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Everything posted by Koustubh

  1. Then I am at a complete loss to understand what distinction you are trying to make between your position and David's or Grames'.
  2. I think there is a slight difference in your idea of the role of government should be and mine (and I believe David's and the dissenters'). You seem to believe that the government can act against violations of morality when it affects others and is objectively proveable. I believe that the government should only act against initiations of force (direct physical force or violation of a contract). I have a related post on my blog here. The problem with your claim is that the government would be the one initiating force if it were to act as you believe it should.
  3. How did you form the concept "choice"? Obviously by experiencing it as you admit. You could not have formed it by observing anything external to you. So there is no other way in which you could have formed it. Then you go ahead and deny it. That is concept stealing.
  4. Here is the definition of absolute from the merriam-webster dictionary ... 4: having no restriction, exception, or qualification <an absolute requirement> <absolute freedom> 5: positive, unquestionable <absolute proof> ... 7: fundamental, ultimate <absolute knowledge> ... 9: being self-sufficient and free of external references or relationships <an absolute term in logic> <absolute music> Meanings 4, 5, 7 are what the concept "absolute" has to do with certainty. Meaning 9 is what it has to do with primacy of existence And none of the meanings (including the ones I omitted) even mention time or change.
  5. Look at the quotes in the Ayn Rand Lexicon on Absolutes here. My understanding is that the concept "absolute" represents the primacy of existence and its consequences, such as the possibility and method of achieving certainty. It has nothing to do with change over time.
  6. But survival by reason includes the use of force when necessary. If a lion attacks a man, would killing the lion be amoral? If not, what is the essential difference between an attack by a lion and an attack by a man. In both cases the only action possible is a resort to force. That the attacking lion cannot reason whereas the attacking man chooses not to reason is not essential.
  7. It is not clear to me why acting in self defense in an emergency is amoral at best.
  8. A right to retaliate (if granted) only has meaning in a social context. So no one is suddenly losing anything. If such a right were granted even outside of emergencies, everyone would remain at the mercy of any person who believes he is justified in using force (maybe he is actually retaliating, or maybe he is deluded or maybe he thinks he can manufacture evidence or whatever). Rights come from a recognition of man's nature. Men are not omniscient and even rational men can make mistakes. If a rational man believes that he has been the victim of force and makes a mistake, innocents will be harmed. If the man knows his retaliation will be punished, he will allow the law to take its course (assuming that he is rational). You propose to grant the "right" to retaliate and then hold anyone who acts on that "right" as guilty until proved innocent?? Then you accept that the "right" would be irrelevant in practice. That is what you get by proposing a right that should not be there in the first place.
  9. I think you agree that a society that allowed people to "take justice in their own hands" would soon devolve into chaos. Yet you think that people should be free to retalliate to force even outside of emergencies by principle. That is the contradiction. Your principle that man should always be free to retalliate to force does not account for the fact that man lives in a society, that it is crucially important (for their own security) for his neighbors to judge his use of force, that his neighbors are not omniscient and need objective evidence to judge. Every is implies an ought. The fact that man is in a society, that his knowledge is limited and that the use of force is destructive, imply that he ought to delegate the responsibility for the retalliatory use of force to a government. You say that justifying something by the envisioned consequences is pragmatism. It is not. It is final causation. It is only by envisioning consequences in the context of the nature of man and the requirements of a rational mind, that we can derive principles. Pragmatism is the rejection of these principles as being irrelevant.
  10. You are mixing up the guiding principle for forming laws with the consequences of proper laws. Let me reiterate: Laws are not designed to improve human life. Laws are not designed to do anything positive. Laws are designed to prevent anyone from using force to interfere with the choices of others. A lie does not interfere with anyone's thinking process or actions (making choices). Force or the threat of force always does. Let me clarify this with your mugging example How does the victim decide which choice is right? By considering all alternatives. If any of these involves force or a threat of force, the choice is forced. On the other hand, outlawing lies is certainly an initiation of force against the liar. If the liar judges that lying is to his interest and the law punishes him for lying (obviously by force), the law has initiated force (if you grant that the lie did not initiate force which you must). No one can deny that lying is immoral. But if you want to make it illegal, you will have to come up with a way of doing it that does not result in the initiation of force against the liar. And that is not possible. As regards your liar examples, case 1 and case 3 are not initiations of force. Case 2 is. It is a violation of the victim's right to property (tampering with his coffee without his consent). Although I don't think it is central to the arguement, let me point out that both metaphysical and man made facts are equally important in practising rationality. There is no fundamental orientation towards "metaphysical reality". The difference is important only when one is judging them morally.
  11. Ok, that is out of the way. Let me address the concrete examples before attempting to generalize. You say that the mugger presents the victim with a choice and there is no force involved as the victim is still able to think through his decision. Yes, force is not involved in the immediate moment. But threat of force is involved. The victim will not be able to think through in the future should he choose not to surrender. Only one of the choices is free of force. In the case of the chemist however, no force is involved at any stage. The only issue before the "victim" is of judging all facts to the best of his knowledge. Yes my sense of rationality is merely thinking through a decision. To put it more clearly, acting rationally involves considering all the relevant facts of reality (including the actions of others) to the best of ones knowledge, evaluating all alternatives by the standard of their utility to one's purpose and choosing the best alternative. You say that we are debating whether there is any difference between direct force and lies. Just what sort of difference are you looking for? Difference in the way they affect a person's thinking or difference in the way they affect the consequences of his actions. We have already agreed that consequences are not a valid criterion. And there is a big difference in the way they affect his thinking. Force prevents him from thinking. Lies do not affect his thinking at all. Evaluating propositions (which may be lies) is actually what thinking is all about. You said that my sense of rationality is not worth protecting. But that is not quite correct. Acting rationally includes an assessment of manmade facts, not just metaphysical facts. I also ask you to rethink what you mean by rearranging facts. Rearranging metaphysical facts is what human actions are all about. Rationality is valuable and needs protection, not because it is normally beneficial. As I said before, without a context that would not be objective. It is because it is the only course that can be beneficial since any action that is not rational is destructive. P.S. I am really enjoying this discussion. I had to think for quite a while before I could post.
  12. I did answer it. But let me try again. Force should be outlawed because it prevents a person from acting rationally. A lie doesn't. The point I am trying to make is that the basis of laws is the need to protect every individual's ability to act rationally. It is not to ensure that the consequences of rational action are beneficial. As to the allegation that we would live in an anarchic society if the goverment did not step in, that is certainly false. Any society that is even slightly rational would ostracize a murderer. It is very important to restrict the role of a government precisely. Otherwise anything goes. Consider the impossibility of framing objective laws to prevent bad consequences of rational actions. You dont have to imagine anything to imagine the consequences of such laws. We already have plenty of them.
  13. My limited understanding of physics says that it would be impossible to prove determinism for any system. If we cannot make accurate measurements of all relevant factors affecting a system, we can make no absolute predictions to verify.
  14. Yes this is a form of murder. But it is not a form that should be legally punished. OK. A person's rational choices led to his death. That is not sufficient reason for the government to step in. To put it very precisely, the point of laws is not to permit anything. It is to punish actions that prevent people from acting rationally. Free cannot mean free to avoid consequences. Free can only mean free from physical force. In the case of the mugger, the victim is not free from physical force. In the case of the chemist he is. If you have immoral friends, the normal consequences of rational action won't always be beneficial. "Normal consequences" presupposes a context. You have certainly come up with an unfortunate situation. But the purpose of laws is not to eliminate unfortunate situations and it is not to ensure that rational actions are beneficial.
  15. The 10th page of a discussion is not a good place to post, but anyway maartian and ifat, why do you continue to use the some of the following words in your discussions if you believe that the world is deterministic? possible (in the sense of possible in future, not in the sense of insufficient evidence to evaluate truth value of a proposition): if everything is deterministic, that is a concept that should only be used by the unenlightened choice: a choice pre-supposes alternatives and independent entities to make that choice. With a unique, determined evolution of the universe, there are no alternatives. Also no entities are independent in any meaningful sense. There is just one enormously complex system. purpose: with no independent entities and no possibility of changing the pre-determined evolution, whatever could purpose mean? I could go on and on with a huge number of words. You see, free will being axiomatic, a huge number of our concepts depend on it. I challenge you to restate your posts without such concepts. But of course, the only answer you can give is that you cannot help using these concepts. Their validity or otherwise is besides the point. What you do is predetermined. You see, it is impossible for me to argue if you deny free will. What would the point be anyway? Since I know that I have free will and do not want to engage in a discussion without a purpose, I will not make another post on this thread. Of course if you are predetermined to continue posting, nothing can stop you. P.S. Of course there is probably nothing that I have added that others have not already said on this thread before, but I could not resist posting (could it be that my actions are determined? )
  16. Since a man's own mind is the only judge of his thoughts, a man should be free to act on his thoughts. Since the only thing that can prevent a man from acting on his thoughts is force, the initiation of force should be banned. This is the only purpose of laws. Suppose A decides that he needs to lie to further his own interests. He should be free to act on his thoughts unless that lie prevents others from acting on theirs. A lie, being non-material cannot prevent anyone from acting on his thoughts. A contract is a different issue. It is a voluntary agreement about something that each party in the contract undertakes to do on pain of an agreed penalty. If a lie violates a contract and the contract is legally protected, a court must enforce the penalty. The fact that a lie is immoral or that it could cause a lot of harm to innocent people has nothing to do with whether it should be legally punishable. It is a fact that the immoral actions of someone can harm innocent people. That is a necessary consequence of living in a society.
  17. So the choice to have a child is like any other choice. It must be evaluated based on its possible consequences and making the choice results in responsibility for those consequences. The fact that having a child involves bringing a new (and not yet rational) human being into existence is relevant only in evaluating the choice and does not lead to any new principle.
  18. I am not clear just what a parent's moral responsibility entails. Assuming that the welfare of one's child is a value, it would be a value like several other (a successful career for instance). A rational person prioritizes his efforts by weighing his values. What does moral responsibility mean over and above this?
  19. The interesting thing about this image is that there are no clues about the direction of rotation (no lighting, shadows, viewing angle or even perspective). So it should be purely a matter of will to switch the direction of rotation. Yet I am unable to do so. I took the image into an image editing software and played it backward and it still appeared to rotate clockwise! Then I played it forward and it appeared to rotate anti-clockwise. That I suppose is the logical part of my brain kicking in. I would be thankful if someone can tell me whether the theory that brain functions are localized in different parts of the brain has been proved and whether the localization (if any) is actually consistent across individuals. Koustubh
  20. I recently came across this. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,2...281-661,00.html (an image of a girl twirling) It says that people who see the dancer turning clockwise use more of their right brain than their left. I certainly see the dancer turning clockwise. However I strongly disagree about what that then implies (assuming the brain function classification is correct) about my thinking. Can someone tell me what that means? PS: I know that this does not really belong in Epistemology but I could not find a better place to post it.
  21. If an individual judges that he is in an emergency and has to act in a manner that would violate other people's rights, he is morally right to do so. It is then for a court of law to decide by a rational standard if the situation was indeed an emergency and whether he was acting to protect his rights. In light of the above an emergency such as the one in this thread would be resolved thus... 1) One or more individuals judge that the situation warrants that they act to save their own lives even if it means violating someone else's rights. 2) The individual whose rights are violated files a case in court 3) The government (law courts) decide the legal consequences. The key here is that only individuals have positive rights, the government (a collective) does not. Frankly I dont see why there should be so much confusion on this issue especially since the resolution I suggested is the most probable one to actually happen.
  22. This discussion seems to be going nowhere. Rourke is arguing that LF capitalism is not practical by raising n different concerns. Answering each concern individually is not something that can happen on a forum. Nothing short of a treatise on economics can tackle all these issues. And anyway the question "Is Capitalism perfect?" is incomplete if it is divorced from ethics as Rourke wants to do. Without assuming an ethical framework, one would have to ask "perfect for whom and for what purpose?".
  23. One cannot properly talk of property rights without reference to a political and legal system. Property rights are relevant only when one is living in a society. As such the question of "what should one have to do to have rights in a capitalist system?" is not related to the question of "Were Europeans morally entitled to acquire land from tribal Americans by force?" I submit that the first question cannot be answered by philosophy in any detail. It is to be answered by laws that would depend on the state (technological abilities) of the society concerned. To the secon question I can only say (as others have said before on this thread) that conflict between Europeans and the tribals was inevitable and the Europen culture was undeniably objectively superior.
  24. I am saying that institutionalized violation of rights (which is what a non-capitalist government does) is a destructive effect on civilization and establishing such institutions (regulatory authorities for instance) cannot be a solution to any perceived failures of capitalism.
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