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Everything posted by mrocktor

  1. As is the fact that we have two legs, two arms, one brain, one heart, two lungs, one liver, two lungs, two eyes, breathe air, live on the planet Earth, are carbon based lifeforms and a myriad other characteristics that are not essential to philosophical principles*. You don't get to arbitrarily pick one irrelevant feature (the fact that we are animals) over the others. *Namely ethical and political principles
  2. Exactly. "What if I discovered a way to get something for nothing" is an invalid hypothesis.
  3. Yes, I'm quite familiar with concept formation and genus/differentia definition. Why does the genus have to be "animal"? Why not "living things"? That is the point you are not addressing. EDIT: For clarification - your argument, in essence, could be used to demand that we refer to the "rational biped", or the "rational biocular" or any of the other irrelevant characteristics of man - since man is the only rational being. Being alive is essential, being rational is essential. The rest is fluff. EDIT2: ZSorenson, all the particulars you list are application. You may value certain things because of your biology. Rational beings value something, rational beings must act (in some way) to attain values, rational beings must act in specific ways towards other rational beings - those things do not depend on physiology.
  4. Not so. "Being" denotes a specific "being", it does imply individuality. I'd call to your attention the fact that while in our current context of knowledge of reality our definitions are interchangeable (and yours works perfectly well), the discovery of another inteligent being would force you to redefine your terms, while mine would remain directly applicable. That is the strength of ommiting non-essentials. You are wrong when you say "you are not allowed leave out an attribute that is common to all men". Else you would have to be talking about the "rational bipedal, biocular, mononose, monomouth, bipulmonar, monocardiac, biarmic, pluricellular, monocerebral, aerobic, terrestrial, mammalian, (...) animal". We ommit irrelevant aspects in definitions all the time - because they are non-essential. You are right, though, that this is not measurement omission but a separate epistemological process.
  5. Agreed. Do you agree that our being animals is unessential to human ethics and politics? If so, you must agree that "rational being" is a better definition (i.e. omitting a irrelevant measurement). If not, you should indicate an example where being animals our ethical or political principles take a turn away from what would be valid for other (imaginary, in our context of knowledge) rational beings. In other words, some instance where being an animal is essential in principle and not merely in application (i.e. don't eat cyanide).
  6. No, you are wrong here. Ethics and politics apply equally to all rational beings (regardless of their physical "hardware"). The specific actions that ethics and politics might require would certainly differ (as they differ from one individual to another), but not the principles. Your error is exactly what I was addressing above. In a debate about rights, should a participant forward the scenario where an alien from the galaxy MNZ-R-15B lands in New York (a fairly common exercise in such discussions) you would be diverted into arguing about whether he has a right to life. He is, obviously, not human. Nor a "man". The "animality" of man is irrelevant to Ethics and to Politics. What matters is that man is a rational living entity. A definition by essentials circumvents the irrelevancies.
  7. I find that calling the concept "rational animal" by the name "human" frequently confuses more than it clarifies. When discussing rights, for instance, it allows for people to take that "human" as a floating abstraction and claim rights for unborn fetuses, and brain dead human bodies. I tend to use "rational being" as much as I can, for that reason (even the "animal" part is non-essential to ethical and political discussion - the same concepts and conclusions would be valid for a rational plant, or electronic device, or whatever other example that may appear in a discussion).
  8. This film looks to be quite horrible. That makes it worse, not better.
  9. For anyone in the political spectrum to say, really! Who else has that position these days? It's ether "kumbayah" or "force them to be free by permanent military occupation". If this stance gets widely publicized, I'd be surprised if it didn't resonate strongly with the public.
  10. Sorry David but I really can't see those examples as problematic. With regard to "next of kin", if the issue is inheritance the government can assume "next of kin" in the absence of a proper will. But if a will can change the terms of inheritance, a marriage can too. Also, a will means the inheritor has a right to receive the inheritance - not an obligation. In other words, the will does not bind the inheritor. "Who gets my stuff" is not a contract between someone and everybody else - it is an unilateral intent to bestow property. What function does the legal concept "next of kin" have that is 1. necessary within a rights respecting government framework and 2. irreplaceable via contract? I don't see it. The "agent" issue is also a non-starter. You can name a person your representative on a given issue without the consent of any (or all) third parties - and in most cases the third parties can accept or refuse to deal with him. Since a medical proxy is actually dealing with the life of the person involved, all the government needs to do is to recognize that people are free to implement such an arrangement and make sure hospitals honor them (i.e. a hospital should not be able to refuse to recognize a voluntarily selected medical proxy). I's sure there are a million ways that the current legal system would not assimilate this - but to say it cannot (and should not) be done is something else.
  11. It definitely should be possible to "reduce" it to a contract. It is, after all, an arrangement where people take on certain obligations and gain certain permissions, prerrogatives and (in some cases) property rights. How exactly could it not be possible to make these arrangements contractually explicit - as opposed to something established by the government (which, in essence, is nothing but a contract you can't modify)?
  12. In essentials: 1. They argue that independent invention is the norm (not the exception) and that, therefore, IP law is massively unfair 2. They argue that if you invent something and patent it, they are "forbidden from inventing it themselves" 3. They argue that IP conflicts with material property rights because they are forbidden from using their physical property to copy your invention (this is their main argument) A1. Independent invention is not the norm. And any decent IP law will have means to guarantee the rights of independent inventors (and a standard of proof to be met, to show that the independent invention was in fact independent) A2. The "right to invent something in the future" is ridiculous on the face of it. When the libertarian posits this argument he invalidates the concept of homesteading - which is the cornerstone of his own view on physical property rights (which happens to be correct). After all, when someone claims an unonwed tract of land, he "forbids me from claiming that land in the future". A3. IP does not reduce one's freedom of action. Before the invention was made, the owner of the raw materials could not assemble the invention (because he didn't know how), after the invention he is not allowed to assemble the invention (because he does not own it). To him, there is absolutely no change in what he can do with his raw materials - and a net gain in that he can procure the permission to assemble the invention if he wants to. An alternate take on (3) - which is actually what caused the "objectivist" in the original thread to recant on IP - is the idea that enforcing intellectual property rights would require the initiation of force. But when someone sells something that they do not own the IP to, essentially what they are doing is selling something that does not belong to them. This is known as fraud. It is no different from stealing some physical property (say, lemons), making something out of it (lemon ice cream) and selling it. The fact that the milk, sugar and work put into the ice cream was yours does not change the fact that you do not have a right to that ice cream - because the lemons were stolen. To argue that IP enforcement requires the initiation of force is to argue that anti-fraud enforcement requires the initiation of force.
  13. Not really. Lets say I agree to trade you 20oz of gold for your car. We meet, I take your car and hand you a container with 2oz of beans, spray painted golden. I drive away. Now, our contract named specific terms. Those terms were not actually met. Which means I physically took your car without your consent. The consent, in the form of the contract (written or no) is only valid if the terms are met. This does not change if I actually give you fake gold that is more convincing than painted beans. So fraud is force in that it consists in contracting, not meeting the terms on the contract (whether he finds out or not is immaterial) and taking the other guy's goods anyway. Taking his goods being the salient point. That is why lying is not a rights violation, but fraud is.
  14. I posted a reply on the original Mises thread and used a metaphor that I'm actually quite proud of. Reposting here, in case insight into the typical economicist libertarian's mindset interests anyone else...
  15. Better yet, just start giving orders. "Thats great. Now leave your ice cream and head to the kitchen. The dishes better be clean when I'm done with desert or you are getting flogged". Insist on it until they say "thats not what I meant", to which you answer "that is exactly wat you meant, except in your mind you were putting yourself in the position of the person giving orders, not the one taking them".
  16. And the Objectivist position is "yes we can". I recommend "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology", if you are interested in the philosophical issues of knowledge and certainty. Past event: I was born in 1979. I am absolutely 100% sure of that. Future event: The sun will rise tomorrow morning. I am absolutely 100% sure of that.
  17. If anyone is interested in this issue and has a tough stomach for rationalistic nonsense, there is a discussion here in which I participated briefly (it will be obvious who I am). If the original poster is interested in a structured debate (i.e. without random interjections), I am willing.
  18. Dave, thank you very much for that detailed reply. I definitely agree with you that the conditions for conviction have to be changed towards finding positive proof as opposed to not "finding" doubt.
  19. Thank you. Context is everything. What would have to change, in your opinion, to make a death penalty moral and viable? I find "beyond reasonable doubt" rational, in principle - the devil is what people consider "reasonable doubt" of course. As things stand I would think that the current philosophical skepticism would tend to lead to letting guilty people off the hook and not convicting innocents, thus my curiosity about your take on the matter. This is exactly what I was talking about.
  20. I agree. Why is the "death penalty would be appropriate but the risk of convicting an innocent makes it unacceptable" argument given credit as an Objectivist stance then?
  21. I find this argument at odds with Objectivist Epistemology. Can you not know someone is guilty then? The mere possibility of being wrong (i.e. you imagine you could be wrong) trumps the actual evidence that you are right? I can see where a rigorous standard of proof would be required, but I do not see an objective argument against the death penalty from a philosophical standpoint. As a mental exercise, assume that science figures out how to cure aging. Human life becomes unbounded (we are not immortal, but we have no "expiration date"). What punishment is enough for a murderer in that scenario? 300 years in prison? 500? Life in prison for eternity (or until an accident or random ailment claims him)? In that scenario, only death seems to be punishment proportionate to the crime. Back to the real world, as it is today, that insight shows us that sentencing a murderer to "life", or 60 years, is actually an implicit death penalty (the person is expected to die and not ever rejoin society). We are just counting on aging to do the dirty work. If you discover a man is innocent of the crime he was convicted in his youth of and release him at the age of 85 - that is really not much better than a wrongful execution (unless prison is a glorified hotel - which it should not be).
  22. Strictly speaking, the size of the government's jurisdiction is not determined by Objectivism - only that there must be a uncontested jurisdiction. City-states or world government can be compatible with Objectivist politics. It is not the (geographic) size or organizational structure of a government that determines its legitimacy. The root of the issue with the "competing governments" anti-concept is that governments can only compete if they disagree on what should be enforced or how. Multiple entities enforcing the same law and with established means to deal with conflict between themselves are not actually competing governments, but a de-facto government which happens to have a very decentralized structure. If there is conflict (such as conflicting laws and jurisdictions) and no established way to resolve it - there are in fact competing governments. And war.
  23. Or, in other words, if specific effects cannot be causally conected to specific actions by a specific individual there is no basis to accuse this individual of a crime. And if no crime has been commited, there is no basis for the use of force against him by the government - and such a use would be initiation of force.
  24. Both taxation and using future voluntary contribution to pay off debt are bad options. Taxation is theft, there is no rational argument to be made in its favor. Using voluntary contributions to pay off debt incurred by previous immoral governments is a good way to make people not want to contribute at all. Defaulting is also a bad option, with severe systemic consequences and a shaky moral basis as has been discussed in previous posts. My idea to get around this conundrum is based on the fact that government debt is denominated in dollars and the fact that paper money has to be ended anyway. Getting rid of paper money is exactly the same problem as dealing with government debt, because in fact paper money is government debt. Basically, whether you hold a 100 dollar bill or a government bond worth 100 dollars you have exactly the same present claim on the government. The idea is that the total value of illegitimate government property (roads, bridges, the electromagnetic spectrum, mining rights, offshore drilling rights - the list is endless) be used to back all the outstanding paper money and government debt. How would this work? During the transition government an inventory of all these assets would be made and they would be auctioned off in a previously published order. Bids would be in dollars (or dollar denominated government debt), but unlike your usual "privatization", these dollars would not be spent by the government - they would be destroyed, they would leave the system. Like a warehouse receipt when the stored good is claimed, they would cease to have any meaning. People and organizations interested in bidding on these auctions would have to buy dollars - with real money (gold) or with assets. This would most likely work through the commercial banks, which would compete among themselves to get dollars to re-sell to these parties. In this way the transition from paper money to real money would be completely market driven, with no arbitrary gold to dollar conversion rate and no use of taxation to cover the gaps. Ethically, no one can argue that this solution is unfair. All that the government had was used to pay off all claims proportionally. Any further payout would have to rest on further expropriation. If the value received is low, that is only a reflection of reality: immoral governments are massive destroyers of wealth. And there is no getting it back by government fiat.
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