I think Zimmerman cannot be rightly convicted of a crime. I'm only talking about this to ensure that everyone is being careful not to make any statements of certainty where there is insufficient evidence.
  15. I don't think that in itself comprises physical evidence of wrongdoing. It proves that there was a physical fight that Martin was winning until Zimmerman shot him. Let me draw you a scenario where there IS a justification for banging someone's head into the ground. If Zimmerman pulled his gun on Martin and expressed intent to kill. Then it would have been moral for Martin to do anything necessary to neutralize the threat. Granted, there is no evidence that this happened at all, and the only living witness of the beginning of the confrontation flatly denies it. And there is circumstantial evidence suggesting that Martin initiated force. I think it is likely that Martin is guilty of wrongdoing and that Zimmerman was justified in killing him. However, I do not agree with your stance that there is no possible justification for banging someone's head into the ground. And for that reason I would be hesitant to say with certainty that Martin deserved to die. I will go so far as to say that if Zimmerman's description of the events is accurate, Martin relinquished his right to life by initiating and using potentially deadly force and therefore deserved whatever Zimmerman had to do in order to save his own life, up to and including the fatal shooting that actually occurred.
  16. I would not say that there is evidence to prove definitively that Martin "got what he deserved." I think, given that he was engaged in no criminal activity until/unless he assaulted Zimmerman, that it is unfortunate that the fatal encounter ever took place. I do agree that unless there is evidence that I have not yet seen, there is no way the prosecution can prove that Zimmerman initiated force. Even if he did follow Martin after being asked to stop, which has not been proven and which is contradicted by some circumstantial evidence (mentioned earlier in the thread and here: http://www.wagist.com/2012/dan-linehan/evidence-that-trayvon-martin-doubled-back ). The moral question is who initiated physical force. Zimmerman following Martin is not initiation of force. Martin yelling at Zimmerman is not initiation of force. To my knowledge, there is no evidence to prove definitively either way who initiated force, but we do know that Zimmerman sustained significant injuries, that he claims Martin initiated force, and that at least one eyewitness puts Zimmerman on the bottom screaming for help. The correctly legal conclusion is obvious (unless, of course, the prosecution has some evidence I don't know about). There is no evidence proving that Zimmerman initiated force. There is evidence that there was a physical conflict in which Zimmerman sustained injuries. And, of course, Zimmerman claims that Martin tried to take his holstered firearm. This evidence is insufficient to convict Zimmerman for any crime (this evidence, as far as I can tell, would also not be enough to convict Martin for a crime had he lived). Even the manslaughter argument that he acted with disregard for Martin's life falls apart when you realize that the only action by Zimmerman that can be proven is: He called the police to report suspicious behavior and, at least briefly, followed the suspect. Later, he engaged in a physical fight with this teenager. In the midst of this battle, he shot and killed his antagonist. Now, following someone may not be the best idea, but it is NOT acting with disregard for that person's safety. If he was disregarding anyone's safety by doing that, it was his own. The only way following Martin is acting with disregard for Martin's safety is if he was following him with intent to attack or to pull his gun on him, which cannot be proven. Unless there is evidence I do not know about, George Zimmerman must be acquitted. Back to my first line. I don't think we can say for sure whether Martin acted immorally, just as we can't prove whether Zimmerman did. True, if we believe Zimmerman's account, Martin initiated force and therefore acted immorally and maybe even "got what he deserved," but personally, I'm not taking anything on Zimmerman's word. It is possible, given the evidence we have (unless there is an eyewitness or something else that I don't know of), that Zimmerman initiated force which then escalated into him feeling the need to shoot Martin. Some have claimed that Martin started physical force, but only after being berated by Zimmerman. In this case, Martin would still be the immoral party, but Zimmerman would arguably also be immoral in the sense that he acted in a way indicating that he did not value his own life (provoking a younger, stronger stranger in the dark) or Martin's life (provoking someone into a physical fight knowing that, since he was armed, any physical conflict could easily become fatal) (value here meaning in the sense that one should value the lives of all innocent human beings to an extent). Basically: There is not enough evidence for me to be willing to say that Treyvon Martin acted immorally or "got what he deserved", and the same goes for George Zimmerman. I do, however, agree that many journalists and commentators, including President Obama, acted immorally and unjustly by persecuting Zimmerman in disregard of the facts of the case, according to which it is unlikely that he is guilty of a crime and certainly cannot be convicted of one in a court of law.
  17. I don't have a reference to this; I based this on what many others have said, which was probably not an excellent idea. I'm sure if this is something she believed, someone with access to The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, which I believe includes some sections of her journals relevant to this topic, can find a relevant quote, if they so choose. I do not have that book and have no reference to Rand saying this, so I retract that particular claim due to lack of evidence. Frank O'Connor and Barbara Branden did not gain anything from the affair except the knowledge that someone that they loved would be happier because of it. It is possible that they believed that if they did not grant their permission, divorces would result. It is also possible that they had no feelings of jealously and wanted to see their respective spouses enjoy their relationships with each other. This is all speculation, I want to emphasize that. Unless someone has access to Frank O'Connor's journals and/or a public statement by Barbara Branden concerning her feelings at the time of the affair, we have no way of knowing how either one felt about it. As such, we do not have all the relevant information about the affair, so we cannot pass a fully informed moral judgement of it. My judgement is only to the extent that: based on what we know (the affair was based on values (or at least perceived values, if you want to argue over the extent of Branden's dishonesty) and occurred with the consent of their spouses), Ayn Rand did not act immorally by choosing to have the affair. To claim that she did would require more evidence than is publicly available (to my knowledge, which is not great on this topic as I've not read the Brandens' books or Valliant's PARC).
  18. If there is a rational standard for the morality of an action, ignoring that is not being an individual, it's being irrational. And agreeing with it is not "cultism" or any other such thing of which some accuse students of Objectivism, it's acting rationally. Since man is an end in himself and his life is his standard of value, it is moral for him to enter a sexual relationship if it is beneficial to his life, and immoral to do so if it is harmful to it. Now, how do we figure out when a relationship benefits and harms a man's life? So Ms. Rand argues that sex is only beneficial when it is in a serious relationship that is based on values. She says that so long as those two criteria are met, the benefit or harm of a specific relationship "depends on the knowledge and the position of the two persons involved and should be left up to them." But why does she argue that sex requires a serious relationship? It is because of the nature of sex. Of course, as you say, "individualists" may choose to disagree. But unless they demonstrate that Ms. Rand's argument is flawed, they are doing so irrationally. I'm not really sure why you have decided that this is the line where we must all disagree in order to be individualists. Students of Objectivism [who understand the philosophy and practice it somewhat consistently] are all individualists, but all agree that A is A and that man is an end in himself and any number of other ideas that are part of Objectivism. I don't see anyone saying "I await the ultimate thread on the 'true' standard of value for a man's life, especially when espoused by those who consider themselves 'individualists.'"
  19. It wouldn't be in your long-term self interest to damage a relationship for short-term sexual gratification. Ayn Rand did not do this or anything at all comparable to this. Nathaniel Branden was not some man she met and happened to find attractive. Branden was a man who she found to be an intellectual equal; someone who understood Objectivism and was as intelligent as she was. She was in love with Frank O'Connor, but the fact is that he was not her intellectual equal. Rand and Branden had a mutual and strong attraction to and affection for each other. Whether they were in love like she was with Frank is not something that is easy to say, but they had strong feelings. They did not begin a sexual relationship until they received explicit consent from both Frank O'Connor and Barbara Branden. I think it is important to, if we discuss this, to discuss it accurately. Ayn Rand did not decide to have a relationship with Nathaniel Branden on a whim; she decided to do so only after realizing that he shared her highest values and (unlike her husband) was her intellectual equal. At one point, Branden was her intellectual heir (a role ultimately filled by Leonard Peikoff). The sexual relationship between the two was based on a very strong friendship. Now, of course, it can be debated whether it was right for her to have that relationship while being married. I think I would agree with secondhander that it is absolutely possible to have an extramarital relationship with your spouse's consent without harming your relationship with your spouse. I also think it requires both of them to be in a certain state of mind where they won't be jealous about this happening, and I think it is a bad idea if they are not. Whether Rand, O'Connor and the Brandens were all in this state of mind is something that would be difficult to determine, but if they were, the decision to have the affair was moral if they determined, using the best knowledge available to them at the time, that it would have more benefits than drawbacks. The outcome of it does not change the fact that it was a moral decision based on the knowledge available at the time.
  20. That guy is really good! Unfortunately he and the other O'ists got swamped by a collection of leftists who seemed unable to follow a basic progression of thought. Actually, what I learned from there is the fact that some leftists seem to believe that the essence of debate is not to communicate ideas but to "defeat" your opponent by taking him down through whatever means necessary, including willful misunderstanding of arguments. Examples from that link: 1) "Sword of Apollo": "Forcing people into helping others through Social Security, welfare and FEMA, is not only immoral, but actually counterproductive. What was America like before these things? What was America like when being "on the dole" was generally considered shameful?" "Tony": "Slavery, illiteracy, state-sponsored censorship, women without the right to vote, living standards that today are associated with third-world poverty... ...I think I'll keep the entitlement state." That is a perfect example of willful ignorance. Assuming that "Tony" had an adequate level of rational ability to join a forum such as that, he knows perfectly well that those things he listed had nothing to do with capitalism or the entitlement state. He's just saying that because those things are bad and a casual reader might be tricked into believing that because those bad things existed before entitlements that entitlements fixed those bad things. An excellent example of someone not even trying to communicate ideas, just trying to score points. 2) "Carn" (in response to my very favorite leftist argument, the "why don't you just move to Somalia" one): "And what is that "everything else" that due to the use of "and" is also necessary to avoid the reign of warlords? public libraries? 0.01% of every public building costs spend for art? alcohol rations for people on welfare? theater performances that include the use of human feces? You seem to assume that a lot is necessary to keep warlords at bay." "tsig": "So your real complaint is with artistic welfare cheats?" Here, again, tsig is being willfully ignorant to score points in the argument. He knows perfectly well that this was not Carn's point, just that these were examples of unnecessary actions of government (to illustrate the point that the choice is not between modern European socialisms and anarchy). But, it makes Carn's point look petty to claim that all he cares about is artistic welfare. I don't know who is interested in this, but I thought I'd share some of what I got from that link, particularly since I've been thinking a lot about the willfully evasive psychology of some leftist "intellectuals".
  21. I do want to back up and say that I am not against casual sex necessarily, dependent on how you define it. I think that it is necessary in sex to value the person with whom one is having sex. And I think the valuation should be fairly strong, not something like "I met this person a week ago and they seem somewhat nice and funny". I do NOT think that a romantic relationship is necessarily a prerequisite for a sexual one. I think Nicky put it better than I managed to when he described Rand's position as: This is the crucial distinction. Since the body and mind are not separate entities but one whole, sex is an act of the body and mind and must necessarily incorporate both. There is no such thing as purely physical sex; anyone who claims that they are engaging in it is merely evading the mental aspect. Rand says: This is why it is wrong to have sex which is by necessity an emotionally intimate moment with someone with whom one has no sufficiently strong positive emotions. It is an attempt to have only the physical aspect of sex and negate the mental aspect, which is impossible due to the nature of sex. Edited to fix code, I'm not used to this forum's editor yet.
  22. EDIT: I began drafting this post when there were only one or two replies to this topic, so some of the rhetoric in it might make more sense in that context. First of all, this topic has been covered here in the past. I say this not in an attempt to shut down this discussion, because it is one worth having, but to provide a reference to previous discussions on this topic to see more explanations that are sure to be better than mine. http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=7645 As I understand it, the Objectivist view on sex (Yes, whether you agree or not, it is the Objectivist view as it is the one explicitly laid out by Ayn Rand. You may argue all you wish that she got something "confused", which in this case I sincerely doubt, but because she laid it out in her philosophical works, it IS Objectivism. Officially. That is a fact which leaves no room for disagreement - that is, disagreement on whether or not Ayn Rand's view on this subject is Objectivism.) stems from the fact that the mind and body cannot be separated. A sexual relationship is based on people perceiving each other as being an important value - a value as a mind in addition to being a value in a physical sense (being attractive). As Francisco says, "a man's sexual choice is the result and sum of his philosophical convictions". Rand also argues (through Francisco) that sexual choice is "an effect and expression of a man's sense of his own value" which is I think another very relevant consideration. What does it say about your valuation of yourself that you are willing to share an intimate moment that is perhaps the height of pleasure and passion with someone about whom you care very little? But I think the real question to ask here is: why would you want to have a sexual relationship with someone who is not a rational value to you? What possible interest could you have in a sexual relationship with someone who does not matter to you beyond that sex? What rational thought process would lead you to want that? I can say with all honesty that while certain facets of the idea may seem attractive on their face, I personally would not want to have a sexual relationship except with someone who I considered a rational value in my life. I would not want to wake up in bed with someone I hardly know; I would only want to do so with someone I care about. I'm sure someone here can explain the justification for the Objectivist position on sex more clearly than I can, but I felt that I should post in favor of it. So my answer to the OP is "No - sex should in fact be between people who care strongly about each other and is not something to be taken lightly with regard to choice of partner - but it should be clear that this does not imply the necessity to wait to be in love or anything to that extent before having sex." I think an interesting discussion of the extent to which one should discriminate in choice of sexual partner can be found in one of Dr. Leonard Peikoff's podcasts. This is directed at teenagers who may not necessarily have fully formed value systems, but he does give a greater degree of clarification as to whether Objectivism considers it necessary to be in love before having sex. http://www.peikoff.com/2008/02/25/what-is-the-difference-between-love-and-rational-sex-2/ (I think something that is worth discussing in greater detail is whether the Objectivist position allows for relationships that are sexual but not romantic in nature between two people who are of value to each other - for example, friends of the opposite sex who share major values and convictions but due to differences in temperament or current life circumstances could not form a life relationship with each other. I would say the answer to this is an emphatic "Yes!" in cases as I described where those involved consider each other to be high values, but I think it would be an interesting discussion to have.)
  23. In Anwar al-Awlaki's case, if I recall correctly, from being born in Colorado. I would guess a somewhat significant percentage now are natural born. And the First Amendment pretty much prohibits the US government from screening a citizenship candidate' views on theocracy.
  24. I've not really read any other philosophies, though I am interested in reading the works of some of the Austrian economists like Ludwig Von Mises and FA Hayek, which I plan to do in the near future. So if those libertarian works would be considered another philosophy, then I would be interested in that one, but I think that they mostly stay in the realm of political philosophy and have near-identical principles in that realm to Objectivism.
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