Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Joynewyeary

  1. Ask him to identify some real world mistake that he thinks you have made rather than simply his belief that you have made a mistake. Ask for evidence, but don't debate him if you aren't convinced by what he says. Then consider asking this: "Do you learn more from your own mistakes or more from the mistakes of others?" Then ask him to tell you about a mistake that he made and what he learned from it.
  2. Thank you for being open about your interest. To me, that suggests that perhaps the proceedings so far in this thread have not been "ridiculous" (to borrow donnywithana's word). Also, I owe thanks to whoever created the listing, message, or advertisement that brought you to this message board in May of the year 2004 and to the Moderators who help keep this place civilized ... and organized ( thanks to whoever moved this pre-debate discussion to its own thread!) Most premises of my opponent are likely to play no role in the debate, so I'm not particularly concerned about them. However, there is one very important exception. At the risk of boring the thorough and attentive readers, I repeat that I want all my opponents to be people who actually believe that the quoted argument (or some variation of that argument) is valid. In this debate, I don't want to debate a devil's advocate. Okay, from your point of view, it would simply be a very friendly debate, with no practical philosophical issues at stake. Is that right? We all need to recharge our batteries from time to time. Do you have any questions for me?
  3. Given that the one and only debate I have proposed is a debate about whether or not one particular argument is valid, why would I make an opening statement as to why free will exists? I think that would be surplus to requirements. What do you think? My position is that there is at least one substantial flaw in a particular argument that you wrote. I have already identified (quoted and linked to) that argument that you wrote. I have not clarified my argument because I have not yet presented my argument. I have not yet presented my argument because the debate has not yet begun. When the debate begins, I will present an argument to support my position. What is it of yours that I am "picking apart"? Is it an argument or a statement? When it is your turn to respond in a debate, will you consider the task you face to be some sort of assignment? I agree. Is there something I wrote that you took to be a comment on your grammar? I'm inclined to agree with that comment. We can both participate in debates, but perhaps we should not debate each other. What do you think?
  4. Yes, if the argument is clear and fixed. However, suppose that the argument in question is not completely clear. Suppose that critical analysis of the argument provokes revision, critical analysis of the revision provokes more revision, and so on, with no end in sight. Given that there is some actual pattern of reasoning that the person has in mind and will keep trying to formulate, isn't it possible that the best way to decisively deal with it is to explain the overall structure?
  5. I request that the honorable member either withdraw the above accusation or explain the origin of the following thread: Belief In Volition... Is it any better than collectivism or mysticism? http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=4644 Does the honorable member donnywithana wish to accuse me of having access to his password?
  6. I accept your apology. Could you please either clarify what you mean by the phrase "necessary property" or revise your statement to avoid using the phrase "necessary property"? For example, how would one go about determining whether or not the statement "the density of frozen water is lower than the density of liquid water" identifies a "necessary property" of water? We started with Argument Version #1: "A brain is a collection of particles. Thus, the brain must operate as physics would dictate that it should. Any cerebral process that involves free will must necessarily allow the brain to make a choice as to a certain physical event within it. Since this violates that acting particle's obligation to function as dictated by its nature and physical surroundings, it is an impossible event." Do you claim that Argument Version #1 was a long-winded attempt to simply state the following? "Determinism is a necessary property of all existence, including the mind." If that was all that you meant to say, then do you authorize and request a Moderator to go back to your original thread and replace Argument Version #1 with: "Determinism is a necessary property of all existence, including the mind"?
  7. Am I misunderstanding? I'm getting mixed signals. Here is your first premise --> "The mind is a symptom of the physical nature of the brain." Here is your second premise --> "The brain is a physical entity which must behave causally." You used the word "thus", suggesting to me that you are presenting an argument, not "the single premise that [you're] going to stick with." Here is your conclusion --> "The mind must be tied to the cause/effect nature of reality and can not behave otherwise." Questions: 1. What principle of reasoning did you apply to get from your premises to your conclusion? 2. Can you formulate that principle in general terms? 3. Can you provide an example of applying your principle to something other than your two premises? 4. Is your principle something that you are inventing ad hoc to support the conclusion that you wish to obtain or is your principle something that we can rely upon? Note: if my questions seem unreasonably difficult, then you should look at an elementary argument and ask my questions. Then you will see that my questions are fundamental and not unreasonable if you have indeed presented a clear, valid argument. However, note that my intention during the eventual debate is to ask questions that will help you to clarify your argument. I am not doing that now because there seems to be some confusion about what kind of debate I have proposed or some resistance to the simple idea of debating the validity of an argument. ------------ I will address the following comments to the Speaker of the Forum. Speaker, the honorable member donnywithana has claimed that human beings do not have free will and has attempted to argue in favor of that claim. We have seen the honorable member's argument. Did the honorable member formulate his argument in a manner that made his reasoning as clear and polished as possible? Perhaps not, but I certainly don't hold that against the honorable member. I myself could use an editor and also someone to hunt down my typographical errors. Did the honorable member formulate his argument in a manner that made his reasoning as persuasive as possible? I hope that all the honorable members make an effort to distinguish what is actually valid from what merely succeeds in persuading somebody or other. Now, Speaker, the honorable member almost seems to be suggesting that there never was an argument and that there was merely a thesis statement. "Allow me to clarify my thesis statement and allow me to tell you what your thesis statement is going to be" is what the honorable member seems to be saying. Two other honorable members, with the best of intentions, seem to suggest that reasoning cannot be debated and refuted. "Reasoning is too complicated", they seem to be suggesting. (Perhaps I misunderstand them.) "You must identify a simple statement that the reasoning was designed to support. Then you must debate that simple statement," they seem to be saying. (Again, perhaps I misunderstand them.) If there were no way to distinguish reasoning that we can rely upon from reasoning that might be leading us astray, then what would be the value of reasoning? Would someone here claim that a question of validity can only be investigated by a solitary individual, that the investigation itself must remain forever hidden, and that only the final conclusion of the investigation ("valid" or "invalid") can be open to public inspection? One does not ordinarily turn away a competent proof-reader who offers to work without payment. Furthermore, we all understand that a proof-reader needs light to see the document. The proof-reader wants light and we don't raise any objection. Obviously light may reveal an error, but there is no risk that light will create an error! Nor will light alone remove an error! A debate will shine a light on donnywithana's argument. Now I am not talking about any superficial typographical issue. A typographical flaw can be repaired, but a fundamentally unsound argument cannot. I believe that a debate will shine a light on the substance of donnywithana's argument. Does any honorable member wish to raise an objection to that kind of debate?
  8. I don't want you to clarify my position. If you wish to revise your argument then do so. When you are satisfied with your argument, post it in this thread. Then my position will be: there is a flaw in your reasoning. Caveat: If you add a whole mass of things that you haven't even hinted at yet and you produce (for example) a four-page argument, then I will (obviously) request that you pare it down before we can begin.
  9. Would it be possible for you to organize with other students, with each student taking on one alleged fact in the model essay? For example, one student could begin with the above snippet from the essay, apply the meaning of the word "maintain" and conclude that, according to the 100% essay, the USA does have a completely laissez-faire approach. Then the entire essay could be devoted to demonstrating that the USA does not have a completely laissez-faire approach. Such an essay would mostly depend upon independent research by the essay writer, but it could also rely upon the 100% essay. For example, if the 100% essay blames the Great Depression on laissez-faire and yet includes the statement "Like Gorbachev who introducted perestroika to help the struggling economy, President Roosevelt introduced the New Deal", then all parts of the New Deal that are still in place are evidence against the claim that the USA currently "has a completely laissez-faire approach." I'm trying to analyze that one. 1. Thomas Paine suggested some ways for governments to more efficiently help the most destitute. Based on that sentence alone, it seems theoretically possible that the author of the 100% essay would not oppose the establishment of the kind of government that Thomas Paine advocated. 2. Do you think the author of the 100% essay is claiming that impoverishment accounts for a significant amount of crime or merely that there are some people who commit more crime when they are impoverished than when they are not impoverished? Also, I'm wondering whether people who are receiving government assistance count as impoverished. For example, does it make sense to say that the US government has to provide housing projects because otherwise there might be some crime, but you can expect there to be a high crime rate in government housing projects because the people who live there are impoverished? Is the author of the 100% essay trying to combine a traditional Republican-style government control of the spirit with a traditional Democrat-style government control of the economy? Perhaps that paragraph is a subtle signal that the author of the 100% essay might be a Muslim and that a mark of less than 100% might provoke the student to make accusations of racism and oppression? (Some students in Canada who failed the bar exam claimed that the exam was racist. The remedy they received was not an inquiry into the exam or an opportunity to rewrite the exam. They simply received automatic passes.) I would be surprised to read even Keynes make that kind of insinuation. "Our wages aren't increasing fast enough. That might cause a major economic depression!" Okay, so my above analysis is worthless. However, the 100% essay is also worthless. I demand a mark of 100% for this message! (I'm kidding)
  10. You will see how I proceed after someone steps forwards and offers to become my opponent. You quoted my position statement: "No, it is not valid." Then you said: "Just to clarify ..." However, it would have been sufficient for me to have said: "I say No." The word "No" doesn't need any clarification. Perhaps the question "Is the following argument valid?" was not sufficiently clear. Perhaps I should ask a somewhat different question that might be clearer. How about this: "Is there any flaw in the reasoning that is used in the quoted argument?" My answer to THAT question is: "Yes." Wanted: someone whose actual belief is "No, there is no flaw in the reasoning that is used in the quoted argument." I already indicated that I want to persuade my opponent. If someone already believes that the answer is "yes, there is a flaw in the reasoning", then no persuasion is necessary. In this debate, I don't want to debate a devil's advocate.
  11. I used the term "invalid" in accordance with what I took (and take) to be its generally accepted meaning. Had I said that the argument is "unsound", I would have been claiming that at least one premise of the argument is false and/or that there is a flaw in the reasoning. I did not say that the argument is unsound, so you may (for example) legitimately conclude that I do not intend to prove that #1 is false. If there is a flaw in my understanding of the word "invalid" or in my understanding of the word "unsound", then I am ready and willing to be corrected. Note: I don't claim that I am ready, willing, and able. Other people are, however, free to make claims about my ability or inability, should they wish to do so.
  12. Thank you for drawing attention to that. You beat me to the punch. I hope you don't mind if I include, in my comments below, a repetition of your point. I get the impression that you are converting the results of the poll (which has several categories) into just two categories. The first category is: "Yes, [i agree] completely, in every element that I have studied." I would like to draw attention to a couple of possibilities: 1. Some people who choose "Yes, [i agree] completely, in every element that I have studied" might have not studied very much. 2. Some people who choose some other option in the poll might have studied more than they have fully understood. Now, "studied more than they have fully understood" might sound like an insult, so I will try to draw attention to one more point. A synonym of "agree" is "assent". The only alternative to "assent" is "dissent". However, according to Answers.com, "dissent" (as a verb) has two possible meanings: A. To differ in opinion or feeling; disagree. B. To withhold assent or approval. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that: A. belongs in the Debate Forum, but B. can appear in various places on the message board, with the more elementary issues to be confined to the Questions about Objectivism subforum. The description says: "Basic questions for those new to the philosophy of Objectivism." However, just as there are people who have been playing chess for more than two years, but who are still beginners in the sense of skill level, perhaps there are also people who not literally "new" to Objectivism, but who nevertheless have elementary questions.
  13. I would like to debate the question: "Is the following argument valid?" (I say: "No, it is not valid.") The argument: "A brain is a collection of particles. Thus, the brain must operate as physics would dictate that it should. Any cerebral process that involves free will must necessarily allow the brain to make a choice as to a certain physical event within it. Since this violates that acting particle's obligation to function as dictated by its nature and physical surroundings, it is an impossible event." Source: from the thread "Belief In Volition..." http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...indpost&p=95502 Note #1: I merely claim that one particular argument is invalid. I'm not being very ambitious. However, my goal is not to merely raise doubts. My goal is to ensure that, at the end of the debate, my opponent or opponents will be firmly convinced that the argument is definitely invalid. Note #2: My opponent has the option of rewriting the argument to fix any perceived defects while preserving the essential idea. For example, if you choose to become my opponent, then you aren't stuck trying to defend the exact wording of the argument quoted above. Note #3: I expect to make the first statement. The reason is that there is probably no way for my opponent to defend against the accusation of invalidity until after a specific objection to the argument is articulated. However, if my opponent wishes to make the first statement, then I will give my opponent the opportunity to do so. For example, my opponent might wish to rewrite the argument (see Note #2). Rule #1: No deliberate use of a fallacy. Theoretically, that could be difficult to enforce. However, the honor system will probably be all we need. Rule #2: I will be alone on my side of the debate. My opponent will have the option of allowing up to three people to simultaneously participate on his/her side of the debate. If my opponent wishes to admit defeat, but there are people who want to replace my opponent, then the debate will continue with a new opponent. Rule #3: After someone agrees to be my initial opponent, I will make an initial statement within 48 hours. However, my opponent will have up to seven days to respond to my initial statement. I will then have up to seven days to respond to my opponent's response, and so on. The debate ends when one side fails to respond within seven days or when both sides agree to end the debate.
  14. What justification could there be for special laws concerning contracts with the government that don't apply to contracts in general? If there is an agreement to not conspire on the price, then wouldn't violation of that agreement be a breach of contract? In what cases do you think that a breach of contract should be classified as fraud?
  15. Would you say that tariffs are unnecessary and that, being unnecessary, they should not be used, but that nuclear weapons are necessary and should be used? Of course, tariffs are not a technology. Were you only talking about weapons technology when you used the words "all that's necessary"?
  16. You are certainly free to forget the speculative scenarios, but the scenarios might be helpful for some other people. Here's a question: are good governments supposed to deal with some kinds of problems without doing anything to deal with the source of those problems? In particular, are good governments prohibited from fighting bad philosophy and stuck with the task of dealing with a never-ending series of military aggressions caused by bad philosophy?
  17. Suppose that, in 1923, a private organization in the U.K. was studying the cultural, philosophical, and political scene in Germany and predicted the rise of a dictatorship in Germany. Suppose that the private organization went to the government of the U.K. and requested money from the U.K. government to try to influence the cultural, philosophical, and political scene in Germany to prevent the rise of a dictatorship in Germany. Suppose that the U.K. government refused to provide funding. What is your reaction? 1. Even if a private organization in the U.K. could have prevented the rise of a dictatorship in Germany, the U.K. government would have been wrong to provide the money. The U.K. government did the right thing: wait for the invasion of allies, sinking of ships, and bombing of cities; then fight back. 2. A private organization might predict the rise of a dictatorship, but no matter how much money it received from the U.K. government, it would not have had enough influence to prevent the rise of a dictatorship. 3. No one can predict the rise of a dictatorship ten years in advance. The suppositions are absurd. 4. That's unfortunate. If funding had been provided, perhaps World War II could have been avoided. 5. Other
  18. Introduction to some questions: (Please correct me if I am wrong about anything in the introduction.) Hank Rearden married Lillian and didn't seriously consider divorcing her until after he started a romantic relationship with Dagny Taggart. Francisco d’Anconia's answers to Rearden's questions helped Rearden to understand the mistakes that Rearden had been making. However, Dagny didn't need, in her employment relationship with James Taggart, the kind of answers and explanations that Hank needed regarding romantic relationships. Furthermore, Dagny had no reason to expect James Taggart to change. Questions: 1. Why did Dagny tolerate James Taggart as a boss? 2. For example, why didn't she go work for another railroad? 3. If the other railroads were just as bad, why didn't she seek a similar job in a different industry?
  19. 1. By what authority would the government make it a crime to rig bids for work that the government wants done? Suppose that a private company that doesn't do any work for the government wants some work done and requests sealed bids. Would it be consistent with Objectivism if bid rigging in that situation were classified as a crime? 2. Would classifying rigging bids for government work as a criminal offense be sufficient to prevent the rigging of bids? For example, consider alcohol prohibition. Is law sufficient if people do not respect the law?
  20. Suppose that a proper government of the sort that Objectivism advocates wants some work done on a military installation and wants to control costs by demanding sealed bids from various private contractors. What ethical and effective methods could such a government use to ensure that the sealing has any significance? In other words, what would prevent bid rigging?
  21. No. I would have to do research to give examples that would make it clear that I was talking about conflicts that do not automatically lead to threats. In the meantime, perhaps we can consider conflicts between businesses. A business may have a conflict with a neighbor, a supplier, a customer, or a joint venture partner. Would you agree that such conflicts typically can and should be resolved by negotiation or by means of the civil courts? I admit that it's a bit of stretch to compare businesses and governments, but isn't it true that many countries have neighbors, countries trade with other countries, countries sign treaties with other countries, etc.? No, it's hard enough to reason with police officers. If, starting from the year 300 BC, efforts to develop new technologies had focused almost exclusively on what is life-enhancing, then is it possible that we would be communicating by means of computers, but you would have mentioned archery weapons rather than nuclear weapons?
  22. How would a fully Objectivist government handle conflicts with non-Objectivist governments? Would it have bargaining chips that could be a basis for reasoned discussion? Would it have some alternative besides these three options: doing nothing; threatening other governments; and attacking other governments? For example, would it be possible for an Objectivist government to have a philosophical bureaucracy able to give authorized answers to any questions about Objectivism that a foreign government might have if the foreign government is willing to engage in reasoned discussion?
  23. I'm responding to the following: -- posted by softwareNerd here Here's an idea: a "Borderline Trash" subforum in "Website Policy and Announcements." Messages on the borderline between trash and nontrash could be discussed. Those who wish to categorize a particular message (as trash or as nontrash) will be able to do so from the point of view of Objectivism or from the more specific point of view of the rules of this particular message board. Even if all participants in such a discussion soon agree that a particular message is definitely trash, the discussion itself may nevertheless be helpful if it clarifies the principles of Objectivism or the rules of this particular message board (or both). Perhaps a "Borderline Trash" subforum is a bad idea, but I am interested in knowing why it's a bad idea (if it is a bad idea).
  24. Is it possible for a country to have a popular political party that is firmly based on Objectivist principles? If it is possible, then what would prevent people who do not fully accept Objectivism from joining the party and using the party as a vehicle for achieving political power?
  25. I didn't intend to add a new assumption. Perhaps I failed to express myself sufficiently clearly. I was responding to the following: "In what way would a Capitalist government be in a position to help in that category of actions? Surely that is something best left to doctors." I thought you were making a distinction between government employees and doctors, as though no doctors would be employed by the government. I suppose that, for the people directly affected, it would be an emergency. However, from the point of view of a country, state, or even city, I don't see why the situation would necessarily be an emergency. It's not obvious to me that an enemy government would even intend to create an emergency. For example, isn't it possible that an attack might be deliberately made on a small scale to try to avoid provoking major retaliation in case it is discovered that the disease was deliberately introduced?
  • Create New...