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Everything posted by DonAthos

  1. Voluntary sex is not the only way to get pregnant. Not all sex is voluntary. (Also, penis-in-vagina is not the only way to get pregnant, for whatever that's worth.) I know of no woman bemoaning pregnancy, as such (at least with respect to the current debate). They are desiring to have sexual activity and embrace the potential consequence -- and meet it head on -- by being able to seek a legal abortion after the fact. There's nothing dishonest about it. Sex is not trivial. "Just don't have sex" is bunk advice. Sex, pleasure, intimacy, and the host of things which accompany it, are the furthest from "trivial" they could possibly be. Pregnancy might be avoided through abstinence (rape notwithstanding), as obesity might be avoided through starvation, but neither "solution" serves our greater goal. Birth control is a better approach, but it isn't completely effective. More to the point, creating remedies for undesirable consequences on any level is not "dishonest"; it is capital-h Honest. Human beings mess up. Our actions create further problems we must then deal with. Legal abortion is not a means of avoiding the consequences of one's mistakes: it is the means by which we deal with those consequences. Perhaps. But I believe that what more greatly animates the present discussion is not that someone does not "approve of their life choices"; rather that they seek to make their choices illegal.
  2. An Objectivist would follow the evidence. Not in some anemic "still an Objectivist" technical sense, but according to the most primary, foundational, premises-checking, epistemological aspects of the philosophy. With respect to that epistemology, Objectivism advocates reason, but specific conclusions ("I am in the USA"; "I am in Chile"; "I am in the Matrix") must be determined according to actual circumstance -- and should Morpheus give you the red pill, and should you awake in Zion upon taking it, well, you'd have to take that into consideration and perhaps readjust some of your other conclusions. We should ask what would constitute evidence for the world being a "simulation" that would not rely upon a claim to some other, presumably non-simulated evidence, for the sake of comparison -- an appeal to some "real reality," as with respect to waking in Zion, acquiring game-breaking superpowers, observing green lines of binary code falling through the sky, or etc. Without any such evidence (apart from that which our imagination can conceive, which seems almost boundless), speculation about the potential reality of such things (let alone giving them any level of credence) seems arbitrary at best, and something much more sinister at worst. At least the people who propose the Flying Spaghetti Monster understand that they're making a joke... I think... And honestly, even a proposed simulation is as "real" as anything else: the Matrix is solid evidence for that which produces it; this conversation we're having right now is real, is reality, and is reflective of the people producing it (and the technology allowing for it), even if it isn't the meat-space event that our predecessors would have considered (and sometimes still refer to as) "real life." And we are brains in a vat, in a sense -- it's just that the "vat" in question looks like what we see in the mirror, according to the evidence we currently have.
  3. Naturally it is the very thing that I say I don't want to develop into a major digression that you respond to, at length. All right, then. Objectivists are supposed to care about reality. We are also supposed to be pro-individual rights, which I take to be "anti-slavery." Slavery was a large-scale institution in the United States from before its inception until it was ended in a Civil War. This institution had deep and pervasive influence in many aspects of American life, particularly in the South, and after it ended that influence lingered, most visibly in ongoing efforts to maintain legal segregation (e.g. Jim Crow laws, anti-miscegenation laws, etc.) and instill terror (the KKK, lynching, etc.). Some aspects of this sort of thing were ended sixty years ago or so -- and some (like the Klan) remain -- such that some people who were involved in these activities and personally supported them at the time, are still alive. The children raised in their homes, the virtues instilled in them, these folks and their descendants are still with us (and on school boards, and in the police departments). Victims were despoiled, their families sundered, their bodies broken, and their education and professional advancement denied. These folks and their descendants are still with us, too. And the racist ideology that was developed in large part to support these institutional wrongs persists. The consequences of slavery endure. I have known of people personally to speak (unironically) of the "War of Northern Aggression," which is how some in the South refer to the Civil War, even today. Because they yet believe that the Southern cause was just and the Northern, ignoble. I have known open racists and quiet ones. I have observed discussions of "race realism," even here on this forum, and Charlottesville was not all that long ago. And I am witness to the reactions or overreactions like affirmative action, BLM and "critical race theory." It seems clear to me that we have not yet settled these great upheavals, and yet there are questions that I'm not certain precisely how to answer. If your father steals something and gives that thing to you, does it then become yours? How much time does it take to legitimate past injustices? I don't think that any person is responsible for the sins of their father, but I also think that there are persistent wounds from wrongs done in the past, and ongoing troubles, and I don't think we do anyone any favors by pretending like it isn't so. Is this the obverse of the fraudulent coin which would proclaim that we are entirely unaffected by our past? If one looked back into the mists of time, of course we would all find our ancestors being victims and victimizers, in turn, and mostly none of that matters to us now. But that doesn't mean that the specific claim -- that there are yet today lingering effects from slavery -- is wrong. Do you think that whatever wounds were created with this most egregious violation of liberty, suffered by hundreds of thousands (or millions if we extend beyond the US) were entirely healed the first day after slavery officially ended? Day two? Was it the day the last actual slave died? Did not their children suffer to any extent? Or their children's children? What day would you fix as the day it was finally solved? Regarding our relationship with the past, I think Shakespeare's formulation is best: "What's past is prologue." I also have always quite liked Will Durant: "The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding." Maybe that's the historian in me. But the point is that there are times when we must understand the present, and can only truly understand the present, in the context of the past. In that sense, it's true that we're never quite "free" from what's come before -- only sometimes ignorant. But we are neither bound by our past. We can make different choices, better choices, perhaps ironically because we understand and learn from our past. I suspect that there is some analogue here to the dictum "nature to be commanded must be obeyed": something perhaps like, "the past to be overcome must be understood." And in your response I sense something like dismay at the thought of being held to account for something you did not personally do. I understand: that's injustice, and it's nothing I support. Neither you nor I are responsible for what our ancestors did. Rather, we are responsible for our actions now, today. And while we may not have created the many problems that our ancestors bequeathed to us, the damage they did to the world, we do live in a world that suffers from those problems, that damage. We had begun this particular tangent when you'd written, with dismay, of "Americans...unearthing their previous so-called, 'imperfections' as a people and losing confidence in the country." But we do have imperfections which need unearthing, sometimes severe ones -- this is part of the moral reckoning to which I'd referred, with respect to slavery and so many other misdeeds. And if our purported confidence in our country is based on ignorance of these matters, then our confidence is to that extent unwarranted. Our country is capable of great deeds and great evil, and it has done both, and it can do either, again. And it is important that we know that, know of our capacity for right and wrong, because we are responsible for steering it into the future.
  4. When I read oblique, obscured stuff like this, I always find myself wondering... By "imperfections," are you referring to... slavery? Or something else? It's a touch too far for this thread, even for me who has never seen a tangent he didn't like, a rabbit hole he didn't instantly plummet down, but an institution of enslaving human beings over hundreds of years (if that is, indeed, the hinted reference) is much more than an "imperfection." I don't agree with the response generally, let alone every specific, but that sort of thing does justify some kind of a moral reckoning. Right. Individuals hold destructive philosophies to whatever degree they do, but rarely follow them consistently. You are also describing any number of "leftists." Yet I will continue to "worry" about bad philosophy, whatever its origin. Fair enough. The same holds true for socialism, etc. But what I've said in recognizing the destructiveness of Christianity and its incompatibility with Objectivism, and that it ought not be given moral support, is not at all the same as "wishing away reality"...? Religion will always be around; we should always condemn it. In this singular thread, you mean? I can't speak for others, but I am currently responding to the seeming defense proffered for Christians conservatives as freedom-oriented individualists who deserve our support. They are not and do not. There's no one here that I see trying to defend either "leftists" or collectivists or mystics on any grounds at all, but I'm certain that, if there were, they would be met with strong opposition. I'm sure that the "American religious" (does this include Jews? Muslims?) aren't some monolithic block with a defined agenda, but historically, American Christians (or at least some vocal subset of them) haven't been shy about trying to use political power to enforce their religious beliefs, when and where able. So, I don't know what they want, generally, or would want if they thought it was within reach, but I do know that there have been steps taken to limit access to abortion, or prevent it altogether, for instance. It's the same as with the religious -- there's not some monolithic block. There are indeed people who want a socialist state, but I'm not afraid of some imminent collapse into communism. We are a robust mixed economy, and most of the debate I see is about nudging the degree of that mixture in one direction or another. Those matters are important, and meaningful, but they are not revolutionary. Statism is long conceded by both sides. Individualism and, more concretely, individual rights, are generally threatened from all mainstream players (you and I are very much on the fringe). There are pointed dangers from the left, of course (I'm thinking especially of their current treatment of race, and disillusionment with free speech), but as far as "clear and present danger" is concerned, I think nothing else rises to the level of trying to overturn the results of the presidential election, or the growing conspiracist movements unhinging the American right from reality and destroying the GOP. _______________________________________ Completely coincidentally, I was looking for Christian-themed children's songs for my homeschooled daughter (we're learning about the Bible), came across this amazing, couldn't-make-it-up-if-I-tried entry, and thought I would share: O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. Doing exactly what the Lord commands, doing it happily. Action is the key – do it immediately, joy you will receive. Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. Chorus: O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. We want to live pure we want to live clean. We want to do our best. Sweetly submitting to authority, leaving to God the rest. Walking in the light, keep our attitudes right. On the narrow way. For if you believe the Word you receive, You always will obey.
  5. I'm not certain what you're asking about collectivism being more or less dangerous/harmful than individualism. I don't see individualism as being dangerous or harmful at all. If it were a question about collectivism versus individualism, I can't imagine anyone here siding with collectivism. As to which ideology one should give one's moral support to? How is the answer not Objectivism? It sure as hell is not Christianity: Christianity does not deserve moral support, but condemnation. This is not to say that we must therefore condemn all Christians; there are plenty of great people in the world who are Christian (just as there are awful Objectivists). And so, as to "practitioners," you should offer your qualified support to the best Christians, the best socialists, the best people whenever and wherever you find them, and the best within people such as you find them. But that is not the same at all as supporting ideologies which you know to be destructive to life on earth. You are not forced to choose between Christianity and socialism: you can (and should) reject both, without reservation. Can we acknowledge the value of some abstracted aspect of Christianity? Perhaps. If you think that Christianity is individualistic, and hostile towards collectivism, then that's something good about Christianity. (Though, to be clear, I don't agree that Christianity is either individualistic or hostile towards collectivism.) But that wouldn't make Christianity good. It remains utterly opposed to Objectivism, for instance, on questions of metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. (And often moreso than any number of "leftists.") And as politics necessarily depends upon those foundations, it follows that Christianity will produce horrible political outcomes regardless of any nominal stance with respect to individualism versus collectivism -- as it has done historically when sufficiently empowered. I think individualism is vitally important. But I believe that there are even more pressing issues, or at minimum equally pressing, such as a fundamental respect for reason and reality. For truth. And where politics are concerned, at least here in the United States, for preserving the liberal values and democratic institutions that allow intellectual minorities such as myself to even entertain the dream of one day moving things in a positive direction. If we're talking "left" and "right," there is no good side in America today -- no likely place to "throw one's weight behind," such as it is. And what is worse, they are getting worse, spiraling downwards seemingly in tandem. A double helix of death, if you will. Yes, the most rational and benevolent elements of Christians, conservatives, leftists, rightists, etc., need to come together and unite around our shared values for political purposes. But the values we support, and fight for, and seek common cause with others, must still be our values. We cannot pretend as though the American right, let alone Christian fundamentalists, share our values. They do not. And when our allies on any side extend past that point where they are working towards individual rights, and begin to work against them, our support must end exactly there and become opposition. I don't see how you come to this conclusion. Personally I've known people on both the right and left to be collectivist, individualist, and in-between. I have not seen anything to suggest that religious conservatives are "much more inclined to be individualist" or more inclined, or inclined at all. But I see you've posted more as I've been composing this reply: All right. So do we see Christianity as embodying an ethics of rational self-interest, or altruism? Self-esteem? Or self-abnegation? Life on earth and personal happiness? Or self-sacrifice, death, and rewards "after"? Independent thought, judgment, and "the sovereignty of [one's] mind"? Or subservience, blind faith, and the sovereignty of whomever is believed to speak for God? If individualism upholds the principle that a human being is an end in himself, then Christianity works to destroy individualism as it preaches that the only end and "proper goal of life" is God and his worship. In this quote you've provided, where do you see Christianity reflected at all?
  6. Is this the Objectivist version of "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" Look, we can say regarding breaches with reality that something more fundamental is "worse" in some sense than something less fundamental. An Objectivist who breaks with Rand on aesthetics is to be preferred over an altruist who yet accepts the existence of reality, who is to be preferred over a solipsist who denies that there is any such thing at all, all else being equal. Insofar as a collectivist diverges with respect to politics, and potentially (though not necessarily) an underlying ethics, it is yet less fundamental than the break with both reason and reality normally associated with religious fundamentalism. And there is no reason to believe that a fundamentalist won't also be a collectivist: the deeper the delusion runs, the worse the fruit we can expect on "higher levels." But in reality, every decision we make must be made in context. There's no such thing as the platonic ideal of a religious fundamentalist or a collectivist. Human beings (let alone societies) are extraordinarily complex, and in context, a given fundamentalist might be "better" or "worse" (for some given, actual purpose) than a collectivist, or vice versa. The idea that some abstract hierarchy of evil will give us real insight into American politics, or a specific scenario (like Trump v. Biden), is absurd. For one thing, American politics doesn't break along these lines. There is religion on both sides, collectivism on both sides, and there are people on the "right" who aren't religious at all just as there are people on the "left" who support capitalism, at least to varying degrees (and sometimes more than a given counterpart on the right). But far more importantly, individuals are individual. A religious conservative who is yet committed to the separation of church and state, may be far preferable as President than any typical liberal, his personal irrationality notwithstanding (and there are a host of potential psychological issues to consider); but also, a socialist who respects science and truth, and democratic institutions, could be preferable as President to a liar, fraud and conspiracy-peddler who seeks power for its own sake, despite nominally supporting free markets or whatever else. Real-world decisions must be made in the fullest context possible. I will further say that the seeming attempt to rehabilitate Christianity as some bulwark against socialism or Islam or whatever-the-hell else is abysmal. Christianity is awful, awful in theory, awful in practice, historically awful (and societies where Christianity has wielded extensive political power have not typically been exemplars of individual liberty, for whatever it's worth). And while probing the depth of that awfulness is an interesting exercise, perhaps, there are severe, nigh-immediate limits to its practical application; the most important thing about Christianity remains, to reject it.
  7. There's a world between starting armed conflict and Trump's actual relationship with not only Kim Jong Un, but Modi, Erdogan, etc., etc. Trump had clear admiration for "strong men" and the liberation that tyranny affords a leader, and this had practical influence on his foreign agenda. But honestly, I wouldn't care so much about his relationship with North Korea if Trump were not so damaging to democracy in America.
  8. This is a disappointing and dispiriting response. I'd hoped you could be better. I think your expectations are unrealistic. Philosophy (that is, good philosophy) is neither simple nor easy, and application of the same can be supremely complex. Ayn Rand was an extraordinary genius, but the people who have followed in her wake are... not necessarily of the same caliber, and Objectivism specifically has not yet been fully "fleshed out." It makes sense that various people trying to apply her philosophy, mere years after her passing, or otherwise lead their best lives, struggle in application or articulation -- especially with respect to principles that run contrary to our greater culture and learning. This forum exists, in part, as a testament to that difficulty -- and you will be hard pressed to find any thread in this forum that proceeds in exactly the manner you describe (though you are always welcome to "set forth general but simple philosophical principles" yourself; but then again, do not expect everyone to agree with you). People elsewhere in this thread are discussing justice (i.e. "getting what you deserve"). I'm not responding here to you as you deserve, as your reply merits. Because one often unheralded aspect of justice is that the person who metes it also necessarily suffers consequence. I will observe that when you say there are proposals that "being unknowingly diseased in public is the same kind of choice as committing murder," you are again describing other peoples' arguments in ways that they would not recognize, distorting them as a rhetorical tactic. This relates to the "pattern" I'd observed in your earlier reply, when you sought to describe me as "concrete-bound" because I wanted to discuss concretes, and etc. You are being dishonest. And it is possible that defense of your position is impossible without such dishonesty, but you should still strive for better. These matters are difficult enough to discuss without it. The only thing that justifies force-in-retaliation (i.e. "government involvement") is the initiation of the use of force. The reason why the government may prevent some particular action ("knows in advance that you are going to do such an act") is because some activities constitute a credible threat of harm or destruction, which is itself the initiation of the use of force. You have balked at the word "threat," then belabored unsuccessfully to describe it yourself, but Rand employed it (as Galt) writing, of the initiation of force that, "[to] interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival." When we act at the point of a gun, are "coerced," we need not have been "harmed" or have had any "physical" interaction at all to have been subject to "physical force," as Rand intends and employs it. This is why the police officer is justified in shooting the person who pulls out his cell phone and points it, as though it were a gun. You'd asked for an example of this happening in real life, and while I would find it amazing if you yourself honestly had not heard/read of similar episodes before, here's one. The site reporting this concludes that officers ought to "[take] some fire before dishing it out," but I don't agree. I believe that force is initiated -- and force-in-response is merited -- when you take actions that lead another person to believe, in reason, that their life or safety is in jeopardy. Which is to say, a "threat." (Here is a similar example, though without police involvement, from... er, now.) Threats are themselves (rightfully) illegal: you cannot tell someone that you will kill them (in any serious context; context matters); you cannot drive wildly down the street or start shooting your gun off in crowded public places. dream_weaver observed that there are "legitimate laws" against these sorts of activities, and Doug Morris is right in that we would not allow our neighbor to neglect a diseased tree such that it might collapse on our home, and the reason why is because: they threaten. Harm may or may not be "intended," but harm is threatened. Which is to say, they are the initiation of the use of force, and they justify force-in-response. (The level of force rightly employed depends upon the context; context matters.) For the purpose of this discussion, it remains to relate this to the spread of disease generally (would it be the "initiation of force," for instance, to secretly remove an agreed-upon condom during sex?), and then to the context of a pandemic, specifically (if some raging disease were far more deadly and spread by physical contact, how would we regard a "friendly," unasked-for pat on the back? It is a theme: context matters). And then even more specifically to the details of the current situation (there are different options available, including contact-tracing and targeted quarantines, as Yaron Brook advocated, for instance -- but a mandated quarantine is also a use of force, and first depends upon our general, principled evaluation). Yes, philosophy and its application are complex and they can set your poor head spinning! But I'm exhausted, and I have other things to do. Good luck.
  9. All right. I'm not Doug Morris. I well understand the difficulties in holding apart various lines of argument in forum conversations such as these, but I do want to stipulate that his arguments are not necessarily my own (nor do I mean here to disparage them; and in fact, I just now see where he has disavowed your paraphrase of his argument). Further, I don't tend to like to operate by "suggestion" and "implication": I much prefer to try to make arguments as clear and as explicit as I can, and deal with them directly. With all that said, I'm happy to reject the notion that fear is itself sufficient to say that a person has initiated force. I'm starting to notice a pattern. Because I use the word "fear," and recognize it as a real phenomenon, that does not mean that I'm advocating that "emotions are tools of cognition"; because I ask that we discuss concrete examples, that does not make me "too concrete-bound" (or "concrete-bound" at all), or mean that I do not wish to relate choices to abstract principles, or refuse to do so. Let's try to rein this in a little, in the interest of a productive discussion. I fully understand the value and necessity of abstraction, and I do not doubt that we will relate concretes to principles, and vice-versa, as our conversation proceeds. I would still like to discuss some concrete examples: Yes, that's fine, we can do that. But before we compare my example to similar cases, wouldn't it be appropriate to take a moment to discuss my "specific shooting example" directly? Or maybe you consider the answer the question I'd asked to be too obvious to need saying? As though I'd asked it rhetorically? But I do indeed "remember that the position [you're] advocating holds intent to be a crucial determinant of 'initiation of force'," and so I'd like my example considered in that light. The man pulling out his toy gun has no intention at all to shoot or harm the police officer. Who then has initiated force? Is there a shade of difference between "intent" and "reasonable inferences of intent"? In any event, I think the latter hews much more closely to my own ideas, yet... I'm not wholly satisfied on the point. Is the crucial question, "what does this person intend," per se? Or "will this person's intended actions do harm"? But let's review your examples. Your officer shooting hypotheticals are (as I'm sure you're aware) quite controversial (as my own might be, to some). I think that there are cases where pulling out a cell phone or wallet would constitute the initiation of force, and justify the officer firing in retaliation. At least, I remember having read a case before of someone who held their cellphone as though it were a gun -- and that the officer could not distinguish it. In such cases, there are a host of contextual details (what is the person's demeanor and prior behavior; are they complying generally with instruction; etc.) and we rely to a great extent on the officer's training. There may also be times when the officer acts in some manner contraindicated by his training or the contextual details of his situation, and bears responsibility for the initiation of force. (And we may further find fault with the training itself; these are very complex matters.) What would you think about it if I said, "If you're pulled over by a police officer, be very clear about what you're doing. Do not pull out your wallet without asking for permission to do so, and then do so slowly." Do you think that any such measures are (or ought to be) rightly undertaken? Or is the fact that we do not intend harm -- that we just intend to take out our wallet, to provide identification -- sufficient, and we should expect nothing bad to happen as a result? (And blame the officer otherwise.) Is what matters here our "intent," or is it the actions we take to communicate our intent to the police officer? What responsibility do we bear for taking actions that suggest to the police officer that he may in fact be in danger? Pulling out your cellphone in the mall isn't the same thing. The context matters powerfully here, to the point where people are probably not even paying attention to you or trying to infer your "intent." The same action with even the same rough "intention" ("I would like to make a phone call") in two different contexts -- in the mall, among friends versus being pulled over by a police officer who is responding to reports of an armed robbery -- may produce very different results.
  10. I agree that "fear is an emotional reaction." So what? If someone pulls a gun on another person, the person so assaulted must make a decision (with regards to self defense; a potentially life-or-death decision) in that context and no other. We can describe it, or "frame" it, as you suggest: that the person concludes "he intends to shoot me." But I don't think that does justice to the situation, to how human beings actually operate, in reality. You're pulling our conversation to the abstract; I'd rather make things more concrete. A man pulls out a gun and points it at a police officer. The police officer pulls out his own gun and fires first, killing the first man. Upon investigation, it turns out that the first man's gun was a toy. Obviously there was never any actual intention (or capability) on his part to shoot the officer. But who is responsible for what has happened -- for this man's death? Who has "initiated the use of force"?
  11. You're aware that it's Toohey who says this, right? Not everything Rand wrote out of her characters' mouths, let alone her villains', is meant to be reflective of her own beliefs. In her non-fiction writings, after all, Rand spent a lot of time and ink questioning various follies. But even if Rand had said such a thing in a straightforward fashion somewhere, it would be a mistaken sentiment. Understanding generally, and the nature of the mistakes people sometimes make specifically, is a good thing. Sometimes through our greater understanding we even discover that what we had once considered a "mistake" and a "folly" is not one at all.
  12. If it were reasonable to fear someone pulling out a weapon in the manner you suggest, such that a person might abandon his property in the name of self defense (or suffer some other, worse fate), then it would also be reasonable to "regulate" the pulling out of weapons in such manner -- by which I mean to regard it as the initiation of force. If I drive my car swerving down the road, and people leap out of the way or swerve their own cars to avoid collision, and injure themselves, I am responsible for their injuries. This is true even if I have no intent to harm them or even scare them (perhaps I am simply seeking my own thrill; maybe I'm teaching myself to drive). This is true even if it's accidental on my part. If someone were swerving their car down the road, putting all and sundry in danger, it would be reasonable to take action to stop them -- i.e. defensive or "retaliatory force." And it is further reasonable (insofar as we have "public roads") to make explicit the requirement that cars do not swerve their way down the street, and to regard such as the initiation of force. The fact of a pandemic is... a fact. It describes something real happening. It is context that matters to our reasoning and assessments of specific situations. While people here have mentioned the fact that a person always bears some measure of risk when venturing outside -- and that is true -- a pandemic is a meaningfully different state. Good philosophy means that we take everything into account, insofar as we are able. I invite people here to reflect on the notion of a more serious disease going around. One that kills more routinely, more certainly, and with less discrimination (with respect to age, etc.). Suppose it were granted that masks provided protection, and otherwise people must not come within six feet of one another lest they potentially transmit this very deadly disease. We would soon come to regard it as "the initiation of the use of force" for an unmasked individual to come close to us -- even if we did not know whether they had the disease or not. And we would be justified in using force in response, to avoid them or to stop them from approaching us. This may not have been true before the onset of the disease, and it may not continue to be true after the disease has been mostly contained (even if some risk of getting the disease persists in perpetuity), but while the disease rages, it is a fact of reality that matters to our assessments and cannot be ignored or rationalized away.
  13. If there were a more serious plague going around, and someone you didn't know approached you in a fashion that they could pass the plague on to you, if they were a carrier (let's say it's not obvious), I expect most here would recognize the justification for taking steps to defend yourself against the real possibility of harm their encroachment entails.
  14. It seems to me that this kind of thing gets said regularly around here without proper challenge. The idea of "left" versus "right" is mostly a fiction. It's not a distinction that has much real meaning. It's "traditionally right" (in America) to be hostile to certain social freedoms (e.g. abortion, sex, drugs) and "traditionally left" to be hostile to business freedoms, but what they both have in common is that they are both unprincipled and generally destructive to freedom. (I say "traditionally" because, being unprincipled, these things can quickly and easily flip from one side to the other, turn on a dime. The left was pro-free speech until it wasn't; the right valued law and order until the 6th. They aren't really defined by ideals, so much, but tribal affiliation.) Distinguishing between "left" and "right" is crucial for understanding modern American politics, it's true, but from the position of the Objectivist Politics? They're better defined, understood -- and rejected -- by their statist commonalities. The difference between Biden and Trump, for instance, isn't that one is pro-rights while the other is anti-rights: they both of them, and their parties, represent mainstream America. Mainstream America is not in a place where it will elect someone pro-rights to high office, or support/sustain them if they somehow managed to get there. Neither is it heading in that direction. America does not even understand what's at issue, yet. Insofar as we have taken it upon ourselves to spread the foundations of Capitalism and individual rights -- reason and reality (let alone rational egoism) -- we are utterly failing. Currently, the left is being overwhelmed by identity-politics progressives and the right is failing to fight off a bugnuts-crazy, conspiracy-minded takeover. We are caught between Scylla and Charybdis, and they are growing. As for a right or left "lean," it's kind of like saying that one has a slight preference for cyanide over strychnine. I mean, I guess? I've heard it has a sort-of almond thing, going on. But the difference is mostly inconsequential in the long term. In my experience, the left throws better parties and plays better music, for whatever that's worth. (Though I do have a soft spot in my heart for the various fundamentalist Christmas parties and holiday concerts I've attended over the years; it's often wholesome in such an earnest way that it touches that deep-seated It's a Wonderful Life/Charlie Brown Christmas place in me.) It mostly accounts to me and where I'm at in my life, Harrison. Since becoming a father, my patience for my daughter's bullshit has gone up dramatically, but my patience for the bullshit of everyone else has gone down by the same measure. But you know, I never quit for long (enough).
  15. Truly, as soon as you say such things as "capable of shame," "remorse," "soul-searching," and so forth, my mind goes to Donald Trump and his sons, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Ann Coulter, Rudy Giuliani, Bill O'Reilly, etc., etc. These are the folks who "go high." The deep introspectors. So you're lending support (however you want to cast that support) to an assault on the Capitol, against the results of a democratic election, by a frothing, conspiracy-fueled mob, because... you have concerns about mail-in ballots. There is no way for me to respond to that appropriately. Here's an article about one of the deaths by natural causes. I've found it fascinating to read here that the woman who got shot while trying to break into a location where people were being protected against mob violence didn't "deserve" it, but the people under assault did. But more incredible than that, perhaps, is the notion that people just up-and-died by natural causes during the riot. The discernment on display is breathtaking. ___________________________ I've got to go do better things with my time for a while. This isn't even entertaining or valuable as an exercise. It's just exhausting and sad.
  16. If there's any one thing Rand would've supported, I'm sure it's mob violence in the name of lies at the behest of an authoritarian against democracy...
  17. Some congressmen (which is inclusive of senators: Congress is comprised of senators and representatives) continued down that path, despite the insurrectionists' egregious acts, others did not. The reason why many of them agreed to challenge the election originally is because they were under political pressure to do so, by Trump and his supporters. They are deeply concerned with their continued ability to fundraise and be elected to office, and sought to appease these radical elements. In this way, they were not "risking their future political careers" so much as doing what they thought best at the time to ensure them. This is also why they were willing to abandon their challenges when the optics of such a protest changed. Not because they "changed their minds" about anything, but because they judged that the political blowback for further supporting Trump's claims, especially in that moment, was no longer worth it. Easier in the sense of being more consistent and reasonable and supported by evidence, yes. The idea that Trump's "top value might be his country" is tortured and preposterous, and an infinitely more difficult case to make. You may as well suggest that Hitler really just wanted to provide showers to the Jews and accidentally mistook Zyklon B for shampoo. ("Haven't you considered, just for a moment, that his top value might be hygiene?") In a way, Trump's motivation is almost beside the point. That he was so hostile to truth, so damaging to our democracy, is enough: and he could have the best motives in the world, but if his implementation of those motives is so consistently poor and self-refuting, then he has no business sniffing power regardless. But inferring his character, insofar as we are able, does help us to contextualize his past actions and predict his future ones. As just one example of so, so many, Trump's challenge to the election was both consistent with, and predictable by, an understanding of his character as fundamentally "self-enriching and self-aggrandizing." Not with any love for or valuing of his country, which both literally and symbolically came under assault as a direct result of Trump's actions. (Remembering Rand's essay on "Apollo and Dionysus" for just a moment, can you imagine what she might have made of... oh, someone dressed as a viking, storming the Capitol?) This conversation reminds me (depressingly) of conversations I've had and witnessed with creationists. Yes, if I was willing to throw out all other evidence, including the evidence of my senses and what my reason has apprehended, I might reach some other conclusion. But why in the hell should I ever reject evidence and reason in that way... and what does it mean to witness Objectivists calling for such a thing? You could answer me here, or you could circle back to respond to my questions about the "de facto monopoly" or how Objectivist intellectuals are now leftists, or you could move on to some other, equally arbitrary claim. It doesn't really matter and I understand that the specifics of your arguments are not the point; they are fully fungible. You have crossed over some kind of epistemological threshold -- an event horizon, the existence of which I can infer, but not truly see or understand for myself -- and only you can choose, howsoever such a thing is done, to bring yourself back. I sincerely hope that you do.
  18. I had quoted you as saying that the left has a "de facto monopoly" on media and social media. That conservatives and libertarians are not represented. I point to podcasts and local radio stations and forums and magazines and newspapers and on and on to demonstrate how that is not the case, at all. I don't know precisely how to parse "numbers/influence"; how influential are folks like Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones? But I did point to the fact (so far as I know, and I invite correction) that Fox News is the highest-rated cable news network. So how exactly we define "mainstream" (which seems rather besides the point to me, except for your using the term), I don't know, but I think that conservatives are fairly well represented overall. Anyone who wishes it has plenty of access. This seems absurd on its face, but all right. I'll ask you to please explain what "Leftist" means here, and how Brook and other Objectivist intellectuals display it?
  19. This thread ought not become a clearinghouse for Trumpist grievances, but... how in the world can you believe such a thing? I know there's been movement lately by some prominent, private social media businesses, Twitter, Facebook and others -- and especially in light of the Capitol assault -- to curb elements that are actively fomenting violence or spreading dangerous disinformation, but is that what you mean? Otherwise, you represent yourself on social media. Perhaps there's some disconnect between us as to the meaning of "conservative" or "libertarian"? Or do you think that if you tweeted about believing in smaller government, or whatever, that you would somehow be prevented from so doing? Are you aware of the tons of conservative and libertarian content available on, say, YouTube? Do you understand that we are, ourselves, currently having this conversation through an online medium dedicated to hosting libertarian discussion (leaving alone whether Objectivism is "libertarian," though it certainly is)? Are you aware that, despite the "de facto monopoly," Yaron Brook has a podcast? As to the larger media, I know it's been a talking point for decades that the mainstream media (however that's defined) is slanted towards the left -- but I've also listened to a ton of conservative talk radio in that time, and witnessed the rise of Fox News, and more recently places like OANN and Newsmax; there's Breitbart and National Review, and the Federalist, and Reason, and on and on and on. The Wall Street Journal may not have bitten for the "Hunter Biden laptop" scandal, but they are not liberal. Fox News has the highest rated cable news shows, year-in and year-out, and they have been fawning over Trump for years -- right up until the point where he pursued a line of conspiracy theory to overthrow a democratic election (and even then, many of their pundits remained solidly on his side, to their deep shame). Are you familiar with the Sinclair Broadcast Group? How, then, are conservatives not represented "on the media or social media"?
  20. I'm glad you brought up tu quoque; I've been thinking about it recently, too. Logical/reasoning fallacies have a narrow scope. Tu quoque demonstrates that you cannot establish that any particular claim is false due to a proponent of that claim being hypocritical. The reason why altruism is false/wrong/evil is not that any given proponent fails to act in a consistently altruistic manner, just as selfishness would not be shown wrong if some proponent of selfishness did not always act selfishly. That doesn't mean that calling out hypocrisy isn't effective rhetorically, or have other uses. Showing a person that he does not always act in the manner he claims is best could help provoke him into examining or questioning his own reasoning or beliefs. (I fear that some of the folk who invoke "whataboutism" do so primarily to avoid such examination.) It can be an invitation to refine arguments, to better distinguish between cases, or to rationalism/sophistry. Citing a formal fallacy has its uses and can be powerful, in the proper context, but conversation (especially good conversation) is wider, richer, and more nuanced than a mere give and take of logical proofs. With respect to tu quoque, the point is: a denunciation of the attack on the Capitol ought to stand or fail on its own merits, irrespective of whether the people making said denunciation have always been consistent in their principles. If a Democrat was wrong in sanctioning an earlier riot, that doesn't make him wrong to denounce a different riot today. And we should want people to have the ability to change, to grow. Ideally, if we judge both riots to be wrong, an examination of the present circumstances could be an opportunity for some Democrat to reflect on the earlier situation, and maybe eventually find himself in error. People always have the "right" to try to get things right, regardless of how many times they have previously gotten it wrong (or the ways in which they otherwise continue to err). If we judge both riots to be morally acceptable or correct, it could still serve our purposes to draw parallels. Logic in this sense does not judge, as such; observing hypocrisy does not tell us which of two conflicting behaviors or beliefs is to be preserved (if either), and which must go. And sometimes you will point out some hypocrisy in another person's arguments/behaviors/ideas, and they'll respond with some form of, "You're right!" and proceed to take the worse side of both cases -- in the name of consistency! 🙂 But in reality, I'm not convinced that the earlier riots and the Capitol assault are sufficiently similar as to be subject to a charge of hypocrisy, generally. It would take us too far into "current events" to get into the specifics of that, but suffice it to say that while I think both riots are wrong and horrible, this most recent one is of yet an entirely different (worse) character.
  21. And you are able to question anything. But you're conflating this with somehow living consequence-free and implicitly denying others their right to assembly. A Nazi could style himself as "simply questioning whether Jews are evil baby-eaters," but that doesn't mean that I should be forced to hire him, give him a platform to express his views, befriend him, or whatever. If I don't want to associate myself with him, that is enough: he has the right to question, I have the right to fire. And yes, the people who are continuing to question the validity of this election, at this point, are divergent with reality. Not so much as Nazis, and in ways that might be understandable to a degree (given that they are being lied to constantly by figures they trust; though their mistakes lie earlier in their own personal timelines). But they diverge with reality nonetheless. That's a fair reason not to want to hire someone. Haven't they? Hasn't the question been asked multiple times, and answered by scores of people in various departments, and justices of differing political ideology (including Trump appointees)? Trump just hasn't liked any of those answers, and so he continues to "ask the question" as though he hasn't received any. Because of course. Because he was never going to accept any answer that wasn't him remaining President. He was always going to call "fraud" in the event of his losing, facts be damned. He'd intimated that he would do as much before the 2016 election, too, and that he would only accept the results if he won. How people can take him seriously in this is beyond me. And yet the courts looked at these claims and gave them a hearing, over months, and found no call for any injunction or further investigation or to rule in his favor in the slightest (despite the fact that Trump's lawyers sought claims far more limited in scope than he or his team were making in press conferences, when it came time to sign their names to documents; there is fraud afoot after all, and they are party to it). That's not true. The question will never be "answered" to QAnon satisfaction. It will never go away. The goalposts will always be moved. If you could have your dream investigation, then there would be questions about that: the leadership and membership, and scope of inquiry, and whether or not there was collusion with the Dems, payoffs by Soros, and on and on and on. Then you would want an investigation into the investigation. There are sometimes real conspiracies in the world, but conspiracy-thinking is itself a phenomenon that, unfortunately, we must strive to understand with increasing urgency in the modern world. It interprets lack of evidence to prove the initial conspiracy as evidence of a yet-deeper conspiracy, covering up the first. Not going to speak for anyone but myself, but of course we ought not evade. We ought to question, consider, investigate, and ultimately -- conclude. And then our conclusions are subject to further evidence, further inquiry, and can be amended or even overturned, but there must be a point at which we are no longer "seeking answers," having found them to our satisfaction. And there are thorny epistemological questions in and among this, I will admit, but we must take care not to fault someone else for having reached the point of conclusion before we have, given that these activities are necessarily individual, and depend upon individual context (in terms of the evidence one has, one's powers of reasoning, etc.). In this case, for instance, I watched things play out thus: before the election, it was observed that, due to COVID and the increased role of mail-in ballots, and how Democrats were encouraging mail-in voting while Republicans were downplaying the need for masks, social distancing, etc., it was highly likely that in-person voting would be weighted towards Trump and mail-in voting would be both large, and weighted towards Biden. On the night of the election, that played out exactly as anticipated. It was also supposed by many -- and I assumed, knowing the character of politics generally and Trump quite specifically -- that if Trump had a lead in certain swing states on election night, that he would attempt to claim "victory" in those states, despite mail-in ballots not being fully counted. That he would then put up a fight to either shut down further vote counting or to minimize the results of that counting. And that played out exactly as anticipated, too. Thus, that Biden made up ground and then surpassed Trump in several areas as counting went on was not, to me, suggestive of any fraud, but exactly what was expected. But to others, they "went to bed with Trump in the lead" and woke up to find that Biden had overtaken him, and they were primed and encouraged to think that this was evidence of some kind of conspiracy. To join in an effort to "stop the steal," by which it was meant to throw out the votes of fellow Americans and overturn the results of an election that has been judged fair, by every individual and agency empowered to make such a determination. That's the bloodless version, of course. In reality, it was sickening to watch our democracy undermined in such fashion, anticipated though it was -- and it's only gotten worse. But I'm never going to convince you of this. Because that's how it goes: as soon as I tell you that "lizard men aren't real," you'll see that as evidence that I must be one of the lizard men. It's either that, or admit that your worldview is deeply corrupted -- and that, to put it mildly, is not an easy feat.
  22. @whYNOT, et al. An armed mob forced their way past guards to disrupt our democratic process and as part of an overall effort to overturn the results of our Presidential election. Into the Capitol. Where Congress was present and at work. Members of Congress were rushed to safety -- and we don't know what the outcome might have been otherwise -- but five people died overall, including this woman, who was helping to initiate the violence, and including another police officer, who was tasked with stopping it and got his head caved in with a fire extinguisher as a result. This was an assault on our government ("insurrection" is not wrong) and you would put the blame on the people who defended themselves and our institutions? Anyone who storms the Capitol, past armed guards and in defiance of orders to desist, should well understand that they are risking their lives and their freedom. Of course. Some people on the scene described it as a "revolution" (as Rush Limbaugh compared it to, as well); well, revolution is a bloody business. And I know that many or most of them are idiots, but their idiocy does not excuse them from the consequences of their idiotic, treasonous actions. These rioters were chanting, among other things, that they wanted to lynch the Vice President. They are not victims. The woman who died had tweeted, the day before the riot, "Nothing will stop us. They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours....dark to light!" She was a QAnon-conspiracist nutball participating in a violent attempt to disrupt democracy. She attempted to pass through a shattered window towards an area where members of the government were being sheltered, and where a gun was drawn and trained. She sacrificed herself in the name of stupidity and at the behest of lies, and if she didn't "deserve" what she got, she nonetheless chose it for herself over the course of years and thousands of bad decisions, and some spectacularly bad ones at the very end.
  23. I have enough superstition about me not to want to declare that we've survived this, just yet. But despite everything, it looks better to me today than it did yesterday, and it's the first time in a while I've been able to say that. That said, we are far, far from anything approaching good, and we could lurch towards the worse at any moment. Or towards the worst. Trump is an authoritarian and a statist. He has been searching for a way to overturn the election for months, and the only way we have yet preserved our system is because other people (to varying degrees) have frustrated him in his efforts. The fascistic assault on the Capitol was a logical and predictable result of everything Trump has said and done, for years. He made it possible, incited it, encouraged it (and, I am certain, applauded it in private) -- but he did not do this alone. The people who have supported Trump share in that guilt in varying measures. They support, wittingly or otherwise, what he represents, which includes a hostility towards democracy and the liberal virtues which make it possible. They have blood on their hands. And they have deeply wounded our country which, with all of its flaws (and they are many), remains the best extant guardian of individual liberty. Their support for Trump is thus in itself an assault against liberty. Objectivists who support Trump have profoundly lost their way, and work in direct opposition to their stated interests. It troubles me greatly -- as it should trouble everyone else here -- to witness the degree and depth of conspiracy theory-type thinking which has infected this site (and the country). Objectivism proclaims support for Reason and Reality and is supported by them. To sunder this primary relationship in either direction is to leave Objectivism entirely untethered, to turn it into a mockery. Trump has displayed a consistent and utter disdain for truth, and he has embraced and promulgated a litany of lies in support of his power-lust. Lying has flourished around him accordingly, and I do not fault individuals who have been deceived, per se. But it is time, and past time, and far past time to wake up to the reality of the situation. Rand once remarked (in my memory of it, at least; I am open to correction) that once it was perhaps respectable or understandable to have an honest interest in socialism, but that following the horrors of the 20th century, the evidence was too overwhelming. The evidence is in on Trump. He is a would-be dictator. And those who continue to support him should find the courage to admit who and what he is, and by extension, who and what they are, too.
  24. That certainly would be nice. Trump raises the specter of the death of American democracy. Quite beyond what Trump himself represents in his lack of principle, and in his easy, thoughtless willingness to violate liberty, to lie, defraud and cheat -- what would the decline of our democratic institutions mean for individual rights, in either the short or the long term? How would we better safeguard rights by entrusting them to a man who has shown consistent disdain for every liberal virtue, rights included? Further, if Trump had gotten his way (and while I feel a touch optimistic, at present, we're not out of the woods yet) and if he had managed to overturn this election through spinning ridiculous conspiracy theories, cynical legal maneuvering and malevolent political pressure, what would have resulted? What would the immediate response have been and what would have been his reply? How could it result in anything other than blood in the streets, martial law, and maybe even some form of civil war? I won't say that no one who supports or supported Trump is disqualified from being an Objectivist: unfortunately, there are many misguided, deeply wrong Objectivists on this and many other issues. But those Objectivists who continue to cheer on the possibility of a democracy-destroying coup in America, and all it would entail, are in dire need of reflection.
  25. And I was glad to see it. Still, there comes a point when continuing to ask for evidence, as though the matter is wholly unsettled, is itself questionable. Trump's lawyers have brought case after case in multiple states before multiple judges, and the judges have asked them for evidence -- for the merits of their many claims. Trump's lawyers have failed to provide it, time after time. The judges have thrown out their suits, and yet their claims (in public, in the media) don't fade -- they intensify, grow more grotesque and outlandish. At some point here (which we are well past, imo), the rational conclusion becomes: Trump, Giuliani and others are making these things up. Insisting with every fresh charge that, "well, let's wait to see the evidence first," as though we've learned nothing from our past experiences, as though there is no connection between the earlier claims and these fresh ones, starts to seem less like epistemic virtue and more like credulity, or worse. I don't think placing complete trust in any person or institution is a good idea, generally. I understand and agree, but we can't be so granular in our attention to every specific charge that we fail to recognize the broader perspective or trends. We cannot lose sight of the forest. Fair enough. I don't think Trump is a very rational human being, and so his motives are sometimes opaque to me as well. I've heard it speculated that, by continuing to fight, he is inspiring further financial donations to his various funds. Also that there is perhaps some personal, petty motive at play (taking revenge against political rivals or something). Personally, I think that it's as simple as this: he intends to continue to be President no matter what, including the fact of having lost the election. Further, and as far as not having the evidence to back up his claims is concerned, remember that Trump's audience, to a large extent, are people who are used to believing in things without evidence. They are also people who have been trained to believe that the only trustworthy, credible source of information is... Donald Trump. To be as explicit and truthful as possible, I don't know. I think it's possible that he's attempting a coup (that would certainly be the substance of it, if his several various legal ploys and claims were all acted upon; I think he would happily be the beneficiary of a coup, were it available). I also think he's chaotic and mercurial and unprincipled and ignorant and perhaps doesn't even realize what he's intending or pushing us towards.
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