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m0zart

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  1. Have you read the LP party platform? If so, how many line items do you think are in disagreement with the resultant Objectivist political philosophy? I actually have to disagree here. There are pragmatic whim-worshippers in the LP, but if the LP suffers from anything its a complete lock out of politics because of its inability to compromise. This is actually what attracts me to the LP. Though as I pointed out, libertarians come from all kinds of horrible philosophical (or attempted aphilosophical) backgrounds, a great great many of them are philosophical Objectivists and students of Objectivism. Along with those who subscribe to the NAP (those who aren't Objectivists but adhere strictly to non-aggressive political philosophies), they tend to keep the Party in line against the pragmatic elements.
  2. I work in the software industry with quite a few Chinese who migrated here to work. According to them, income tax is virtually non-existent in China. Though its definitely mandated by law (a flat rate of 80-90%), its rarely enforced. The Chinese Government tends to use it as an excuse for arresting political dissidents, or for whatever other situation they don't particularly like. Its their catch-all law.
  3. Being a member of the Libertarian Party, I would probably have to agree. I have been greatly disillusioned by the LP in general. Though the LP was basically what brought me to the freedom movement in general, it was Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, as well as Rand's great philosophical works, that gave me the moral backbone I needed to make a strong argument for capitalism. Heck, I've run across nihilists in the Libertarian Party -- NIHILISTS. Its obvious that they are in it for a pragmatic argument that free markets produce the best, but in the process of hearing their pragmatic arguments, I find that they are more than willing to sacrifice ideas that have a strictly moral basis but not the most immediate or obvious pragmatic one. The first one that comes to mind is intellectual property rights -- many a pragmatic libertarian has decided to turn against those, without realizing (or even caring) that he has sacrificed the very basis for rights in general by doing so, and for that matter the only existent pragmatic understanding for the source of all wealth. Even among those libertarians who are not nihilists, I find a very simplified philosophy that remains almost entirely ground in the political without realizing the necessary steps to determine the political. When I first recognized the non-aggression principle intuitively, it wasn't something I could just allow to end there -- I was driven to find out why even it would be relevant. It isn't enough just to intuit these things. Though most of them would say that they believe aggression, defined as the initiation of force or fraud, or threats of force or fraud, are morally actionable by Government, they seem to have absolutely no idea how they arrived at that conclusion, and so they have no real idea on how to defend it. Just to demonstrate by reason of example, when a heckler came to a libertarian list, he asked the list members to explain why he should care about the political non-aggression principle at all, and what root in ethics it could possibly have. After watching the list members stumble over themselves trying to answer the question, I decided to step up and said the following: This extremely simple, and to my mind, obvious response to the original poster received a LOT of criticism from the Libertarians and libertarians on that list. Even given all of that though, I find myself unable to leave the LP in general, at least so long as I choose to stay in politics, which I believe at this time is absolutely necessary to effect some change. I can't imagine going back to the Republican Party, as I find conservative ideology to be overtly repugnant, and completely wrong for the same reason as it is for the consequentialist libertarians -- a complete lack of ability in defending capitalism from a moral perspective, and these days a complete lack of understanding on what capitalism is in the first place. The democratic and green parties are simply unacceptable alternatives to me. Perhaps some Objectivists will criticize me for that, but I hope they'll at least look to Rand's own friendships and support of Presidents like Ford, who are obviously not as far along as Libertarians tend to be, before they choose to make such criticisms.
  4. (Mod's note: This thread was created by merging a few similar thread. There is also a separate thread on eating meat.) The dog lover's category started me thinking on a question that I haven't heard answered to my satisfaction. From what I understand, Peikoff once asked Rand if it was acceptible to cruelly harm animals for no purpose, and whether it was morally actionable (prohibitable by law). She said "of course not" or something of that nature, but again according ot Peikoff, provided no reasoning to back it up. Though this isn't the forum for the political question, it is for the ethical question by itself (I think), so I'd like to combine them both here. Is it morally wrong to harm animals for a purpose that doesn't increase or benefit the life of individual man? And if so, is it morally actionable?
  5. I have a question, which I think I know the answer to, but would like to hear what others on this forum would say about it. In a situation where certain goods are produced in a manner that involves the initiation of force, would the purchase of said goods be a form of participation in that aggression?
  6. I think all you have to do is judge the end-result in certain movies to see the identity of the director as artist. If you take directors like Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, and Stanley Kubrick, it becomes obvious. Tim Burton has a very consistent theme that seems to run through all of his movies, regardless of the nature of the original script. If I had to describe it in any real terms, I would describe it as dark/melancholy magical realism. You don't get this impression at all from the scripts they are formed from -- its the direction that makes it possible. If anyone has ever read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, its OBVIOUS that this particular set of films is Peter Jackson's own unique vision of the story. They aren't as whimsical or time-exansive as the novel (and they don't view like a Bible story, even though the novels read sometimes like the Bible). And as for the adventure itself, its much more like a post-modern fantasy adventure than the pure fantasy adventure portrayed in the novel. I think Stanley Kubrick is the most obvious of these. The novels and scripts he basis his movies on are practically NOTHING like the books/scripts he starts from. He turns Steven King's horror about telepathy gone wrong into an existential nightmare. Regardless of how Objectivists feel about existentialism, it was *his* vision, and not the writer's. This actually runs through Kubrick films -- they always represent his unique view of the world and rise way beyond the story itself. The story and its setting are only a shell for him to do his own artistic endeavor within the film itself. I hate to minimize another artist's work, but The Shining and 2001 are so fundamentally different as films by Kubrick than they were respectively as a novel and a screenplay, that their predescessor works are little more than paint and a canvas in those films. I really don't think its possible to say that a director's job is only technical. Actually, I think the mark of a good director is one that uses his technical skill to his full advantage, but has the artistic vision in mind all along. Talented painters don't always paint photographs, after all... and perfect skill isn't the only mark of a brilliant painter.
  7. Children are still volitional beings, even if they aren't entirely independent as far as their needs are concerned. I don't think that a parent can be responsible for a child's actions that are a result of his own volition. I do think its quite clear that parents are responsible for the child's state of dependency, as the act of their present position and even life was entirely a result of said parents' (usually volitional) acts. Agreed. Rights, when property understood, cannot be contradictory. If the child has a positive right to care from his parents, or in other words, the parents have an oglibation to care for the child they had a direct hand in procreating/birthing (whichever you choose), then it isn't a violation of the rights of the parents for Government to step in and insist that they meet the obligation. I wouldn't say *just* the mother, but I would say both the mother and father. They both had a hand in that child's procreation. The reason is quite simple -- you have to ask yourself "who did what to whom?" A child had no pre-existence, and his present existence was entirely the result of the actions of his parents. His presence, state of dependency, etc. are all a result of their (usually volitional) action. In conception, and after birth, children are metabologically dependent on their parents, but not developmentally dependent or mentally dependent (at least in the latter, not mentally dependent in the sense that I am trying to portray). Hence though parents are responsible for the things the child cannot do himself, a parent can never claim responsibility for a mental/volitional act of the child himself (unless the parent coaxed the child into that act), even if they wanted to. In short, I tend to agree that a parent cannot be responsible for the volitional acts of a child that violated the rights of another, so long as it wasn't the parent that coaxed them into said act, but he/she must be responsible for their own volitional acts that procreated a dependent child. Otherwise, the act of procreation/birth and subsequent neglect/abandonment is tantamount to bring a child into a death trap.
  8. This is so out there I feel I have to ask a very basic question of you: What do you believe is the moral basis for property rights in general. For the sake of argument, you may answer only on those types of property you actually accept. Where does the right to property have its root ethical foundations?
  9. If we take science into account, particularly the process of microevolution, and the fact that there is a constant 1 to 3 % of men in this country who are unquestionable homosexuals, it would be just as easy to see that nature is filtering out perhaps badly placed genes. Still, I don't see how it could matter either way. The last time I checked, Objectivism isn't equivalent or even comparable to Darwinism. If individuals through no fault of their own have developed homosexual feelings, either genetically *or* due to an environmental influence in their development, it isn't unnatural to them. Otherwise the assumption is that human beings are exactly the same from generation to generation (a claim that is false), and that they should be slaves to a collectivist notion of how most men are, rather than how that individual man *is*. Is taking food through an IV immoral? To assume that all men are the same from a genetic standpoint is an obvious collectivist fallacy, as is the assumption that all men should be the same in individual preferential behavior. Where my own life and happiness are the standard, I seriously doubt I could live in self-denial to an impulse that to me would be wholly natural, as natural to the feel as heterosexuality is to me now. If I were a homosexual, and the acts involved in homosexuality were unnatural or even self-destructive, even to the point that it shortened my life span, I'd much rather really *live* for ten more years than wallow in literal self-denial for forty or fifty.
  10. m0zart

    Abortion

    I would agree with that to some extent, but philosophy doesn't get to define what a human being is -- "human being" and "homo sapiens sapiens" are primarily scientific terms, and from the standpoint of the human embryologist, newly conceived zygotes are human beings. Rand weakened her argument at least in appearance when she used the term "human" or rather "inhuman" in referring to a creature that is nothing less than a real "human". She should have used the term "person", for obvious reasons. That term is strictly defined by philosophy, and is historically referring to a (usually human) creature with rights. In any case, that quote from Rand about homosexuality is quite accurate.
  11. You sense incorrectly. Which seems entirely irrelevant from a moral perspective UNLESS there is also a natural obligation to procreate. Which there is not. Who designed them to act in any particular way? Does this include how homosexuals learned to act? That also seems irrelevant to me. This is essentially a list for ethics, and the contention from at least one poster was that fulfilling your desires and seeking your happiness wasn't the only thing that you needed to pursue in Objectivist ethics. The answer given was shaky at best. It assumes that we owe servitude to our natural processes, even if they produce unhappy results or make heavy demands on our own pursuit of happiness.
  12. I don't disagree with you. In fact, it was the attempted point in my original post. The reason I re-stated the question was to try to understand why getting into the nature of law was necessary at all in a subject that is in the realm of meta-ethics. I think you answered it very well.
  13. But when you are asking "what's wrong with it", what you are asking for is an exposition of rights. I can't say it any better than a friend of mine, named Phil Welch, has. I quote him here, as I think I know him well enough to assume he won't be offended at my reposting of his intellectual property: [That] argument has been shown to be false. I'll show it again. You are arguing: 1. Intellectual property isn't real. 2. Therefore, the enforcement of intellectual property laws restricts the right of "real" property in favor of "non-real" property. [m0zart adds -- because it forces you to withhold storing such property on a real physical medium] 3. Therefore, the enforcement of intellectual property rights infringes upon property rights in general. 4. Therefore, intellectual property isn't real. The fallacy is called "circular argumentation". The other flaw with your argument is that it can selectively destroy any property rights. Let's substitute, for "intellectual property", "CD player property", that is, the right to hold CD players as property. 1. CD player property isn't real. 2. Therefore, the enforcement of CD player property laws restricts the right of "real" property in favor of "non-real" property (since your hammer, which is "real" property, cannot be freely used to smash my CD player, since I do not own my CD player). 3. Therefore, the enforcement of CD player property rights infringed upon property rights in general. 4. Therefore, CD player property isn't real. Of course, even to get to this point you have to have ignored the fact that all property is a product of the hman mind and its interaction with our environment.
  14. m0zart

    Abortion

    Though I see your point, Philosophy doesn't have the power or the authority to override scientific determinations and classifications. Rand's use of the term "human being" is unfortunate. She should have stuck with the philosophical term "person". As a result of not doing that, there is the perception of many that she was imposing philosophical meanings on scientific terms -- an improper practice to say the least. I can't argue for or against abortion here. Like I said, I find the whole issue to be the most confusing in Objectivism. But in any case, if someone were to procreate a human being, intentionally or unintentionally, and if simultaneously all human beings are persons with rights, then to abort that person who did not choose the situation would be to subject him to a willful death trap. A parent who procreates and thus initiates conception and the immediate state of absolute dependency would owe a moral obligation to meet that need so long as it posed no threat to her life. This actually isn't against what Rand might have said herself. She certainly gave sanction to Nathaniel Branden's article in the December 1962 issue of "The Objectivist Newsletter". That article was entitled "What are the respective obligations of parents to children, and children to parents?" In it, Branden stated with Rand's approval that parents have an obligation to their born children because they created their state of absolute dependency, and because that act happened outside of the consent of the child. Of course, Branden made a distinction between born and unborn children, but he didn't really give a very relevant objective reason why. In any case, its clear from the ethics that if the purpose of the sex act was something other than procreation, the reality that procreation occured was the undenable fact. If that child is also a "person", then it doesn't really matter what the original intent was, anymore than it matters in other activities. If I were to go out for a joyride for instance, there is hardly any desire on my part to run over an innocent pedestrian. If it happens though, what I intended is irrelevant in comparison to what actually happened. Yes but that assumes that she hasn't already had a child. If there is no "person" then I agree with you. If there is a "person", then the choice has already been made and the child already exists. His exit from the womb wouldn't be meaningful to his identity at that point or his existence. True, but claiming that the choice to kill a "person" (if one exists) in all cases because of the very minute number who are actually conceived in a non-consensual sex act would be the fallacy of the excluded middle, would it not? It would be tantamount to claiming that I may kill anyone on my property, regardless of their reason for being there, even if they are there through some action of mine through which they had no choice or were invited, simply because the possibility exists that someone can come onto my property without my consent and through no action of my own. Of course, that's only if unborn children are "persons". If they are not, then its no different than removing a wart, a real parasite, or even an organ if we wanted to. We just don't get to call any of them, except for the last one, a part of the woman's body. I can give you a few medical reasons why a fetus is not a parasite. Unless you are using the term "parasite" in a social/perjorative sense (such as an unhappy worker might call himself a "slave" to his job), the term "parasite" has a very specific meaning in biology with very specific criteria. In any case, a fetus is not a part of the mother's body, again in a scientific sense. It might end up functionally the same, but we don't get to reinvent terms to fit wandering concepts.
  15. m0zart

    Abortion

    I am going to wax verbose here -- primilarily because I find this particular issue to be the most difficult in all of Objectivism. The newly conceived is a human being, a member of the species homo sapiens sapiens, from the moment of conception, from a scientific standpoint. There is hardly a textbook in the field of human embryology which doesn't make that immediate classification. The attribute that is more relevant is the philosophical classification "person", not the scientific classification "human being" or "homo sapiens sapiens". Though from conception a new human being exists (and in the case of asexual reproduction or cloning through twinning, more than one eventually exists), the question is whether that human being has the nature that allows him to have rights, which is essentially what a "person" is. Does this happen at the onset of the existence of a human being, which scientifically is at conception, or does it happen at the point when sapience and the ability to reason have fully developed. Since the child is only metabologically dependent on the mother, and not developmentally dependent (again, any textbook on human embryology makes this clear), this means that though the unborn human being is not feeding himself or yet breathing for himself, he is self-assembling, i.e. developing for himself. This means too that the mind is developing by degree, because the instrument that makes the mind possible, the brain, is developing by degree. Of course that is also irrelevant if you say that the actual "person" requires full development, and without that full development, there is only a potentional "person". Though I find that to be the most likely solution, it does raise some very serious problems from my perspective on the method for concept formulation. If I judge the concept to match the metaphysical for a "person" from measurement omission, I can't really take into account the degree of development in determination of a kind, and the development of the mind is a non-stop process from day one after conception, and the brain until around the age of 25. It seems to me that to accept a degree of development creating a new kind, in this case a degree of development of the mind of a human being eventually creating in them a kind which is a "person", would be to apply a method OTHER than measurement omission in identification of the relevant concept -- and that method is dialectic materialism -- particularly the first law which claims that degrees of difference eventually become new kinds. Rand rejected dialectic materialism because the thesis/anti-thesis/synthesis focus of the method conflates contradictions in epistemology with competing interests in metaphysics (such as Hegel's babble about movement being a contradiction in reality -- specifically the same object being in two places at the same time was his definition of movement), but she also rejected it because of its aspects of degree to kind conceptulization. The typical example Hegel might apply here would be that one grain of corn isn't a bushel, nor two, nor three, but eventually more and more corn becomes a bushel. Rand, on the other hand, would have probably recognized that a bushel is nothing more than an abstraction of a degree, and thus isn't a new kind of anything (except of course, a kind of measurement, but that's again just an abstraction of degree). Perhaps it sounds like I am rambling here, but I do have a point. Why is degree of development important in this case, when absent of violent interruption or deprivation the human being and his rational faculty will develop on its own? Why is degree in this case, and thus the first law of dialectics, acceptlble as a standard, rather than the concrete kind and the already inherent nature of the child to be a rational being (without which he would never become one -- anymore than a dog could become one since its not in his nature) allowable when the standard is rejected by Rand and Objectivists in general across the board for almost every other conceptulization?
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