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Tenure

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Everything posted by Tenure

  1. Come the revolution, are we first up against the wall?

  2. I love this post by Betsy where she states the basic difference between Rand and most academics is their repudiation of objectivity (a bit of a 'Well, duh!', but it bears repeating): http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...ost&p=47976 In fact that whole thread, from that point on, is a good discussion of Rand's method and why the fact it is not 'academic' is what's so damn good about it!
  3. I can't wait to see what they do with that live-action film of Tin-Tin now. "My god, Tin-Tin, they've stolen the Professor's shark-submarine!" "Indeed, Captain Haddock. Shit's gonna get fucked up. Fucked up, Belgian style."
  4. Ah! I only listened to the first few of those lectures in induction back last year. They're hazy in my memory, and I had no idea what the 'problem of induction' was, so it never really integrated properly. I knew he said *something* about the crow/swan thing, I just didn't know what it was. I thought it was something like the response to Descartes' doubt thing, "There's no reason to consider the arbitrary... unless you have reason; in which case, it wouldn't be arbitrary anyway". But, in fact, it seems what Peikoff was saying in this case was that this isn't about considering the arbitrary, but actually a matter of proper induction (and specifically, that enumerative induction is not good in and of itself). Sorry if that seems I'm just saying back to you what you just said. I just find it helps cements a new bit of knowledge (and, if I make an error in understanding, it means someone can point it out to me). So, regarding your first point about certainty: yes, indeed! And I was thinking this in class today. The professor was talking about Gettier's problem, and that it runs (in part) on this assumption: that it is impossible to have false knowledge. And to clarify what this meant, he stated that a belief cannot both be justified (where justification could be the most strictest, most stringent kind of induction or deduction), and then turn out to be false. What this would lead to is a state of pure skepticism, where all *supposedly* justified claims are, potentially, false. At best, it means all things are probable, but not quite definite. However, if I'm getting what you say here, this does not necessarily have to lead to skepticism, because, by the very nature of my discovering I am wrong: if I am capable of making justified claims which turn out to be false, I must have some infallible method by which to verify claims. To sum up: I can have knowledge, of which I can be reasonably certain (which I can have no reason to doubt, but which is still fallible). I also have a method of verification, of which I am absolutely certain (which I have no reason to doubt because it is infallible). As a consequence, knowledge is 'justified belief' which I have every reason to believe to be true -- and if it turns out that my justified belief is not true, it does not invalidate my method of knowing truth, it just means that I am not omniscient and not infallible.
  5. David - reading that section, when she approaches the end, she says: "What have I added to the term "reality" by saying "facts"? I have narrowed it. I have said: whichever aspects, events, or existents you happen to know, these are the facts of reality -- meaning: these are the things which actually exist." (Emphasis mine; for convenience) Am I right to draw from this, that we can possess knowledge, of which we can be justifiably certain, but which turns out to be false? Does it turn out to be false in the face of facts? And, given that, are facts knowledge which can never be false? I draw this last question from the statement by 'Prof B' which Rand affirms: "'Fact' designates existents, but it is used in a context in which it is relevant to distinguish knowledge from error". This statement implies that facts are absolutely true, but that we can have knowledge which is false (and a quick question - since you raised the "crow" issue in that other thread: what do we say about knowledge at the time when we are only aware of black crows? Can we saw we certainly and truthfully know that only black crows exist?).
  6. I hope a few people here are aware of Gettier's problems with Justified True Belief (JTB). We're looking at it in our Epistemology seminars, and I thought I had a response to it, but it turns out I may have made a mistake. I'll summarise what I said, and then post what I originally said. Basically: something is true only once it has been identified as so. A 'fact' describes the relationship between our mind and reality - namely that our the a proposition in our mind reflects something in reality. This relationship is justification. In the "Justified True Belief", the word "true" is redundant, because it is implied by "justification". But I read this thread where D.O. and Dan Edge discuss the Correspondence Theory, and D.O. makes a few marks about Gettier, and states an objection to Dan Edge that I don't quite understand, but which basically mean that truth does not come about through justification, and that 'false knowledge' is possible. I was wondering if anyone can weigh in here on Gettier's problems, or if D.O or Dan Edge would care to say something, because I'm quite stuck on this issue. And my statement on this issue in full (at least, the conclusion): "Gettier's objections are perfectly sound given the premises of analytic logic, and it shows why it is just so insane, and why it really is just a modern day version of Platonism, where we treat true knowledge as some perfect form, which exists outside ourselves. Gettier's claims are valid, so long as we accept that one can make some sort of "logically true", justified argument, without knowing the truth (without conforming to reality) - and so long as we accept that something can also be true without justification (that "objective truth" is some literal thing, out in reality, not requiring any kind of recognition on the part of the seeker for it to be "true") However, I should note, that this does not mean that Justified True Belief is at all wrong, of course, except that the word 'true' is redundant. As O'ists, we hold that Truth and Justification are one and the same, and cannot exist separate of one another. All this Gettier problem shows is that abstracting "truth" from "justification" results in the erosion of any justifications, and results in the search for truth in something outside of what can be "purely reasoned" (thank you, Kant!)."
  7. I would mention one other thing that a friend pointed out to me: there is nothing wrong with an Objectivist supporting a Libertarian group. The whole issue has always been that, well, it looks like "Objectivism" is endorsing this or that position, and that there's no difference between the two. But the truth is, one is a human being first and an Objectivist second. Whilst Objectivism guides ones life, and one practices what one preaches, one is not a representative of 'Objectivism', in the sense that everything which one does is representative of what Objectivism is about. But that's what's so great about having the Ayn Rand Institute as this pure group which refuses to endorse things like the Libertarian party or the libertarian movement. It means that we can garner support for our cause, associate with libertarians and try to get them to be active in supporting our cause or donating to the ARI. We can do what the ARI cannot do, because by doing so, even though it does not mean to endorse a group, it would like it was endorsing it. Hell, even if it's just in direct political action like getting the support of sympathetic groups in voting down or up on some issue, or in campaigning a political representative. And when someone asks us who we are, what we believe, we can point to this pure, untainted source at the ARI and say, "Look, this is what I'm about!"
  8. Hugh Jackman Edit: One guy who looks good in a Fedora wearing modern clothes:
  9. I would say it's a result of people not dressing so smart anymore. I'm no expert on fashion, so I have no idea why smart went out of style. You'd have to look into that to find your answer - why the shift towards casual? An embrace of the joys of life? The freedom (and money) to enjoy the luxurious and casual? I don't think it's the 'hippy generation' though. I wouldn't want to see them brought into style, unless suits came back big time. And I don't honestly care to see everyone dressing so formal again. I prefer seeing variety - it's why I like living in the city. Formal hats on a guy in trainers, jeans and t-shirt looks ridiculous.
  10. I'd offer, although, Santiago does have a good voice.
  11. Well, there's part of your problem. You haven't essentially defined what an ethical system is. You've imported a normative ethic (an ethical rule) into your definition of "ethical system". A certain ethical system could be one which sees people doing "whatever they want" as being wrong. This causes issues for you, because then you can't understand a system which tells you what you may do -- you only understand it in terms of things which you are forbidden to do; constraints on your choices, telling you what you shouldn't do, rather than guides to choices, telling you what you should do. As Sanjavalen pointed out, what Rand said was that this is a mistake. People inherently thinking that Ethics should be something about "stopping people from doing what they want". Now, she wasn't advocating that people should just do whatever they want, but she noted that by putting in that delimitation, you're involving a non-necessary attribute in your definition of an ethical system. She asked why we need an ethical system and the answer she found can be split into two sections: 1) We need a system of ethics because we do not know what we ought to do in every situation (given the choices we have) 2) We need a system of ethics, because we need some sort of principles (we can't hold in our head what we should do in every conceivable type of situation). So, we the purpose of ethics, you see, has something to do with how we should act, which must be defined in certain principles (but that's a side issue for now, the principles thing). The other important step to learn is the whole thing, as stated above, that ethics must be concerned only with life, and the kinds of things which support life. To understand this, you have to understand life's conditional nature, specifically man's conditional nature, and make a whole heap of inductions about what his life requires so as to flourish.
  12. Not least of all because you're the one buying them these damn clothes! What it really translates to is: "The parents are brainwashed by the marketing and unable to resist buying this stuff for the kids."
  13. I think a large part of your problem is you inherently divorce morality from life: I don't have Tara Smith's 'Viable Values', the copy I read was borrowed from the library, so I can't provide a good page reference, but about half way through, she explicates on this point of Rand's. Yes, you get it right in the first part there - morality makes no sense without life - but you fail to grasp the full implications of this. It isn't merely that morality requires one to be alive - it is that all actions within the context of life are actions worthy of moral appraisal. All actions have some impact upon your life, and are therefore up for evaluation on how moral they are. This is an important step to grasp and in understand this vital meta-ethical point, it opens the door to the rest of Rand's ethics. You have to understand that the central issue in morality is not "choice" but "life". It's not like when faced with a choice you can say, "I can either make this choice which will effect my life, or this one which will not". Morality, once you understand this, is involved in every decision, and is inherently tied to how you live you life. You cannot escape that life is going to be at the center of your decisions. So, in other words, you don't choose to make life the center of action - rather, by choosing to act, you choose to concern yourself with life. Also, you misunderstand the whole point of "nature". Yes, Rand placed great stock in obeying one's nature. But that's only half the battle. One does not merely obey for the sake of being a slave to something beyond oneself. One isn't a pawn in a cosmic game of evolutionary progression, nor in the effective "spreading of genes". Rather, one obeys ones nature precisely because one is an individual, who has his own life to lead, and because one needs to know how to live it. Hence the expression, "Nature: to obey, so as to be commanded". The point of obeying one's nature is in understanding what it means to live qua man. It means, recognising, "Since I am a man, I can only live as a man. I can't photosynthesise, and I certainly don't have any instinctual method of survival." This investigation leads one to discover that man has a central capacity - reason - which can be applied in a certain manner - towards production (of live-serving values) - as well as a central purpose which gives purpose to all of that acting - happiness/flourshing/eudaimonia. I could go on, but really, you only need to look back at the Virtue of Selfishness to see Rand elaborate on what it means to live qua man. If you don't get it then, I highly recommend to you Tara Smith's two great works: "Viable Values" and "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics" (in that order). So, this is basically why the is-ought problem isn't a problem. The is-ought problem identifies the central problem in morality as "choice". It identifies that man is capable of choosing a lot of things, but states that there is no justifying reason that compels him to any specific course. Ayn Rand correctly identified that, actually, "choice" isn't the central concern here, it's "life". Harking back to Aristotle, she pointed out that, eventually, all choices trace back to one essential choice "the choice to live", a choice which no one can escape, and a choice which is inherently made when one chooses to act (hence I think Peikoff makes the point in OPAR that to "choose to die" is simply to cease action).
  14. This guy is actually pretty cool. You know the Treaty of Lisbon, right? Basically, it was one of the latest great expansions of the EU. The MEPs were willing to pass it, as were the Houses here. This guy was basically trying to get a vote on it, as in, a public vote, because he knew that the British public would vote it down. I mean, the British public are pretty sick of the EU, which is why any steps forward are kept out of the public vote here. The big guys know what's best for us after all. Anyway, his party (a far-Right party, mind you) got sick of his constant demands, at the end of every speech - Carthago Delenda Est style - for a public vote on the Treaty. He was asked to leave, and did so. He now sits as a backbench MEP these days, making his stand known, but remaining pretty ineffectual. He's a very good bloke. David Cameron (party leader of the Conservatives) has taken a cue from a book Hannon wrote, putting forward proposals (at least in the media - we'll see if it translates to any action as a Manifesto) to begin down-scaling the Government, lowering taxes and putting more emphasis on Local councils, as opposed to centralised authority. Hurrah.
  15. Anthem's got it right here. The point is that a bunch of guys, who thought themselves more morally capable than anyone else (which isn't necessarily bad thing), took it upon themselves - some were even granted the political authority - to take any devastating action necessary to get to a certain end. I still don't think they made it clear enough though, just how tenuous this peace is meant to be - they really shouldn't have omitted that line from Dr M, but I like the addition of the "deformed" line, that was very poetic (I'm not sure if that's new; is that new?). The thing is meant to be a critique of politicians who think themselves "supermen" and the kind of people who turn to them out of fear in a time of crisis (kind of like 'V for Vendetta', written at the same time, in the same Cold War era). It is meant to be making the statement that we should be very afraid of putting our trust in them and believing that they will do the right thing. It is meant to reaffirm that we should take responsibility for changing the world ourselves, lest we get wiped out like Rorschach or the millions in those nuked cities.
  16. Mostly alarmist babble, but I can see the point and I agree to an extent. If one's social world is just Facebook, then one would end up in a very weird, social metaphysical world (and not in a particularly effective one either). However, I really do not think children and teenagers spend that much time on Facebook. They still live their lives. It also annoys me that they include this same pseudo-scientific claim about video games. Children will, apparently, become accustomed to short-term rewards and expect to be able to do everything over again, with no regards to consequences, just like the video games. They cannot tell reality from fiction. That's bull - if a child can't do that, it's a fault of his education, not this particular stimulus.
  17. Thomas, your post is absolutely spot on. Well said, sir.
  18. I don't like the picture of him that they use, but other than that, yeah, it's nice.
  19. Sarkozy, incidentally, is lauding this over the rest of the Europe, because France has not been so hard hit by the recession. What he means is that their usual average 10% unemployment rate has not changed in the Financial Crisis. Britain, by comparison, usually has a rate around 5%, which has risen to 6.5%. His conclusion is somehow that since France hasn't had more unemployment, it is somehow faring 'better'. Asshole.
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