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Everything posted by Socionomer

  1. Perhaps one way to come up with a succint metaphysical explanation IS to approach it from a scientific or mathematical perspective. I am way out of my league here, but it seems that someone far more adept at it could provide an indirect mathematical proof, or something similar in the form of an equation, which disproves any attempt to contadict the law of identity. It may require two separate formulas to distinguish between living and non-living entities (as Betsy reminded us), but the general idea would be to use variables that take into consideration every conceivable way in which change affects form and substance over time ("delta" t) without violating an entity's nature (a constant). This includes variables that take into account varying contexts (perceptual tools of the observer, levels of abstraction, and symbols or words used to identify "A"), the entity's natural potential, net growth/decay of substance due to environment, biological actualization, and choices (conscious & subconscious), time, and symbol identifier (what "IT" is called). Since "the word is not the thing", the variable for the name of the entity is multiplied by zero to thwart attempts by linguistic analysts to change "A" just by renaming it. No real numbers are necessary (save perhaps a constant needed to reflect the entity's nature) since quantifying change is not the purpose, and the number of variables as far as I can tell would amount to no more than about a dozen. I just thought a different approach to the problem you're trying to solve might be worth suggesting since a metaphysical explanation seems like it would be extremely cumbersome if it had to account for the almost infinte ways that change can be described, whereas the number of categories of change is actually limited. Sorry if this whole post seems like just a bunch of rambling since I'm still not sure HOW or even IF this sort of approach could be used. I'm just sure that it's probably beyond my capacity. (It's an interesting problem though).
  2. I'm not sure if it will be of any assistance, but in Chapter 8 of "Language In Thought And Action", S.I. Hayakawa discusses change from the perspective of the relationship between language (concepts) and reality. There's nothing novel there, but perhaps the terminlogy he uses to explain it can contribute to your argument in some way.
  3. Unknown to the man, the lions were already Christians, and their prayers for food were answered.
  4. Socionomer


    Stephen, I agree that nothing more needs to be said in regard to the legal issue. But the quote you provide from Ayn Rand seems to be in the context of a legal answer, because of her use of the term "right to dictate" which implies she is refering to government force being used to impose laws on women, which does violate their rights. From a moral perspective the issue is less clear to me, especially because of the seemingly arbitrary legal point at which a human is said to acquire rights, because that is the point at which a mother, in seeking to defend her own her own rights and achieve her own values, violates those of another. Moral judgement here then is something that individuals make about themselves, based on their unique circumstances and wether their actions were purposefully directed at achieving their own values, and NOT a judgement society makes regarding individuals' decisions to abort. If a distinction is not made, abortion takes on the appearance of becoming a virtue under all circumstances, and I don't believe that is true. Since each woman has her own idea of at what stage of development or birth a fetus earns a "right to life" (regardless of the legally enforced version), an abortion may or may not be moral. Infanticide, in some cases then, though illegal, could be moral (as in the case of the young student in Florida who delivered in a motelroom bath but then abandoned the infant in the dumpster).
  5. I believe that if Ms Rand were alive today and able to articulata her position on a candidate, there would be few if any Objectivists who would disagree with her. Would this mean that those who would support a different candidate are taking a non-objectivist position? No. As long as their method for arriving at their conclusions were based on Objectivist principles. I assume Ms Rand would look at it the same way, and not see it as a departure from her philosophy - although she would likely take great pains to point out their errors and persuede them to accept her position. (But I don't know this for certain). I think an error I made though is ascribing the label Objectivism to a position, when it is really the process that leads to the position which may, or may not be Objectivist.
  6. Welcome to our community. Unfortunately you are still in Absurdistan, we just refer to it as "Earth".
  7. Yes. Anyone who could make a rational argument for why they are voting a particular way could influence me to change my mind. Their reasons could be better than mine, or could point out flaws in my own logic. (Especially Ms Rand). In fact a lot of the arguments regarding the election put forth by people in this forum have helped me to reinforce my own position (though not change it in this case).
  8. I agree with you; fortunately no Objectivists here have taken the position that others who vote differently are not true Objectivists. Speculating on how Ms Rand would view all this was probably pointless on my part anyway. (And I assume you meant to use the word "disagreement" in your remarks).
  9. Good point Ash. People might also accept a "possibilist" label as a badge of honor, whereas pointing out their epistemological agnosticism is not something they're likely to go around bragging about.
  10. People who make arbitrary assertions often do provide "evidence". So I suggest using the phrase "satisfactory evidence" or something similar to leave less wriggle room for alternate interpretations or confusion.
  11. Since Ms Rand is no longer with us to explain how she would vote in this particular election we can't say for sure what course of action is truly an Objectivist one. I personally could not envision her voting for any of the current presidential cadidates, but that's just me. I also suspect that if she did indeed choose a particular candidate, she would not be pleased with other Objectivists who publicly selected differently (especially given the apparent extreme differences in candidates' views this year). Since we'll never know what she would have done I have no trouble accepting the fact that Objectivists can endorse different political candidates and parties. That's just the way it is.
  12. Socionomer


    I admit to being confused on the Objectivist position. I remain so. I guess I need to find and read everything that Rand has said on the issue before I'm satisfied I understand it clearly enough.
  13. People like this could be described as "possibilists". "Possibilism" is something that most people engage in whenever discussing subjects for which there is little or no evidence or proof of their existence in nature. They typically assign (usually subconsciously) a percentage value to the level of certainty of belief they have for the existence or truth of things (like ghosts, gods, aliens, magic, etc....) and adjust those values as evidence builds or is refuted. The evidence of gifts under the Christmas tree contributed to my 100% belief in Santa until the age of 8 when my mother refuted it. (Were my faith stronger she would have been forced to present store receipts as further evidence that the gifts were not manufactured by elves at the North Pole, but I wasn't too hard to convince). Possibilists rarely examine "evidence" critically enough before assigning values of probability or certainty to things. Alien "abductees" (provided they're not consciously lying) may have a 95-100% belief in aliens, whereas the typical reader of National Enquirer may "only" admit to believing in a 10% "probablity" of existence of "aliens". ("Possibilism" here should not be confused with the belief in the possibilities of human potential embodied by optimistic entrepreneurial spirits who invent and produce marvelous works).
  14. Anything the "public" finds appealing all on its own can't be of any intellectual merit because if it were the "intellectuals" would have discovered it first and then force fed to us. That way we then get to thank them profusely, remain indebted to them. and bestow on them all sorts of crowns. lauels, titles, honors, and other distinctions befitting such persons of low self-esteem that require them.
  15. Socionomer


    Throughout most of the discussions on this topic I get the sense that contributors are conflating the legalities of abortion with the moralities involved. I'm not sure I understand the Objectivist position clearly and so the following reflects only my own evaluation of the abortion issue. I believe that the legalities are largely arbitrary because of the multiple interpretations and definitions that individuals hold for terms such as "fetus", "baby", "born", "viable", "human", etc... and at what point an entity obtains its "rights". We can use reason to come up with a variety of legal answers to these matters, but in my opinion abortion is "morally" wrong (in most cases, but not all). The immorality actually occurs not at the point when the unwanted life is terminated, but at the moment when consenting adults engage in sexual activities (knowing the risks involved) that could "accidentaly" produce life without regard to consequences and when there is no intention of supporting such life (taking responsibility for their actions). The abortion then is a consequence of a preceding immorality. (In the case of rape the immorality is not attributable to the victim, but to the aggressor). The morality issue here is alo analogous to that of the "lifeboat" situation, the choice the victim makes about the pregnancy is neither right nor wrong. One could also argue that consciously and purposefully engaging in sexual activity without regard for the risks involved in incurring pregnancy AND with the intention to terminate all such pregnancies by means of abortion (at any stage up to and including the point of a partial birth) should NOT be considered "immoral" expressly BECAUSE those involved ARE accepting "responsibility" for their actions (since they at least had a plan for such contingencies, i.e., to abort). It would be legal, but I personally would not care to try to defend such behavior as "moral". In the case of a planned pregnancy where it becomes know that the fetus is deformed or will not develop to a healthy conclusion then abortion would not necessarily be immoral (depending on the reasons for the decision). My conclusion: abortion always legal, not usually moral. I don't believe Objectivism leads one to the position that everything up to the point where the umbilical cord is severed is BOTH legal AND moral. The legal and moral aspects surrounding abortion begin and end at different points, are distinct and separate issues, and I believe should be argued from those perspectives. Does Objectivism make such a distinction here? Should there be a distinction, and if there is, is it a clear or confused one? Or am I just confused?
  16. "ATLAS SHRUGGED" (yet to be made) (Hoping it will be the greatest, but prepared to be disappointed). (A remaking of The Fountainhead could also be great). Until then: SPARTACUS
  17. I believe Charles is correct in his view that the U.K. military, in general, is more experienced and better trained (at the basic soldiering level) in peacekeeping operations and cross cultural communications (which is NOT to imply that US troops are ill-trained). I think he is mistaken though in his conclusion that the same degree of British successes in Basra will be duplicated in their missions in northern Iraq. Basra was the first major city in Iraq to be liberated. The Royal Marines made a saavy decision to appear less threatening to the local population by removing their helmets and donning their berets, making it easier for them to begin fostering an air of goodwill in the city. They were also proactive in restoring basic utility services to the city. Because Basra was occupied early on, a well organized and armed insurgency did not have time to develop and did not have popular support. This made it easier for the British to quell minor insurgencies as soon as they cropped up. American forces had a much more difficult time further north. Most of us probably know the reasons so I won't go into them, but the point is that the British will have to deal with the situation as it exists, and that situation is very different from Basra. I would be surprised if the Black Watch units are wearing something other than their helmets and full body armor this time.
  18. One thing China is buying from the US in significant amounts today is U.S. Treasury Bonds and Notes. Future administrations are likely to continue to "play nice" with any country that can have such a significant impact (good or bad) in our treasury markets.
  19. Morally they are both "right" since they reached their conclusions through objective reason. Now, as to which one is the "winner" (if that is what was meant by "right")? Well, for that we have to wait and see. But in my opinion, in this election we are all losers no matter which candidate wins.
  20. Another possible reason for the demise of domestic production of flu vaccines is the impact that trial lawyers have had on the industry. This seems to be less of a problem in european countries.
  21. I think the use of the "libertarian" label serves no purpose here. Unless I know WHY a person identifies him/herself as such, it really doesn't tell me anything about that person. I refuse to assume I know what they mean because people may have different reasons for identifying themselves as one. There are probably as many interpretations for what a "true libertarian" is, as there are people who believe they are one. Objectivism is more clearly defined, yet people still mistakenly refer to themselves as Objectivists, when all they really are is confused. We are better off if we use our time in this forum to stick to ideas and issues. Should someone choose to identify him/herself using a label other than "Objectivist", then before anyone jumps to conclusions about what they believe is going on in that person's mind, he/she should be asked to explain what is meant by the term. Otherwise we risk ending up with an endless back and forth debate based on mistaken assumptions. We should judge people not by who they say they are, but what they say and do. Knowing someone who calls himself an Objectivist tells me nothing about how he will vote in the upcoming election. If I guessed, there'd be a good chance I'd be wrong. Later I may consider him a jerk for voting for Kerry, but the reason wouldn't be because he was an Objectivist, it would be for what he had done. (Just my personal opinion, I detest Kerry).
  22. Last year I picked up Sartre's Age of Reason (for $.50 at Goodwill) because read a good review of it. Sorry to say it was a struggle to get through the first one-third of the book before I tossed it in the trash. I felt each page as an assault on my sense of life and kept wondering to myself why the author thought anyone should be interested in the story or any of its characters. I cared for none of them and now I have no clue as to what happened to them. If I ever wonder about how it ends all I have to do is imagine them sitting around a bare table in a musty little room obsessing over themselves and what others think of them. Blah!
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