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khaight

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  1. Like
    khaight got a reaction from RohinGupta in Objectivism in Academia   
    Objectivism is doing better in academia now than it ever has, IMHO. There are a number of tenured Objectivist philosophy professors, and several more working in academia who are not tenured. (Some of the untenured ones, like Andrew Bernstein, are untenured by choice. Some, like Allan Gotthelf at UPitt, are in extended visiting scholar posts. And some, like Greg Salmieri, are simply at the start of their careers.) Tara Smith at UT Austin holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism. Her last book, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics was published by Cambridge University Press, one of the most prestigious academic publishers in the world. There is a Center for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson, run by Objectivist professor C. Bradley Thompson. BB&T has funded programs for study of the moral foundations of capitalism in over 50 universities. There are Objectivists working in academia in fields cognate to philosophy, like Eric Daniels in history, or Adam Mossof and Amy Peikoff in law. The Anthem Foundation for the Study of Objectivism finances fellowships for the study of Objectivism at multiple universities. And yes, there is an Ayn Rand Society in the APA.

    And that's just off the top of my head!

    That isn't to say that Objectivism is popular in academia. But it's possible to be an Objectivist in academia these days, and there's been an impressive growth in both people and support infrastructure over the last five to ten years. I credit John McCaskey's Anthem Foundation, mentioned above, for really getting the ball rolling.
  2. Like
    khaight got a reaction from William O in Rand Quote: It's not me who will die, it's the world that will   
    No. Rand's point is that the self, the 'I', stops existing at death. We never actually experience death, because death is the end of all experience. And because of that, one can equally validly look at death as the end of the world -- the end as far as the self is concerned. Rand's view here is essentially the same as the ancient philosopher Epicurus, who famously stated his view as "Where death is not, I am; where death is, I am not."

    In 1974, interviewer James Day asked Rand "How do you, as an Objectivist, feel about death?" Rand's reply was "It doesn't concern me in the least, because I won't be here to know it. The worst thing about death, and what I regard as the most horrible human tragedy, is to lose someone you love. That is terribly hard. But your own death? If you're finished, you're finished. My purpose is not to worry about death but to live life now, here on earth."
  3. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in How Do You Show Your Objectivist Flair?   
    I use the word "psycho-epistemology" at work every now and then. My co-workers mostly seem to think I just have an overly-large vocabulary. (I remember once using the word "irredentism" in a discussion. There was a pause, and somebody asked "what does that mean?". I said "It's a form of revanchism." There was a longer pause, and I realized that probably wasn't as clarifying as I'd hoped it would be. )

    At this point I think that any of my co-workers who care are at least broadly aware of my philosophical and political leanings. Rather than hammer directly on ideas, I 'evangalize' by being very good at my job and then connecting that success back to its intellectual foundation. Show, don't tell.
  4. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in How Do You Show Your Objectivist Flair?   
    At one point I had a magnetic bumper sticker on my truck that said "Why Yes, It Is Made Of Rearden Metal". I also have a framed quotation ("These two -- Reason and Freedom -- are corollaries, and their relationship is reciprocal: when men are rational, freedom wins; when men are free, reason wins.") in my cubicle at work. Oh, and two t-shirts from Objectivist conferences of years past.

    Over the past week or so I've been reading Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics on the exercise bike at the gym, but it has yet to provoke comment.
  5. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Craig24 in Students steamed at Stanford   
    Gary is correct that, currently, Stanford students have the option of moving. As a private institution, Stanford has the political right to construct their student housing however they wish. Environmentalists, however, do not support Stanford's right to do so in cases where Stanford's wishes conflict with environmentalist dogma. Suppose Stanford wants to keep using incandescent light bulbs? I don't think it's a stretch to say that, if it had the political power, the environmentalist movement would deny Stanford's right to use regular-flow showerheads, and that is why I described the environmentalist ideology as anti-freedom. I did not say, nor did I imply, that low-flow showerheads as such are anti-freedom, and I don't think anybody else in the thread did either. They're just frustrating and ineffective devices which get deployed under pressure from environmentalists.


    Like a broken clock, even environmentalists are occasionally correct. Some of the technologies they push do offer genuine efficiency improvements -- the programmable thermostat and the no-flush urinal are two examples. However, it is worth noting that precisely because these technologies offer genuine value, they do not require support from environmentalist premises to achieve success in a free market. Capitalists do not advocate wasting time, energy or effort. We're all in favor of ways of getting more for less in our pursuit of values.
  6. Like
    khaight got a reaction from ucwp76 in Objectivism in Academia   
    Objectivism is doing better in academia now than it ever has, IMHO. There are a number of tenured Objectivist philosophy professors, and several more working in academia who are not tenured. (Some of the untenured ones, like Andrew Bernstein, are untenured by choice. Some, like Allan Gotthelf at UPitt, are in extended visiting scholar posts. And some, like Greg Salmieri, are simply at the start of their careers.) Tara Smith at UT Austin holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism. Her last book, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics was published by Cambridge University Press, one of the most prestigious academic publishers in the world. There is a Center for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson, run by Objectivist professor C. Bradley Thompson. BB&T has funded programs for study of the moral foundations of capitalism in over 50 universities. There are Objectivists working in academia in fields cognate to philosophy, like Eric Daniels in history, or Adam Mossof and Amy Peikoff in law. The Anthem Foundation for the Study of Objectivism finances fellowships for the study of Objectivism at multiple universities. And yes, there is an Ayn Rand Society in the APA.

    And that's just off the top of my head!

    That isn't to say that Objectivism is popular in academia. But it's possible to be an Objectivist in academia these days, and there's been an impressive growth in both people and support infrastructure over the last five to ten years. I credit John McCaskey's Anthem Foundation, mentioned above, for really getting the ball rolling.
  7. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Craig24 in Why are you an Objectivist?   
    Prior to discovering Objectivism, I held the following beliefs which I think made me receptive to Rand's message:

    1) The absolutism of reality. The world was what it was, not what people wanted it to be.

    2) The rejection of faith. Knowledge had to be based on observation and validated by logic. At the time, I called this "science".

    3) Intellectual honesty as a value. What was, was, and there was no virtue in pretending that something was true if it wasn't, or that it wasn't true if it was.

    4) The rejection of force as a mode of interpersonal relations. I didn't grasp this in a systematic political way, but I really resented the way I was often made to do things I couldn't see any justification for, and was threatened with punishment for non-compliance. I always thought that if it was so obvious that X was the right thing to do, then people could damn well explain to me why X was the right thing to do.

    5) No desire to sacrifice my values to other people or to God.

    I think it's obvious how, with that sort of a context, it took me less than a dozen pages of The Fountainhead before I concluded that I was on to something really good.
  8. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Craig24 in Objectivism on Public Education   
    My boss (technically my boss' boss' boss) is a liberal, who lives in Palo Alto -- an expensive city with a better-than-average public school system. When she told me she had moved there and paid the premium price for the real estate because of the schools, I said "Yes, that's the way rich white liberals exercise the school choice they want to deny to poor black children." Oy, she gave me such a look.
  9. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Craig24 in Objectivism on Public Education   
    Three points.

    First, we currently have a public education system -- and its worst failures are in the inner cities, with respect to exactly the kinds of children for whom you are professing such concern. Literacy rates among black inner city children today are actually lower than they were among slaves in the antebellum South -- when it was actually illegal to teach blacks to read. Trying to defend public education on the grounds of the needs of the poor in the slums is a sick joke. Any society which had the political will to force a public education system to operate effectively in the slums would have the will to provide voluntary charitable support for the education of the poor.

    Second, there are ample instances of people with little to no formal education achieving great success in life. These hypothetical children, who have evil parents and who cannot find any charitable support for their education, would no doubt achieve less than they could have. But so what? I'm achieving less than I could have had I been able to afford to attend Harvard. That doesn't entitle me to force someone else to pay my tuition at the point of a gun.

    Third, the pathologies of the slums are in large measure created, supported and exacerbated by the lack of freedom. Why bother to get your child an education when he's just going to go on welfare anyhow? The myriad opportunities for advancement that freedom provides to people at all economic levels makes the value of an education more apparent, and serve to motivate more parents even in poor parts of society to try to educate their kids because the connection between education and success would be more apparent to them. There was a time when poor families aspired to send their kids to college. There could be again.
  10. Like
    khaight got a reaction from softwareNerd in Bridge, Poker, Canasta...   
    My senior year in college, I lived in a suite in the dorms with 4 other guys. At the start of the year, three of us were avid bridge players. My experience is that 3 bridge players are like a free radical in chemistry: they fly around, looking for other people to convert into bridge players. Within a month, all five of us were avid bridge players, and we played a *lot* that year. (In fact, I'm fairly sure that excessive bridge playing was a contributing factor to one of the guys flunking out of college the following year.)

    The prior year I played a fair amount of poker, mostly because my roommate at the time liked to drink, play poker, and bluff badly. I didn't like him much, so I played poker with him and took a lot of his money.

    I'm also fond of hearts, spades and a rather odd game we called "High School".
  11. Like
    khaight got a reaction from 2046 in Stunning previously unpublished letter of Ayn Rand (On Christianity)   
    I don't think this is true, at least of her fully-developed ethics -- or if it is, it reduces the significance of religious belief to triviality. The virtue of rationality is central to the Objectivist ethics, and it requires that all of one's beliefs and actions be based on sensory observation and rational inference therefrom. A religion, almost by definition, entails accepting and acting on beliefs based on some non-rational foundation. To whatever extent a religion, even one that upholds a 'naturalistic view of man and free will', incorporates faith-based belief and action, it has a fundamental conflict with the virtue of rationality. The only 'religion' that is fully compatible with rationality is one whose doctrines and prescriptions are entirely validated on the basis of reason -- and in what sense can such a belief system be considered religious?

    It doesn't surprise me that this letter was written in 1943. Rand's philosophical thought developed significantly in depth, richness and scope as she wrote Atlas Shrugged. In particular, she moved from a political/ethical focus on to a deeper metaphysical/epistemological focus -- precisely the parts of philosophy that reveal the conflict between religion and Rand's views. While an egoistic ethics simpliciter may be compatible with religion, an egoistic ethics tightly integrated to a thoroughly naturalistic metaphysics and observation-based rationalist epistemology cannot be.
  12. Like
    khaight got a reaction from 2046 in Greetings, I'm new. Why is there this hatred towards Objectivism?   
    I think part of this is simple credentialism. Rand was an outsider claiming to have resolved a number of long-standing philosophical problems -- and her solutions were often radically different from the ideas held by the intellectual establishment. She constructed her philosophy using her own terminology, which can create a problem of translation. And some of her positions, taken on their own, just don't seem to make any sense when transplanted into a more mainstream philosophical context.

    Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Rand advocates egoism in ethics -- the view that each individual should pursue his own interests. But mainstream philosophy tends to equate interests with desires, and desires conflict. This means the advocacy of egoism is often taken by mainstream philosophers as the advocacy of doing whatever you want, and that isn't an ethics. It's an abdication of ethics. Rand has a different concept of what a person's interests are, and argues that interests properly understood do not conflict, but without that context her advocacy of egoism just doesn't seem to make sense.

    Someone who discovers Objectivism while holding a detailed foreign philosophical context is likely to misunderstand it in ways that make it look simplistic, wrongheaded or even absurd. It probably doesn't help that many college professors encounter Objectivism in the mouths of overconfident freshmen acting like disruptive know-it-alls in introductory philosophy courses. So what you have, from their point of view, is a hash of contradictory and absurd ideas written by an academic outsider, not peer-reviewed, not published in the 'accepted' journals, mouthed by the undereducated and not going away. From that mindset I'm almost surprised they aren't more hostile than they are.

    Social reinforcement plays a role here too. With such a poor first impression, why dig deeper when the only immediate reward will be your colleagues making fun of you for your interest in 'that Rand cult stuff'? Better to ignore it and write something you can get published in time for your tenure review.

    Objectivists hold some responsibility for this state of affairs too. Attempts to bridge the contextual gap between Objectivism and mainstream philosophy are a relatively recent phenomenon, being driven by the handful of Objectivists holding academic positions. Allan Gotthelf, Tara Smith, Ben Bayer and Greg Salmieri are good examples here. It's a learning process on both sides. Geoff Sayre-McCord, the chairman of the philosophy department at UNC Chapel Hill, is an example of a non-Objectivist philosopher who seems to take Objectivism as a serious intellectual phenomenon, so they do exist.

    Finally, from what I hear, things are getting better than they were. Time was that an interest in Ayn Rand was an absolute career-killer anywhere in academia. You had to hide it if you wanted to get a job. That's no longer true.
  13. Like
    khaight got a reaction from 2046 in Use of Force and Rational Self-Interest   
    Try shifting your perspective on the question a bit. Instead of focusing on the one specific, concrete action, look at it from a character-centric perspective. What kind of person would use force if they thought they could get away with it, and is it in your overall self-interest to be that kind of person? There are two basic alternatives. You could be someone who acts on principle, long-range, and accepts a principle advocating the initiation of force against others. In that case, though, you will find that you cannot rationally validate such a principle consistently. It leads to double-standards -- others produce, you take. It turns the rationality and insight of other men into your enemy, because they might catch you. It undercuts your self-esteem because you know you can't create the values you need to survive on your own. It makes you second-handed, because you need to focus on deceiving other men to survive. And so on. A principle that validates the initiation of force against others comes into conflict with most if not all of the principles defining the other Objectivist virtues. If you accept such a principle in spite of all this, you are effectively rejecting the sovereignty of reason over your beliefs and actions, because you are allowing your actions to be guided by a principle that you know you haven't rationally validated. And since reason is your basic means of survival, it should be obvious that rejecting it is not and cannot be in your self-interest.

    The other possibility is that you are someone who does not act on principle, long-range. You allow your actions to be controlled by short-range desires, out of context, even when the principles you otherwise claim to accept counsel otherwise. This is a much more direct route to rejecting reason. Is it in your self-interest to be a short-range pragmatist? Again, no.

    One might ask "Why can't I act on rational principle, drop the principle just this one time because the payoff is huge, and then go back to acting on rational principle afterwards? Why does, say, stealing a million dollars now prevent me from being totally honest afterwards?" Simple. If you have really gone back to being totally honest, then you are an honest person in possession of a million dollars that belongs to someone else. What would an honest person do in such a situation? Give the money back to its rightful owner. Obviously, if you do this, you won't benefit in any way from the theft. (Quite the opposite.) And if you don't, then you aren't being honest any more -- you have rejected the principle of honesty on an ongoing basis.
  14. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Dante in Use of Force and Rational Self-Interest   
    Try shifting your perspective on the question a bit. Instead of focusing on the one specific, concrete action, look at it from a character-centric perspective. What kind of person would use force if they thought they could get away with it, and is it in your overall self-interest to be that kind of person? There are two basic alternatives. You could be someone who acts on principle, long-range, and accepts a principle advocating the initiation of force against others. In that case, though, you will find that you cannot rationally validate such a principle consistently. It leads to double-standards -- others produce, you take. It turns the rationality and insight of other men into your enemy, because they might catch you. It undercuts your self-esteem because you know you can't create the values you need to survive on your own. It makes you second-handed, because you need to focus on deceiving other men to survive. And so on. A principle that validates the initiation of force against others comes into conflict with most if not all of the principles defining the other Objectivist virtues. If you accept such a principle in spite of all this, you are effectively rejecting the sovereignty of reason over your beliefs and actions, because you are allowing your actions to be guided by a principle that you know you haven't rationally validated. And since reason is your basic means of survival, it should be obvious that rejecting it is not and cannot be in your self-interest.

    The other possibility is that you are someone who does not act on principle, long-range. You allow your actions to be controlled by short-range desires, out of context, even when the principles you otherwise claim to accept counsel otherwise. This is a much more direct route to rejecting reason. Is it in your self-interest to be a short-range pragmatist? Again, no.

    One might ask "Why can't I act on rational principle, drop the principle just this one time because the payoff is huge, and then go back to acting on rational principle afterwards? Why does, say, stealing a million dollars now prevent me from being totally honest afterwards?" Simple. If you have really gone back to being totally honest, then you are an honest person in possession of a million dollars that belongs to someone else. What would an honest person do in such a situation? Give the money back to its rightful owner. Obviously, if you do this, you won't benefit in any way from the theft. (Quite the opposite.) And if you don't, then you aren't being honest any more -- you have rejected the principle of honesty on an ongoing basis.
  15. Like
    khaight got a reaction from softwareNerd in Hello World   
    As far as I'm concerned honest questions from interested non-Objectivists are one of the major purposes of the forum. Be aware that you'll likely get a plethora of answers -- not everybody here is an Objectivist, not everybody here fully understands Objectivism, and there is plenty of room for disagreement even among those who do.

    It sounds as though the only thing you have read so far is Atlas Shrugged. If you're planning to explore the philosophy more deeply you should probably start with a non-fictional overview. There are several of varying length, depth and format on the Ayn Rand Institute's website. Or if you have specific questions, toss them out and we'll be off to the races.
  16. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Myself in Impossible Relationship?   
    When my wife and I were dating we had a number of political disagreements -- particularly on environmental issues. So we argued them, and what we found was that our disputes were based on differences in factual knowledge and on the application of shared principles. Over time and with discussion our concrete political views converged, because we did share the same underlying political values.

    My conclusion is that disagreement on concrete political issues in the early stages of a relationship can stem from a number of different causes. If it's a result of fundamentally incompatible political values, that's a bad sign. If it's a question of ignorance or tactics, that's less significant.
  17. Like
    khaight got a reaction from icosahedron in Impossible Relationship?   
    When my wife and I were dating we had a number of political disagreements -- particularly on environmental issues. So we argued them, and what we found was that our disputes were based on differences in factual knowledge and on the application of shared principles. Over time and with discussion our concrete political views converged, because we did share the same underlying political values.

    My conclusion is that disagreement on concrete political issues in the early stages of a relationship can stem from a number of different causes. If it's a result of fundamentally incompatible political values, that's a bad sign. If it's a question of ignorance or tactics, that's less significant.
  18. Like
    khaight got a reaction from 2046 in Koran Burning in Florida: Called Off   
    A shame. The people doing the burning were unattractive loons, but this is yet another instance of a double-standard being applied to Muslims as opposed to everybody else. IMHO the situation is ripe for a group to stage a Koran-burning for the express purpose of attacking the double-standard. If you really wanted to have fun, do a triple-burn: the Bible, the Koran and (to keep it fair) Atlas Shrugged. The point being to focus attention specifically on the fact that the principle of free expression (and the right to give offense) applies to *all* ideas.
  19. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Mindy in Android/Droid Phones   
    Oh yes, definitely. Stallman's position is basically that property rights do not apply to software because its duplication costs are trivial. On his view, property rights are a socially-convenient mechanism for adjudicating competing claims to scarce resources. Physical objects like toothbrushes are scarce in that only one of us can use them at a time. If I take the toothbrush, you can't have it, and vice versa, so we need some way to figure out which one of us gets it. Software and digital media aren't like that. If you have Photoshop, and I make a copy, you still have yours. It isn't scarce in the relevant sense -- there is no need to adjudicate access because we can both have it, ergo no need for property rights. On this line of thinking if I have a piece of digital media and I refuse to let you copy it, I'm guilty of 'software hoarding'.

    This view of property rights is false and its consequences are pernicious. At OCON2010 GMU law professor Adam Mossoff traced this theory back to Bentham and the utilitarians and connected it to a variety of modern attacks on the very concept of intellectual property.

    Eric Raymond's justification for "Open Source" is much more pragmatic. In effect he argues that for certain kinds of software all parties benefit from releasing their source code to the public. It's just a different model for creating value in the software industry. If an individual developer judges that his interests are best served by opening his source code, or by contributing to an open source project, then he should do so. If not, not. Open source is entirely compatible with egoism, as long as you understand that not all value trades are binary or monetary.
  20. Like
    khaight got a reaction from softwareNerd in Nature of Man and His Relationship with Government   
    Good questions. I appreciate your historical knowledge; it's nice to see someone who doesn't think the country was founded in 1968.

    I think your question poses a false alternative, from the Objectivist perspective. Objectivists draw a distinction between the function of government and the structure; only the former is dictated by philosophical politics. The function of government is the protection of individual rights. The structure of government is validated by its ability to enable the government to perform that function. If a strong centralized government is best for that, so be it. If a decentralized government is best, that's fine too. Figuring out which structure best serves the proper function is a question for political science, not philosophy, and as such Objectivism doesn't take a fixed position. Rand herself was a strong supporter of the Constitution, but typically in contrast to unlimited government -- I don't know of a place where she explicitly contrasted it to the Articles of Confederation. I suspect she viewed that as a secondary issue -- like us, she lived in a time when people had lost sight of the proper function of government, and without that debates over structure are largely pointless.

    Objectivists definitely reject the government's interference with the money supply and consider taxation morally illegitimate, so those two aspects of the Articles are more consistent with the principle of individual rights. But the lack of ability to make treaties, and the seemingly inadequate provisions for military defense make the Articles look structurally flawed in other ways.

    Speaking personally, I think the system of checks and balances built into the Constitution by Madison and others is pure genius. Authority should be distributed and balanced because it makes it harder for a small number of men to co-opt the power of government for corrupt ends. That said, though, it is quite possible for a local government in a decentralized system to violate the rights of its citizens locally, and when that happens it is just as wrong as when a centralized government does it. The root issue is always whether rights are being violated. We should not be debating whether government should be centralized or decentralized; we should be debating whether it should be limited or unlimited -- and, if limited, by what and to what?



    Rand knew of and often recommended the works of Ludwig von Mises, although she had reservations about his neo-Kantian epistemology. She was much less supportive of Hayek. Rand's project goes much deeper than politics. She once described herself as not an advocate of capitalism but of egoism, and not an advocate of egoism but of reason. She argued that if one accepted reason as one's sole means of knowledge and guide to action, with everything that presupposed and required, that egoism and capitalism followed as a matter of course. You can't really understand what Rand was trying to do by focusing on her politics, because the politics are a mere consequence of a much more profound system of thought.



    Rand's aim in Atlas Shrugged was to explore the role of the mind in man's existence -- morally, socially, culturally and politically. Far and away the best analysis of the novel is the collection Essays on Ayn Rand's _Atlas Shrugged_ edited by Robert Mayhew.



    The two best short sources for the core of Rand's views on politics are her two essays "Man's Rights" and "The Nature of Government". For the core of her ethics, read "The Objectivist Ethics".

    If you're interested in concrete applications of Objectivist principles to cultural and political issues there are a number of essay collections: _Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal_, _Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution_ and _The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought_ provide a decent cross-section. The Ayn Rand Institute has a vast amount of material up on their web site. Oh, and the Ayn Rand Center has a site up called Principles of a Free Society that discusses... well, I'm sure you can figure it out.

    One final thought -- since you seem to dislike neo-conservatism, I wonder if you're aware of C. Bradley Thompson and Yaron Brook's Neo-Conservatism: An Obituary for an Idea?
  21. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Mindy in I think I might have to leave objectivism   
    All but two of these points are not part of Objectivism. They're not philosophical principles, they're at most applications of philosophical principles to concretes, and more often they're matters of personal emotional or aesthetic response. The exceptions are the (implied) support of anarchism and the question of the 'is-ought' relation -- and the latter is so vaguely put that I'm not sure it's actually in conflict with Objectivism.


    In such an essentialized definition a lot of vitally important stuff is left out. As I recall in the same summary she describes the ethics as "self-interest" but never mentions virtue. Does that mean she thinks the virtues aren't part of Objectivism? Obviously not. She views the virtues as implied by self-interest -- they are the necessary means by which one's self-interest is defined and pursued. Similarly, defining politics in terms of capitalism implies government -- capitalism is the system of individual rights and government (in Rand's view) is a necessary means for protecting them. Does that connection require a defense? Obviously, just as the connection between self-interest and the virtues requires a defense. But the fact that she didn't include that defense while standing on one foot doesn't mean that she views government as unimportant or anarchism as compatible with Objectivism.
  22. Like
    khaight reacted to Hermes in Free exchange?   
    Suart Hayashi wrote an essay on "The Argument from Arbitrary Metaphysics." Basically, he shows why strawmen are not real and need not be considered.


    In the initial problem, the victim was judged mentally competent by her doctors, but incompetent by her plumber. There is a problem in that. I am 60; my wife is 55. We work with our minds and we are aging. She just went through a four-hour examination that provided a multidimensional profile of strengths and weaknesses, norms and variances. There is no such thing as "mentally competent" (except in a government court of law).

    I am sorry not to have the exact reference, but in Isaac Asimov's "Black Widowers" anthologies there is a story. The Black Widowers is a society of amateur sleuths who meet to unravel whatever mystery is brought to them once a month by a dinner guest. One month a man comes with an "unsolvable" problem. They hear him out and offer their insights. Each is deflected in turn with new information. Finally, the butler, Henry (as is always the case) offers the solution: He is lying. The guest was making up reasons not to accept the solution based on the facts given originally. So, too, here, is this a lie. Not that HobHouse22 is evil, but that the situation offered is unreal and each adjustment is required specifically because the inital problem was unreal.

    HobHouse22 was only asking a different (and interesting) question: What are the limits of commercial ethics?

    You do not need to make up little old ladies and plumbers. My professional hobby is numismatics, the art and science of the forms and uses of money, which most people call "coin collecting." I speak at conventions; I have been granted literary awards. I do this well. The hobby guys think that Home Shopping Network is deplorable, a scam, a ripoff. Many denounce Littleton Coin Company, also. The reason is that those entities charge "too much." To the hobbyist, it is obvious that no one should pay $60 for a $50 coin, when with four or five hours in a coin shop you can find one almost as nice without too many problems for $40. These same guys rave to heaven about the "1804 Dollar" and the "1913 Nickel" which are multi-million dollar auction items whose pedigrees have names. I consider them junk. The genuine 1804 Dollars are only "novodels" a Russian word for special work for friends of the Mint. The 1913 Nickels are all fakes. But that is just my opinion, apparently, as the multi-million dollar price tags prove that the market is always right. These famous collectors are successful businessmen. Can you tell someone with a multi-mega-dollar Beverly Hills car dealership that he doesn't know value?

    So, if you want to discuss real cases, there are many. If you want to put a theoretical wrapper around these specifics, we can do that. What are the limits of commercial ethics? Can you cite cases?
    Those are real questions.
  23. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Ben Archer in I'm seeing a girl who has a boyfriend...   
    Whenever Leonard Peikoff talks about the process of judging people he puts a tremendous emphasis on getting all the facts. Details matter.
  24. Like
    khaight got a reaction from Mindy in How do you know everyone's senses are the same?   
    Let me recast the question in a more concrete way. Someone claims to possess a sense mode that you do not have; on the basis of that new sense mode they claim to perceive things you do not. Should you believe them? The basic claim here is the possession of a new sense mode. What evidence do they present for its existence? Can they explain how it works? What physical basis does it have? Can the things they claim to perceive be integrated with the things you perceive with your senses, or do they contradict your perceptions? Etc.

    If I'm blind, and you come to me and say you possess a sense mode -- vision -- that I don't, why should I believe you? You can present lots of evidence in terms I can understand that vision exists. I can touch the sense organ from which vision arises. I can grasp the concept of ambient energy in the environment as similar to sound waves and heat, and vision can be explained as a response to a form of that ambient energy. You can use your vision to identify objects too far away to touch, describe them and I can validate some of their characteristics like shape using my own senses. That provides a solid basis for my accepting that vision is real, even though I don't have it myself.

    But if someone says they possess a new sense mode, but they can't or won't provide any evidence or explanation, then they're just asserting a claim arbitrarily. Demand the proof.
  25. Like
    khaight got a reaction from KevinD in Is Ayn Rand's philosophy corrupted?   
    Yes, Rand was influenced by Nietzsche in her earlier years. This is very obvious if one reads her journals, particularly the notes for her project "The Little Street". She acknowledges the influence - and it's limits - in the introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of "The Fountainhead". But you have to keep those limits in mind. Rand was attracted to Nietzsche in her youth because he was one of the very few seeming defenders of the individual she had found in the western intellectual tradition. But as she matured intellectually she found his philosophy fundamentally flawed and she rejected it. What she 'took' from Nietzsche was his poetic reverence for the potential of man. What she rejected were the mystical and irrationalist ideas on which he based that reverence. Rand found a better basis in Aristotle, and built on that.
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