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About Randrew

  • Birthday 02/10/1982

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    Louisville, KY
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    Mathematics (esp. Numerical Analysis, Graph Theory, Mathematical Physics), Racquetball, Chess.

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    United States
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  • Real Name
    Andrew Ritchie
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    University of Louisville
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    Graduate student

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  1. Randrew


    Maybe I should re-cast this post in the form of a survey, such as "Do you believe that a potential person becomes an actual person with rights at point A, B, C, D, or E?" (Perhaps A=conception, B=1st trimester, ..., E=able to talk.) Hmm, so did Miss Rand ever state where she drew the line, or did she leave it to future generations to determine the difference between potential and actual?
  2. Randrew


    I do recall from The Lexicon (though I haven't seen it in years) that Ayn Rand basically asserted that a fetus has no rights. But when is it a "baby" (i.e. a new human) and no longer a fetus? It seems to me that the clearest defining line would be: after the umbilical cord is cut. But I'm not sure if that opinion of mine is consistent with rational philosophy and with the facts of science. Is there another "appropriate" line, such as when the brain is fully formed? Or does it depend more on the context of the pregnancy? I KNOW that there is already tons of discussion here on this topic. However, when I attempted to read through it, most of what I saw was too elaborate and contained many snide remarks and high tempers. My current view on the issue is not set in stone--I'm really have little personal bias on the issue, and am curious to know where others draw the line (and where Ayn Rand drew it, if she ever mentioned it.) Thanks.
  3. In spite of the underlying Christian themes, this movie renewed my desire to fight for my values (as did Lord of the Rings.) Did anyone else feel the same way? I'm not exactly sure how to pursue this fight, other than continue being happy and pursuing excellence and achievement. I do want to fight for political values, although I never do well in debates. I suppose at the very least I can "fight with my vote." (Anyway, I'm digressing here.)
  4. Thanks for all the replies on such short notice! I'd forgotten how eager the members on this forum are, having been inactive myself for awhile now. Groovenstein: I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, I do not know much about the particulars of government and economics, so I could easily get out-debated by those who do. Ultimately I just have to accept that I can't solve everyone's problems, so I just have to do my best to induce others to at least consider different ways of thinking. I believe in an earlier political thread, titled "Taxes: How does Govt Fund itself without taxes," Michael Smith (user "AisA") gave an extensive response to this specific question: he outlined the typical costs of proper government functions, and showed that credit transaction insurance alone would suffice to pay for this. (Here is the link to his post. Scroll down to post #83.) My difficulty is in understanding which kinds of transactions will *almost always* want to be insured by the parties in question. About the example on house/termites: Hm, well...I suppose you could have a contract that says "I swear that my house does not have termites or any other major structural or maintenance problems", but it would surely include lots of fine print; and who takes the time to read all the fine print these days? It just seems to me that most people wouldn't bother with these kinds of transaction insurances. But maybe enough people would get them to fund at least the courts. Which brings up another issue: shouldn't the contract enforcement fees pay solely for the courts, i.e. for contract enforcement?
  5. So I’m trying to convince a few of my friends (and my mother) that it is possible to successfully fund the government without coercive taxation. I mentioned the ideas of government lottery and donation, but those quickly fell prey to the typical cynicism. Anyway, it seems that much more has been said about the method of insurance payments for contractual fraud protection, both in the well-known VOS essay and in various threads here. But I do not understand precisely why people would want to pay these fees. (Once again, I apologize for my naivete.) Specifically: could someone give me some examples of how one could be defrauded in transactions? Furthermore, even if one were defrauded, couldn’t the offender be sued and also be required to pay the court costs?
  6. I apologize for my ignorance, but could some one tell me what the definition of a flat (income) tax is? Does it mean that everyone (i.e. every taxpayer) pays the same percentage rate of their income, or does it mean that everyone pays the same amount, period? I assume it means the former, since the latter, if taken literally, is impossible: you can't say "everyone pays $5000 a year," since then people who make only $5000 a year will have nothing. However, I was wondering if anyone has considered a system in which everyone pays a fixed percentage up until a certain point, after which the tax amount is the same? For example, everyone pays 10% of his income as taxes unless he makes at least $10,000/yr, after which he only pays $1000/yr, no matter how much he makes. I don't see how a sales tax is, in theory, any "less immoral" than a fixed-percentage income tax. My reason for this is simple, albeit possibly naive: the more money you make, the more money you will spend. Therefore, people with higher incomes will still end up paying more taxes anyway. Under the system I mentioned above, however, everybody pays the same.
  7. Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention: poor Luke! Sure, he was kind of annoying, but I'd say he got the proverbial shaft as well, and undeserved. If only the nearly-overcomplicated plot could have included his hooking up with Rebecca at the end :-)
  8. I just finished this movie 5 minutes ago, and I absolutely loved it, though I did have one major problem with it: I emphatically do not agree with this statement. SPOILER ------------ Why, why, WHY did the film writer include the character of Rebecca (name?), the woman Matthew was planning to marry at the beginning of the film? This film could have EASILY been made without her, but her presence almost completely ruined the ending for me. She did NOT deserve what was done to her. Now, the focus was supposed to be on Matt and Lisa--would any honest, introspective viewer of this film NOT realize that Matt, in spite of his joy at having found Lisa, will have to live with guilt issues over what he did to Rebecca? The film sort of sluffs off her situation: she gives Matt some typical "I hate you/who the hell do you think you are" line, then abruptly exits his life forever. Matt, seemingly unperturbed, walks to Lisa and finishes off the movie with an otherwise lovely scene of being reunited with Lisa. Damn it, the film was SUPPOSED to focus on the drama of the Lisa-Matt-Alex triangle, but this part really threw off my emotions at the end. Anyway, I will take away from the movie what was good. And yes, I agree that Kruger would make a good Dominique (opposite Brad Pitt??), provided she can mask her (sexy) accent.
  9. Rational_One: Ok, I'll look into it more deeply, as previously I only skimmed them. Hmm, are you trying to imply that I've read *only* the Cliff's Notes? No, no, no, I have read AS at least 2.5 times by now. Your statement reflects what I thought when I first considered the Cliff Notes: "What good could they possibly do *me*? After all, I've read AS several times thoroughly." Do not fall into this psychological trap: if you have questions about the Eddie situation, I really think Bernstein's essay in here can help you clear them up (and the rest of his essays are great, besides.)
  10. Dominique: I am aware that the "Eddie Willers situation" has been discussed at length in several threads on this forum. The reason I haven't read into them too deeply is that I think Dr. Bernstein's aforementioned essay made Eddie's role and what he symbolized abundantly clear. I cannot reprint the whole of the essay here, as that would be copyright infringement, but I will give the concise answer: the purpose of Ayn Rand's leaving Eddie's fate open-ended was to show that the well-being of "the common man" depends on the freedom of trade and production of great industrialists, regardless of how "disproportionately" wealthy they may end up. In any case, if you still have confusion over Eddie, I highly recommend that you purchase the Cliff's Notes to AS and read Berstein's many essays within. Now, back to the topics of this thread. Inspector: The phrase Bernstein uses is "intellectual ability." An example to illustrate my point: the more college courses you take (and work hard at) in a particular subject, the more intellectual ability you will have with respect to that subject. (Let's consider a subject such as engineering, where the "ability" you develop will be more or less directly proportional to your ability to accomplish a given task efficiently and superbly.) This kind of "ability" is something that one earns. This is not to say that genetic factors cannot enhance this, only that the amount of it one possesses is "within one's volitional control." That said, I am assuming that Dr. Bernstein is referring to genetic factors, as that is the only context in which his statement is defensible. I just wish that he had been specific about what he meant. Perhaps my central question is more of a comment (with an invitation for discussion): although genetic factors influencing intelligence may very well exist, either dwelling on them or viewing them prematurely as roadblocks in one's personal development is flirting with determinism, and thus a bad idea.
  11. In Andrew Bernstein's excellent essay "The Role of the Common Man in Atlas Shrugged" from the Cliff's Notes to AS, he makes the following questionable statement: "The achievements of Rearden, Dagny, Galt, and the other thinkers dramatize the claim that reason is the primary cause of progress. But intellectual ability isn't within a man's volitional control. The ability of his brain is something that a man is born with, but he chooses whether he uses it. Eddie's consistent choice to accept the responsibility of thinking is the hallmark of a virtuous man....[etc.]" (122, emphasis added.) Now, it is my understanding that ability, in the sense of valuable skills, is something that one develops and earns. I think what Dr. Bernstein is referring to here is something along the lines of IQ or any other kind of "natural ability" that one inherits genetically. Although such natural endowments (or lack thereof) are a fact of life (e.g. click here for information about the so-called IGF2R "smart gene"), I have to wonder: how does one discover one's maximum potential for intellectual ability? More importantly: is it even possible to know when such a potential has been reached? It has always been my paradigm that, in order to "become smarter" (i.e. become well-versed in a difficult abstract science or academic endeavor), one need only apply enough discipline and creativity, i.e. study harder and study smarter (by employing methods appropriate to the subject of study.) Some people seem to learn some things faster than others, but whether you attribute this to genetics or to superior study habits and methods seems to me open to debate. This may be another reason why some shy away from Objectivism: they identify their "natural" intellectual ability more with Eddie's than with the heroes', and, although they recognize the importance of a rock-solid foundation in primacy of existence, their position as a person without the potential for greatness makes them feel a sense of disappointment in the knowledge that they can never measure up. That last thought brings up another important question: does Eddie have the same capacity for happiness (joy) as the heroes? I looked in OPAR, but could find no evidence supporting the idea that one's capacity for happiness is proportional to one's natural intellectual potential (or even a hint at this idea), although I may have missed something. I recall that Americonorman brought up this very question in this thread (his claim being the Aristotelian idea that a philosopher has the greatest potential for happiness), and I believe it was discussed briefly for a few replies. Anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?
  12. Welcome, Count. Sweet, me too. You rated? I'm an active C-B player at local clubs & tournaments, when I'm not busy with school and work.
  13. In general, should universities (private or public) be allowed to fire professors for expressing evil views? I suppose it would have to depend upon the job description. If a professor were hired solely for the role of teacher, then I think he could only be (morally) fired if, say, it could be proven that his teaching style were heavily biased (as that would mean he is not doing his job well.) On the other hand, if a professor were hired as both a teacher and a writer of academic papers and/or speaker, the issue gets more complicated. What do you all think about this (especially those of you who work either as professors or college/university administrators)? Btw, Byan: I'm from Denver, too (Golden, actually.) Are you involved in any of the local Objectivist groups? I usually attend the "Meetup" lunches @ Racine's on Sherman, and there will be one this Saturday. If you want info, check out http://aynrand.meetup.com/42/events/4084593/ .
  14. Ok, TG and AR fans, answer me this: Which Ayn Rand character is Terry Goodkind's Dalton Campbell (book 5, "Soul of the Fire") most like? A) Gail Wynand Andrei Taganov C) A little bit of both. Campbell liked to "work the crowd" (i.e. sought power for its own sake), and this eventually backfired on him. (Similarity: Wynand.) Also, Campbell finally saw the depravity of his "ideals" when his wife, who believed in them consistently, whored herself out to the "Sovereign." (Similarity: Taganov. Sort of.) I think I'd have to go with A, mostly. And the best part: the brief conversation between Richard and Dalton at the end: Dalton: "I think we could have been friends, had circumstances been different" (kind of like Roark and Wynand.) ... Dalton: "You may kill me now, if you wish." Richard: "No, I'm going to do something much worse: I'm going to leave you to the consequences of your own actions." (AS, italics mine.) My thoughts on the series: the first two were excellent, the third, fourth, and fifth were terribly boring (except for the psychological profile of Cambell in #5, discussed above), and the sixth was like a new presentation of Atlas Shrugged (in other words, no original philosophy, but still worth reading for some of the plot and dialogue.)
  15. That movie sucked. It was totally a "Rushmore" wannabe. (Can I get an "Amen"?) "Rushmore," on the other hand, was a hilarious and witty film about a young man with much creative potential, but who had difficulty applying himself academically. I haven't yet made a serious critique of the movie, but, then again, it wasn't really a serious movie. Any other opinions?
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