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Everything posted by Seeker

  1. Here are a couple more links on the subject of constitutionality. Now that the Senate bill will be signed into law, we'll be hearing a lot more about this in the days to come. "Individual Mandate" at Core of ObamaCare is Unconstitutional, New Report Concludes (March 1, 2010) FreedomWorks to House of Representatives: Individual Mandate Unconstitutional (Feb 4, 2010)
  2. The most interesting analysis I've seen is by Randy Barnett in the Washington Post: Is health-care reform constitutional?. The likeliest target may be the "individual mandate" to buy health insurance. It isn't a regulation of interstate commerce because it purports to regulate not economic activity, but inactivity. In addition, the tax penalty in the Senate bill appears to be sloppily written so that it isn't even a tax on a percentage of income but rather imposes a fixed dollar amount. I am not an expert by any means, but I think that fixed dollar amount approach was really, really stupid
  3. This idea cannot be repeated enough. It's a shame that politicians in the opposition don't repeat it until it is firmly set in people's minds.
  4. Jefferson's Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge better fits the description of the "general plan" that he had in mind than the Constitution. Proposed to the Virginia General Assembly, it called for establishment by law and public financing of education. To his credit, Jefferson sought to secularize education rather than leaving it in the hands of religious authorities and institutions.
  5. "It is an axiom in my mind that our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves, and that too of the people with a certain degree of instruction. This it is the business of the state to effect, and on a general plan." - Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, January 4, 1786 Oh, the irony.
  6. Legitimate concepts of masculinity and femininity do exist. See, for example, the entry on Femininity at the Ayn Rand Lexicon: "For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship—the desire to look up to man. ... the object of her worship is specifically his masculinity, not any human virtue she might lack. ... It means that she never loses the awareness of her own sexual identity and theirs. It means that a properly feminine woman does not treat men as if she were their pal, sister, mother—or leader." At a minimum, the classic example of a man's desire for penetrative sex is
  7. They may be traditions, the point however is that these ideas, norms, traditions, etc. are rooted in sexuality, contra your assertion that "a gender role has nothing to do with sexuality". My point was that, but for sexuality, our concepts of gender would serve no purpose and would not even exist; that one's sexual characteristics, objectively ascertained, are the fundamental basis for making a determination of one's gender and hence, are the objective criteria for determining whether a person is "transgender". I am defending the concept of transgender as objectively valid, and saying that sex
  8. Well, working with tools is a demonstration of power and competence. Women tend to prefer powerful, capable men as their sexual partners. Gender roles that demand the male demonstrate power and competence are therefore not arbitrary and indeed are rooted in sexuality. Furthermore, it is precisely the sexual abnormalities of transgendered individuals that render those stereotypes inapplicable to them.
  9. I think you're on the right track. But wait ... I think that this statement is palpably absurd. If not for sexuality, the concepts "male" and "female" would not exist (except perhaps in the science of medicine). We simply wouldn't care about what type of genitalia a baby has if it weren't for the importance of sexuality in life. Sexuality is the root of the concepts "male" and "female"; more than any other single thing, it explains why those concepts are needed. Otherwise, we'd effectively have a single neuter gender applied to everyone (again, save for the field of medicine where it mig
  10. To add some meat to this (no pun intended), I think that sex determines gender because of the importance of sexuality. The reason why men and women are raised differently, i.e. given distinct gender roles -- why we ask if the baby is a boy or a girl -- depends primarily on the importance of sexuality in life. This relates to the concept of transgender as follows: a transgender person will have male or female genitalia, but because of their other contrary attributes (e.g. brain structure, hormones etc.) will not be able to pursue the value of sex according to their gender. So although genitalia
  11. The process of formation of the concepts "male" and "female" is complicated, but I can give a simple example of how those concepts are applied in everyday life to verify the premise that sex determines gender. When a baby is born the first thing that everybody asks is, "is it a boy or a girl?" How do they know? They do not do a test of the baby's chromosomes, ask it how it feels, or do an MRI scan of its brain. They simply examine its genitalia.
  12. I can understand the validity of the concept "transgender" insofar as it applies to someone having (for want of a better phrase) mixed metaphysical attributes -- something along the lines of someone having male genitalia but a "female" brain structure, let's say. So, okay, that person is transgender. But then, isn't the whole point of the medical treatment (surgery, medication, whatever) to eliminate that mixture so that the attributes are in harmony one way or the other? The correct designation then would not be "transgender, male to female" but (for the procedure) "transgender to female" and
  13. I don't want to equivocate here on the meaning of the word "male" and "female". I am using these as nouns, not adjectives. I think that the fundamental reason why those concepts exist is because a way is needed to differentiate people in choosing reproductive partners. So for that purpose, it's completely relevant whether or not one can function reproductively qua male or female. But suppose that I'm wrong, and the purpose of the concept isn't to choose sexual partners for reproduction but simply for sexual intercourse. Even then, you wouldn't necessarily have a broken unit, but you would stil
  14. Supposing I take a prefabricated wooden chair and knock it into pieces. All of the slots and pegs and design of the individual pieces reflect that it was a chair. Then I chop and re-arrange the pieces and glue them back together as a table, only there's a leg missing, so the table lies crooked. It's a table, but it's a broken table that can't function as a table. It's a broken unit, but it's still a table now and not a chair. A male has the capacity to fertilize an egg cell in sexual reproduction; a female produces ova and bears young. A unit of either of these types that cannot perform th
  15. The reason to not regard a man as a woman is that he isn't one. I would be very concerned about allowing false identifications based on how badly someone wants something. Some people are parasites. Should I grant their request to be regarded as non-parasites because they want it very badly? I would argue that the very purpose of a sex change is to make real the change from one gender to another. In that case, I would be (correctly) regarding a woman as a woman without undermining my own rationality.
  16. More crucially, there might be a little bit of confusion here by invoking the Law of Identity in the context of gender classification. The Law of Identity is an axiom that applies no matter how "mutiliated" something is. Metaphysically, a mutilated object is still itself. There might be a question as to what gender concept a specific person belongs to, i.e. what makes a person "male" or "female"? But that goes to the meaning of those concepts, specifically the differentia. The Law of Identity tells us that a person cannot belong to two mutually exclusive concepts, i.e. be a male and a fema
  17. On the first point, I didn't say that "government is an agent to lead society". I said (defending against the charge that "there are many more problems coming from those that are educated than those who are not") that the intellectuals in a rational society could be expected to lead it - including its government - in a positive direction. On the second point, I agree that staffing the Senate with intellectuals is not a primary requirement of political philosophy, and your explication correctly reflects the basic Objectivist position regarding the primary political role of intellectuals (i.
  18. On the first point, I think that requiring academic credentials is one way to identify the class of citizen that we would call "intellectual". What we really mean are professionals in the humanities. How else could one legally define "intellectual"? On the second point: I wholeheartedly agree that such a requirement would be grossly counterproductive given the philosophy of today's intellectuals (so much so that I advocate for the existence of popular referenda until the intellectuals are set in a more rational direction). Observations of contemporary politics will simply confirm that poin
  19. I think that the republican principle and the vital role of intellectuals in society should be melded in the composition of the upper house of the legislatures in the United States; that in the modern era, intellectual qualifications include earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree (that just means a Ph.D. in some field, not necessarily in the field of philosophy); that federal senators, at least, should be appointed (i.e. repeal the 17th amendment). From Article I - The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for s
  20. I am sympathetic to the view that there ought to be an institutional place for intellectuals in the government, say in the composition of the upper house of the legislature (viz, the Senate). This would be somewhat akin to what the framers were shooting for with the expectation that senators would be elevated members of society, corrected for the Objectivist view that it is the intellectuals who occupy so exalted a position (in fact, we already have an example of this in academia, where the faculties are at least nominally in charge of the affairs of the institution, and extending that princip
  21. I recommend taking a look at these links and related topics in the Ayn Rand Lexicon: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/republic.html http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/democracy.html http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/represen...government.html http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/constitution.html In particular, Rand makes the connection between man's rational faculty and the derivative right to elect his representatives in government. At the same time, unlimited majority rule (democracy) is rejected as a Collectivist doctrine. A constitutionally limited representative republic is the form
  22. A constitutional republic is probably the form of government best suited to Objectivism, but until Objectivism predominates I think that some complimentary form of direct democracy is necessary. Sometimes a popular referendum is the only way to check corrupt intellectual and political elites and preserve basic rights, as in Michigan where a ban on racial preferences used in university admissions was approved. The state legislature, the elected Board of Regents, the university faculties, and the U.S. Supreme Court had all failed in their respective roles to protect individual rights, a situ
  23. Political parties are electoral coalitions based on factional interests that exist largely because of government regulation of the economy and other matters. A separation of economy and state, and other proper constitutional limitations on government would deprive parties of their reason for existence. It is not likely that a two-party system would still exist if Objectivism were the predominant philosophy. Minor disagreements among Objectivists would not sustain an energetic two-party system. There could be fringe statist parties but they would not be serious electoral contenders. I t
  24. The first idea that jumped to my mind is the concept of "objective control" - a written constitution enables objective control by putting the purpose and means of government in plain view for reasoned judgment. Similarly, though not quite as persuasively on the face of it, republicanism facilitates objective control by permitting the rational evaluation of the actions of those in office, and their removal for malfeasance (I say not as persuasive because objective control doesn't obviously require that the electors consist of or be drawn from the public, though hereditary selection is clearly o
  25. It depends. Some MP3 players, like the Creative Zen Nano Plus have the ability to record directly from a CD player through a line-in connector, and such copying (if "noncommercial") would apparently be protected under § 1008 while copying using a personal computer would not be. Anyway, § 1008 does not limit the exclusive right granted by § 106, so you still don't have the right to copy without permission. At most, you could get away with violating someone's rights without getting sued for it. That's not exactly a ringing moral endorsement.
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