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Acount Overdrawn

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  • Birthday 05/08/1988

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  1. Hi Grifter730. Life is one's ultimate value because other proper values serve to further one's own life--life is a value in the "ultimate" sense because everything else that is sought for its benefits (like food) are "derivative" in comparison (these "derivative" values must actually be good for a person's life to be "values," mind you). Choosing to accept life as one's ultimate value is exactly that--a choice. One can be mistaken about suicidal thoughts--like when one's present condition isn't as bad as he thinks, or he's come to the idea of killing himself for mistaken or even outright stupid reasons, but that doesn't mean that suicide is inherently unjustified, in the Objectivist view. Certain dire circumstances--living under a dictatorship, or torture, or dying from some horrible disease--can make suicide a justified option. When life is no longer worth living, what kind of moral code would demand that he keep pursuing values anyway, even when he can't (or is very unlikely to succeed)?
  2. [since this isn't about the branches of Objectivism per se, I've put this post here in the "Critics of Objectivism" board, despite this not being a criticism of Objectivism. If the moderators have a better place for this, I'm more than happy to comply.] by Roderick Fitts Introduction and Key Points Concerning the "Open" and "Closed" Systems It's been about a year since I first encountered the “Closed System vs. Open System” or “Leonard Peikoff vs. David Kelley” issue, and about 9 months since I sided with the closed system advocates (in my facebook note: Why I Support the Closed System). I'd like to point out that I didn't completely understand the issue when I wrote that note, and I now regard my reasons given back then for siding with the “closed system” side as weak. To give examples, I had not yet grasped the relevant difference between philosophy and science to dispute David Kelley's claim about the need to revise and reformulate principles already accepted as “Objectivist,” and I lacked an understand of exactly why Objectivism was a proper noun, as I hadn't progressed sufficiently through the epistemology to know this. After giving it a lot more thought, interacting with Ayn Rand Institute staff and affiliates, noticing the Objectivism-related material pouring from ARI members and supporters, and re-reading the papers central to the dispute, I can properly defend my stance as a “closed system” advocate. I'd especially like to thank Diana Hsieh for posting her thoughts about this dispute, including her disagreements concerning the “open system” view that Kelley and The Objectivist Center espouse. (Comment: My interaction with the ARI has consisted of hosting speakers for the University of Michigan Students of Objectivism college lectures, taking courses at the Objectivist Academic Center, and most recently attending a summer conference about “Atlas Shrugged and the Moral Foundations of Capitalism.” While the issue of the “open/closed system” never arose in my dealings with ARI, my dealings with them helped in confirming that the accusations made about closed system advocates were strawmen and unjust.) Now, I will name what I regard to be the key points of both the “closed” and “open” view, and afterward comment on four things: (1) How the closed system is supported in academia, and why they're correct in upholding it. (2) Kelley's view of using philosophic principles in essentially the same manner as scientific ones, and why he is mistaken. (3) My reasons for characterizing the “open system” as I have here. (4) Why the closed system is misunderstood and addressing several strawmen attributed to it. Closed System: 1. Objectivism is the integrated whole of philosophic ideas, principles, and consequences (of said principles) expressed by Ayn Rand in published form, and material from others she agreed to include as part of Objectivism (e.g. Peikoff's lecture course “The Philosophy of Objectivism”) Due to the nature of integrated systems, any change of an element within Objectivism would have disastrous effects on the entire system, wrecking it. 2. New implications, applications, and integrations can always be discovered and learned by Objectivists, but these are to be considered separate from the actual philosophy as developed by Ayn Rand. One could say that some new work (e.g. one of Tara Smith's book on Rand's ethics) is “in the Objectivist tradition” or “Objectivist” in the broad sense that it is logically consistent with the philosophy, but is not an actual addition to the philosophy. 3. Objectivism is an abstract particular—a proper noun which refers ostensively to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Specifically, the set of philosophical abstractions, principles, and ideas espoused by her. As an abstract particular, it refers to the same mental content which all of us possess who know anything about Objectivism. (Comment: To grasp how "Objectivism" is a proper noun, I suggest thinking more about the differences between concepts and proper nouns. For example, the concept “car” is an abstract particular it that it refers to the same mental contents in all of us who can identify cars; there doesn't exist a “meta-concept” of “car” which is formed by omitting the measurements of our concepts of “car.” Please see Diana Hsieh's interview with Axiomatic Magazine for more on this, which can be found on the Wayback Machine's archive: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.ax...ex=3&art=4) Open System: 1. Objectivism is, in effect, equivalent to: all true ideas and principles discovered in philosophy, and to be discovered in the future. Beyond the self-evidence of axioms, all ideas and principles are subject to revision, reformulation, and/or qualification (or maybe not; I'll get to this in a second). (Comment: In a sense, not even the axioms are safe from revision, etc. because there exists specific reasons why we need axiomatic concepts, specific functions that they serve and that are not self-evident (see ItOE 2nd ed. ch. 6 and p. 260); more specifically, it's the function of axiomatic concepts as “underscorers of primary facts” which makes it epistemologically necessary to formulate axiomatic concepts into formal axioms—into a “base and a reminder.” (ItOE p. 59) ) 2. There is no inherent need to integrate the principles which are, at any given moment, determined to be “Objectivist.” Under the “open system,” the principle that knowledge is contextual (and therefore calls for integration of one's new insights into one's knowledge) need not be heeded, as principles are always subject to later revision. 3. Objectivism is to reflect the epistemological approach taken in regards to science, where principles must constantly be tested and confirmed by new data, and reformed or outright changed when the data suggests such a policy. 4. Skepticism of the truth contained in principles is the consequence of this view. Because there is never a “full context” in which to ground a principle, one can always doubt that one even has a valid principle. Academia and Closed Systems In my understanding, philosophic systems (e.g. Aristotle's philosophy, Hume's philosophy) are closed systems in the same manner that I've indicated above, and this is how they are treated in academia. For instance, in my 402 course on Aristotle, the class wrote papers interpreting areas of Aristotle's thought; even if the papers stated ideas which were logically consistent to Aristotle's philosophy, they wouldn't have been considered additions to the actual philosophy. At best, they were “Aristotelian” or “related to the philosophy of Aristotle.” This has generally been my experience as an undergrad philosophy student and reader of scholarly works: philosophies are specific sets of principles laid out by the philosophies' authors, and while new implications, applications, etc. can be drawn out by others, these do not become part of the respective philosophies. Contrary to Kelley's view from ch. 5 of "Truth and Toleration" (T&T), Peikoff's claims of philosophies being closed systems do have “precedent” and “foundation.” (p. 72; For the online text, see: http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--40-O...Toleration.aspx ) The "precedent" is the practice of scholars carefully separating the works of a philosophy's originator from the works of followers, which has gone on for centuries. The "foundation" is the cognitive need to separate Rand's philosophy from both future developments (e.g. “Neo-objectivism”) and from other distinctive philosophies (e.g. Pragmatism and Platonism), and more broadly the need to do this with every other philosophy. (Comment: In my view, it is this cognitive need which leads to forming proper nouns for people's theories, philosophies, and other mental products; a similar case involves actual people, whereupon we need a shorthand to cognitively differentiate among the various people we encounter, a function served by proper nouns.) Part 2 will cover Kelley's mistaken reasons for attributing the same methodology to philosophic principles that are (for the most part) appropriate for science. Here's the rest of my paper: Part 2: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-2-of-5/ Part 3: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-3-of-5/ Part 4: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-4-of-5/ Part 5: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-5-of-5/ Questions and comments appreciated.
  3. For future reference, I'm notoriously bad at catching sarcasm on internet discussions.
  4. Denying free will is denying the ability to self-regulate one's own consciousness, in effect: being reduced to an animal's consciousness (of course, you wouldn't agree, since there was never a higher form of consciousness to be "reduced" to). So why should we bother debating you? You can't consider and deliberate over what's being presented to you, since you can't (by implication of your own views) self-regulate your own views, and hence debate is pointless.
  5. You didn't answer my question, so I'll repeat it: What makes you think a discussion of the validation of free will is similar in type to a discussion of ghosts? Observation of ghosts is indicative of hallucinations, among other mental defects/mistaken inferences from hazy perceptions. Are you saying that free will advocates are hallucinating? Are you saying that I'm hallucinating? Because if you are, then I don't think there's any reason to continue this discussion.
  6. It should be clear to all of us that "outside evidence" here has no meaning, but this conclusion can serve a different purpose than the one brian0918 is implying. The implication for him is that if there's no "outside evidence," then there's really no way to prove free will. I would say that there's no "outside evidence" because of the nature of what we're dealing with. We're not talking about a heart, a physical thing which is in principle observable by anyone with perceptual capabilities; we're dealing with a mental capacity, which is not perceivable by anyone's extrospection and is not susceptible to sensory "evidence." Each of us, individually, is capable of directly observing only our own consciousness; "introspection" is a term which refers to a certain class of organisms which can observe the contents of their own consciousness'. Notice that the act of introspection has no "outside evidence" either, since no one else can be sure when we are or are not introspecting (beside our reports). But what makes you think a discussion of the validation of free will is similar in type to a discussion of ghosts? Of course, I disagree with your view of one person's "general unreliability" when it comes to accepting how one considers the world around him, and the epistemological consequences that would entail.
  7. I don't know where Rand says that we have no "automatic values," but she did have a conception of "value" which pertained to the goals which organisms other than humans acted to gain/keep, whether consciously (e.g. animals) or not (plants). This was her generic definition of value, "that which one acts to gain and or keep," in which the "action" applies to automatic internal goal-directed actions (e.g. blood circulation), instinctive goal-directed actions towards an external goal (e.g. hunting for prey), or volitional actions directed inward (e.g. introspection) or outward (e.g. choosing what to buy at the store). The only type of "nonautomatic value" I'm aware of is the type of values applicable to us, "moral values." Because they are chosen, they are not automatic. She may have been speaking of man not having automatic values in the context of morality, which I would agree with.
  8. I know this isn't related to the topic at all, but I'd like to briefly comment. First, that's quite a statement you've made, about a certain assumption Objectivists apparently make. I certainly don't *assume* an "ought" can be derived from an "is," I'm well aware of the fact that induction can make that kind of connection, thanks specifically to the philosophy of Objectivism. I don't think in this context there are "two meanings" of "ought"; the second kind you gave merely reduces to the first, i.e., the principle of action which is itself an ought principle is such because of the alternatives a moral agent faces when choosing between following a principle of action or not. Besides, what you gave is only a Consequentialist's conception of "ought" (the "ought" is mandated by the consequences of following certain moral principles), too narrow to be a complete concept of the philosophical term "ought," which would encompass many different forms of philosophy. And what about nihilists? They may grant that a certain thing, the "ultimate imperative" as you call it, is a fact, but how could it be a value to them? How can something be a moral value if it isn't chosen by the moral agent, which is what you're implying by showing that something is both a fact and a value? My contention, and Objectivism's, is that facts are only moral values under certain conditions and in the lives of certain moral agents, not some intrinsic property of some "ultimate" fact. Besides the fact that you're basically saying that you'll "solve" the is-ought problem by completely avoiding it, you're still running into Hume's problem. Even if we grant (a big "if") that values are intrinsic properties of facts, what makes the moral inferences drawn, or derived, valid? Though I think Hume was originally talking about deductions from "is" to "ought," his problem could generally include inductions as well.
  9. Hi fimp. I'm certain that the methods you're referring to don't exist within Objectivism. There is no "rationality pyramid" which shows to all of us what is the most rational thing to do, with a descending hierarchy of less-rational things to do. Within the requirements of living well (flourishing), different particular values (like foods) will be more-or-less rational to different people for different reasons. Considering my interests and abilities, it would be more rational for me to pursue a career like philosophy as opposed to, say, one in medicine, while the reverse could be true of someone else. In certain situations, one decision may be equally rational in comparison to another, such as what flavor of ice cream to eat; a proper philosophy guides us in our actions, it does not force us to renounce our independent judgment and dictate to us every decision of our lives thereafter. I think this optionality of values is discussed in Tara Smith's Viable Values and Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, page 323 on the latter.
  10. The recent string of attack ads on various philosophers, especially my favorite ad, "Kierkegaard in '08" The "Kant attack ad" In response, the "Nietzsche Attack Ad" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i72vGaB3ABw...feature=related And, in response to both, "Kierkegaard in '08" The "Paid for by" in the last video is hilarious.
  11. That's a good point. Similar to Rand's "indestructible robot" example, which she brought back to reality to show a greater understanding of how needs relate to values and survival. Those examples which seek for an ethical evaluation within themselves are usually given from a mistaken epistemological view: that you can obliterate contextually-absolute principles and systems using certain principles out-of-context in hypotheticals (sorry if this is unclear). The example here, which started from an Objectivist standpoint on monopolies (i.e. certain Objectivist principles applied to monopolies), is a case-in-point. While Moebius isn't saying that this hypothetical's results seems unethical (he's only asking if it's ethical), upon reading it it practically screams to me: "Look at the ridiculous results this ethics could lead to!" But let's try to concretize his hypothetical a little bit, and answer the question of whether it's "ethical." And let's assume we're discussing the Objectivist ethics. The hypothetical posits that the rent would be so high that food and rent-payment is all that people could afford. What is the largest thing one can think of that is ruled out by these stipulations? I largest I can think of is: trade. Effectively, there would no longer be (or would virtually be no) products to sell, and to whatever extent there are, there would be no customers to buy them: all of their money is going towards the ridiculous rent being demanded, and to whatever food is needed to live. But who's producing this food? The assumption is that such "cooks" would have to have bought their tools, cooking items, and equipment to cook from somewhere, but that's impossible: again, all of their money is going towards rent and whatever food they need. This example does not lead to a mere "virtual slave state": it represents the death of economic activity as such. How is this man's interests being served? If the goal was to live a life of stagnation and ease with everyone else's money gained through rent, just what is he going to spend all of that money on? As I take it, there wouldn't be much of an economy left from which lavish items could be purchased. Rather than living "the good life," this man would have to engage in an unfathomable level of micro-management simply to keep the whole charade going (that he could actually make you pay whatever he wanted and think everything would be okay). He would need droves of people to go around the world, pumping his money into all the businesses, just so they could stay in the business of not doing any. This is similar to the entire failure of central planning, and I very much doubt the ultimate consequences would be much different. None of what was discussed here would be in a rational egoist's interests. Why would it be rational to dope everyone into giving you their property? How is one's interests served by reducing everyone else to poverty levels in terms of income they can use on things besides food and living areas? Who could be happy knowing that he consciously, deliberately chose to screw billions of people over, simply because he wanted a lot of money out of them? There's nothing ethical about destroying other people's means of achieving their interests, which will in part include their wealth. Such a man is irrational, and therefore unethical, in my understanding.
  12. I would add that the principles are induced from the effects, positive and negative, of man's actions because of his nature. I don't think the principles are of the form that mrocktor says per se, because just lying once or twice won't immediately kill you off. It's not like if I gave up my virtue of independence once it would necessarily lead to my death (it could happen occasionally to some people, but as an all-around policy). Rather, the principles are conducive for living well/prosperously, while not following principles will be detrimental to living well. So it would be more like: "You must follow moral principle X, if you want to achieve goal Y." This entry from the Ayn Rand Lexicon might be helpful: Responsibility/Obligation [fixed link: d.o]
  13. Before one can have opinions, one must have thought about them. Without freedom of thought, there is no freedom of opinion. Aren't opinions the expression of value-judgments, and therefore necessarily are actions? Not all actions include thought, and not all choices are thoughts. And what about the crime of trespassing? It's the physical action of trespassing that is convicted, not his thoughts regarding the issue. If the trespasser can provide evidence that he was not intentionally trespassing (e.g. demonstrate somehow that he was sleepwalking), then that can be taken into account, but the charge and conviction would be in regards to his action.
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