Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

ggdwill

Regulars
  • Posts

    133
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by ggdwill

  1. libGommi,

    I think both of the points that you made have been properly refuted in previous posts, however I don't think that they were refuted all that well.

    Firstly, as someone has already said, morality is not a universal trait that applies to all creatures. A moral action, by definition, has to be the result of a choice made in the face of an alternative. If a situation arises where there is only one course of action, or where the actor is incapable of exercising choice and merely acting as a result of physical conditions or instinct, the resulting action cannot be properly thought of as moral nor immoral. It simply is the way it is because there was no other alternative. Since animals, physiologically are incapable of exercising choice, and act merely in response to inborn "knowledge" as well as impulse, your example of one animal eating another has nothing to do with morality. Simply because the concepts of good and bad are not universally applicable to all things, does make them a matter of subjective preference. It should be fairly obvious that these concepts describe relationships - the context in which they're thought of. As has been mentioned, a particular thing can be good for one entity but bad for another. This describes two independent, objectively existing relationships that are considered good or bad based upon the identity of the thing and how it' behaves in relations to the indentities of each of the entities individually.

    Secondly, I believe that your example of the employee being fired, while thoughtful, is flawed aswell. Again, as someone has already said, the decision to keep a bad employee is good neither for the employee himself nor for his employer. The flaws in this employee's character or his incompetence will gradually degrade, if not immediately disrupt, the quality of the business' product or service - lowering the standard of living for both accordingly. Furthermore, I think it should be pointed out that even if the employer fires the employee, despite what he might think, this is not a good situation for him either. A successful business operates on the longest time frame possible to it and if it's managers are constantly having to hire, train, fire, and rehire a steady stream of employees, their business time frame will be shortened - preventing the quality of their product or service to improve over time and exposing them to competition which can put them out of business.

    Conversely, even if it were true that that employee was initially hired in error, and upon further review it was determined that he was unessential the success of the business and was released, this would benefit both parties aswell. Obviously, as you pointed out, it would benefit the employer by lowering his costs and increasing his profits, but it would also benefit the employee - albeit less directly. Once he was let go, his former employer would be better able to produce its product and bring it to market at a cheaper price for him to consume; benefiting his personal finances. Also, it would present him with an opportunity to develop a truly valuable skill that he could sell to a new employer and begin producing something of the highest quality possible in the most efficient manner possible - lesseing his risk of being deemed nonessetial a second time.

    - Grant

  2. I don't know if this point has already been made, but I don't find anything wrong with the citizens of a free country killing the citizens of a threatening non-free country - even if some of those citizens don't support their immoral government.

    If Ayn Rand had been killed in a bombing raid on St. Petersburg in 1920 by the US Air Force because Lenin and his minions were threatening to destroy America, I don't think there would have been anything wrong with that. Certainly it would have been unfortunate, but the blame would have lied with the Soviets, not the Americans.

    -Grant

  3. Consider this hypothetical.

    Assume that the global warming theory is true. Greenhouse gas emissions by people and corporations all over the world have contributed to global warming to an extent that sea level has risen by 100 feet, completely covering your beachfront house and property with water. Who do you seek redress from in a court of law? No individual entity is even remotely close to legally responsible for the injury to your property. Even aggregation of your claims is unliklely to be useful because many of the parties are in other countries, often countries which couldn't care less about following US legal judgments.

    I think that if you're going to create a situation like this you have to think of it in it's proper, wider context. There is alot to consider that underlies the term "beach front house and property." Most, if not all, of what has gone into creating your property has been derived from things that rely on the same raw materials that are polluting the ozone layer and indirectly threatening your property.

    First, you cannot just build a house on the the first piece of land you come across. The topography and the type of soil has to be analyzed. This means that people have to come out to your land, in their automobiles, and do these things. Next, the land has to be reshaped in preparation for things like the plumbing, electricity, and the foundation. Again, these require machines that use gasoline and materials that were created in factories that pollute. Then, of course, you have to consider all of the lumber, and brick, and synthetic materials that go into building and furnishing your house; all derived from raw materials that, one way or another, "harm" the natural environment. In an economy as large and as complex as ours, virtually every man-made object you touch was created, at least in part, using things that are harmful to the environment.

    It's just not reasonable to impose environmental regulations on certain people to protect the property of other people from the extremely minute and indirect threat that industrial activity presents. If people wish to enjoy the comfort of a modern civilization, then they should be willing to accept that there are widespread, albeit relatively minimal, drawbacks as well as the minute possibility of acute environmental impact on their property and well-being.

    -Grant

  4. I disagree. Basically, my question for the NYT is: what is your motive in publishing this? Have they any evidence of wrongdoing by the government against innocent Americans? Have they found a secret and illegal program carried out with malevolent intentions? No and no. By all the accounts I've seen, this program was a legitimate tool against terrorists and it's confidential status was important to its effective operation. If the NYT wanted to in combat terrorism, they would not have published this story. There was simply no need to expose it, other than as a petty way to cast the administration as dark and nefarious.

    Please provide evidence to back up all of these assertions. Also, it would have been appropriate to address my points about getting to higher-ranking terrorists and that much Islamic terrorism is carried out by random fanatics carried out in the West.

    This strikes me as conspiracy theory. Please provide evidence that the actual goal of the government is not to combat terror, even in their own ineffective way, but to actually use terrorism as an excuse to "change the American way of life." As far as I can tell, the administration seems to be honestly, if ineffectively, attempting to combat terror.

    I never said that it was intentional. Whether or not they realize it, they are fundamentally changing the American way of life as a means of combating terrorism. However, I wouldn't be surprised if they did realize it.

  5. I haven't read all of the intricate details regarding the financial monitoring program that everyone has been in a hoopla recently about the Times reporting, but it seems to me that the Times hasn't done anything wrong and that in fact the government has. Frankly, I'm glad that the Times exposed them and has helped to protect individual privacy.

    What the government has been doing is monitoring the financial activity of "known terrorists". Well, if they're known terrorists, why don't they just go arrest them or kill them? The only reason that I could fathom for not immediately confronting these guys is that they will lead us to higher ups in the terrorist organizations. Well, we already know who the higher ups are and more or less where they are! There's a reason why we went to Afghanistan in 2001 and no to Italy. Even more ridiculous is the fact that it's been proven that many of the recent terrorist attacks around the world don't even involve higher-ups, but are merely carried out by small groups of angry Islamic fanatics born and raised in the West.

    At least in America, where the Fourth Amendment still apparently means something, the government should have to have a warrant to look at anyone's financial information. And if they already know these guys are terrorists, as they claim, then they shouldn't have any problem getting one.

    This controversy is exactly the same as the one surrounding the NSA's phone monitoring program that the press exposed last year.

    It really is disturbing that our neoconservative government is using the widespear terror of terrorism as a means of fundamentally changing the American way of life. Isn't this exactly what the purpose of 9/11 was in the first place? We should not be wasting time and money surrepticiously collecting vast amounts of information to sift through (especially when the government claims they already know who the bad guys are) and then bullying the press when they point out the absurdity. Instead, why not fundamentally change the Muslim way of life by wiping a few of their cities of the face of the Earth? Then, in stead of us being terrified of them, they'd certainly be terrified of us.

  6. Bell Jar,

    I think that your basic question has been adequately answered by the responses preceeding mine, but I would like to address the examples you give. I understand that you don't necessarily advocate either of those positions, but I think that speaking about this subject in terms of concrete examples will be helpful for both of us.

    As has been explained, the basis of Objectivist ethics is man's life. Everything revolves around the basic question: Do you want to live? Thus, by implication your example regarding nature has been refuted. The reason being that the nature (the "is") of a human being and of a tree are quite different. For a tree, there is no "ought", there is only it's automatic existence. It does not choose to grow roots and consume nutrients, it simply does these things. Therefore there can be no question about it's "best interests" - even in it's relations to humans - since it does not possess interests. The only "ought" to be pondered when humans are confronted with the question (since humans are the only entities that can be confronted with questions) of whether or not to alter the environment is whether or not a particular course of action will further their own lives.

    Moving on to your second example regarding human cloning; what those that are against human cloning, by viewing human beings as primarily sexually reproductive beings, have done is ascribed to mankind the same characteristics of the tree discussed above while simultaneously excluding any value to be found in the human mind. While human beings are certainly physically entities and rely on sexual reproduction for the furtherance of the race, other options are on the horizon. In fact, it is the use of the mind that is of much more importance for the projection of humanity into the future than is the use of one's reproductive organs. Without rational thought, all of the breeding in the world would not spare humans from the inevitable challenges they use their minds to overcome and to go on surviving. In a metaphysical sense, it is the use of the mind that makes life possible and human cloning is merely the most advanced implementation of this principle to date.

  7. DavidOdden,

    I'd agree with you completely and I think JMeganSnow's comment is a perfect example of what you're talking about. However, the only issue I have is that because the Constitution does go ahead and enumerate specific rights, many tend to believe that everything individuals have a right to - or everything that the government cannot do - needs to be made explicit. I tend to think that the Constitution would do better without the Bill of Rights.

    The 2nd Amendment is the best example of this. By mentioning a specific - albeit a valid - reason for why people have the right to keep and bear arms, it makes it seem like detering or defending against an overzealous National Guard is the only legitimate reason to keep and bear them. I realize that back then government was properly thought of as only the relations between people and the state (since it is afterall the state's relationships with criminals that bring them to justice), they probably thought it obvious and thus unnecessary to mention carrying to defend against a mugger or to shoot a wild animal; but in doing so they unintentionally lent credence to the idea that the government is allowed to curtail any behavior not specifically forbidden to it by the Amendments. And, as I said, the Tenth Amendment is a half-hearted logical failure to prevent this. So not only does the 2nd's very existence call into question the deeper connection between the right to life and the practical means of protecting it or even maintaining it (keeping and bearing arms), but it also is written in such a way that it can be, and unfortunately has been, grossly misinterpreted.

    I think the Constitution, and in it's unamended form despite it's flaws was this way, should only be a frame work for the government - an implicit agreement between the people and their governors about how the government should be set up. The purpose of this oversight being to avoid a concentration of power and over or underrepresentation. I think that anything governing what individuals may not do (eg: murder, steal) can be infered from the Declaration - and specifically from one little phrase: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Also, raptix, I decided to title this thread "The Declaration Of Existence" because, like I explained originally, I think the Declaration of Independence is primarily an assertion of the existence of American's individual rights and only secondarily a repudiation of the British violation of those rights. Besides, I knew it would catch your eye!

  8. This is what a diary or pillow talk or a mental health counselor is for. I guess people feel more motivated to express themselves when they know they will have an audience.

    But I will say there was some fairly decent writing in there. It was entertaining at times.

    - Grant

  9. Softwarenerd,

    What am I supposed to remember? I think that the Tenth Amendment, while well intentioned, is one of the Constitution's flaws. I've always found it amazing that even though the Constitution specifically addresses how to amend itself, no one has ever thought that any part of the original Constitution should be amended - as if it's all perfect. I guess this is because people think the Constitution is more important than the Declaration of Independence.

    But anyways, here's why I think it's a flaw. As the Declaration of Independence states, individuals have rights; not governments - state governments included. The Federal government can't just shrug off it's responsibility to protect individual rights by saying "It's not our problem - that's a state doing the oppressing!" If anything, I think this type of oppression is specifically why a federal government exists to begin with. If the federal government exists to protect individuals from foreign governments, why can't it exist to protect individuals from state governments? They do this in some respects such as the Supreme Court, but mostly the federal government is thought of only as a way to deal with multi-state problems or foreign countries. Yes, a government closer to home is easier to control (although with technology this is becoming increasingly untrue), but that doesn't automatically make it a proper government.

    Constitutuionally, you can't just break up the wording of the Tenth Amendment because it says what it says. It contradicts itself. Which is it? That states or the people? Are they supposed to fight over it? I guess they are, which ironically would explain why most of the gun laws are state laws.

    Also, when read literally (which I just painstakingly did), the Tenth Amendment is not recognizing the rights of the people - but rather the supposed rights of the state governments. Spelled out literally it says the following: The powers not delegated to the federal gov't by the Constitution, nor the powers prohibited by the Constitution which are prohibited (and thus possessed) by the state governments, are reserved to the state governments - and if they don't want to exercise them, then they can let the people perform otherwise illegal actions. This is obviously contrary to the wording and spirit of the Declaration of Independence which is all about the people's rights - individual rights.

    I think that, by using my analysis of the Declaration of Independence in my original post, there is a pretty good case for amending the Tenth Amendment to make no mention of state governments and to only say "the people".

  10. I have a question to tack onto this thread.

    Who owns the O-Zone layer? If some big company pumps out CO2 and is destroying the O-Zone layer, and thusly the temperature of my fish farm rises and I all my fish die then isn't the company cuasing harm to my property. Let alone if I can prove that the increase in solar radiation is giving me cancer.

    I guess basically the question boils down to "What if someone is cuasing indirect harm to my property, or my person?"

    Are these proper analogies?

    What if GE, Ford, 3M, GM, and all of the other big fish on the Dow Jones take a dive tomorrow and as a result my little mutual fund, very sensitive to Wall Street fluctuations, takes a dive on the day before I was planning to cash out? Yes, their actions are indirectly harming my property but that is the risk I take by investing in the market. Of course, unlike the atmosphere, you have a choice to enter into or stay out of the market.

    However, it is simply a fact of life that everything that everyone does can and most likely will, indirectly enganger someone at least a tiny bit or at least a little while.

    The ethics involved in driving in traffic seems to be a microcosm of alot of sticky situations. Here's an example that I think will shed some light on this perdicament. Suppose you've just exited off of the highway and you're sitting at a red light, 3 or 4 cars back, waiting to turn left onto the street. Suddenly, you remember that you need to run another errand and the place you want to go is to the right, so you pull around and get into the right lane. Suddenly, you hear a loud crunch and you look over and see that the car you just pulled out from behind of had been slammed into by someone coming off of the highway much too fast. Now, in this situation you have acted solely in the furtherance of your own life (by deciding to go right to run your errand) and in doing so have exposed the person in front of you to a greater amount of danger - should you be morally condemned for living your own life simply because it could make someone else vulnerable? Of course, I realize that the ozone layer is just a layer of gas and not a person and thus doesn't have a right to self-preservation like you do by getting out of harm's way - but don't I have a right to self-promotion even if it increases the possibility of your suffering?

    Here's another one. Say you have a bunch of flowers in your yard and in order for them to continue to grow you rely on the bees that come by and pollinate them. Then say that I decide I want flowers too, and so I start planting. Only I decide to plant a type of flower that the bees prefer and so they start hanging out in my yard. Have I altered nature to your detriment? I guess so. But is it may fault that the bees (nature) react to my actions in such a way that by implication causes your flowers to die out? I don't know.

    There are really only two issues that I have not resolved since becoming an Objectivist, and along with the proper point at which children have rights, arcane questions about environmental ethics is one of them.

  11. Since the Fourth of July is coming up, I thought I would share this.

    Recently, I had a disagreement with someone who misunderstood what the nature of rights really was. In our discussion, he kept pointing out that even though an individual in Florida (where I live) has to pay $165.00 to the government and take a government certification course to get a permit to carry a concealed firearm, they still had the right to bear arms; that somehow these stipulations did not constitute a violation of Constitutionally recognized individual rights because the right was not completely abolished.

    Now, there are many ways to shoot down that argument and I doubt that many able to comment on this forum would agree with it, but it prompted an interesting thought in me.

    In response to his assertion I created the analogy that if the government required you to pay them every year in order to get a "living license", and if you failed to pay them they would be allowed to prevent you from living, would that constitute a violation of an individual's right to life? Since I had previously realized that this person doesn't understand the connection between one's right to life and the right to the practical implements necessary for it's maintenance and protection (eg: one's money and one's weapons), I didn't expect much in reply. However - and don't ask me why - I at least expected this person to answer yes since that would be the only answer consistent with his reasoning, but instead he replied that my analogy was different because the Constitution, unlike the right to bear arms, does not specifically address the right to life.

    So, because he had changed the subject and probably not ever realized it, I went along and my thought was that because only the Declaration of Independence, and not the Constitution itself, recognizes the individual's right to life, do we as Americans legally possess a right to life? After all, is the Declaration a governing document or is it just historical? I thought about it and I believe that it is logically possible, without even needing to appeal to a deeper philosphical justification, to prove that we legally do.

    Even if the Declaration of Independence is thought to hold no legal power over The Constitution, it holds superior metaphysical power - which gives it legal authority in the spirit of American jurisprudence (not to mention Aristotelian epistemology). Historically, if it were not for the Declaration there would have never been a Constitution in the first place. It gave birth to the Constitution. Thus, anything that is recognized in the Declaration, even if not specifically articulated in the Constitution, is implicit in it.

    In my thinking about this, I have even anticipated a good counter-argument and found it's flaw aswell. I could very well imagine someone, operating on the premise that the Declaration is a mere historical document, saying that it merely a repudiation of the British oppression of rights and not a carte-blanche repudiation of any and all future oppression of Americans. Despite the fact that througout the Declaration there is general theoretical language to the contrary, even if there were not it is still a universal denunciation of the violation of individual American's rights. This is because more than a declaration of independence it was a declaration of existence - the existence of a new country that decided to become a new country for specific reasons (the "self-evident truths") contained therein. The American's declared independence from Britain not because we were sick of tea and bad cooking or because we wanted to become the subjects of someone else but because they were behaving in ways that prevented us from living freely to pursue our happiness. Even deeper than that, we really declared independence because we wanted to live and realized that happiness was necessary for life and freedom was the only way to achieve it.

    If you take an optimistic view of human nautre, which I believe is the proper view, everything that the American government did in those early years was for this selfish purpose - including the creation of the Constitution. So, you could say that while the Constitution is our governing document, the Declaration is our identifying document and any deviation from or contradiction of it is, by definition, unAmerican..

    So have I hit this on it's head?

    - Grant

  12. This is something that just occured to me that I thought deserved some attention. Why, when Roark stands and offers his climactic defense, why did he primarily speak of independence in terms of intellectual independence? Certainly this is very important and was worth including not only for his defense but for the sake of the reader. I know he does elucidate on political independce, but from my recollection he never explicitly denounces public housing. I know he does it eariler in private to Keating, but wouldn't it have been reasonable of him to do so while pleading his case?

    Also, since he does not denounce it what cause - legally or even logically given the anti-intellectuality and conformity of his peers - would the jury have to find him innocent? I realize that his act, as well as the jury's verdict were implicit denunciations - but in the absence of an explicit denunciation, they were only symbolic. Obviously, since the government had crossed the line and become a violator of individual rights by stealing money to build public housing, it was the right of Roark or a juror or any other citizen to do whatever they could to protect freedom, but I'm surprised that Rand didn't address this. Perhaps she thought that the reader would do just what I have done and infer the jury's reason for their decision, but it just seems unrealistic. Or perhaps the entire episode was symbolic. Perhaps Roark should have simply filed a lawsuit when his design was changed and merely protested or lobbied against public housing. Where the circumstances in Howard Roark's New York as dire as they were in John Galt's?

    I understand that she was probably going after dramatic affect and that the setting was only secondary to what she wanted to communicate through Roark (the entire theme of the novel for god's sake!), but this is the only instance that I can remember in the entire novel where comments that are philosophical in nature aren't tied explicitly, at least momentarily, to the plot. I find that interesting. Any thoughts?

    - Grant

    Ok, that's pretty damn embarrasing - spelling "Roark" "Hoark". Forgive me - I promise to live in shame forever from this point on!

  13. I think what AR meant by that last sentence in her comment was a completely different thought. She was covering all of her bases by addressing the flip-side of being in support of legalizing euthanasia. She probably realized that many people would misconstrue her comments to mean that because she thinks it should be allowed, she advocates it. She meant that just because a terminally ill patient should be allowed to choose to die does not mean that the government, or anyone else, has a right to kill that person without their consent.

    That probably wasn't the best place to put that comment since, being the last thing she said, it distracts from everything else she said and might confuse the audience. Since this was from a live recording (right?), perhaps she paused, making it obvious that it was a seperate thought; or perhaps she was reacting to facial expressions or body language from the audience and felt the need for that qualifier.

    - Grant

    EDIT: Typo. Changed "he" to "she"

  14. David,

    I would agree that emotions don't always originate in the mind. Hunger is a good example. Sex probably qualifies aswell. However, I disagree that emotions or desires do not end in the mind. I think that they do.

    Those who live a celibate lifestyle are living testament to it. Granted, most of them probably just lie to themselves and others about their sexual desires and even their behavior; but I'm sure that if practiced long enough, the desires dissapate to the point where, if presented with something that would be sexually stimulating to a typical person, these people would only feel anxiety or scorn. I think that at that point you could safely say that their mind, and the lifestyle it has dictated, has killed that desire.

    Also, another point that I think reinforces this is that humans are the only species I know of that can intentionally kill themselves. A hunger strike is a good example. You could argue that the desire for food doesn't go away but is just overtaken by a desire for something else - such as political change; but at what point does your desire for food die? Well, it dies when you die for the sake of an idea.

    I know I'm risking changing the subject, but maybe there's something of value relevant to the original topic in what I have said.

    - Grant

  15. Things are looking up at the Wall Street Journal. Despite last week's pitiful editorial that I posted above, Steve Forbes was featured yesterday (6/12/6) and offered (for the Journal at least) a much more powerful commentary:

    "Ominous Neutrality" by Steve Forbes

    If Washington followed Hollywood's lead and gave an academy award for the best political sound bite of the year, "Net Neutrality" would win in a walk for 2006.

    Net Neutrality has everything a good soundbite needs. It's short, alliterative, easy to remember and so elastic in meaning that anybody can define it according to their own agenda.

    That's exactly what's happening in Congress right now, where well-financed lobbysists are pushing for Net Neutrality legislation. According to their benign-sounding definition of Net Neutrality, it simply means that Internet network operators like the phone and cable companies whould have to give equal treatment to all traffic on their networks, without giving anybody's content preference in handling.

    But scratch the surface of what the Net Neutrality crowd is really asking for and Net Neutrality lobbyists want Congress to pass innovation-shifting restrictions on what companies like Verizon and AT&T can do with the new high-speed broadband networks that these companies haven't even finished building yet.

    These networks are the superhighways for transporting Internet content and services. They will also permit Verizon and AT&T to offer Internet-based cable TV programming in competition with the cable companies, which are already competing in telecom services. Slapping these networks with premature, unnecessary regulations would be an inexcusable barrier to the tradition of innovation at the heart of the Internet.

    Phone companies are investing billions of dollars in network innovation. They need to earn a return on their investment. One logical way is to use a tiered pricing system that charges a premium price for premier services - which means super high-speed services that gobble extra bandwidth on the network. Those who are happy with standard broadband speeds would continue to pay the same price they pay now.

    This is the same concept as mail service. If you want to send a letter from New York to Los Angeles and delivery in four days to a week is OK, you can do it for the price of a 39-cent postage stamp. But if you want the letter delivered without fail by 10 a.m. the next morning, you upgrade to FedEX and pay for the extra service you need.

    Applying this principle to the Internet sounds like the free market at work to me. But the Net Neutralizers have responded with manufactured indignation, claiming that it's discrimination and somehow tramples on the egalitarian spirit of the Internet.

    Surprisingly Google, E-Bay and other high-tech companies have become big supporters of this flavor of Net Neutrality; they supposedly fear discrimination from Internet providers. But they have no real evidence to back-up such fears. If problems do arise, then these can be dealth with specifically.

    Pass Network Neutrality legislation would be a re-run of the disasterous Telecom Act of 1996 which forced telecom to provide network access to competitors at below market prices. That certainly put a chill on network innovation. After years of wasteful lawsuits and regulatory infighting, the network access monster has gone away. But it was a big factor in letting America slip into the high-tech Stone Age, which consumer broadband services lagging far behing what's available in countries like Japan or South Korea.

    Members of Congress are on the verge of updating the Telecom Act to bring it into sync woth a communications industry that's been transformed by Internet technology. As they do that, we can only hope they don't conpromise the future of this vital industry by falling for the rhetoric of Net Neutrality. After all, what network operator would be silly enough to keep investing billions in network innovations if the fruits of it's innovation had to be given away at below cost?

    Mr. Forbes is president & CEO of Forbes, Inc. and editor-in-chief for Forbes magazine.

    I like this alot -especially the part where he calls Net Neutrality what it really is: egalitarianism. What I don't like is that he doesn't reject the notion that the internet is egalitarian in spirit. What does the word "internet" mean? Well, it's a combination of the prefix "inter" and the word "network". This means that it's just a way of describing how a bunch of networks - whether it's your $600 Dell talking to your friend's $400 HP or something much, much bigger - interact with one another. That's why I got pissed at Mr. Giancarlo's incessant capitalization of the word; and why I'm equally unnerved by Mr. Forbes'.

    Also, I don't think that all the side-commentary about super-high speed broadband and a tiered pricing system is particularly worthwhile. It's not as if there's some fundamental right to violate the property rights of providers of common services but not those of elite service providers. There's no difference in the two types when it comes to the appropriate level of government involvement.

    Also, I hate the part where if the fears of Google, eBay, et. al. prove to come true and networks do end up discrimiating against them, they should be dealt with specifically. What does this mean? That instead of explicit egalitarianism enshrined into law, we have ad-hoc egalitarism by law enforcement? Effectively, what's the difference? Which, not surprisingly, is why the entire editorial is framed in the egalitarian spirit of modern America with repeated protests about the damage stifled innovation will have on "the greater good".

    -Grant

  16. First of all, congratulations on your conversion! Not only does it take alot of intelligence to understand Ayn Rand's work, but it also takes alot of courage to give up very deeply held beliefs that will have life altering consequences. I promise you that if you stick to your new philosophy, those consequences will be very, very good!

    Anyways, I don't think you need to beat yourself up about what happened in church. It's obvious that you're a very contientious person and so lying hurts, but that event, just like every other time you've professed belief in god is in the past. I know it's worse when you don't mean it, but it's still in the past. I've never had to defend my beliefs in front of 100 people, but I've had to do it in front of 4 or 5 and it's tough, but trust me it's alot easier to defend beliefs than it is attitudes that result from those beliefs. Beliefs, even when they're based on faith, seem much farther away and easier to deal with than having a disagreement about whether or not you'll practice them. Haha, so now you have something to look forward to next weekend when you're confronted with the practical matter of actually going to church!

    That you've only been an Objectivist for a couple of weeks, it's no surprise that the attitude of wanting to please others to avoid conflict or to be accepted is still there. Eventually it will go away. Actually, anyone that matures - learns more about reality and behaves in accordance with it - goes through that process.

    Also, I don't quite understand; why don't those people see you as normal any more? Did you end up denouncing god in front of them afterall?

    If you stick to what you know is right, you're virtually guaranteed to face some tough times. In fact, when it comes to social and political situations, Objectivists rarely avoid suffering - but when it's over and you've maintained your integrity, it's a rare precious moment in life that too few people ever get to experience.

    As for your friends, I think aequalsa's comments are right on. I only have one other piece of advice: Unless you haven't already done so, learn the more intricate details of Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology before you start taking on complex ethical questions like social metaphysics. I wish I had induced Objectivism this way instead of bumping into it as a result of being a political junkie. You seem like you're clear-headed enough that even if you do have to put up with immature people just to feel good while you're doing it, you won't really be all that affected by it.

  17. I agree that there isn't anything inherently wrong with sex, since no action itself can be measured on a scale of morality, so I suppose that my question should have referred directly to the motivations behind the acts of sex themselves. And you would say that this is the point where it becomes immoral, correct?

    Yes, that's correct.

    I guess this is something I have trouble with with all kinds of topics. For the sake of simplicity, say there are two components of motivation involved with sex... the moral component, which you described as being the healthy one, and any immoral component, or unhealthy one.

    I'm not all that surprised that you have this problem in all kind of topics. Honestly, when I first read your original post, the thought that kept occuring to me was "this guy is a recovering intrinsicist". I think your intrincism is still there in this paradigm as well, it's just become more camoflaged. As I said, I don't believe that there is anything inherently moral or immoral about a particular sex act itself. I also don't believe that about any particular psychological trait a person may have. In fact, I don't think that you can divide one's psychological identity into seperate parts. Certainly, conceptually you can for the purposes of introspection, but to think of them as literally seperate entities is unrealistic. Psychology doesn't work that way. Instead, what happens inside someone's head when they're faced with a decision is that the more deeply held belief will win out. If that belief/desire/emotion is rational, then they will make the right choice; it's it's not, they won't. Any opposing beliefs/desires/emotions will only produce hesitation or a feeling of conflict that will only exacerbate the deeper emotion and make the desire more difficult to conciously oppose. If you only hold good ideas conciously, you may win some battles, but you will ultimately lose the war.

    In the case of sex, say that my primary motivation is the healthy component, but I still go into it knowing that I'm going to get attention, alter my emotional state, etc, expecting that to some degree. Is it wrong if my unhealthy desires are the deciding factor in my decision to have sex, even if they are just a miniscule amount compared to the healthier motivation, but just enough to change my decision and make me want to do it? Or does the unhealthy part have to be the primary motivator? Or am I looking at it incorrectly?

    I think you're looking at it incorrectly. As JMeganSnow pointed out, there isn't anything inherently wrong with wanting attention or wanting to alter your emotional state. Attention and emotion are largely unavoidable parts of sex. I say largely because two people can be completely in love and passionately attrached to one another and still from time to time have sex for the wrong reasons. I don't believe that once someone decides to have sex for a good reason, the encounter is guaranteed to leave them feeling rewarded, and vice versa. However, I do believe that if someone feels like having sex for the right reasons, and the oppotunity presents itself, it is guaranteed to be a good time (unless, of course, your mother-in-law calls). Psychologically, the important thing is to communicate to yourself and/or your loved one what the sex was about and if it was bad, figure out why.

    For example, consciously, I've decided that it's moral to have a healthy relationship with someone whose values I respect and admire. But say I'm pursuing a relationship with a person and they are extremely physically attractive, attractive enough for me to have immorally pursued them solely based on that quality before restructuring my philosophy. If my old philosophy, which largely remains with me subconsciously, is subconsciously encouraging me to pursue this person because of their physical features, how do I pinpoint that that's the source of those motivations/desires?

    I think you just did pinpoint them. I think that bringing something into concious, lucid awareness is the definition of pinpointing. As for pursuing someone only because they're physically attractive, no, I don't think that's a good idea. However, if you do it and he or she turns out to have alot of other traits you admire, then you got lucky. There's a big difference between pursuing someone and having sex with them immediately. There's no point in feeling guilty about not being omnicient about someone and only going on looks; besides, looks can be very iindicative of character. In fact, that's why I pursued my ex-girlfriend. Fortunately, she and I had enough in common that we had a 3 and 1/2 year relationship, but unfortunately we had too much negative in common that we weren't growing from one another anymore - bad sexual atttitudes were a big part of the negativity throughout the relationship.

    -Grant

    *edited to properly punctuate JMeganSnow's moniker.

  18. Take a look at this wimpy editorial that appeared in this Thursday's (6/8/6) edition of the Wall Street Journal.

    "Neutrality Check" By Charles H. Giancarlo

    When the public Internet was created, its guiding principle was that everyone would be free to use it in a way that was privately beneficial without being publicly detrimental. that principle fostered the birth of thousands of companies, products, services and creative activities that together built the Internet to become the indispensable infrastructure that exists today - and the ultimate beneficiaries are consumers.

    However, many of the companies that were helped by the light government regulation of the early Internet are now advocating more regulation in a debate turning on "Net Neutrality." The outcome of this debate could change the relationship between consumers and the technology that connects them to information and services. At issue is wheterh broudband access providers will be able to effectively manage their networks and have the incentives to invest in next-generation networks.

    We need to foster and maintain innovation of the Internet infrastructure itself, as well as the services and devices operating over the Internet. The principle of an open Internet that enables consumers to access safe, legal applications and the content of their choice must be reaffirmed. Network operators should also be able to use network tools to manage traffic efficiently and to provide customers a range of choice in services and features. As the demands on the Internet grow, consumers, businesses and service providers are increasingly insisting that it be reliable, provide support for voice and video, and be able to meet new damnds in the future. That is why it is critical that service providers be able to develop their networks to provide support for all communication needs. The central concern over Net neutrality is a false one - we can have both open access and differentiated services.

    New network technologies and management tools not only keep the Internet flowing, they also spur innovation. they can make sure applications requiring low delay, such as voice and gaming, will work. Soon, personalized Internet HDTV will become possible. Gaming will continue to grow as picture quality takes on real-life imagery. And business tolls, such as video conferencing, will become more significant as the quality of video and audio improves. These types of entertainment and communications innovations can only emerge if providers have the incentives to build networks capable to delivering them.

    Is regulation needed to accomplish "Net neutrality"? The prudent policy at this point would be not to regulate. First, the Internet is still in its adolescence, and it is undergoing rapid change, Regulations would lock in rules and practices that might seem correct today, but could create havoc tommorw. Instead, we should allow the massive convergence to Internet technology to continue unabated, and regulators should address specific problems on a case-by-case basis.

    The FCC has already endored "connectivity principles" that clearly spell out that consumers should be able to access the choice of safe, legal content and applications within the handwidth limits and quality of service of the service plan. The House's Energy and Commerece Committee recognized this approach by rejecting proposals to regulate network technology and managements tools in a way that would have reduced innovation, choices and new services.

    Congress must protect freedom and openness on the Internet, while promoting responsibility and fairness among its users, and the ability of providers to compete on technology and servies. Quick, reactionary and heavy-handed regulation could snuff out incentive and creativity. With forbearance and wish policies, we can actually ensure that innovation and growth continue and that consumers win.

    Mr. Giancarlo is senior vice president and cheif development officer of Cisco Systems, and president of Linksys, a Cisco-owned subsidiary.

    Have you ever seen such ass-kissing? Could he possibly be more cryptic? No wonder our country is speeding down the road to serfdom. I kept expecting the piece to turn into a work of drama, with Mr. Giancarlo begging for mercy in the most colorful language you could think of. God Mr. Giancarlo, just say it: You want to profit! You're in it for the money! For god's sake, don't say "we must be allowed to have incentives." I makes my skin crawl

    Just once, just once, please someone besides BB&T actually take a principled, self-righteous position on something.

    Did you notice how he kept capitalizing the word "internet" as if it actually were a proper noun - a member of the human race or something - the prized possession of pinkos the world over and their magical "freedom of speech" wand. You only capitalize a noun to differentiate it from other similar nouns. What is similar to the internet? There is only one internet because it's not really a thing - it's just a bunch of computerized relationships. Is there some alternate internet in some other dimension that I'm not aware of? Anyways, I had to get that off of my chest.

    Have you ever seen such pathetic pandering so well dressed up as respectful intellectual discourse?

    But then again, it's easy to criticize from afar. My neck isn't on the line.

  19. The best analogy for this is the private roads thing I was talking about in another thread. Imagine the government sold the entire road (and sidewalk) network in the centre of New York city to one company. This company would then have pretty much unlimited power - they would be able to go up to any large business and say "pay us $X million a year, or we will refuse to allow anyone to use the road or sidewalk outside your shop, and you will lose all your customers as a result". And the shop would be powerless to do anything about this - they could either agree to the extortion, or go out of business.

    What if a bunch of socialists are - er, I mean were - elected to the city and state governments of New York and they decided to raise taxes by $X million a year to pay for roads? Being socialists, they would have to do this since they'd need to offset the costs of all of their new welfare programs. Would that be ok? No, it wouldn't.

    I agree that it would be wrong for a road company to exploit other businesses who have been weakened by decades, if not centuries, of socialist road building going on all around them. If and when the roads are privatized, they should be very carefully sold and there should be all kinds of stipulations. Since it would be the government (representing those very taxpaying businesses), they would have a right to stipulate no unreasonable price increases until the effects of past socialism have been worn down. And since the money raised by the government from the sale of the roads would be returned to the taxpayers, you should think of the government as merely a middle-man in a contract negotiation between private firms.

    However, your attempt to compare that to the internet is flawed. The internet always has been owned exclusively by private organization, big and small.

  20. Hal,

    I hate to think of it as extortion. If, say, Time Warner goes to Google and demands $2 million a year to keep their site running at broadband speeds (or even accessible at all), they're not holding anything over Google's head that wouldn't already be there should Time Warner cease to exist. So, it's not Time Warner that's "extorting" Google, it's reality - and we all know that since there's no god reality doesn't have a mind of it's own; so it can't do that. That's like saying that if your power company raises it's rates and you can't afford the hike, they're extorting you by refusing to sell you power at the old, lower price.

    In fact, you could argue that if Net Neutrality laws didn't already exist (I believe that the bill that failed 3 days ago was an Democratically enhanced version to prevent it's sunsetting), ISPs already would be charging competing content providers. They haven't been allowed to all this time because of the egalitarian Net Neutrality laws.

    It's not the fault of ISPs that competing content providers chose to build their entire businesses on an infrastructure owned by other companies. They should have realized that they were making themselves dependent upon the health of these other companies that very likely were going to become their direct competitors in the future. Of course, nowadays, they don't have to think of these things because when the issue does come up, they can count on the government to force their wishes to come true.

    -Grant

  21. This is a good question.

    I think you're off the mark though in your approach at answering it. I don't think that there's anything inherently wrong with any type of sex act between consenting adults so I disagree with your spectrum theory. Rather's what's important to consider is the psychological motivation underlying why they're doing what they're doing.

    Psychologically healthy people have sex - any type of sex - for the reason you described; "to celebrate each others values". Psychologically unhealthy people (at least when it comes to the issue of sex. I'm not a psychologist so I don't know if sexual attitudes are linchpin attitudes) have it for lots of other reasons. The common stereotype most people think of is the slutty girl who just wants attention and hasn't ever been paid attention to any other way. There's lots of other common types that don't have as much noteriety. People have sex to relieve stress, to induce excitement, or to simply feel whatever emotion happens to be ilicited because they might be "feeling" emotionally empty.

    My point is that once sex becomes thought of a surefire way to alter your emotional state or to escape from an unpleasant reality, it is probably as addictive as certain drugs. I've read about how sex messes with your endorphin levels and so it's likely that people who have alot of sex become addicted to the high that comes from that shift in brain chemisty - so much so that being "sober" feels unpleasant by comparison.

    I think the reason why so many people have problems with things like pornography and phone sex is because it is used as a crutch so commonly. Since sex is supposed to be about celebrating values it's no coincidence that is usually occurs after a pleasant evening where two people really connect emotionally and intellectually. It's that connection that they're celebrating, as well as all of the individual work that went into creating attractive characters and intellects. Pornography or phone sex or prostitution is a cheap short-cut to the reward without having to do any of the work.

    I'm not saying that short-cuts are never appropriate. In certain circumstances they are (eg: after the sudden termination of a long-term relationship). However, when people become dependent upon these things, or even get to the point where they subconciously prefer them to actual interpersonal interaction, then obviously there is a problem. By "problem" I mean that one is not comfortable enough to make the best possible choice for himself. Despite having many traits that others would find emotionally and sexually attractive, he has become so disconnected emotionally from other people, and his sexual attitudes have become so complacently below his potential, that he is habitually choosing a less rewarding alternative.

    Ayn Rand said "tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I'll tell you his philosophy on life". This is a very astute statement. If someone has bad philosophical beliefs they are going to fall in with like minded people and end up sharing their art, their recreation, and maybe even their beds. If he does this long enough it becomes automatized as an emotion; a subconcious sexual response. So, what I think she meant by this is that a person's general emotional tempraments are heavily influenced by and can tell you alot about their concious convictions; with sexual attitudes being the best indicator.

    One other point. You could make an argument that there's a strong correlation between certain sexual activities and the general personalities of the people who enjoy them. I think there is, but I'm not going to address it in this post since I still think any possible causal link would have to be found using the ideas I've stated above. You'd probably need a few PhDs to find it.

    -Grant

×
×
  • Create New...