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  1. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from dream_weaver in What have George Floyd, Micheal Brown and Malice Green in common?   
    Disagree here. "Retaliatory force" is not sensibly distinguished from "force used in retaliation." There may be legitimate and illegitimate uses of retaliatory force, but "force used in retaliation" is, as grammar would seem to have it, "retaliatory force."
    And further, vigilantism may not be "legitimate" in the sense of legal, but it may yet be moral depending on context. Our sense of law and legal "legitimacy" comes from pre-legal/extra-legal understandings that retaliatory force may be morally proper, in a given situation.
    "Initiation of force masquerading as retaliation," is not, on the other hand, retaliatory force, by definition.
    I disagree that "right of retaliation" exists only in the "victim." If someone attacks my wife or my child, I reserve full right of redress/retaliation. Delegation of that to some other authority, like government, is often a fine strategy to better effect justice. But in some given context (like in a place where government's reach is poor or nonexistent, or where government is corrupt), I may have to act myself in the name of justice -- on their behalf. Or on the behalf of my friend or neighbor. Or on the behalf of someone I've never met. Ultimately, I receive an attack on an innocent anywhere as an attack against myself, insofar as I am likewise innocent of the initiation of the use of force.
    This is really where this "governmental power" comes from. There's no formal delegation or surrender of power, or of the "right of retaliation." But the idea of this "delegation" is a general acknowledgement that retaliatory force is proper, in certain situations, and need not be carried out by the victim (and may in fact be better served when not carried out by the victim). The use is "legitimated," thus, by virtue of being proper and correct -- by being a redress of wrongs against the guilty, in the name of the innocent. When the government acts improperly, it is illegitimate, and anything considered initially "delegated" may be taken back by the individual. I have no moral duty to surrender anything to government, or anyone else, if that does not actually serve my individual interests.
    When a police officer is kneeling on your neck, killing you in fact, you have no moral obligation to allow it. If you witness an officer doing this to another, you have no moral obligation to permit it -- and perhaps quite the opposite.
    Yet there are institutions, and we do recognize that they may be to blame for various crimes or actions -- do we not? This is how and why we recognize a street gang, or the mafia, for what it is, its criminal character, arising out of yet distinct from a particular accounting of the individual crimes of its members. And when we take down the mob, we take down the mob.
    It is clear to me that there is a failure at some point: in the present controversy (though how many others are there?), for instance, of the four officers present someone ought to have intervened; it should not be left to the civilians to tell the officers to relent, to let the man up as he's dying under their weight, and to be ignored. People are outraged rightly, because it is outrageous.
    As to where that failure lies...? Perhaps it is in initial screening, perhaps in training, perhaps it accounts in part to the individual... or likely, actually, it is all of these things -- the problems we're facing are many and deep, and yes: the institution itself is in part the initiator of force.
    I know that most Objectivists don't like speaking (or thinking?) in these terms, but I find it helpful to remember that US law initiates the use of force constantly and regularly against its own citizenry, and that the police are individuals who have signed up to assist in that effort. They commit themselves personally to using force against innocents on a routine basis; this is how they make their livelihoods. They have opted in, and they continue to make this choice, again and again. It should not be a surprise that there are "bad apples" among the bunch. Actually, it should be surprising to find someone moral in such a role -- and I have long believed that the truly moral would not be able to stomach such a thing for very long. The most committed to truth and justice, to fighting against the evil in society, would be the first to be sickened and enervated by the reality of his situation. I don't think he could last.
    But you should ponder why persons arrive at their conclusions, at length and to the best of your ability: if you mean to do something, anything to benefit society, then understanding other people is essential.
    In any event, the correct conclusion is, in part, that our policing needs to be overhauled. The culture of silence and mutual protectionism must be dismantled, and measures need to be installed to give greater civilian oversight and transparency. We should work to demilitarize (which includes a change in law and priority, too, like ending the "war on drugs") and de-escalate, so that the police can work with their communities again, instead of as an occupying force. We must commit ourselves to rooting out the remnants of racism and other cultural detritus, and upholding personal accountability so that no one may act with impunity (from the President down).
    Until these sorts of fundamental changes are begun, we can expect these same essential results, again and again and again.
  2. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Eiuol in What have George Floyd, Micheal Brown and Malice Green in common?   
    This is probably the more important thing to think about.
    Whether or not burning down a police station in Minneapolis is retaliatory won't change the fact that such force wasn't proportional. What counts is that retaliation is even a question here. The behavior of law enforcement in recent history, in the past 50 years, suggest that there are problems with the very use of cops. Police have not always existed, it is not as if ancient Rome had police on patrol that would patrol neighborhoods. We certainly want law enforcement, yet abuse of power seems to be a constant issue for police. Perhaps it is related to being granted legal privilege to a huge host of tools of violence. That is bound to have psychological effects in a similar manner that affect people who work for authoritarian governments. Not that police in the US are part of an authoritarian government, but that being a police officer puts one under constant pressure of enforcing bad laws, and the fact that some laws incidentally protect police officers when they do wrong.
    The entire institution of police is problematic. But it is still important to analyze what exactly people responding to. If people are retaliating, even if that specific method of retaliation is immoral, it's for a reason. 
  3. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Boydstun in Favorite Book(s) of All Time   
    Off the top of my head,
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles
    War and Peace
    Ender's Game
    East of Eden
    The Princess Bride
    Watership Down
  4. Like
    DonAthos reacted to dream_weaver in Favorite Book(s) of All Time   
    How improbable is it for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams to be left out of this listing?
  5. Like
    DonAthos reacted to StrictlyLogical in Senescence   
    Nonsense.  The value of discussion is to work out things... not to bandy about things one has already worked out.  You belong here as you are.
    First, I only attributed rationalists with such a motive... there are many scientists who do not fall into that category... Second, I was mostly being colorful, in reality the mistake is an honest one, especially for rationalists, although being fooled by the fool who fools himself creates the same result only by a slightly different route.
    My point is that the sham evaporates when you see the simplicity and the mechanistic brute force of fake intelligence.. I agree that until we understand consciousness when we look at a real intelligence it will be baffling but once we have a science of consciousness we’ll be able to identify its fundamentals.
    I do agree with most of what you say and perhaps now believe we are in agreement in principle.
    I’ll not concede but state (i was never in disagreement with you on this) that the thing I think you see is that things are what’s they are and the properties they exhibit, how they act etc is in accordance with their nature.  This is solid Objectivism... in principle and in reality the fake behemoth will never exhibit everything a real consciousness does... the PRACTICAL problem with a text interface is that it is an EXCEEDINGLY poor instrument for identification of things in reality.  
    Only a real  Monet would look like a Monet to an expert under bright lights and close up... enough for people to pay Via Sotheby’s millions based on that assessment of reality. But a common person wearing a partial blindfold at 100 feet in a dimly lit room?... well now that’s not a fair test is it?
  6. Thanks
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Immigration restrictions   
    For completeness' sake, I'm going to go ahead and review Binswanger's essay and respond to it here:
    Granted that "freedom of entry and residency" are absolutely different from citizenship/voting rights or other means of participation in governance.
    Agreed, though to the point of contention I would say that a procedure by which immigration takes place does not amount to a barrier against it.
    Absolutely, and also agreed to Binswanger's arguments re: seeking employment, buying homes, etc., and against immigration quotas.
    Indeed. And it is depressing to note that I've witnessed many Objectivists on this very site make a version of this argument.
    Right. And speaking to the point of departure I'm anticipating, the fact of that jurisdiction requires a certain procedure at the border...
    Criminals do not carry signs announcing the fact, but the government can sometimes ferret it out by contacting those other governmental bodies that have the requisite information: for instance, the Mexican government may be aware that a certain car is stolen.
    Whether such a stop/gathering of information is "violating the rights of the innocent immigrant" in those cases where no car is stolen is precisely the question at issue.
    Here's the rub. There may well be evidence that a given man is a criminal, or even actively on the run from law enforcement, but accounting to a transfer of jurisdiction, that evidence may not be immediately available (as it would otherwise be when a man goes from New York to Connecticut).
    When Binswanger writes that a man does not have to satisfy "the government," it elides the fact that there are two distinct governments involved. A criminal ought not have a "home base" by crossing the border, where he is thereafter safe, and must commit fresh crimes before he can bear investigating. He remains responsible for the crimes he has already committed. But law enforcement in this new jurisdiction, if it is to hold him responsible for the crimes he has committed in the other, must be able to access that sort of information. And it cannot do so instantaneously with respect to everyone who might cross the border, nor would it even know to do so if it does not know who crosses the border at all.
    Binswanger argues against an "indiscriminate subjection of everyone to a screening process," but a border screening process is not indiscriminate: it is alone for those who cross the border, and accounting to the fact that law enforcement agencies in different jurisdictions have different information. So when someone enters the new jurisdiction, there must be an opportunity to gain access to that information, so that criminals can be stopped and law-biding citizens can pass without further delay.
    Without Binswanger available to defend himself, I don't want to expand on this too much, but I do wonder why these are exceptions, "of course." War and an epidemic presumably constitute exceptions in his mind because they are dangerous, creating "emergency conditions" (which is often a kind of magic totem for some Objectivists); yet a criminal, too, can be dangerous and threaten life, liberty and property. Indeed, that's what it is to be criminal.
    But let it pass...
    Once we have eliminated those aspects of immigration policy that seek to prevent access on the basis of collectivist notions like racism, economic protectionism, etc., I do not believe that rights-respecting people would experience the remaining inspection required at the border as harassment, but rather as the protection of their own rights.
    This is often true, and has been true for a long time, here and elsewhere, yet it might still be possible to want people to be able to immigrate freely... and bar criminals, terrorists and plague-carriers, for the very same fundamental reason: the protection of individual rights.
  7. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Immigration restrictions   
    (Caveat: I haven't read Binswanger's essay.)
    I think there's reason for border patrol/checkpoint/a controlled point-of-entry, and that this does not interfere with what we might call the "right of travel," but which is really just a specific application of the normal liberty/property/right-to-life stuff. Such a checkpoint represents a broad transfer of legal jurisdiction, and I believe that the proper administration of law and justice requires an opportunity for ensuring that -- you know -- someone leaving Mexico to come to the United States isn't fleeing Mexican justice, etc., because all else being equal, American authorities aren't going to be on the lookout for people who've committed crimes in Mexico (and will not have the requisite information on them). Thus, such a border checkpoint provides at least an opportunity for that information to be transferred/collected by the appropriate bodies, when relevant. It's mostly a procedural matter, then, but procedure matters.
    The comparison that I've used before is this: part and parcel to our rights, vis a vis the administration of justice, we have the right to a "fair and speedy trial." Fair enough. We can't simply throw people into prison indefinitely without establishing that they've committed whatever crime, and without having received an appropriate sentence; the lack of a fair and speedy trial, then, is an abrogation of liberty/individual right.
    But that fair and speedy trial must actually be executed, in reality, and we need real world procedures to achieve this. Someone arrested, however he might have the right to a "speedy" trial, cannot expect an immediate trial. Some actual judge must be found to hear the case, evidence must be collected, etc., etc., and this may amount to some delay, in reason, even if every actor is doing his level best to provide that speedy trial. Even an innocent man may have to spend some time in prison to accommodate the provenance of justice on his behalf.
    And so it is with crossing a border (whether international or, say, between states): an individual has every right to do this, yet there may be some kind of delay at a crossing reflecting the real procedural change between one legal jurisdiction and another -- to ensure, again, that the person involved isn't a wanted criminal, or a known terrorist, or etc.
    Edited to add: It may go without saying, but just in case...
    The appropriate procedural delay I discuss above has nearly nothing to do with modern or historical immigration policy, which is usually a mish-mash of xenophobia, economic protectionism and various other assorted collectivist ideas. If the border checkpoint were delimited to what I've briefly outlined, it would look far, far different than our own border today.
    That said, I think it's important to at least acknowledge that there's a role for such a checkpoint, if only because bad faith debaters seem to enjoy suggesting apocalyptic scenarios where actual invading armies stroll across an unguarded border, because we don't believe we have the right to stop them. But no, we're within our rights to stop invading armies and wanted criminals, just as we could stop them on our own, domestic streets. A rational border policy then is really just an inspection service meant to identify and respond to such threats as they enter our jurisdiction.
  8. Like
    DonAthos reacted to StrictlyLogical in Senescence   
    I think you are conflating the vast and deep complexity of consciousness (and the subconscious) with its vanishingly small and superficial surface appearances.
    The words we finally use to communicate what we think, feel, and experience at surface consciousness are nothing compared to what is actually happening when we think, feel, and experience. Making a non conscious thing communicate words to sound like a thinking, feeling, experiencing human, although difficult, is laughably simple compared to making sure a complex system is and does what is necessary for an actual consciousness, which is thinking, feeling, and experiencing. 
    There is more to a book, an iceberg, and a human... than what’s on the surface ... you have to look closely inside and beneath the surface to really understand...
    If everything about a conscious person thinking, feeling, and experiencing could be fully observed and understood... so that the waves of activity electrical and chemical in sequence and by locality (and globally) could be fully understood, and what about them was important and how, we might know what kind of different complex kind of appearances together are a sure indicator for consciousness in some other complex system... strings of words my friend do not cut it... non thinking AI will fool us long before anything like “Real synthetic I” comes to be.
    I think an an error of the rationalists in their theory of mind is the conflation of the products of the mind with what mind is and is doing. The mind is doing a lot more than processing information, so much more that comparing a human brain with an algorithm is laughable.
    The Chinese room is an empty and meaningless toy of a rationalist.
    PS The zombie argument is a nonstarter with an Objectivist view of existence and identity.
    In principle there is EVERY reason to believe we will create a synthetic consciousness, once we understand scientifically what it really is... in the FAR future.
  9. Like
    DonAthos reacted to MisterSwig in Welcome To Reality - new show on YouTube   
    Eiuol (Lev) and I (William) have created a new show on Youtube called Welcome To Reality! It is devoted to respectful debate and discussion. We will cover various topics that interest us and try to apply our understanding of Objectivism to moral and political action. The first episode is on the use and morality of recreational drugs, such as alcohol and psychedelics. We hope you'll check out the program and subscribe to our channel. Thanks!
  10. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Doug Morris in An Objection to Open Immigration   
    When government manages property or something like property, then regardless of the rights and wrongs of that underlying situation, it should do so in a way that respects rights as much as possible,  including the right to freedom of movement. 
  11. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Immigration restrictions   
    Yes, and it was magnificent.
    Indeed. I don't know how else to square your responses in this thread. Do I really need to recap them? (Technically you should be able to read them over again for yourself, but I don't know that I can trust you to do that honestly, either.) You argued that people should not be allowed to advocate for socialism; I questioned whether that was consistent with Objectivism (or at least with Rand's views), and I provided quotes to demonstrate that Rand supported free speech, specifically including that for communists/socialists. In direct response, you claimed consistency with Rand and that you were not arguing against free speech.
    The implicit dishonesty involved in such a thing is just staggering. I don't know whether "Orwellian" or "Trumpian" would be more damning, but they both apply -- it is doublethink, pure and simple, on par with 1+1=3. A month on, fresh off of a vacation, and I'm still blown away by it. So I'll put it this way: perhaps it goes too far to say that you have zero respect for reason (how could I possibly know such a thing to such a degree?)... but if you do have any respect for it, that respect will drive you to understand your incredible error, and the disregard for reason and reality it conveys, make amends for it, and try to root it out from all future conversation -- because it is the kind of error that renders all such conversation worse than worthless (to say nothing of what it portends for your thinking).
  12. Thanks
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Immigration restrictions   
    I have nowhere advocated "allowing socialists to take over the government."
    Yes, no one here likes socialism.
    Neither do I like the idea that someone may be subject to force on the basis of their "belief." Rather, I believe in retaliatory force. But belief (even belief in socialism) is not the initiation of the use of force.
    Because socialists are human beings with individual rights. As an Objectivist, I believe in liberty, which here means that I only respond with force when force has been initiated by another. A socialist who has not initiated force against me has every right to live his life.
    I'm not "using the libertarian NAP"; I am referring to foundational Objectivist principles and quoting Ayn Rand to demonstrate that fact.
    Also, immigration, or crossing a border generally, is not the same thing at all as "citizenship" (whatever that is held to entail). It is not the same as suffrage or being eligible to run for President or participation in governance, generally. It is possible to have different requirements for immigration versus "citizenship" (and in fact, the US does have different requirements currently).
    This serves to highlight one of my central contentions: that immigration is a red herring. If advocating for socialism today is the initiation of force, then it doesn't matter whether we're discussing Mexico, the United States, or the border between them; if it is the initiation of the use of force, then it ought to be illegal and it ought to be met with retaliatory force, everywhere.
    Further -- as sincere philosophical thought often requires drawing careful distinctions -- it must be noted that there is yet a difference between "believing in socialism" (or "being a socialist," generally) and advocating for it, in whatever form that advocacy might take.
    But no, I cannot agree that advocating for socialism in the present-day United States (e.g. via conducting an essay contest on The Communist Manifesto, as a means of spreading those ideas) constitutes the initiation of physical force. Someone currently advocating for socialism must be dealt with by means of reason and persuasion, not violence.
    I don't know whether it was particularly "easy" for Rand (I suspect not, actually), but I do believe that's more-or-less precisely what she said (again, from "The Nature of Government"):
    It is, you're right. It's an abstract idea, a principle -- one of those principles that constitutes Objectivism, and fundamentally so, I would argue.
    This isn't true only in a democracy, it's true in all forms of government (and also beyond; irrationality is a threat, generally, and if people are ruled by irrational philosophy, they are potentially a grave danger -- so should we consider all forms of irrationality, or their advocacy, to be the initiation of the use of force?). This is why we mean to combat other peoples' bad ideas with our good ideas.
    But part of that is acting in a manner consistent with our good idea that one may never initiate the use of force. The moment we start making exceptions, we have lost a lot more than whatever it is you believe we have gained.
  13. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Immigration restrictions   
    You would absolutely stop that migration. Your life depends on it. But this is not primarily an immigration issue.
    Earlier, when introducing this line of discussion, Nicky, you had drawn some distinction between immigrants and natural-born citizens -- asking whether we should have a "double standard." But we should not. If Nazism at some point (and that point would need to be determined appropriately; I'm probably not the person to assess it, and this probably isn't the forum) constitutes a danger such that they would overthrow some (relatively more rights-respecting) government, then it doesn't matter if their rise comes from immigration or from domestic activities by citizens.
    Either people do or do not have a right to those activities, inside or outside of the US, immigrant, visitor or born-n-bred Yankee. The crossing of borders is a meaningless detail, except that it probably informs our method of retaliatory force. But that is the central point: we respond to force, with force. Nazism rising to the level you're describing itself constitutes a threat (and you recognize the nature of that threat when you write, "you would be executed within a year"); that's the same threat if that rise of Nazism is domestic, and it should be responded to, with force.
    So my position with respect to immigration -- and I think it is the only immigration position consistent with the principles of Objectivism (which is to say, with reason and reality) -- is: you may rightly stop people at the border for the same reasons (and only these) that you would rightly detain/fine/imprison, or generally respond with force, domestically. That is, when someone has themselves initiated the use of force (inclusive of threats, which I ought not otherwise need make explicit here, but will do so for clarity's sake).
  14. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from EC in Late Term Abortion   
    "Basically" the Court expressed an interest in "viability," as well, and drawing distinctions between the trimesters. Just as Rand did, when she spoke about the essential issue concerning only the first three months, and that one may argue about the later stages. Since those thoughts seem to mirror the Court's decision in those aspects as well, maybe her agreement runs that far?
    I don't know. I don't know Rand's thinking on the subject beyond what she's written, which is confused to say the least, but I do know that it is not some endorsement of "full-term abortion." Because as I've said, if she had wanted to make such a claim, it would have been easy to do so unambiguously. But "one may argue about the later stages" implies the very opposite, that there is something about the entity -- "embryo," fetus, child, or by any other name -- that changes over the course of the pregnancy and (at least) invites the very argument that this changing and developing entity may be subject to rights, at some point before birth.
    Look, if I wanted to take up the side some people wish to impart to Rand, it's easy enough to do so in a straightforward manner. Watch:
    "The unborn have no rights until birth. A mother may terminate her pregnancy at any time without exception. Roe v. Wade was a good start, but it does not go far enough. There is no debate to be had about the 'later stages' of pregnancy, and it does not matter whether an 'embryo' at eight months is alive medically or not," and so forth.
    If Rand wished to say these things, she could have done at least as well as I have managed, and then I could say, "Well, I agree with Rand about most things... but I don't agree completely with her position on abortion." Yet as it stands, I agree with Rand that the issue essentially concerns the early stage of a pregnancy -- and that abortion there is fine (let alone birth control) -- and that one may argue about the later stages (which I do). Thus, I am not "anti-abortion," as you have put it elsewhere (I am as pro-abortion as Rand and Roe v. Wade), but anti-infanticide.
    Certainly. And that entity, at full-term, is growing and moving, with internal and external actions consistent with the newborn to which we would ascribe rights (and the parents, parental obligation); only its relationship with its surroundings (and significantly, the mother) changes at birth. Yet the entity is not defined by those relationships. I mean, you could also make an argument that the newborn is fundamentally a different entity when in the bathtub or bassinet -- nothing stops you, outside of reason -- but it would be just as wrong.
    One of my attractions to Rand, generally speaking, is that she is an inordinately precise writer and speaker. I thus find her sometimes misuse of "embryo" both striking and suggestive, and what it suggests to me is that, perhaps, part of the confusion is that Rand continued to deal with the subject as she saw it "essentially": meaning that she sometimes misused the word "embryo" because when she thought about abortion, she thought of it primarily in terms of pregnancy to three months (like she indicated elsewhere), where the word "embryo" is (at least mostly) appropriate.
    You'd quoted her, after all, also speaking about "birth control" and thus (as I imagine it), contra the argument that sperm or a fertilized egg are also human life, and subject to protection, etc., which is ridiculous, but an argument that some people make. Rand rejected the idea that such an entity -- a "piece of protoplasm" -- could be considered "human life" in the full sense, with which I agree. But she also seemed to allow (without committing one way or the other) that later stages of pregnancy might be different, with which I further agree.
    And beyond that, did she give "full-term abortion" much thought? I doubt it. I also don't know how much thought Rand gave to parenthood/parental obligation, generally, which is an under-explored topic that might shed some light on the present debate. I know you consider it "put to bed," but I believe that it's meaningful as an antidote to the rhetoric you'd introduced, regarding "the right not to be regarded as the means to any end."
    So where does that "right" go, given the obligations of parenthood? Instead of coming up with yet more angles, why not play out one or two of the several already introduced? A woman has the right not to be regarded as the means of any end, we agree, and yet we do both also ascribe a mother obligations to her newborn. How do we reconcile that? And if a mother could have an obligation to her newborn+1 day, why could she not have an obligation to her newborn-1 day? Because that entity is magically transformed at birth, from an unperson to a human being? That sounds not alone like rationalism, but shamanism.
    I do claim that an unborn child, at thirty nine weeks, say, is a human being, yes. If I claim that it has a right to life, that's because I believe that human beings have a right to life, generally.
    I think that the "argument" (for which you claim to give "philosophical and biological evidence" where I find nothing but mere assertion) that a child one minute prior to delivery is not a human being, is preposterous. Earlier you'd related this to "connection" -- and maybe that's the "evidence" you're referring to -- but such a thing is utterly irrelevant. I'd proposed a (only somewhat) futuristic test tube baby example to demonstrate this irrelevancy, but I'm not certain you've weighed in on it.
    So what do you say? Given an (actual) embryo, a true "piece of protoplasm," being brought to term via test tube, do we agree that initially it is not a human being, and subject to termination, but at some point thereafter, it is a human being and cannot be terminated/aborted, and must instead be cared for?
    Rand wrote, "[The] valid definition of man, within the context of his knowledge and of all of mankind’s knowledge to-date [is]: 'A rational animal.'
    ('Rational,' in this context, does not mean 'acting invariably in accordance with reason'; it means 'possessing the faculty of reason.'...) "
    And so, I would go "one minute before," not till conception, but until that point where the entity in question possesses the faculty of reason -- which I think is ultimately a question to be settled by science.
  15. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from EC in Late Term Abortion   
    As Objectivists, we sometimes enjoy having context -- as an aid for understanding. For instance, here is that quote you've pulled from Rand with a touch more of it (bold added; italics in original):
    "A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . "
    I agree fully.
    A piece of protoplasm has no rights -- and no life in the human sense of the term. But a "full-term fetus" has life in the human sense of the term. It has as much life as a baby, post delivery. It is no longer a mere "piece of protoplasm" or (as Rand elsewhere describes, speaking on this subject), "a few human cells," or an "embryo" -- but it is a baby, a human being. Not "potentially" so, but actually so.
    If equating a potential with an actual is vicious, treating an actual as some mere potential is more so, and with far less reason.
  16. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from thenelli01 in Late Term Abortion   
    No, it isn't a particularly good question. A human being is what it is: we don't define it in or out of being. The entity that is a human being one minute post-delivery is also a human being one minute beforehand; to say that it is not yet "a human life" because it fails to satisfy some ad hoc, contrived definition (in this case, because it is "connected") is a classic example of rationalism.
    There's no need to resort to such outlandish scenarios. Actual existence provides sufficient material. Conjoined twins are "connected"; according the definitions and reasoning you've supplied, neither twin is a "human life" or has rights?
    But no. It is an admitted complication for "individual rights" that neither twin is individuated, but our resolution is not that either twin has the "right" to murder its twin (because the victimized twin somehow fails to meet our definition of entity (!), or human being). Conjoined twins still have rights, because they are entities possessed of rights by their nature. In real life, a mother carries a child for some time before birth. It is a human child. The point at which that is true is not conception (where that "potential human child" is but a collection of cells, and fully the mother's to do with what she wishes), but it is true at some point thereafter.
    The proper way to reason about this has nothing to do with the umbilical cord, which is meaningless. Suppose a full "test tube" process, where there is no umbilical cord at all, no "connection." At conception, the potential child in the test tube would be a clump of cells, property, and wholly the mother's to dispose of. At some point thereafter, this would no longer be true. The cells in the test tube will have developed into a human being, and no longer be the mother's property (though the parental relationship is still special, and this special relationship persists for some time). At this point, the human child has rights and cannot be aborted. The difference is not according to placenta or umbilical cord or birth, but based on the nature of the entity itself.
  17. Thanks
    DonAthos got a reaction from thenelli01 in Stupid mind games people play and why   
    Through several threads, and the replies I've gotten to sharing certain personal experiences, I've come to realize that my experiences may be atypical. But I've generally had pleasant romantic relationships... And my experience is this: that women must be dealt with as individuals.

    I've never not complimented a woman (or complimented her, for that matter) according to some strategy, or because some supposed pick-up artist thinks that women are reducible to a pattern. I've treated women in this respect the way I treat anyone or anything, and have paid compliments freely when they are warranted, and refrain from them when they are not. Honesty has been my one "strategy," and it has worked out fine in my best estimation.

    Could I have had more sex over the course of my life (with certain kinds of women), had I immersed myself in strategies and such designed to seduce those kinds of women? Perhaps. Would that pursuit have made my life better? I sincerely doubt it, and doubted it at the time (which accounts in large part for why I knowingly avoided that path). I'm not sure that it would have left me as the man I am today, a man who is capable of loving and being loved by my wife in the manner that we have achieved. And that's a sad thought.

    And today I am extraordinarily happy with my wife, and I'll report that I pay her compliments regularly. It's rare that I see her and am not moved to pay such a compliment, so really my usual "strategic" consideration is just not to bore her by repeating myself constantly. But if I'm looking at the most beautiful, most wonderful woman I've ever known -- and if I'm struck by that fact constantly, over years and years and years -- what am I supposed to do about it? For her part, she's reported that she loves the compliments I pay her. But then, she's not very well-versed in seduction literature, so perhaps she just doesn't yet understand her feminine self yet?
  18. Like
    DonAthos reacted to StrictlyLogical in How To Solve Racial Problems   
    Crackpots, irrationals, villainous, stupid, backwater people lacking in virtue and rationality and indeed every other kind of person would be free to associate with each other (it's called freedom of association) in a free country. 
    Of course it is illegal for ANY group of people to conspire to commit any sort of crime, but that is obvious. 
    As for Bigot Town, USA, THAT implies at least local government and possibly local enforcement of state and fed. law, including various branches of it under a local property taxing regime, administering and delivering services both proper and improper (mayor's office, police, enforced garbage collection, local schools, fire department, etc.).  Since the only proper role of government is to protect rights, and since they are the only ones with a monopoly on the legal use of force, having anyone in government who is a crackpot, irrational, villainous, stupid, or a backwater person lacking in virtue and rationality, let alone having the entire local government being made up of people like that, represents a grave risk to the violation of individual rights and very likely would constitute an improper government which constantly violates individual rights.
    A proper and free society does not condone improper government or the violation of individual rights.
    Objectivism does not accept a system of anarchy, or competing governments, (Anarcho-capitalism is right out), and also rejects Libertarianism as a foundation for politics.  Government must act properly and individual rights are absolute. 
    To the extent any person or persons pretends to act as government but exceed its proper role and violate individual rights, by purported law and/or action, those people are acting outside of their proper government role, and it would be moral for others (State or Fed of a free country), acting properly as THE government  to step in and ensure protection of individual rights by removing those guilty of violating rights and setting up a proper government.
  19. Like
    DonAthos reacted to thenelli01 in Late Term Abortion   
    I don't think it's fair to classify my comments as "like a red herring." It's either fallacious or not, but a quick review of the sequence of the conversation would prove it isn't. 
    Can't say the same for you though, as you have been using ad hominem attacks throughout this topic, which is partially why I haven't been so eager to respond.
    Hopefully it can be respectful and honest moving forward.
    Now regarding below and above:
    I'm positing below (and hopefully I am not redundant because admittedly I have not read through the other topic yet)
    A developed fetus has rights because of it's nature as a human being and its potential to develop into an independent, rational adult (similar to newborns). There is a point when the "thing" inside is clearly no longer just human cells, but has developed fully enough to surpass the realm of potential and now actually has the characteristics where it deserves classification as a human being. As such, it should be considered as what it is: a human being physically dependent on the mother for life. How to determine whether or not an entity is a human being is up for discussion but there have been a few suggestions in this thread that I think are worthy of debate.
    So when you say,
    "A fetus is physically dependent upon the mother's exercise of her rights. Therefore it has no right to its own life until it acts toward the removal of that dependency."
    I don't think there is a fundamental distinction (only a distinction in form) between the physical dependence via the womb and physical dependence via mother's care for a newborn. Therefore, I think your red line of obtaining rights when it gains "independence" is arbitrary. A baby's nature a week before birth and after birth didn't change significantly (I.e. in kind) and neither did it's dependence. Yes, it's separated by the mother's physical body, but it still depends on the mother's physical body to care for it's basic survival needs. It's the entity's nature that determines it's worthiness of rights, not the arbitrary distinction between womb and non-womb.
    (I'm open to arguments - but please just arguments - FYI I'm sure my arguments aren't new per se - this topic has been debated on this forum for ages in multiple threads - Once I have more time and will to read through them, I will do so.)
  20. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Reidy in Law of Identity and Evolution   
    The argument here (identity precludes change) first showed up in Parmenides ca 500 BC. From the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology:
    On the former path [i.e. of reason] we convince ourselves that the existent neither has come into being, nor is perishable, and is entirely of one sort, without change and limit, neither past nor future, entirely included in the present. For it is as impossible that it can become and grow out of the existent, as that it could do so out of the non-existent; since the latter, non-existence, is absolutely inconceivable, and the former cannot precede itself; and every coming into existence presupposes a non-existence.
    His writings give us the first example of an explicit premise-and-conclusion argument. Much of Aristotle's metaphysics amounts to an explanation of what's wrong with that argument.
  21. Like
    DonAthos reacted to thenelli01 in Late Term Abortion   
    So you are in favor of the right of mothers to have a baby in an alley and leave it to death?
    I say death, because that is what will happen most likely, without any assistance from third parties. What if the mother has a baby in the desert or in a rural mountain town in Colorado, where third parties aren't around? Can we leave a baby in the snow to fend for itself because it is a 'physically independent entity' that has a self responsibility to gain 'the values it requires to sustain its own life.' 
    The baby is physically dependent on the mother because of its undeveloped nature, and the mother has a responsibility to the child (until adulthood or transfer of that duty) because she is the one who brought the child into the world. Despite what you say, babies would not be able to survive very long in this world without someone taking care of it (proof is meet any newborn and read the stories of babies that ARE left to fend for themselves - spoiler: the ending is usually tragic). The mother brought the baby into the world and, therefore, she has the responsibility to make sure its rights are protected. She cannot expect anyone else to take care of it. 
  22. Like
    DonAthos got a reaction from 2046 in Immigration restrictions   
    Yes, and it was magnificent.
    Indeed. I don't know how else to square your responses in this thread. Do I really need to recap them? (Technically you should be able to read them over again for yourself, but I don't know that I can trust you to do that honestly, either.) You argued that people should not be allowed to advocate for socialism; I questioned whether that was consistent with Objectivism (or at least with Rand's views), and I provided quotes to demonstrate that Rand supported free speech, specifically including that for communists/socialists. In direct response, you claimed consistency with Rand and that you were not arguing against free speech.
    The implicit dishonesty involved in such a thing is just staggering. I don't know whether "Orwellian" or "Trumpian" would be more damning, but they both apply -- it is doublethink, pure and simple, on par with 1+1=3. A month on, fresh off of a vacation, and I'm still blown away by it. So I'll put it this way: perhaps it goes too far to say that you have zero respect for reason (how could I possibly know such a thing to such a degree?)... but if you do have any respect for it, that respect will drive you to understand your incredible error, and the disregard for reason and reality it conveys, make amends for it, and try to root it out from all future conversation -- because it is the kind of error that renders all such conversation worse than worthless (to say nothing of what it portends for your thinking).
  23. Like
    DonAthos reacted to EC in Late Term Abortion   
    Geez if this is her position then it's illogical (I never thought I'd say that about something she said).  There is *zero* difference in what the child *is* depending on what side of the woman's, um, body parts it's currently at in the span of minutes or hours of it being born. A child doesn't magically transform into a rational animal in a short time span based on what side of a vagina it's currently at.
  24. Like
    DonAthos reacted to Nicky in Alex Jones: Prophet of the Machine Elves   
    Well that's arbitrary nonsense. But if, instead, you said "open the gateway to an unconscious part of the brain", then that would be a valid hypothesis.
  25. Like
    DonAthos reacted to softwareNerd in National Borders   
    Do you take any of those points seriously? People who make those points are either rationalizing or using them to try win an argument. Their real argument is that they don't want more than a certain number of immigrants each year, because it dilutes existing culture and brings competition for jobs.
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