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Jason Hunter

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Posts posted by Jason Hunter

  1. On 10/26/2018 at 11:19 PM, Eiuol said:

    Technical, maybe, but it is a difference that matters for Rand. For Rand, virtues are the means of attaining values. Values in this sense are more concrete than virtues. There are fundamental values reason, purpose, and self-esteem, and virtues are how you get there. These are normative standards, not standards which define the bare minimum other people must meet in order to qualify as deserving value exchange. Also, people can show elements of virtue, so you don't need see every aspect of the person as flawless. Actually, if we focus on virtues as action, loving (not romantic love) a person for their virtues is much broader than loving a person for their values. You could, for example, have a friend that lives by duty, but you also recognize a great deal of rationality in their behavior overall. 

    You're right then to say that the value you gain is purely down to who they are as a person. It is not simply a quantified analysis of what you get, because it's a reaction to a whole person. Are you proposing then that this is not enough to value your parents at least somewhat, if they were decent and good people? It sounds like you're trying to say that blood family doesn't bring you value, or that it is exceedingly rare to find any virtue in blood family. But this doesn't make sense, because you are saying that duty brings stability to families, but if on average your family will have unvirtuous people and people that don't deserve respect, how can that possibly make a family strong? That would make a family weak; on some level, you're saying that unvirtuous people are necessary to keep a bond. Your argument is basically "you have no good reason to stick by bad family members, so that's why we need duty". 

    You should bring in real life examples. What about your family? Are there bad people in your family that you stick to because they are family? If it weren't for duty, would you abandon your family today? Are there people in your life that you would consider family that aren't blood family?

    Just to make things clear i dug up a few Rand quotes:

    "In love the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you, you love them for their values, their virtues, which they have achieved in their own character."

    - Youtube - interview - "Ayn Rand on happiness, Self-Esteem and Love"

    "What you fall in love with is the same values which you choose embodied in another person. That's romantic love, now any lesser form of love such as friendship, affection [notice how she didn't mention family], is the same thing in effect. You grant a feeling of affection toward those who you have concluded are values, your response to others is on the basis of values."

    - Youtube - interview - Ayn Rand Love and Values

    To answer your questions ill say this:

    I agree you can get some value from family members. Of course, they will probably have some traits you admire. Maybe one of them is a hard worker or you share a value (a common interest) etc. I don't dispute this. But unfortunately it doesn't solve the problem. 

    Why? Because the same thing applies to millions of other people. You can find some value in lots of people. 

    In this increasingly interconnected world, both online and in the physical world with bigger cities, improved transport etc the sheer number of people we can meet or do meet (say if you're a university student for example) is enormous. 

    If values/virtues is the only thing you judge your family members on, they are very vulnerable to being "out-valued" so to speak. 

    In this internet age, it is easy to seek out people who strongly share your values and it wouldn't take long to find a whole group of people who would effectively replace your family. 

    This is why i see the family being destroyed with the removal of duty or more broadly mysticism in family. 

    In a hypothetical Objectivist world, society would be fluid. People would move in and out of relationships and groups. The family would not be an enduring social unit. It just wouldn't exist in the way it does today.

    With values being the only standard, there is no binding glue. 

    But as I've said many times, all of this is only a secondary problem. The primary problem is the incentive to have children in the first place which I can't see being strong enough and widespread. 

  2. On 10/26/2018 at 6:54 AM, DonAthos said:

    All right. To clarify, I don't know to what extent you and I are currently in conflict, or what the nature of that conflict might be. But with respect to "human nature," I don't tend to believe much in it. Not in the sense it's often employed, at least, pronouncing mankind to be "basically good" or "basically bad." Let me expound a bit on what I think "human nature" means in this sense, from my own perspective:

    Rand defined man as "a rational animal." She clarified, " 'Rational,' in this context, does not mean 'acting invariably in accordance with reason'; it means 'possessing the faculty of reason.' "

    Then, Rand holds reason to be "man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge," being "the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses." If this is so, and if we believe that there is any such thing as "the good," then it seems to me that man's hope of achieving that good is through the use of reason.

    So men have the faculty of reason, which is the ability to grasp reality, to acquire knowledge, and through which we can do that which is good (and through our failures, innocent or otherwise, that which is bad). But this faculty does not guarantee that any individual will employ his ability to reason to any particular degree, or that he will be successful in his efforts at employing it.

    Is there, in this, any sweeping conclusion we can draw with respect to "human nature"?

    So do you subscribe to the blank slate view of man? 

    One conclusion would be man has no pre-existing knowledge. But you'd have to expand on what you've said to gain a better understanding of your conception of human nature. 

    Does reason have limitations? Can it be used to fully comprehend the laws of nature? Does man have any inherent limitations or can the contents of his mind be completely determined by reason? (blank slate view). 

    (There's a actually a book by Steven Pinker called The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature which is an argument against the tabula rasa theory. Sounds like a must read. One to add to the list)

    I don't deny the existence of universal laws of nature. I am just sceptical about our ability to actually know them in full, or to fully understand them and be able to rationally articulate them. 

    Objectivism relies on a specific conception of human nature. The is-ought logic means changes in our understanding of human nature can have a drastic impact on the philosophy. I discussed the role of reproduction as an example earlier in the thread. 

    I see two ways we can try to understand human nature. One is through scientific experiment on the human body and the other is through observing how humans actually behave in reality. 

    Regarding the latter which you talk about further down but I'll address here, if you were observing an alien species over a long period of time you would look for recurring characteristics. If the aliens were stealing, killing and lying over thousands of years and kept doing it despite all the different cultures, races, religions etc you would certainly make this your starting point for inherent traits in their nature. It would carry more weight than the exceptions. And if in the societies where they were punished for these things, you observed them doing these things less in what appeared to be a successful method, you would have little reason to believe that something else could be more succesful, like reason, which so far had shown no successful track record in any society before and in fact when it was tried as an alternative deterrent (league of nations), it failed. 


    But we also want to be leery of the veneration of tradition or institution for their own sake, supposing them to have some necessary-but-hidden virtue, let alone that this supposed virtue must itself justify any given tradition. Some utterly lousy things can have the stamp of tradition, or institutional backing. As an example, human chattel slavery evolved over a long, long time with the imprimatur of both tradition and copious institutional backing -- and it was, in my opinion, ruinous and rightly abolished.

    It's wrong to blame slavery on tradition or long standing institutions. Before the 18 century, slavery was an uncontroversial fact of life. It had always existed. In every corner of the globe you'd find slavery, every race and creed. So the real question is, what is the cause of freedom? Similarly, you don't look for the causes of poverty (poverty has always existed), you look for the causes of wealth. 

    Institutions have supported bad things in the past. How could this not be the case in societies that evolve incrementally over time, gradually improving? And as they improve, it is the institutions that improve with them or drive the improvement. It was the Christians that spearheaded the call to end slavery and it was in a society where freedom had come about through a long process of evolution in English law. It was bound to take slavery with it even if there was a lag time. 

    And it is one thing to morally condemn slavery, and another to figure out the practical steps toward ending it and having a plan to manage the fallout. There's going to be a lag time between the two, as was the case with the Americans. 


    Not every institution or tradition is worth preserving, and among those which perhaps are, there are yet maybe elements that can and should be evolved (for instance, the liberalizing of marriage against miscegenation laws and more recently to include same-sex unions).

    I agree, change is inevitable.  


    What faculty would you propose employing to determine which institutions and traditions to preserve, which to change (and to what extent), and which to abolish? What better than reason?

    This is a great question. Although to be more specific, reason has to be used. It depends what premises you use. So my question would be by what standard should we judge political action? 

    This has been causing me a headache. I would much rather just have the nice clean Objectivist principles but it's clear the world isn't as simple as that. 

    For example, one could buy all the land around a community of people and hold them hostage by refusing them access on the land. Or on immigration, open boarders would lead to societal suicide. Or in emergency ethics, the ethical principles breakdown.

    Those things remind me of how the laws of physics break down in the centre of a black hole. I think it is a fitting parallel. 

    So all that's left is a rough estimate. We believe stealing, lying, killing is bad. These ethical principles are embedded in traditions and social institutions and also conform to reason. Perhaps these traditions provide glimpses of the truth. We know the free market is superior whether it is justified with natural rights or utilitarianism etc. The same thing applies for property rights. And we know the dangers of the centralisation of power etc. We have to use long standing social institutions as guides but not complete authorities and the same thing applies with reason. We have to value stability and exercise prudence in political change. 

    There's a lot to say on this and a lot of theories out there. Edmund Burke called his approach prescription which you can look into if you like. 

    But I admit I am stuck on this. There doesn't seem to be a clear and final answer in any direction and I fear there never will be. 


    There's a lot to unpack here. For instance, the "special meaning of blood in the family." Is there a special meaning? Is it true (in the same sense and to the same extent) for all people?

    It's different for different people of course but generally speaking the special meaning clearly exists for human beings. Perhaps frustration arises from being unable to define exactly what the meaning is but I think this is just one of those limits. I think it can't be defined because it expresses itself differently for different people. 

    I see the blood connection encompassing a number of ideas. I use it as a rather broad term. It's better to say mysticism in family. 

    For a mother, her bond with her children is said to be especially profound which is partly down to the fact the children actually grew inside of her and are made from her.  


    Without trying to unpack all of the rest, I wonder on this score about the affections that I do feel for those whom I do. Is it because I am convinced that I owe some "duty"? Is that why I love my wife, out of obligation? Is it ever why I loved my mother or father? And (perhaps most to our point) is it why I love my daughter? For no better reason than because I am supposed to? 

    Well, I am very sceptical that humans can actually separate the mysticism unless the value calculation is extreme for them. I believe you love your daughter but I don't believe you base this love purely on how much you like her values and virtues which is what Objectivism demands of you. 


    Why should I take it as granted that these feelings that I feel are not themselves rooted in some reason (whether yet fully articulated or not)? Why should I assume that I am not right to feel the way I do? (And if it were something so simple as familial fidelity, something rooted in blood and gene, why shouldn't I feel the same kind of affection for everyone in my family? Why should there be so much evidence in the world of people hating their close family, and sometimes quite rightly?)

    You shouldn't take it for granted. But it could be a reason you never gain access to. The last two questions just demonstrate how complex and messy the real world is. The standards and meanings vary for different people. Blood does not guarantee love. Generally speaking, it works as a kind of glue helping to unite a family and it expresses itself in the human mind as mysticism. A mother may tell her son to go help his brother and he asks why and she replies "because he's your brother". This is a classic line. And it works. The child accepts it as a good point and reluctantly helps. Or the child may not understand why the line is authoritative but just feels that it is. 


    I do not believe that all loyalty is necessarily "irrational," whether to family, community or country... but sometimes such loyalty can be irrational, depending on the family, community or country. Loyalty to the wrong family, as the wrong country, can be self-destructive. Whatever our original impetus to such loyalty, if we are to have hope that we can sometimes cast off the loyalty a person might feel towards those who destroy us, I would ask again, what faculty ought we use to separate the beneficial or benign from the destructive? What better than reason?

    What if reason is not enough, what then? That's the position I think is the reality. 


    (If it is necessary to supply an example for the above, consider the abused daughter. What "special meaning" ought the blood relationship of the abusive father have for her? And if she decides that continued fidelity to her father "cannot pass the bar of reason," and so takes action by running away or renouncing her father or surrendering him to authorities, etc., is that a "devastating blow" against anything we would care to preserve? What if she should stay with him instead, in the name of duty, and subject herself to further abuse? Would we account that good?)

    I think most would agree it's good to leave the abusive father. But again, I share your desire to know what the good is. 


    And it is true that stealing, lying and killing will never cease without deterrents other than reason. In fact, they will never cease regardless of such deterrents as we might devise. And the deterrents that Rand would suggest against stealing, lying and killing (though mostly the first and last) are no mere use of reason, but self-defense.



    But because individuals may be flawed, and because there will always be flawed individuals to greater and lesser extents (and indeed, every individual is likely possessed of something we might consider a flaw), I do not draw the lesson that "mankind as a whole is inherently flawed." Because there are murderers, and always will be, that does not make every man a murderer, or give every man a share in the guilt of murder. It does not weigh upon my conscience that others steal, lie and kill. Yet I can and do make the case that (speaking broadly here) it is not right to steal, it is not right to lie, it is not right to kill -- that these choices will bring suffering to the person who performs the act -- and thereby appeal to reason so that men might better themselves, both for their sake and also for the sake of the society in which we all live.

    Not everyone will be swayed by reason, but someone might be -- and I believe he can live better for it.

    But if you think it will never cease without deterrents, what does that tell you about human nature? Does this not point to the limits of reason? 

    I said earlier in the thread that the extent to which the deterrents are working, is the extent to which reason is failing. Most people know stealing is wrong. And yet how many do you think would do it if they could get away with it? Imagine if there were no deterrents in terms of punishment. Anyone could walk into a store and take a brand new tv off the shelf without any consequences. I think it would quickly become apparent how weak a force reason is. 

    And consider lying, not only is it easy to get away with lying, there's also very little punishment for it which is why it's widespread. Imagine if people could instantly be caught for lying and the punishment was 6 months in prison. What do you think would be more effective? This deterrent or attempting to rationally explain to someone why they shouldn't lie, getting them to understand and agree and to go on with the rest of their life not lying? 

    Considering these questions, it becomes apparent that a society of Objectivists (that is, true Objectivists not needing deterrents for themselves) is impossible. Even a society with a sizeable portion of them would be impossible. Even a portion of the tiny number that exist today probably wouldn't pass the no-deterrents test, in my opinion, and therefore aren't real Objectivists. 

    Deterrents, social institutions, God etc are ways of controlling these things. Reason will never be enough, not even close. 


    Rand did not set out, primarily, to look at the way humans are and have always behaved. Her ethics are not descriptive but prescriptive. Clearly man does not always abide by reason; if he did, Rand would hardly have needed to write so much about the subject. Instead, she intends to lay out the means by which man can live better, can live happier.

    Can but won't.

    I'll just close by saying Rand is reliant on the facts of nature which she didn't know. She assumed. The nature/nurture debate has not been resolved and scientists today attribute genes to a role in human behaviour. How powerful is that role? It's all still very murky. 

    I read that Peikoff's daughter, an Objectivist, is studying bio-ethics. I applaud her for this. I think this is exactly the area that needs to be focused on. 

  3. 26 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    That's why I said romantic love. It's just too bad in English there are many uses of the word love besides romantic love. 

    Virtues aren't values. If you appreciate someone for their virtues, you are appreciating their actions. Values they hold is involved, but I already said that. Anyway, you said duty could include no longer valuing someone in your family in certain circumstances. You already agree that some bar needs to be passed even for those who believe in duty!

    I said virtues in the post you replied to before but you replied as if I had said value despite my quote right above your sentence. The one you are replying to here I have since edited as I noticed my mistake. Rand in her quote uses Virtue. But its a rather technical distinction between the two. They are very similar and both come together to roughly mean the way someone thinks and acts, their attitudes/beliefs and their behaviour. 

    So the value you gain, spiritually speaking, is purely down to who they are as a person, nothing more. It is this that determines whether you love someone, consider them a friend etc and it is on this basis that you choose to do something for them. My previous argument remains the same. 

    You are trying to claim there is something more, or at least you were in the reply a while back. It was all very murky. 

    Yeah extreme value calculations can override duty, as the history of families shows. I'm not against any bar at all. That would be ideologically extreme and in opposition to the thing I'm supporting - families as they exist in reality. 

  4. 1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

    Moving the goalpost. You now changed what you mean by tabula rasa. Before you suggested in this context it meant no innate tendencies. Now you say it means having no inherent flaws. Which is it?

    One or the other, or both. It doesn't matter. The blank slate view is that man has no inherent limits holding him back. 


    I'm not saying it's a romantic view of man. I'm saying it specifically falls into Romantic philosophy, which is different enough from the Enlightenment to be considered a different movement. Actually, if Peikoff is arguing that Objectivism is and Enlightenment philosophy, I think he's simply wrong on the history. 

    I don't know what your criteria is to be called an "Enlightenment philosophy" but that is irrelevant. Objectivism shares some fundamental views of man with the era as articulated by Peikoff and that's the point. It would not have been out of place had it been conceived during that time. Trying to distance Objectivism from the enlightenment is absurd. Even Rand had high praise for the era. And Peikoff describes Arsitotle as the father of that era, the same father of Objectivism. 


    Well, this is the whole reason I think you miss the point. We are all sufficiently enlightened in the sense that we need to use reason and have the capacity to reason. While there are cultural trends that reflect irrational action, zombielike behavior, acting like the herd, all these people use reason some amount at the very least otherwise they would be literally dead. In other words, it's not that they need to see the light; they need to realize what they already are and seek rationality throughout all of their life for their own good. 

    This is all relevant to family, at least in the sense you will necessarily get the view on family wrong. We aren't arguing for overcoming irrationality. If anything, we call for a more consistent and pro-life view of family. 

    Here you are just performing rhetorical somersaults rewording the same thing. 

    According to you, an enlightened individual is someone who has the potential to live a rational moral life if only they'll realise what they are (a rational being) and seek rationality. 

    This is no different to the enlightenment thinkers. There is nothing unique in what you have said (except reinventing the word enlightened which serves no purpose except obfuscation) 

    It appears you think the unique twist is that they just need to realise "what they already are" which isn't unique at all. This is the same point as thinkers like Paine. Man is a rational being. If only he'll exercise that reason, he'll fulfill his potential. 


    Because the bar is lower for non-romantic relationships. You've already been corrected that valuing another person is not based on the values that *they* hold. 

    You're right its based on the value you gain. Which is based on what? The virtues they hold. See the Rand quote. 

    She set the bar extremely high for love. I'd assume the bar is still very high for friend. Besides, family falls in the category of love. 

    And the point still remains, you'd have no reason to want to do something for them if their virtues don't pass the bar (unless you made a promise to do something for them). 

    And as has been a recurrent theme in this thread, the issue of having children in the first place is hardly replied to - the bigger problem. 

  5. On 10/24/2018 at 11:41 PM, Craig24 said:

    This presupposes that a family has to be sustained.  Why is that necessary?

    I've discussed this earlier in the thread. Perhaps a society can flourish without the family. No society ever has but I don't completely rule it out. With developments in bio-engineering and AI, who knows. But all of that is entering the realm of science fiction. 

    At present, the family is a vital social institution for a number of reasons. This is widely accepted. It is even acknowledged in the Atlas Society link in my original post. 

    But it's good that you're asking that because Objectivists should to start thinking in that direction or find a way to include reproduction and the family in the philosophy.

  6. On 10/24/2018 at 5:29 AM, Eiuol said:

    For what it's worth, you stopped discussing this part when people mentioned how you are mistaken about the reasons why family isn't meaningless if judged on Objectivist premises, and also that some type of calculation isn't the whole story. 


    On 10/24/2018 at 1:09 AM, dlewis said:

    Jason, I think your question is an interesting one, especially in terms of Objectivist ethics--thanks for asking it.  I wonder if it can be asked more broadly, though?   Not just does family require a notion of 'duty,'  but does anything?  There may be no innate moral obligation to do anything beyond keeping ourselves alive, if in the Randian sense, 'individual' life=value.  But things suffer when you don't tend to them, and some quality-of-life is perhaps just as important as quantity-of-life.  So could 'duty' just be a more deterministic way of looking at 'responsibility?' For example, I'm not sure if it is 'duty,' but I want to take care of my mom when she gets older, if I have to and I am able, because she took care of me when I couldn't-- this feels more like a trade or responsibility to me than something I HAVE to do-- I just WANT to it, to return the favor.

    And just as a family may require certain things be done that any member may or may not want to do at a particular time, so do most accomplishments or productive achievements.  Productive work is often not easy, often requiring hard work and hard decisions to get to a desired result.  So you could ask why anyone would want to accomplish anything if it is so difficult?  Because 'productive' work should enhance the quality of our lives, right?  I have no kids, but I do understand as a teacher the benefits of being around (most of) them, if you enjoy seeing children grow, just like an any idea, into fruition.  I've learned a lot from students, gained new perspectives, laughed a lot.  So I think raising a family can be 'productive' work, despite the costs and risks involved, and the fact that children don't always grow up the way we expect they should (which can still be beneficial).  Of course it's not for everyone, me included, but I'm confused-- do you not see how a 'family' (not necessarily genetic) can enhance people's quality-(and/or quantity) of-life?  

    Sorry I didn't reply. There's so many I lose track. My answer here applies to both of you. 


    "In spiritual issues—(by “spiritual” I mean: “pertaining to man’s consciousness”)—the currency or medium of exchange is different, but the principle is the same. Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character."

    Its important not to confuse positive externalities as a reason for doing something back for someone, certainly not as an obligation. If you gain value from the actions of someone you know and therefore you've "gained value", this has nothing to do with the spiritual relationship - whether you consider them a friend or love them.

    If they buy you a gift, it doesn't mean you owe them a gift back or any spiritual payment. One cannot buy respect from another person, only virtues can do that. If they do something for you, they gain selfish pleasure out of it. The trade is finished. Why do they do it? Because of your values/virtues. 

    And this where the entire relationship stems from.

    Rand herself declared very few people deserve love (because they have the wrong virtues). Friendship would still require a strong appreciation for someones virtues, family even more so. 

    So it begs the question. Why would you want to do something for someone if their virtues don't pass the bar? You wouldn't according to Objectivism. And judging by Rand's comments and written work, it appears that bar is pretty high. 

    Dlewis you said one could conceive of family like hard work. I totally agree this conception holds true in the traditional sense. But the motivation derives from the blood connection. "They're blood". That's where the extra push comes from to work hard at the relationship. 

    But for an Objectivist, it makes no sense when you're not "stuck" with your family and can readily choose whoever you like to be close to. Why put up with the hard work of changing someone's views when you can instantly find connection with other people who share your values?

    Perhaps there is some wiggle room to work with somewhere in all of that. But what I've laid out there is guaranteed to be a heavy blow to the unity of the family. 

    But that's not even the worst part. Everything I've said so far is only the secondary problem. 

    The primary problem is having the children in the first place. And this is an even bigger challenge to overcome. I agree there is some value in seeing children grow but without the blood connection? Without any meaning whatsoever in passing on the genes, in continuing the generation etc? This would be an even bigger blow. 

    Adoption agencies are always struggling to find homes for their babies/children. People care about the blood connection. It means something to them. They want to raise a mini version of themselves and their lover. 

    There is just little justification for an Objectivist to commit to raising children (a monumental commitment) when productivity is the highest good. I've said more on this earlier if you can find it. (And raising a family cannot be seen as productive in an Objectivist sense)


    "In comparison to the moral and psychological importance of sexual happiness, the issue of procreation is insignificant and irrelevant, except as a deadly threat"

    The bottom line is an Objectivist society disregards the family, just like Rand did in her life and work. 

  7. 1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

    I've been following the thread (somewhat), but I don't see what this has to do with either family or duty. In any event, what is your essential criticism with the notion that reason "helps you to see the light"? Set aside for a moment whether man is "perfectible" (which I think a tricky notion at best, and often unhelpful) but do you disagree that man is improvable (meaning: some given individual, in some set of circumstances, may improve himself) -- or that reason is his best means of so doing?

    The point is that ones view of human nature leads to very different conclusions and this is at the heart of the conflict. 

    My criticism is not with reason helping mankind but with everything having to pass the bar of reason, or at least articulated reason. The problem with this is that it destroys social institutions and traditions;  the very things which have evolved over a long time to deal with human nature and they contain far more knowledge and wisdom than a single person can rationally articulate. In much the same way, the widespread dispersal of knowledge in the free market is far more wise than the articulated rationality of a few intellectuals pulling the levers of the economy. 

    Removing the special meaning of blood in the family, the passing of genes/continuing of generations is a devastating blow and all because it cannot pass the bar of reason. But perhaps reason has its limits. Perhaps "irrational" loyalty to family, community and country is a vital mechanism. What use is a society that adheres completely to articulated reason if it destroys itself? 

    I do believe man can improve himself absolutely. But only within certain constraints. This probably vary among individuals but mankind as a whole appears to be inherently flawed. Stealing lying and killing will never cease without deterrents other than reason. 

    And by the way, it's not like I take pleasure in this view. It's difficult for me to accept because I want everything to be explained through clean hard logic. But looking at the way humans are and have always behaved is clearly at odds with all these rational theories. 

  8. 3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    She doesn't mean though that man is a flawed creature by nature that needs to be improved.

    irrationality is a consequence rather than a fact of our nature.

    we are all sufficiently "enlightened" people, every one of us, we just need to choose to be rational. It's not that reason helps you see the light, it's that reason is a fundamental requirement. 

    I'm trying to emphasize that Objectivism is a Romantic philosophy. 

    Of course, this is what I've been saying; the blank slate view of human nature. Man has no inherent flaws. This is a fundamental premise shared with the enlightenment era. It is a romantic view of man because it sets no limits. (Read Paine and tell me he doesn't have a romantic view of man and society)

    Peikoff's words on the era: 

    "Just as there are no limits to man’s knowledge, many [Enlightenment era] thinkers held, so there are no limits to man’s moral improvement. If man is not yet perfect, they held, he is at least perfectible." (Thus, no inherent flaws). 

    "Whatever the vacillations or doubts of particular thinkers, the dominant trend represented a new vision and estimate of man: man as a self-sufficient, rational being and, therefore, as basically good, as potentially noble, as a value." (Starting to sound like Objectivism?)

    Man's behaviour is malleable and reason is the tool. We are not "all sufficiently enlightened people", we have the potential to be and we can realise it by choosing to exercise reason in every area of our life. Reason does help you see the light. Rand recommends the mindless zombies use reason to correct their chaotic mind. 

    Peikoff even refers to reason as a force and a power:

    "Reason, for so long the wave of the future, had become the animating force of the present" 

    "In epistemology, the European champions of the intellect had been unable to formulate a tenable view of the nature of reason or, therefore, to validate their proclaimed confidence in its power."

  9. On 10/23/2018 at 10:55 PM, Eiuol said:

    I think this is an accurate description of Enlightenment thinkers. But Objectivism is not a philosophy based on Enlightenment philosophy. For some of its political philosophy, maybe, but not for ethics or anything else. There is no belief that reason is needed to overcome human flaws or irrational behaviors. It's more that reason is necessary to exist at all, going all the way back to Stone Age man and before. Reason isn't for the betterment of man; reason is a natural thing that we all must pursue individually and follow individually. 

    Rather, they use reason and personal pride to be their best self. They use great ability. If anything, irrationality is unnatural, an error - a mistake.

    Instead of saying the power of reason, I should have said the fundamental importance of reason. Not only is it important, we would be dead without it. 

    This is bordering on pure semantics. Rand says most people are like mindless zombies caught up in a whirlwind of confusion and contradiction. They behave irrationally guided by their "whims". She recommends her philosophy as the antidote. 

    To solve their problems they must first think. They must reason. They must reconsider their premises and use reason to extrapolate the correct conclusions. This requires real work and mental effort. 

    In doing this, they will see the absurdity of lying, stealing, killing etc. Reason will show them it is against their own interest and they will not want to do it. 

    This is exactly like the enlightenment thinkers and the modern left wing who have inhereited this viewpoint. 

    The League of Nations was created on this very idea and it was a spectacular failure. 

    It all centres around the power or importance of reason in solving human conflict both domestically and internationally. 

    Leftists to this day believe criminals can be rehabilitated using reason. 


    You're right then that Wells and Lenin both thought that, for whatever reason, they were more enlightened than the rest, as if they had a special gift of reason. They thought reason had power. But they didn't think that reason was fundamental to man's nature. The masses were stupid, or irrational, and that's how they always would be. That was my point. Reason had its uses, but only at an enlightened minority had this gift. 

    By the way, when I said Fascism, I was referring to Italy. Less about building a new world, but rebuilding the world into what it once was. A return to Roman ideals, and definitely some maintenance of Christian traditions. Fascism isn't really a hybrid of anything, it's a third way. To be sure, there were some radical origins. Still, it emphasized tradition and family values as intrinsically necessary and critical. Not just a respect for these things, but that these things even supersede reason.  

    As much as I'd like to discuss this further, it's probably too far off topic and could easily spawn a massive debate. 


    The conservatism view you referred to is more like the Enlightenment ideal, but you temper it with a little bit of what I would call "pessimistic acceptance" that on average, people are hopelessly irrational and can't be shown the light. You might not emphasize the pessimistic part right now, but I think that's where your logic leads eventually. 

    I've emphasised the pessimistic part quite strongly. Human nature is inherently flawed - this is a key part of conservatism. In what way is Conservatism like the enlightenment ideals? Check out the famous debates between Burke and Paine who best represent the enlightenment view vs the conservative view. 

    If you mean support of free markets, the reasons are very different. Adam Smith supported them as a systemic process that produced the most good for society as a whole, not on the basis of individual rights. 

    The decenetralisation of power and free markets is crucial to Conservatism. It is only in modern times that they've been forced to move leftward because of the success of leftists. The conservatives in Britain today are basically a centrist party. 

    I think we're probably just crossing wires here over time periods/definitions. 

  10. 1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    I’m saying it’s meaningless to claim family needs any IT unless you identify what you mean by IT.  Are you backtracking now re. your identification of the meaning you ascribe to the word Duty, ie representing WHAT YOU have chosen to claim family needs?

    Furthermore, given YOUR understanding of what YOU MEAN mean by “Duty”, why don’t you now have a duty to clean my steps every Wednesday?


    IF you actually do not know WHAT YOU MEAN TO SAY whenever you use the word DUTY, not only do you have NO argument when you state “family needs duty”, you are stating the literal equivalent of “family needs [email protected]&ufkrb5&/!”... which states nothing of MEANING, even to YOU.

    I already have identified it. 

    To fill in your sentence: 

    "The family needs unchosen obligations" 

    A conception of the family which only consists of value calculation is not sustainable. 

    The duty is usually derived from blood (whether this is rational or not is a separate matter). 

    This is just how humans behave and have always behaved.

    At the very least, I'll put it this way:  The family needs an element of mysticism. The key point here is that value calculation alone is not enough. 

    There must be a special meaning placed in blood, in helping blood relatives, in passing on your genes, continuing the family name, connecting generations rather than breaking the link etc and a resulting motivation to do these things which usually takes the form of an obligation or duty although I concede it may not. It may take the form of a desire in the belief that passing on the genes is the right thing to do. But I think it may just be semantics at play here. 

    Now perhaps there is a way to rationally justify all of this and bring it outside the realm of mysticism. That would be great. I hope it's possible.

    The Intrincist explored something alone those lines earlier in the thread when he talked about grounding reproduction in human nature and rationally justifying it from there. 

  11. 8 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    I see.  Sorry to throw a plucked chicken at your feet but...

    I DO declare that it is your obligation to sweep my front steps every Wednesday evening henceforth.  Whereas this constitutes an unchosen obligation separate from any considerations of value to you, it therefore IS your Duty to do so.


    Again, you're asking for a rational justification for the source of duty. This is not what this thread is about and I have never made that argument. I am saying the family needs it whether it is a delusion or a truth. (And not just the family but society as a whole - extending up to duty to country). 

  12. 8 hours ago, Nicky said:

    Wow. You went from this:

    to only being interested in who's "losing the argument".

    So which is it? Are you here for help with your "struggles with fundamental problems", and to have your misunderstandings corrected? Or are you here to win arguments?

    They're not even debates anymore, now they're full blown arguments...give it two more pages, and you're at war.

    You again. What on earth do you want from me? 

    I've already answered your question when i replied to your previous outburst. 

    And in my original post I said "My argument is as follows:" and I have used the words "I argue" many times in this thread. Besides, it was StrictlyLogical who said "your argument is a non-argument" and I was replying to that. I also found his approach to be rather aggressive with all the unnecessary caps. 

    Your behaviour is embarrassing - personally attacking me, refusing to debate (fair enough) but then coming back to "crash" the thread declaring it's nonsense (despite refusing to actually debate it) and now again you're back to attack me and bicker. Grow up. 

  13. 2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    This is a bald-faced false allegation.  If you knew anything about Objectivism you would know that.

    That's not an argument. How is it false? If we were all Objectivists, society would be in peace and harmony. No lying, stealing, killing etc. The trader principle would reign in both economic and spiritual relationships. There would be no conflicts of interest or contradictions among rational men in a free society either, according to Rand. 

    When you start saying "If you knew anything about Objectivism you would know that" you're losing the argument. 



    It is not the responsibility of anyone here to justify YOUR invocation of the term "DUTY", it is your responsibility and yours alone, IF you are to defend or persuade anyone of your CLAIM that "family cannot survive without duty."


    You've made the claim that "X cannot survive without Y",

    and in the face of argument about other alternatives (Z, K, C) to fully support the survival of X... you maintain as a bald allegation that

    What alternatives are you referring to? 


    "NO those are not sufficient, indeed Y IS required for X to survive".... 

    but when asked about Y you cannot or will not identify what you mean by Y. 

    IF you cannot or will not define what you mean by Y, ANY argument that Y is necessary as opposed to the alternatives is simply EMPTY and invalid.


    Your entire argument is a non-argument, it amounts to no more than a bald assertion.

    I have been clear. Duty is an unchosen obligation separate from any value calculation. (unless those value calculations are extreme). 

    Asking me for a rational justification of its source is a separate matter. 

    It is hardly a non-argument that throughout history people have judged relationships on more than just rational value calculations. Duty has been a consistent thread. The blood connection has always had what one might consider a "mystical" element. I have even provided a rational explanation for why the family is meaningless if only judged on value calculations as well as appealing to history. 

  14. 2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    There is no DUTY to principles. 

    IF you ignore principles which are true and/or follow principles which are false, you will bear the negative consequences in reality of your DOING SO.  IF you ignore principles which are false and/or follow principles which are true, you will reap the positive consequences in reality of your DOING SO.

    Inapplicable. (see above)

    Thank you for the correction. I haven't read "Philosophy, who needs it?" but I can't can see Rand has an essay called "Causality vs duty" and ive just read sections of it available on the lexicon and it basically explains in more detail what you've said there. 

    2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    The subject of value is a separate issue which does not have bearing on the meaning of DUTY, which you still have not explained.  So what if one is a "reproductive being"?  Pointing out the sheer fact that one has the capability to do something is not tantamount to showing why a person has any duty to do that something... let alone serve as a definition of what "duty" as such IS independent of any particular example of what you purport to be an example of a duty.

    I am suggesting if one were to start trying to rationally justify duty, they might start with the fact that we are reproductive beings.

    I currently do not have the knowledge to get into that and you're best off seeking out the best arguments already out there to justify duty as I will do. 

    My focus in this thread is about the utility of duty. I have never claimed to justify it rationally but I do not dismiss the possibility that it can be justified rationally or morally. 

    I am simply observing the way human beings behave in reality not how they *should* behave based on abstract priciniples. 

    Its almost as if Objectivism is saying "if only humans behaved this way, there wouldn't be any wars, crime, lying, no conflicts of interest no contradictions etc and society would be at peace etc" but the problem is they simply don't think and act that way and they never will. 

    It's like saying "if only humans didn't act like humans". 

    And pointing out an extreme minority that apparently claim to behave that way (Rand declaring she is living proof - a single human being) is hardly indicative of human nature compared to hundreds of millions of humans across times, locations, cultures and races .

  15. On 10/22/2018 at 1:25 PM, Doug Morris said:

    I don't have time to read the whole biological critique linked to by Jason Hunter, but I read his post and the conclusions of the critique.  A few points.

    There may be hormonal or other promptings toward certain actions, but we have the power to overrule these promptings by reason.

    The key to successful living in high-density societies is respect for individual rights.  To the extent that this is not practiced, it creates conflict and becomes more and more destructive as time passes.  To the extent that it is practiced, it creates a workable society which is in everyone's interest.

    It is an example of the stolen concept fallacy to question one's own existence.  It is not a fallacy to question whether the people who brought one into existence should have done so.

    If one has the opportinity to steal but the likelihood of getting caught is very high and the punishment severe then one can reason the risk outweighs the benefit. In this sense reason has a clear role to play. 

    But the idea that without this deterrent, humans could rely on reason alone to deter themselves is absurd and flies in the face of history. Only a tiny minority could ever live that way. (And it probably wouldn't last).

    In an objectivist world, if the deterrent has any role to play in why one acts morally, then reason is failing to the extent to which the deterrent is working (certainly reason from Objectivist premises). 

    In the real world, whatever power we do have over our inherent leanings means very little if we don't exercise that power, if we disagree on what is and is not reasonable or if most of us simply don't have the time or interest to ponder what is and is not rational. 

    Instead of relying on reason, social institutions and traditions arise (with duty as a key component) and combine with reason to deal with those inherent leanings as more effective tools than reason alone could ever be. 

    Regarding the population density, it is the least relevant to this thread and I found it confusing. Certainly the weakest argument. 

    I found the sections on the family and human nature especially compelling.(he said "sort of" like the fallacy. The general point stands that it is strange reproduction is missing from the philosophy when it is so interconnected with life). 

    It is worth the read if you do get the time. 


  16. On 10/22/2018 at 1:29 PM, StrictlyLogical said:


    What do you mean by the term "duty"?

    Is it a feeling you have, or perhaps share with others, maybe some group, the majority, or perhaps a feelings other people had in history, whether famous or not..?

    Is it something like an idea residing in another plane of existence, which you can access as a revelation, using only your supernatural "senses" perhaps even a specific "sense of duty"?  Is that other realm the world of forms or God or something else?

    Is it something in reality, which a man responds to in order to achieve an outcome?  What outcome?  Why does any man choose that outcome?

    What exactly do you mean by Duty?


    I suppose the strongest argument would be that it comes from nature as we are reproductive beings. How do you describe the Objectivist duty to pricinples? What exactly is that duty where does it come from etc? Whatever your answer, just add reproduction as a value as well as your own life. 

  17. 21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    No, that's not what Rand means. She doesn't mean no innate tendencies. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by innate tendencies, but the only types of innate tendencies she really opposes are claims like "it is human nature to feel a duty to family". While much behavior and patterns of history are described in terms of how control over one's destiny and future as well as control over political and ethical motivations, that isn't to say there are no innate tendencies whatsoever. It's more that whatever innate tendencies we might have, we have a great deal of control and how to guide our own behavior.

    I thought that might get picked up. Apologies for being vague. Let's put it this way, human behaviour is seen as far more malleable for Objecivists (and many of the englishtenment thinkers). It stems from a firm belief in the power of reason to overcome human flaws and irrational behaviour. 

    While conservatives also believe we have a great deal of control (individual responsibility is a corner stone of their ideology), they also believe there are significant flaws inherent in human nature that can only be constrained not cured. They place less importance on the power of reason and more importance on the power of incentives to guide human behaviour. 

    Take theft. This is something humans have always done everywhere you look. And often they're perfectly capable of understanding it is wrong. Even more seemingly moral people would steal if they knew they could get away with it. It is said the true test is seeing if someone steals when they know no one is looking. 

    Out of this inherent problem in human nature arose a counter measure: the all-seeing God. If God is watching you all the time, another layer of resistance against theft is achieved. This is is far more powerful than reasoning with someone that stealing is bad. This is just an example, I'm an atheist /agnostic. 

    Of course, Objectivists and the left come to very different conclusions but the fundamental assumption about the power of reason and the malleability of human behaviour opens the door to a multitude of harmful policies. 

    I mentioned the rise of pacifism in the 30s as a direct result of this belief. (Rand was also critical of US entry in WW2). Another example is the focus on criminal rehabilitation over punishment to reduce crime. 


    There may be overlap with early progressivism, but early progressivism had no emphasis on individual rights. Neither did any of the more radical ideologies that developed.

    Communism to a great deal denies that we have the capacity and ability to choose our own future because it is so materialistic, and Fascism especially emphasizes duty to family and atavistic ideals as human nature rather than relating these values to reason. Although Communists tend to think innate knowledge wasn't a thing, many certainly believed in innate motivations and desires. In a way you could say Communism focuses on nurture, but it denies that you have much of if any control over it due to the innate tendencies that exist. At the very least, Fascism puts virtually all emphasis on nature. The main thing in common between these two is denying the power of reason.

    This topic could warrant a separate thread. I agree there were a multitude of reasons for the fall of the old order pre-1914. I wasn't claiming the blank slate view was the only or most important cause. However, the rejection of tradition (including the Christian tradition of objective morality and emphasis on individual responsibility) and the focus on starting the world over again was significant to say the least. Fascism was a hybrid. It used traditional symbolism as it's face but it piggy backed off of the progressive ideals including building a new world. (Germany was the most progressive country in western world pre-1914 and the largest party was socialist in 1914). Fascism was a reaction to communism but both ideologies were fishing from the same pond.

    They didn't deny the power of reason. HG Wells, a leading progressive light in the 30s, spoke at Oxford calling for us all to become "enlightened fascists". And Lenin believed he was part of a vanguard elite, an enlightened minority meant to guide the masses. There are many parallels with Objectivsts (who also consider themselves part of an intellectual elite) but they come to different practical conclusions.  

    I agree with your comment about individual rights but the term was just reinvented. They believed in a different kind of rights and claimed they were on the side of morality -"the freedom to" rather than "freedom from". 


    Rand never discussed the end of wars. 

    She wrote an essay "roots of war" and I thought she discussed the end of war with Donahue in an interview on YouTube. Maybe I'm misremembering. I agree with a lot of what she says. The problem I have is the basic assumption that reason (or lack of) is at the core of war and that it can be solved through reason. Interestingly, the ARI has taken a different view on interventionism, promoting it in the Middle East. 

    Regarding your last point, fascism is a hybrid (check out the book liberal fascism which points out its progressive origins) so it's entirely possible to not be fascist and not elevate the power of reason. The ideology I'm referring to is conservatism; small state, prudence etc - what fascism isn't. 

  18. @Eiuol@Doug MorrisIn your last replies, both of you have hit on the fundamental disagreement at play here. It is a disagreement about human nature. 

    One of Rand's basic assumptions about human nature is that we are born Tabula rasa. This doesn't just mean we are born without knowledge but also without any innate tendencies. 

    Man may be limited by nature in a physical sense but in terms of his character, attitudes and behaviour etc, man's mind is free reign. 

    If you hold this blank slate view of man, all emphasis is on nurture rather than nature. It means you place far greater significance on the influence of competing ideologies to explain past human behaviour rather than particular ideologies, practices, traditions etc resulting out of man's attempt to deal with human nature as it is. In this sense, Objectivism shares a fundamental root with the left wing. 

    This view of man flourished in the age of the enlightenment and led to great optimism about the potential of mankind. Man could mold society to his will, end poverty and war and accomplish it all through the power of reason. Paine's famous line encapsulates the movement: "we have it in our power to begin the world over again". 

    This view of human nature set the stage for the horrors of the 20th century. It was central to the progressive era, and the rise of Communism and Fascism.

    While a conservative might argue that the long history of conflict and war indicates an inherent tendency in man, Rand would argue they had their premises wrong. That war is the result of collectivism and individualism is the cure. In other words, war can end through reason. The left tend to agree. This view dominated in the 1930s causing the rise of pacifism and disarmament in the west allowing the rise of Hitler. 

    @intrinsicistalso hits on some important points regarding this. Because Objectivism relies on the is implies ought logic, a different view of human nature would cause drastic changes to the philosophy. The facts about human nature and the nurture/nature argument isn't settled and yet Objectivism is so reliant on it. What if reproduction was included in Rand's definition of life?

    This critique linked by Boydstun in another thread hits on these issues and is highly relevant to this thread. Objectivist Ethics: A Biological Critique 

    Regarding duty, it cannot be based purely on value calculation. It has to exist outside of it, at least partly. For example, we all have a pre-existing duty to our family up to a certain extreme value calculation. That would be the conservative view. 

  19. 21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    I'll phrase it differently then, because there is a lot of overlap between the two. Exactly because some amount of duty is irrational, it is incompatible with family. There are other more fundamental aspects of family besides duty, even if duty is common.

    But are you making a moral claim here? Irrationality is bad therefore it is incompatible with the family? 

    21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    I'm not asking you to write a book for your case, but I am asking you to have more than one sentence about us/them mentality.

    Okay let's take a modern day example. Football (If you're American I'm talking about soccer). 

    Football is by far the most popular sport on the planet, with an estimated fan base of roughly 3 billion. It is adored in practically every culture, race, religion. 

    It is an expression of (or an outlet for) our inherent tribal nature. Duty, obligation and loyalty permeate throughout the sport. Players who leave their teams for bigger pay checks are derided as soulless mercenaries whereas one club men like Totti are celebrated for their undying loyalty and devotion. 

    Coaches often refuse to manage the rivals of their former teams. "True" fans are described as those that stick by the team through thick and thin, no matter how boring their style of play or how poor their results. Many fans only support the team they do because their father did or because "they grew up supporting them". Those that do jump ship and support better teams are derided as glory supporters. 

    I'm not saying I support this behaviour or I think it is rational, or moral. I have a very different view on support in football.

    But one cannot deny this overwhelming evidence about human behaviour. Only a fool could think this will ever change without literally re-engineering the brain. 

    Perhaps in the future with a possible fusion between AI and the human brain (or replacement of), plus the exciting horizon of bio-engineering, humans will radically change and even change their nature. Even the current method of reproduction could change to "growing" new humans outside the womb - a possible next stage after surrogacy.  

    I don't completely rule out a society without the family as it currently exists in reality. 

    Objectvists must confront this issue head on and think about what the family would really look like in a truly Objectivist world. 

    21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    sNerd explained how this is not quite accurate. It's not about simply how many values you like that a person holds. I'm not sure where you get this idea that you judge a person based on how you like their values that they hold. You value a person for the value they provide to you. If a person helped raise you, they have literally provided a value to you; they allowed you to develop into an adult. To that extent at least, you owe them something. Because of this, likely they will share some values with you. You might like them more if they share more values with you, but it's considerably more complicated than that. 

    I think you've hit on an important point here. I said the values you like because Rand describes the relationship as one based on "shared values". If you have no shared values, why would you want to do anything for them unless you made a promise that you would? 

    But I have also used the concept in the way you have described by saying "valued gained". Now you say it is considerably more complicated than that but for me I read that as something which is undefinable and very fuzzy. 

    If someone helped raise you, you have no obligation to them. Up until the age of 18, you are under the responsibility of the adult because you are not deemed a rational independent human yet. To be obliged to help them in return in adult life would surely be an unchosen obligation. * 

    The Atlas society states something similar to your case, that whatever the parent does for you above the obligatory minimum while raising you, you owe in return which rationally justifies you helping your parents in old age as values traded. But i refer to my sentence above * 

    And any case, how does one define the obligatory minimum? And how does one define the correct amount of value traded? These are impossible tasks. 

    In reality, humans just don't think this way. They usually believe it is their duty to look after their parents as a inherent obligation. 

    And also if you share no or little values with your parent, what do you "owe" them? 

    21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    Duty, in the sense most of us here are using it, is not even looking at the value the other person provides. You wouldn't need to justify valuing your parents because they helped raise you, you wouldn't even need to think about value. Saying they are your parents would be enough.

    Yeah I agree, I'm using it in this sense too, but including a limit. We all agree it is reasonable to leave a family member in extreme cases. But yeah the duty/loyalty/obligation aspect is in a realm separate from any value consideration. 

    As a side note, I remember when I first read about Objectivism, I started worrying about all my actions and thoughts and whether they were rational or not. Every now and then I'd type in a random act or desire into google and ask if it was rational according to Objectivism or try to find what Rand thought on the matter. 

    This idea that we have to rationally process every single thing in our brain is incredibly stressful to keep up. Have you ever had a similar experience? 

  20. 12 hours ago, Craig24 said:

    But is that really a duty?  It wasn't god, people or nature that imposed this responsibility on the parents.   There are options: abstinence, safe sex, abortion, adoption.  If you choose to bypass all four, you're choosing to be a parent.

    But what if you choose it because you believe it is your duty? That would then make it irrational according to Objectivism. 

  21. 9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    Do realize that part of your claim is that irrationality is not always immoral. We could argue about the details of exactly what the effects are, but the whole premise I'm working from is that rationality is moral, irrationality is immoral. I treat those as basic facts. If we don't agree on that much, the very moral foundation we are using is completely different. 

    I'm not claiming rationality is moral or immoral. My argument in this thread is not about morality. It is about whether Objectivist pricinples are compatible with the family as it exists in reality, regardless of what is right or wrong or how one defines what is right or wrong. 


    Much of your position so far is a historical one based on correlational rather than causal relationships. To be sure, aspects of irrationality will often coexist with aspects of rationality within a society. This doesn't mean that the irrational aspects contributed to the positive development of that society. Your reasoning is fine about family in general, yet again, you insist that duty is the aspect of family that change society for the better.

    As far as I understand it, practically everything is only a correlational relationship. Statisticians cannot even agree on what constitutes a causal relationship but the bar is very high to determine a causal relationship as a concrete fact. It seems like you're asking the impossible. 

    I argue the evidence strongly suggests this is the case to a very high degree based on the way humans behave in reality across different cultures and times. The evidence is enormous. Just take the example I gave you about China. A culture that literally regards sacrifice to your parents as a key virtue stretching back thousands of years? Or Christians who have always taught that it is our duty to have children? 

    Or take the evolution of Chivalry (inherently duty based). 

    But I don't just rely on history. There is a logical argument at play too. Humans have evolved to protect and sacrifice for their family. It is perfectly natural for our species to evolve this way. How else would we survive without giving and expecting loyalty to one another to our families, communities and countries? 

    This is how civilisations and empires are/were built. It was based on the premise that the land and people inside a given area were "us" and outsiders were "them" and one should be loyal to those inside over and above those outside. 

    One of the common talking points about Brexit and immigration was the idea that we Brits should "look after our own" first. Trump: America first. You cannot believe this is based on a purely rational argument? (Unless you argue it is rational to be true to human nature and therefore true to a form of tribal loyalty to country). 


    Another issue is I think you conflate obligation with duty. Based on what 2046 said, the way Cicero meant duty is more like an obligation. You treat these words as identical. Obligation would be like, for example, if you were raised well by your parents, you owe at least something to them. Their value isn't nothing, and as a matter of justice, when you benefit from someone, you ought to pay them back in some way. Duty is more like *because* they are your parents and for no other reason you owe them something. If you add reasons like they were good parents, or they help get you into a good elementary school when you're going up, or they instilled some of your values like honesty, this would be an obligation. So when I say loyalty, I'm thinking of this. If they treat you well, or do right by you, you should acknowledge it and act in a way that reinforces it. 

    Yeah I said before I see no difference between loyalty duty and obligation and that I have been using all three to mean the same thing. 

    "if you add reasons" - then they are the reasons. 

    You owe nothing to them (according to Objectvism). Your only owe allegiance to your principles and so you only judge your parents based on their values. If you don't like their values, they are not family (blood has no significance) and you certainly don't owe anything to them even though they raised you. 

    If you do like their values then yes you may want to voluntarily do something for them. That is not an "obligation", "duty" or "loyalty" and Rand would not use those terms to explain a voluntary action based on judging values. She would only talk about chosen obligations like choosing to promise to do something for them (after judging their values) and therefore being obliged to fulfill that promise and maintain your integrity.

    If you are doing the action for them based on anything other than the trader principle, then this is outside the realm of Objectivist philosophy and it is outside this aspect - the realm of pure value trading between people - that loyalty, duty and obligation exists (unless to principles). 

    Now some people may call this realm human nature and then justify it by saying that one ought to be true to human nature and therefore it is rational and also in ones self interest. But then this is no different to insisting one is obliged to have children because reproduction is inherent in human nature. 

    And I believe this is what Cicero is getting at but I haven't studied him in depth yet so im hesistant to commit to this. Cicero says it is unjust to live as a loner outcast from society because it is inherent in human nature that we are social animals. 


    I actually find history to be extremely important. All I've been saying is that you have failed to connect historical evidence to a moral principle.

    That was never my aim. I have no concern with morality here. 

    If you haven't read it, I'd recommend checking out The Great Debate by Yuval Levin. It gets right to the heart of the conflict between rationalism and conservatism. 

  22. On 10/13/2018 at 1:09 PM, Doug Morris said:

    Objectivism does not say we should not have emotional attachments.  It says we should not let our emotions do our thinking for us and should be aware of where emotions come from.

    Your argument about productive work being the highest good could be used to argue against all sorts of things, including romantic love, art, and sports.  Productive work is crucial on more than one level to having a good life, but it is not all there is to a good life.  The highest value is life itself.  The fundamental virtue is rationality.

    Having a child is very different though. It is in a separate category in terms of commitment and time/resources spent. Having a child is a minimum 18 year commitment. Once you make the decision you can't go back. It means looking after a human that is heavily dependent on you. 100 percent dependent for the first few years. It is a massive drain on your time and money. And as an Objectivist you would have to be fully committed to the responsibility of raising the child.  

    Arts and Sports are mere hobbies (unless you make money out of them but then that would be productive work). 

    You can leave a Romantic love at any time and they're not dependent on you like a child is. Although I agree that there could be a conflict there. Maybe Rand defines love as the second highest good? How far down the list would raising a child be?

    Either way, productive work is a critical aspect of life according to Objectivism and there probably isn't a larger commitment that would pull you away from that than starting a family. 

    Which leaves one to wonder, what is the point in having a child? And specifically, is the reason strong enough to justify such a huge commitment from an Objectivist perspective? 

    (Regarding your first point. I never claimed Objectivists say you cannot have emotional attachments. Just that you are not obliged to have any emotional attachments to your children, only the responsibility to raise them). 

  23. 33 minutes ago, Nicky said:


    Does it? You've been debating away for a week or so now, and you're yet to learn a single thing. How could you? You refuse to pay attention to what anyone says, you're too wrapped up in your "debate".


    Listen, I like debating. You don't. That's fine. You appear to have taken personal offence to the fact that I challenged your points after you challenged mine. And then you started telling me what my "role" was like some sort of authoritarian. I am here to discuss and debate. I don't want to get personal. 

    I have paid very close attention to what you have said. Mocking me for being too wrapped up in "debate" when I've actually gone ahead and specifically addressed your comments is ridiculous. You ignored my reply and now you're attacking me. 

    You declared you won't debate "anti-Objectivists" and you imply I'm the one too wrapped up in my own worldview. 

    You have no idea what I've learnt. 

  24. 28 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:


    Did you read this in the guidelines?

    This website facilitates trade among those interested in Objectivism. The primary -- but not only -- form of trade will be information about Objectivism and discussion about its applications. Agreement with Objectivism is not required for participation. Anyone interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy may join.

    I'm having difficulty parsing your assertion of self-proclaimed Objectivists from those having an interest it the subject, especially when agreement with Objectivism is not a prerequisite for participation.


    I was hesitant in making that claim. Perhaps that was rash. 

    The point is I assume this is a good place to challenge the philosophy and get replies from those who subscribe to it or are knowledgeable on it. 

  25. On 10/13/2018 at 10:42 AM, softwareNerd said:

    By this token one has to throw out the entire Objectivist Ethical theory, not just the tiny part about family. Truth is that Rand was pretty silent about family so speaking of an Objectivist conception of family is already far-fetched.


    Not really. Not if you're using 'Western civilization" to mean "modern / industrial civilization as opposed to middle-age European civilization, There is a dangerous meme that our modern world is Judeo-Christian. It's unfounded.

    As for family, Christianity is relatively weak in its support for duty toward family. I cannot compare to the typical Eastern civilization, whee entire religions take duty to family as a more fundamental than most other duties and even make it a foundation for their primary scripture. 

    I'm not sure if all my text is appearing on your screen (no sarcasm here) but for your first point, if you carried on reading, my next sentence said  "I say bizarre because in one way it is not a conception of the family at all, it is a non-acknowledgement of the family. "

    Have a scan of this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role_of_Christianity_in_civilization#Industrial_Revolution

    On your third point, again my next sentence was this: 

    East Asia has even stronger conceptions of duty to family. Ever wondered why the Chinese are so obedient? Chinese culture is built on Confucianism which considers filial piety as a key virtue. 

    "In serving his parents, a filial son reveres them in daily life; he makes them happy while he nourishes them; he takes anxious care of them in sickness; he shows great sorrow over their death that was for him; and he sacrifices to them with solemnity." - Confucius

    (Maybe you were just picking random sentences and not reading much else. I don't blame you! I wrote a lot)

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