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About mwickens

  • Birthday 07/28/1965

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  1. Just in case anyone stopped listening to the recordings because of the poor audio quality, this has been rectified in the latest installments.
  2. Some of you may be familiar with my website, Randex, which tracks online media mentions of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. It's been going since February 2005 and now has a database of almost 2000 articles. Well, now I've made it easy for those of you with your own blogs and other websites to include the latest Rand-related news on your site. Just visit this page for all the details. Mark
  3. The site is probably using Amazon's "Omakase" ads. These work based, in part, on Amazon's knowledge about you (past purchases, for example). Here's a description from their affiliates site: Mark http://randex.org/
  4. To be exact, it's based on the idea that living things face a fundamental alternative: life or death. Nothing about "drives" there. And if by "drives" you mean unchosen, instinctual behavior, then ethics could not be based on them, seeing as ethics makes sense only when a choice is possible. For a man, whose actions are the result of the choices he makes, the fundamental alternative of life or death entails making certain kinds of choices if he is to survive and flourish. It's these choices that ethics is concerned with, according to Objectivism. Mark
  5. Re blackdiamond's poll, I have two words: Frank O'Connor.
  6. This piece from 60 Minutes might be of interest to people following this thread. It was interesting to me, at any rate. http://audio.cbsnews.com/2006/03/12/audio1391769.mp3
  7. I haven't Read Don's article, so I don't know the context of that quote. More importantly what he has to say is irrelevant to this discussion. I'm arguing with your statements and still think that, at the very least, they are unclear and focus on inessential, if not nonexistent, aspects of the case. In any instance of injustice, unless there is positive evidence to indicate a default of responsibility on the part of the victim that contributed to the situation, it is inappropriate to concentrate on the their supposed failure to avoid the infringement of their rights. Your position seems to be that the very fact that an injustice occurred indicates some culpability on the part of the victim. That position is absurd. It's akin to saying a rape victim was "asking for it" because she chose to wear revealing clothing. But worse, because there's no evidence the poor internet user did anything that could provide a shred of justification for what happened to him. Finally, let me say that a major element of doing all one can to make sure that we have a proper government is denouncing those who commit rights violations. In the case that started this thread, it's clear my time is better spent pronouncing judgment on the "brownshirts," not the people they are harrassing. Mark
  8. Daedalus, you are attacking a straw man. No one is arguing against the self-evident proposition that failure to gain political freedom means suffering the consequences. No one here is asking to be freed from any legitimate responsibility. And no one is whining about anything. Mark
  9. No one is claiming groups have responsibilities separate from individuals, just that there are certain things that simply cannot be accomplished until a large number of individuals independently choose to do what's necessary to accomplish it. If one of those individuals is doing all he can, the fact that the rest are refusing to see the light and cooperate is no reflection on him. Mark
  10. We're getting nowhere. You ignored the substance of my response and are now making unwarranted assumptions about how I "choose to see" myself. Here's another quote Ayn Rand liked: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Mark
  11. The individual's responsibility is to do what he can. If by "we" you mean the culture as a whole, yes, it's self-evident, but irrelevant to your point and to the argument being made against it. An individual has no power to change the culture single-handedly. Not only is philosophical change a difficult and long-range project, other men -- the ones you need to convince -- have free will. If you or I do everything in our power to stop fascism, but the culture still drifts toward fascism, we have not defaulted on our responsibility. Again, we, as individuals have no power to "make sure" that our government does not violate our rights. Mark
  12. What was it about the example of two government thugs arresting a person for surfing the internet that caused you to concentrate on the "responsibility" of the victim? What is it about this case that warrants such an emphasis on his responsibility? Saying that "the library Internet user must ultimately assume responsibility for what happened to him" might be appropriate if he had actively campaigned for for censorship laws. And you might say he bears some responsibility if it was known that he avoid politics altogether. But we have no such information about the victim. So why do you think the important aspect to point out in this case is that people are responsible for their government? You also said "He should have made sure he had a government that wouldn't harrass him." As at least one other person has pointed out, this is simply false. You are demanding the impossible because no individual has this power. Imagine that the person arrested for surfing the internet were Leonard Peikoff or Yaron Brook -- to name two people who are unimpeachable in living up to their responsibility to fight for the respect of individual rights. Would you have made the same comments about his requirement to "ultimately assume responsibility for what happened to him"? Would you say he "should have made sure he had a government that wouldn't harrass him"? If so, why? If not, why not. In fact, I have a better, real-life example. A few years ago, Leonard Peikoff had two manuscript pages stolen from him by the Library of Congress. Does he bear the ultimate responsibility for this theft? How should he have "made sure the government wouldn't harrass him"? How do you think he would react if your first response to him upon learning of the theft was to talk about how he is ultimately responsible for it? Mark
  13. Exactly. A survivalist, sitting in a bunker surrounded by enough food and water to last 20 years, would be another good concretization of this view of responsibility. Mark
  14. The "neglect, ignorance, or helplessness" quote is about citizens of a nation that is in danger of being attacked in war because their government is engaging in actions that are an objective threat to the rights of a free country. The "price" they pay is due to a free country protecting the rights of its citizens. In the case of the internet user, we are talking about a "price" paid due to the government violating the rights of its citizens. Yes, there are consequences to be suffered in either case, but the prime responsibility in the latter case is that of the one unjustly initiating force -- i.e., the government. Now, if it were clear that the internet users knew they were breaking the law, but did it anyway, they certainly bear some responsibility for their actions. And if we were to find out that these people are ardent statists, who advocate laws restricting free speech, they have little to complain about. But in general, if upon seeing a case of clear rights violation, you immediately start talking about the responsibility of the victim, you have -- at the very least -- a warped view of responsibility -- and justice. Mark
  15. I found this quote in Ayn Rand Answers and thought it may have indicated a change in AR's thinking on the topic, but I checked the dates and found that this answer was from 1968, while the bald "I regard it as immoral" answer was from 1971. So if the answers do show a change, it's in the direction of a more general evaluation. However, I don't think such brief answers can tell us anything definitive either way. One thing I do find interesting is that Robert Mayhew chose to omit the 1971 answer from his book and include the 1968 one. Without asking Dr. Mayhew, we don't know why, but he has said that he consulted with Leonard Peikoff on the selection and editing and that "Dr. Peikoff did not want the book to present anything that contradicted or could be taken to contradict what he knew to be AR's views on some topic." So perhaps Dr. Peikoff knew her evaluation of the immorality of homosexuality to be less broadly applicable than the 1971 answer would indicate. Mark
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