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Everything posted by BrassDragon

  1. I'm not advocating throwing out all the rules. It's just that sometimes the speed limit is not what it should be. Also, it is necessary for each driver to determine how to drive safely; there's a lot more to driving safely than just following the speed limit, and much of it is highly dependent on context. If a person isn't able or willing to determine what is safe, they shouldn't be driving (and they won't survive long on the road, anyway). I also drive very defensively. But there are many situations where it's safe to go pretty fast. For example, the time when I mistakenly thought I was in a 70 zone but it was 55, I was driving on a perfectly straight road with no other cars on it that went through empty fields for miles; I could see EVERYTHING.
  2. I think people are coming down too hard on the OP. Oftentimes, you can go significantly over the speed limit without putting anyone in any extra danger. (Especially if you are going the speed of other traffic.) And as long as you're driving safely, I don't think you have a MORAL obligation to follow the speed limit. The speed limit is an arbitrary dictate of the government; the roads are not private property. Summary: If you can get away with going over the limit, do it. If you get unlucky, pay the fine. If you get unlucky and get ticketed, but you can get out of it, do it. If you don't want to run the risk of ever getting a ticket, don't ever speed. In my area of North Carolina, the de facto speed limit is about 10 MPH greater than the speed limit, which is arbitrarily way too low; everybody drives over it all the time. Once I was going way over the speed limit (thought it was a 70 zone but it was 55; anyway, I was driving safely, given the road conditions), and by asking nicely at the courthouse, I got the ticket changed to "improper equipment" (even though that wasn't the case at all). This is pretty much standard practice. If the government would set speed limits that were actually appropriate (not arbitrarily too low) and actually enforce the limit strictly, I would not have the attitude I do. I'd much rather that it were that way. But it's not. The applicability of my policy general suggestions re: speeding depends on where you live; your mileage may vary.
  3. Thanks - I agree with all that you've said. Indeed, I was looking for the lowest-level principle that subsumes the conclusion. To answer your question about cats, my thinking is: although it is immoral to initiate force against cats, it does not follow that it should be legally prohibited to initiate force against cats. (In fact, such a prohibition would be a violation of rights.) Legal prohibitions against initiating force only apply to men interacting with men, since this is a prerequisite to living successfully in society. Is that precisely correct?
  4. Well, I have several points to make in response. (1) Reason doesn't have to "evolve". It seems to me that when the witch doctor claims a magical dance or drawing on the wall of a cave will yeild a desired result, an early human with a rational faculty can just as easily say "I don't believe that" as "I do believe that." Clearly, there would be contradictory claims: one witch doctor says one thing works, and another witch doctor says another works. So it is implicitly obvious that knowledge is not automatic, even to a cave man. (2) Knowledge is contextual. For example, if a cave man says "the land is flat," because he lives in the middle of a large plane and can't observe anything different - that doesn't invalidate the knowledge. The knowledge is valid within the context of his life. I'm not sure if this is directly relevant to this discussion, but I imagine it could be relevant somehow. (3) You are misusing "package-deal". It is correct to group magic and religion under the concept "irrational systems of thought," beause in both cases, that is a fundamental distinction. See http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/package-...fallacy_of.html
  5. You give gifts to your children because you love them. They don't have to earn it. Same for your spouse. If your spouse has not earned your love, you need to get a divorce. Why not consider Christmas a celebration of the "benevolent universe premise" and the fact that you live in a society that is happy enough to have a holiday like Christmas -- and so productive that gifts can be given? Christmas should also be a "celebration" of those you love. There have been a number of essays by Objectivist scholars in this vein. Perhaps one of the other posters can point you to one of them (I don't have any handy, but imagine they're online somewhere, or at least available.) By the way, a child who asks for candy at Halloween is not "demanding the unearned." They're participating in a harmless, but fun, cultural tradition. If you're not participating, you're just missing out on the fun and being a humbug.
  6. I do understand biological evolution. Why do you state that collectivism allowed population size to increase? Collectivism is not necessary for population size to increase. This is why I said you don't understand individualism. Religion is not a correct abstraction from magic. Both are wrong; they are conceptually disconnected from reality. Neither Ayn Rand nor Aristotle relied upon religion or magic. Monkeys are not individualistic or collectivist. Those concepts are only conceptually valid when one is referring to humans. You might say that monkeys "cooperate" and live in groups. It is also necessary for humans to cooperate and live in groups, to flourish; it always has been since the dawn of our species. Cooeration does not equate to collectivism. In fact, cooperation is most profitable, and most possible, in a system of individualism. Monkeys are "individualistic" in the sense that they "selfishly" pursue what is best for their own individual lives (which often means cooperating). The reason I put these terms in quotes is because monkeys act on instinct, not using a conceptual faculty. There is no reason primitive humans could not accept a rudiamentary form of philosophy, rather than religion.
  7. If you believe this, you do not understand individualism. Care to try to defend this? No - Objectivism was the product of Ayn Rand, who relied almost exclusively upon Aristotle. I believe (can anyone cite this?) that AR wrote that Objectivism would not be complete, in its current form, without the Industrial Revolution, but I certainly do not think there is a reason to think a society would need to go through stages of "superstition," then "magic", etc, as you state.
  8. Let me clarify my position (which has evolved very slightly). As I said (and as Ayn Rand said), rights are a political instantantiation of morality. A baby gains rights the instant it is born, because at that instant (and not before), it becomes immoral for an adult human to initiate force against it. This is the immediate reason -- and not because a fetus suddenly becomes a "man" or a "rational animal" (whether that is the case is ambiguous, anyway) that a baby has rights, and a fetus doesn't. Furthermore, it has nothing to do directly with the baby's potential to grow into a man, potential for rationality, etc. Those facts may contribute to why it is immoral to initiate force against the baby, though. I would invite feedback on this. I'm not certain that this is totally in agreement with what Ayn Rand wrote, and would appreciate someone pointing out any discrepancies or other mistakes.
  9. Rights are a political instantiation of morality--specifically, the moral code that applies to man qua man. Under this moral code, it is ethical for the mother to pursue her own life, her own happiness, and her own well-being; and it would be immoral for someone else to force her to make a particular choice re: the birth or abortion of the fetus. Given this, I think the answer to the question of "when the line is crossed" is kind of irrelevant. And that's a good thing, I think, because really, the line between a "man" and whatever comes before that (a "fetus" or "baby" or "young child" or some such variant describing the early stages of our species' youth) is a nebulous area, not a line :-) At least, that's how I interpret it and what I believe to be correct. Ayn Rand's moral code for man qua man is for for adults (and to some degree for adolescents or children), but isn't applicable to humans that are more or less 0 years old, like fetii or newborns.
  10. BrassDragon


    What is the purpose of such a group? Does it have a valid, rational purpose?
  11. I don't think so. This seems akin to the case where a stick going into water appears to be bent, but is not. Senses convey perceptual information, not knowledge of reality. Do you mean, an integral part of your experience of life? I don't see how synesthesia would relate to sense of life as the term was used by Ayn Rand. Perhaps you can elaborate. This is confusing. What do you mean? As far as I understand, you associate textures with sounds, which does not equate to this sentence; I'm not sure what perceptions you're referring to here.
  12. Ayn Rand worked her way up to become the head of the costume department at RKO Pictures, so I would imagine she had quite a sense of style. I believe she also used to wear a cape, which was considered very fashionable at the time - but I can't substantiate that, I just read it somewhere.
  13. But most of their 'customers' are thieves! I mean, I don't know if it's normal for 50% or more (i.e. most) installations of a piece of software to be pirated, but it wouldn't surprise me, and I'm sure that happens in many cases.
  14. cmdownes, Thanks for your response and for pointing me back on the right track, which is to do some reading on my own in OPAR. :-) Ultimately, what Peikoff says (and presumably Rand said) is that you just have to choose life or not - and there can be no reason, because this goal is the basis of all values. For example, it's what gives happiness meaning in the first place--and thus you can't say, "I choose to live because I know I can be happy and achieve values." I'd encourage people to look at the pg. on p. 211-212 of OPAR. Here is an excerpt (the final sentence): "In regard to the sum of reality as such, however, there is nothing to do but grasp: it is--and then, if the fundamental alternative confronts one, bow one's head in a silent 'amen', amount to the words: 'This is where I shall fight to stay.'"
  15. Those are all excellent choices of places to go to study CS. I can tell you've done your research. I go to UNC. The CS department has built up several peaks of excellence; the professors are really wonderful; and there aren't very many undergrads doing CS, so you get a lot of attention and there's sort of a "small town" atmosphere. I love it. So I'd recommend UNC for CS to anyone considering it, but not over UIUC, Carnegie Melon, MIT or Stanford.
  16. I'm a CS student at a large public school. I wish I could give you some useful advice, but I probably can't. I was in the same bind you're currently in a few years ago - I knew basically nothing about colleges and universities, and also basically nothing about what I really wanted in terms of social atmosphere, etc. I think I made a good choice, but I don't know what would have transpired anywhere else. I'd be interested to hear what schools you're considering.
  17. A lot of people are giving you very specific advice, as if they're experts on this sort of thing. Hrmm. In my experience, if you continue acting disinterested, she'll get the message before too long. I'm sure you can figure out how to avoid being around her constantly, without having to do something that would come across as harsh.
  18. Such a thing can never be proven. If it appears that it could, you're working with a false premise or assumption. For example: Natural resources aren't truly limited. There is no limit to water, wood, air, etc. etc. However, let's try to think of a resource that is limited. Say oil is actually really running out. It wouldn't benefit every individual for the government to set a price cap on oil - it would hurt those that run the oil company, supply the oil company, work for the oil company, etc. Furthermore, I'd rather pay higher prices than live under a government that coerces productive citizens to benefit the majority. Such a violation would never benefit the individuals in the state, as illustrated above. Try as hard as you want to think of a counterexample. If you poke around the forum, you'll notice that people complain when someone proposes a false hypothetical. This is exactly why. A false hypothetical assumes reality is different. If reality were different, well, Objectivism wouldn't be Objectivism, because Objectivism is based upon reality as it actually is. So there's no point in talking about false hypotheticals on an Objectivism forum, unless they're within the realm of possibility (e.g. if Obama is elected, if McCain is elected, if we run out of oil, etc.). That's a much different question; I'd suggest asking in a new topic or, better yet, try to read up on the issues yourself. In short, though, Objectivism would differ on things like foreign policy, (probably, depending on what Libertarian you're talking to) abortion, (possibly) "marriage," etc. And it would lead to different conclusions in a number of more subtle issues, no doubt, because it has different philosophical underpinnings.
  19. Right, but taking an oath to uphold the principle of individual rights would still probably help things. Come to think of it - don't people who are becoming US citizens have to swear some sort of oath to uphold the laws of the land, and the constitution? Maybe what I'm thinking about for the hypothetical country would be very similar to what's already in place in the US.
  20. My suggestion: Their constitution shouldn't allow amendment, and should (obviously) severely restrict the powers of government. So no matter who is elected, they don't really have any power to do any damage, except maybe defend the country poorly and be lax on crime. Of course, the bad people might just elect officials who would ignore the constitution, or start a revolution; I think when that happens, you have to go start a new O'ist utopia. This just points to the importance that culture plays - everything follows the culture. Which is largely why real Oists are trying to change the culture, not starting utopias. :-) What about the idea of barring from entry into the country anyone who doesn't agree with the principle of individual rights? I wonder if people here think that would be a legitimate course of action?
  21. Well said, and the same thing I was thinking.
  22. Sarrisan, you didn't offer any reason to choose life. That's what the question was. Anyway, I think I'm pretty satisfied with the answer JASKN led me in.
  23. I think you mean "life is good and not miserable" by the normal ethical standard, i.e. life. What I am looking for is a reason to choose life over death in the first place, other than arbitrary whim or inertia. Or the knowledge that you can gain values which are fulfilling and which make you happy --- where "values", "fulfilling" and "happy" arise from the fact that life is your chosen standard of value, and aren't some greater validation of life. I didn't really understand your presentation of the second relevant issue you bring up; could you clarify what issue you're talking about? Actually, I'd say the "Or the knowledge that you can gain values which are fulfilling and which make you happy" thing is a pretty convincing reason to choose life. I'm starting to feel like that's just the answer and this was a silly question which I probably could have answered for myself... but if anyone has anything to add, please do so.
  24. I really like JASKN's point about this being a political question, and related to treason. If the OP doesn't mind, here's an additional question: Are trade embargoes (i.e. I am forbidden to sell my goods to North Korea, but we are NOT in a declared state of war) legitimate? I would lean towards assuming that absent a state of war, it would be a violation of citizens' rights to forbid trade with another country. (of course, we probably should be in a declared state of war with North Korea and a number of other baddies, but that's a different matter.)
  25. Why choose to live? Why choose to value life? I don't think this is an ethical question, per se. I know that Ayn Rand said that there is no ethical validation of life, since life is the basis of ethics (and not the other way around). Still, it would be nice to have some sort validation for choosing life -- a more absolute reason to say, "life is good" -- rather than just saying, "you either choose life or you don't; if you choose life, ethics proceeds from that point." This makes it seem like the choice is almost arbitrary. There are some other threads which touch on this topic, but which I didn't find satisfying. In case anyone wants to look them up: Why choose to live? What if I choose to die?
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