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  1. If I had to sum up objectivism in one phrase, I would say "think for yourself." On one hand, I agree with your answer, Diana, that participating in a religious ritual is giving sanction to it. If this fellow does not want to sanction the rite, he should abstain from doing so. However, I believe that even asking this question is inappropriate of someone who is committed to objectivism. If Ramana is unsure, he is going to have to decide on his own. No slogan or philosophy has been able to remove the responsibility of choice from human life. He should not denounce religion just because Ayn Rand said so, for the same reasons he should not believe in religion just because his parents said so. With that said, I am convinced that it is not a sin to be unsure so long as you genuinely seek answers. If you need more time to understand, and to become decisive, take the time to think. It is worth the effort. As a corollary, if I was in that situation and I wasn't sure about religion but decided to go though the ritual anyway, I would not feel badly if I later became an atheist. I went though all sorts of religious ceremony before I new better, and I feel no guilt about it. The point is not to transgress on your convictions. If you are a convinced atheist, going through ritual would be an insult to yourself. If you are not convinced, it would be less bad and more forgivable. I respect Ramana for the courage to stand up for what he believes in, and wish him all the best.
  2. Cake

    Global Warming

    I really think that the goverment subsidy/regulation tangle is the single most salient point about this whole mess. As long as subsidies are given to big oil, no "green" technologies can compete. The price of oil will increase because it is a limited resource. The price of solar/wind/geothermal/etc will decrease as technology gets better. Do the math. Why is anyone worried?
  3. What I took from the Jmegan's earlier story is that our "urges" are simply physical sensations that we have come to associate with a particular action, or set of circumstances. My point being, is that we are free to rewire our heads though conscious decisions to turn negative urges into positive ones. Im no psychologist, but, it does't seem that happiness should be defined in whole or in part on something like urge satisfaction. I also will not advocate a repressive attitude, but rather a knowledge of what these feelings are, where they come from, and the knowledge that one is totally in control of them (at least on a long term level). I think evolutionary psychology is a real mess, in other words. It is like a cat chasing its tail, full of rationalizations, and no clear direction (as evolution is ad hoc on any meaningful human time scale). lgk
  4. I think this is exactly what he should say, followed by... for the wine. I'm half kidding here, but it seems that there is too much analysis here of your value structure, your goals, your reasons for hanging out with people, and no thought as to what needs to be really needs to be judged: HER. So you talk with her and you made out with her one night. GOOD. if you talk to her on frequently you obvioiusly don't think she is annoying and stupid. As far as her being permiscious, judge her for yourself. If you want to pursue her, you should find this info out from her. This only works if she's honest of course, but I doubt as an objectivist you care to associate with dishonest people. BTW pancho reminds me of the old lady in the boardroom scence of tommy boy "and that's when the whores show up." and her husband saying "I slept with a prosititue in 1954 and she still won't let me forget about it."
  5. I find adages like this one to be so overused that they kind of lose thier meaning. I know that it is easy to see that one should make conclusions based on the evidence presented, but often it can become difficult to make sure one is using reason properly when faced with a alot of evidence that can be misinterpreted. I understand what rationalization is through this definition. I would like to know what induction is, and how rationalization is different than something like theory testing? I am trying to get technical, so please dont respond with vauge generalities.
  6. I am having a tough time understanding exactly the difference between using reason to come to a conclusion and rationalizing an incorrect one. Any ideas?
  7. I think the real take home message is that in morality you must have abstract principles that you apply to determining what is right and wrong. This, I think, is one of the most difficult points to really get. Think about the alternative if it helps. Without defnite principles that determine right and wrong, any action can be justified by taking a poll, or invoking god's will or any such whim. The other really difficult point to realize is the difference between what is "reasonable" and what stands up to logical inquiry. Things that are reasonable are really better termed fashionable, as they are a reflection of the mindset of the time. What stands up to logical inquiry is much more permanent. As was well demonstrated by source, common sense breaks down if one rephrases an argument, while logic should not, because common sense uses a "gut-feeling" as its ultimate test of truth. (there's nothing wrong with using a gut-feeling, but only as something to clue you in that you need to think about something more) One more thing: the argument about taxation ultimately resulting in more evil may be true, but its appeal is still to common sense, because we don't have an "evil calculator." This is why we need abstract principles of justice. But no one belives in principles anymore, so arguments of this nature don't tend to go well. lgk
  8. --------- from dictionary.com end- Something toward which one strives; a goal. See Synonyms at intention. means- To design, intend, or destine for a certain purpose or end: a building that was meant for storage; a student who was meant to be a scientist. n 1: how a result is obtained or an end is achieved; "a means of control"; "an example is the best means of instruction" -------- whether something is designated as a mean or an end, depends on what a person's goal is. to define a goal, one needs intent. therefore, it is implicit in both concepts If your definitions are different, please let me know what they are
  9. I agree completely, and in fact this may be a more correct argument than my previous one. But I still think my arguement is a good one. The point i was trying to make is that an end is a conceptualized goal, but a mean (in this context) is defined relative to an end. One cannot separate the action "reaching and end" from the action "using a mean" without using the concept of mental intent. It is an implied concept in both mean and end. I think that the terms ends and means have an action and a conceptual component implied in them. In any case, this argument still works even if I grant you that ends are only mental entities. It is true that morality is a "principled way of selecting actions." There is no morality without action. How can we judge the morality of others? I cannot know (in general) all of somone else's philosophical priciples with complete certianty, because they exist in his mind, which I cannot completely know, and which is subject to change (notable exception of John Galt). I also should not have to completely deduce your philosophy before I judge an action as wrong or right. My point is that a philosophical principle is only good or bad if it is translated into action. A book on Marx is amoral even though it contains a philosophical principle because it cannot act. I totally agree with you here. Purpose is absolutely paramount when one is choosing a course of action. But action needs to occurr in order to have it evaluated by a set of abstract principles. Nothing moral happens without some kind of action (even if that action is thinking), but a thought, in and of itself, is amoral. I hope this clears up my point which was grossly oversimplified in my previous post. I agree with you here also. I think my point here was to create a constructive dillema that could easily be posed by a non-objectivist. I was trying to shoot down the idea that the whole course of action that was undertaken could defined as a single action. For example, i could say (incorrectly) that my curing cancer is the action and killing a half dozen healthy and innocent people was just a part of that action. Compare this to buying a steak from the butcher where reaching into my pocket is a part of that action, and you might see what sort of argument I was trying to prevent. My point is that every time you have a moral interaction it needs to be separately considered. I think my logic still works although my premises may now take a slightly different form. I almost forgot. My real last name and my name in here are pronounced the exact same way -- CAKE (caps only added for clairty ). Im glad you asked. If I ever get famous, I dont want people walking around talking about cack, khaki, cakey, cocky, or cock. This was a real pain growing up, so i take some pains to set the record straight when I can.
  10. I think I have the correct argument. Things like ends and means to those ends are concepts relating to a person's intent. Such a thing exists only in a person's mind. What really counts in morality are actions. As a result, intent is not a morally important concept. Now there is some leeway as to how one may define an action (whether or not you consider the whole course of events or each action individiually). Now I believe, as Mr. Delaney said, that defining an action as a group of actions is arbitrary. Things that are arbitrary cannot be used as a justification. Therefore, each action must me considered separately. If it is evil, it is evil. Stealing is stealing no matter what action occurrs after it. If you accept my premises, the conclusion follows from statement logic.
  11. It is hard to think of a time when a hunger pain was just an unnamed discomfort, but your point is well taken. We do have to learn even the most "obvious" associations. I like your story about tomato soup.
  12. Evolutionary ethics and psychology are definitely guilty of not recognizing the single most important product of human evolution; we have brains that can reason. This point has been brought up several times but I think it is worth repeating. In regards to free will, I would say it foolish to think that our evolution has not given us biological drives (eating, drinking, having sex) that can influence our behaivor. However, it is still a volitional process of the mind to acknowledge and act on those drives. On another related topic, I find that much of psychology tends to invert the causality of brain physiology and brain function. I think our minds function to produce a particular pattern of physiological response in the brain. For example I disagree with those who say that there is something wrong with someone's "brain chemistry" and it is the cause of their depression. Its a bit of the chicken and the egg story, but i digress. My point is that our genetic heritige in regards to brain function is irrelevant in comparison with our ability to make conscious decisions.
  13. I am a student of chemical physics at the university of minnesota (go gophers). I am both interested in the topic and I may be teaching it someday. (My interest in alternative theories is definitely more recreational and my research is more in solid state.) My first teacher of QM in the chemistry department said something like "dont try to make a picture of what is occurring" as a warning to the (usally highly visual) chemistry students. I guess I am still rebelling against that advice, but I am not finding any clear answer. Its not really a big deal, but there is a something that is occurring, and therefore some mental image of what is occurring must exist. I am curious to know which books you find particularily insightful (orthodox QM or otherwise). I may get the time to read them one of these years. I had not thought of this question of induction. I can't really argue with anything you say here but I wonder about the validity of ideas that would be nearly impossible to emerge simply from experiment (the possibility of quantized time and space for example). This is all very interesting. This point about smuggling in your own theory is a good one, but again, I cant help but ask if the possibility for forming a mental image of the situation is irrevocably doomed... This is beginning to sound very epistemological. I can't possibly imagine that some learning style (visual) is fundamentally unable to comprehend some part of nature. Naturally, mathmatics is required to make any understanding quantitative, but qualitatively, anything should be able to be understood through many different learning styles.
  14. I am clear on what you are saying. If something happens over here that causes an instantaneous change over there, it is superluminal causation, regardless of what changes, or how it changes. It is easy to get stuck on a picture of how things occurr and come to improper conclusions, sometimes. Thanks, it looks like I have a little reading to do. All models aside, what would you say would constitute a philosophically valid model of quantum mechanics? I would say the following has to be true of such a theory: Deterministic causality of particle motion A Definite state of a particle Corresponds with experimental evidence (I say philosophically valid because I just lumped everything associated with correct physics into the experimental evidence part)
  15. If one thinks that energetic interactions that constitute causal mechanisms between two particles travel in space at a finite speed (for example light waves) then, to determine that speed, one must define an interparticle distance. There need not be an interaction that travels faster than the speed of light in the case of entanglement if the two particles cannot be definitively separated. In other words, the idea of superluminal causation (defined as packets of force that travel faster than light from one partricle to another) requires the boundary of each particle clearly defined. Should the ultimate constituients of matter actually resemble waves, this boundary is not clearly defined (nor should it be). In such a case, an interaction between the waves that is a result of physical contact of the two waves can occur instantaneously betwen two waves whose centers are quite separate. As I think about this I find that any little dot theory postulates two entities other than particles themselves to explain what regular QM does. 1) a wave that governs particle motion 2) a mechanism for superluminal interactions Let me just say for the record that I find a little dot theory to be conceptually simpler, intuitive, and not prone to contradictions and indeterminism. I just think the experimental evidence leans the way of the wave. Also, could you give me some kind of a list of the different quantum theories that you have read, along with a quick description of them? It also makes me wonder just how many alternative theories have been developed by good scientists, not to mention the thousands (mabye more) that have been thought up some who might be more well described as crackpots?
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