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Everything posted by LovesLife

  1. That's not what an empiricist is, and that's a misstatment of what Rand argued. Empiricists disdain concepts, thought and the operation of the mind. They focus on the outer, and dispense with standards, principles and conceptualization. They believe concepts are subjective, arbitrary or social, without any basis in reality. They think that deduction is useless, and they reject induction. They reject the mind and rely only on the senses. They claim there is no moral knowledge and no absolute truths or certainty (they are fundamentally skeptics). While Objectivism does argue that the senses are our only point of contact with reality, and that knowledge must be grounded in reality, it goes further by saying that the mind plays an active role in the construction of knowledge -- such as through conceptualization, using deduction, induction, measurement omission, and so on.
  2. LovesLife

    Ew, pragmatism

    Yes, I disagree. This is the same line of thinking that all pragmatists use: "MY laws will be employed for genuinely good purposes." This post demonstrates why it's useful to act on principle when you're unsure; it's exactly WHY we have principles. The ends don't justify the means. The solution to an invasive government is not to "temporarily" make the government more invasive. In this particular case, if the government forcibly diverts taxpayer funds into providing Internet access, that money has to come from somewhere. Someone who is providing a product or service that's actually wanted will lose a job, in order for someone else to provide a service that the market doesn't want at it's true price. If you had the power to pressure a government into making changes, the right kinds of changes are the ones that get the government out of people's lives; that protect individual rights and promote laissez-faire Capitalism. Repeal cronyist regulation; open previously closed markets; lower taxes. Make choices that support and increase freedom, not that limit it.
  3. A few ideas to get you started: Don't blindly accept what people tell you about what they've seen, or the conclusions they've made. Ask "why?" and "how?" Always keep in mind that emotions are not tools of cognition. How you feel about something tells you nothing about whether it's true. Remember to anchor ideas in concretes, in reality. Dangling "stake in the ground" assumptions are rampant in the world, and are a central tool of rationalism. Make sure you understand what it really means to be "arbitrary," and for something to be "possible"
  4. I agree with what others have said about Capitalism being about freedom of choice, not product quality or value. In addition, keep in mind that when people buy certain products -- and cosmetics are definitely in this category -- they are buying much more than just the product itself. They are also buying a complex set of emotions; the purchase helps them feel a certain way, and they are willing to pay for that. The big cosmetics companies got to be that way because they recognized this crucial fact. The truth is that people can get along without costmetics entirely (such as the "no-poo" alternative to shampoo). Hairstylists, too, offer a completely optional service. I would think, of all professions, you would understand how much the emotional aspect is a part of what your clients are looking for. Their goal is not just "clean hair" or a "haircut." Right? This is not a negative aspect of Capitalism -- it's a wonderful and positive aspect. Imagine if government were to force companies to sell shampoos that cleaned hair really well. But that's not what their customers want to buy!
  5. Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists. To be conscious means to be conscious of something. The world around us exists separately from our consciousness.
  6. One way to justify your senses is by the fact that you're alive -- an infinite regress is not required. If you could not rely on your own senses, staying alive would be impossible. Having valid senses is also a requirement for consciousness; to be conscious is to be conscious of something.
  7. I didn't mean "mentally hurt the child" in that way. I meant abuse, not discomfort. Children have rights. Slaves do not. Children have parents / guardians. Slaves have owners. The relationship between parents and their childen is not one of bondage; it's one of dependency. Children are not capable of surviving on their own, without help.
  8. If you're trying to make a point, I'm not getting it.
  9. I didn't mean penalties for witnesses, plaintiffs or defendants. I meant penalties for judges and other officers of the court. On the witness side, although the penalties are high for perjury (up to 5 yrs imprisonment), it's a myth that there is a significant risk of actually being penalized. Very few people are prosectuted for perjury, yet in pretty every criminal or civil case, the eventual verdict amounts to a legal finding that one or more people were lying.
  10. The most powerful incentives are good morals and sound judgment. Fear of losing their job, being humiliated or going to prison are secondary, much weaker incentives. A judge who compares the amount of the bribe to their salary before deciding to accept or refuse is a judge who has poor morals and poor judgment. The State should be able to go broke. There should be a clear separation between the State and economics. A judge should go to prison if they accept a bribe, and be forbidden from ever working in the legal profession again. The one offering the bribe should also go to prison. There's no reason why you couldn't have competitive courts under one government. Courts should have economic incentives to be efficient, honest and fair. Human nature being what it is, you're always going to have people who seek to violate the rights of others through things like corruption of the legal system. In my view, in an Objectivist society, the penalty for crimes like that should be especially harsh, because the crimes amount to attempts to subvert the principles of proper government and justice -- which we very much require for our long-term survival.
  11. First, what is a slave? Humans treated as property that can be bought, sold and disposed of at the will of the owner. Slaves have no rights; they don't own their lives or anything else. A child can't legally consent, but their parents are morally and legally empowered to consent on their behalf. For example, a child can't sign a release for surgery; only their parents can. Parents act as guardians, making decisions on behalf of their children that they think are in the children's best interest. However, parents are not empowered to violate their children's rights or to treat them as property or slaves. Children are effectively wards under the care of their parents. They can legally and morally be told what to do when those actions are in their long-term best interest -- which excludes things that physically or mentally hurt the child, of course. With regard to child labor, no rational parent would want their young kids to work. However, if it's a choice between working and starvation or death, then it seems clear to me that work is the better choice. In fact, if a parent let their child die when work could have saved them, I would consider that to be child abuse, not the other way around. As long as the parent's consent is involved, it's clearly not slavery. The child is simply being directed to act in the child's long-term best interest. OTOH, if a child was working without their parent's consent, at the call of and under the control of some third party, it could easily start to fall into the category of slavery -- and even if it wasn't quite slavery, it shouldn't be legal, either.
  12. If you want to help people discover something new, I'm a big beliver in "show, don't tell." I think we're at a point now where quite a few people have heard of Objectivism, but they have dismissed it for one reason or another. From the people I've spoken to, one big reason for that is they can't imagine how an Objectivist society would really work. Even if they're mostly supportive of the ideas, they imagine that it would be impractical. Another important issue here is that we're fighting a serious headwind. Movies, books, TV, radio, news, schools and churches are filled with a steady flow of implicit arguments against Objectivism, and in favor of things like altruism. The most effective solutions are going to be offline, but I think we can use online mechanisms as a stepping stone. What are the most effective ways to persuade people to adopt a new way of looking at the world? Ultimately, I think it has to be by example. Short of that, in the online space, what I think we need is: 1. A series of professional videos about putting Objectivism to work in your daily life, with complementary written materials that provide additional details 2. Encourage, collect and distribute video, audio and written work from Objectivists that talks about how Objectivism has helped them 3. Encourage authors, educators, writers, producers and directors to include Objectivist ideas in their work 4. One or more regular online TV shows and written columns that put an Objectivist spin on current events 5. Provide links, reviews and other related information about Objectivist-owned businesses, products and services "Encouragement" could take the form of providing a platform for visibility, or contests, or sponsorship. The online implementation would be something that brings these ideas together in one place. Part of the concept here is to move the discussion steadily away from theory and toward practice. Don't tell people how things should work; show them things that are working. Regardless of what happens with the OP, I'd love to be a part of something like this.
  13. So the message is that we should be willing to give up everything of value to us, as long as it's for the sake of Christ's name? Or we're supposed to value an "eternal life," without proof that such a thing exists? That statement sounds to me like it goes against man's life on Earth -- and is therefore evil. Plus, who decides if something is being done for the sake of Christ's name? Sounds like a tool of tyrants. Or, as I heard Penn Jillette say recently (paraphrased): "If you heard God tell you to kill your child, would you do it? If not, are you really Christian? And if you would, please reconsider. Lots of people on death row say that God told them to kill. Do you believe them?" Not just my interpretation; I know several Christians who would agree. However, I'm sure if you pick almost any part of the Bible, you could find Christians who disagree with each other on what it means. In modern society, there are two meanings of altruism. One is the old, original meaning, as defined first by Comte and then as refined and fleshed out by a number of philosophers such as Kant, Hegel and others. The thing you are supposed to sacrifice to has also been changed over time by people like Marx. It began with God, then changed to things like humanity, your neighbor, your race or your country. The other meaning is the modern one, as blunted by the Enlightenment and the American sense of life and American culture. The latter version came into being largely because the original one is impossible to consistently live by; if you are consistently altruistic in the original sense of the word, you will quickly end up dead -- as such, the original meaning was largely (though not entirely) rejected by modern Christians. So now it has come to mean something closer to charity. However, the original philosophical meaning still seeps through the new meaning -- so it still has a significant influence, which Objectivism has helped to identify and judge. That's not my view -- so it's promising that you disagree. It's this part: "How does anyone know you really did it for the right reasons? Maybe you're just trying to look like a good person." -- or trying to help yourself instead of others. If you can call religion and philosophy conspiracies, then perhaps.
  14. That was never mentioned in the parable. The lesson was that in order for giving to be moral, it requires sacrifice. I suspect that the main reason people who consider themselves to be altruistic can be happy is because they are evading the real meaning of altruism, and conflating it with charity. The info below is from: http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Rowlands/Is_Altruism_Really_About_Self-Sacrifice.shtml In the conventional view of morality, which we refer to as altruism, helping other people is the goal. But to call a particular action 'moral' requires more than just helping people. You have to do it for the right reasons. If you're looking to benefit yourself, then it's not a moral act. If you donate to charity and then call a press conference to announce it, aren't you just trying to buy good publicity? And doesn't that demean the act? Is it really moral if you're just doing it for personal gain? You would just be using those who are in need. Anytime you personally gain from helping others, it casts a shadow on the whole action. How does anyone know you really did it for the right reasons? Maybe you're just trying to look like a good person. Certainly a large public donation fits that theory. But there are other ways to gain. If some rich person donated money to a medical research fund, and it turns out they have that illness, isn't that less noble than if they did it out of caring for their fellow man? You're just trying to help yourself. So while the point of the altruism is to help other people, it's easy to see that personally benefiting from the action corrupts the moral status of the act. The larger the personal gain, the less praiseworthy the act is. The only way to have your motives be pure is if you don't gain at all from your act. Only then can you be sure that your doing it for the right reasons. And in fact, you can even go further. You can show how much you really care by actually giving something up in order to act virtuously. Donating a few dollars to a charity might be good, but it's not a very note-worthy act. If you donate a much larger chunk of money, even more than you can really afford, then it really shows how good of a person you are. Not only do you not have any selfish benefits from the act, but the large cost you're incurring shows your commitment to doing the right thing. But now we arrive at the problem. The morality was supposed to be about helping other people. That's what everyone thinks about when they think of their morality. But along the way, it was decided that it wasn't enough to just help other people, you had to be entirely motivated by their needs. If you gained while helping other people, your actions were no longer considered morally praiseworthy. But if you sacrificed greatly while helping other people, it showed that you were a good person. Suddenly the focus of the morality has shifted from simply helping other people to sacrificing in order to do it. You're judged as virtuous if you sacrifice a lot for the cause. In fact, how moral the act is gets measured by how much you benefit or sacrifice for it. If you benefit, it lowers how moral it was. If you sacrifice for it, it increases the virtue of the act by showing how dedicated you are to helping other people. So the morality stops being about helping other people. It doesn't even matter if you've really helped them at all, as long as you tried. Certainly the morality of the act is not measured by how much good you did. The cost you incurred is what gets measured. And when that's the case, the morality becomes all about how much suffering your willing to take for the sake of being moral. It becomes a morality of self-sacrifice.
  15. No. A verbal contract is still a contract. If I was Mr. A, I would never risk hiring you, for fear that you would flake out on me again. Also, unfortunately, word of this type of behavior tends to spread.
  16. You could start with the parable of the Widow's Mite from the Bible. Then there's Kant and those who followed him, such as Hegel. And Schopenhauer: A man must not desire "any reward for his works," whether it be "direct or indirect, near or remote," even if what he desires is "to work out his own perfections" -- because morality excludes "self-interest in the widest sense of the term ... The absence of all egoistic motivation is, therefore, the criterion of an action of moral worth."
  17. The key to that definition is the meaning of the word "unselfish." It's clear from the writings of the supporters of altruism that unselfish means that you can derive no benefit at all from your actions, not even feeling good about them. In other words, the reason some people might feel happy about their supposed altruism is because they aren't really being unselfish, and therefore aren't really being altruistic.
  18. Onar -- Looks like a very interesting and ambitious project. I sincerely hope that it works out well. Good luck!
  19. Yes, there's a difference between "true" happiness and "transient" happiness -- with the former being long-term and the latter more short-lived. In modern society, true happiness appears to most people to be unrealistic and therefore unachievable (which it probably is, given their philosophy). So, transient happiness becomes the goal instead, since it's achievable by anyone -- hence the power and prevalence of irrational activities such drug and alcohol abuse, whim-worship, junk food, overspending, etc. If you ask people when they are engaged in those activities if they are happy (something I've done many times), they will insist they are, even though they know the feeling won't last.
  20. It's not zero; I moved out of the US in late 2006 when I saw the political writing on the wall -- and I know another expat who lives near me who left the US explicitly because of Bush 2.
  21. Not just that it can, it has. If you don't like the shadowstats.com numbers, there's also the billion prices project, which also shows inflation is here. Plus, of course, the actual money supply figures. It's a big leap from enough inflation to offset debt deflation, to hyperinflation. I'm not suggesting that, nor was the author of the article I linked to.
  22. You do not need to know the source of virtues to be able to experience for yourself that they are valid. They are not floating abstractions, because they are tied to concrete experiences in your life. In fact, this is one of the main differences between Objectivism and religion. Because Objectivism is anchored in reality, it is something that everyone can experience (with consistency), unlike revelation or the mystic "consequences" of dogma.
  23. Perhaps. However, it's also possible that cutting government disability programs will save lives -- for example, if someone who is being taxed needs those funds to pay for their own disability or illness, then not being taxed would mean they would have more funds available to meet those needs. No one deserves to die (except perhaps certain extreme criminals) -- but that doesn't mean that it's my responsibility to pay for their care. If you take money from someone in the form of taxes, so they can't afford the care they need, and they die as a result, did they deserve to die? Are you willing to kill some to save others? Yes -- along with all other companies and people. Taxation is theft, so Objectivism is against it. Government should be funded through voluntary mechanisms.
  24. I disagree that you need to know the essentials of the entire philosophy before you can live by it. Understanding and living by the Objectivist virtues of rationality, productiveness, pride, independence, integrity, honesty and justice -- and understanding the values of reason (and that emotions are not a means of cognition), purpose and self-esteem is probably enough for most people. Everyone already has a philosophy; even those with "second-rate minds" (a faulty concept, BTW) can't avoid it. Humans learn in bits and pieces; by experience; by trial and error. There's no need to memorize any tenets. Having someone, such as a teacher or a parent, who understands Objectivism can be enough. These are lessons (and learning opportunities) that come up thousands of times in a person's life. For example, most people already know that honesty is a virtue -- and they get value from that knowledge, even if they don't understand exactly why it's true. The main thing they're missing is having someone help connect the dots between Objectivist virtues; to help them see things like the source and nature of pride, self-esteem and happiness.
  25. Not exactly. It is possible to be irrational and happy. You could be happy as you drink a bottle of poison, for example. Humans can't survive for long by being irrational. Believing in altruism isn't enough. To counter the idea, you would need to find someone who is happy after consistently practicing altruism. It's more a matter of understanding what altruism really is: sacrifice; giving up higher values for lesser ones. A true altruist would have to say that if they are happy, they have not sacrificed enough. In fact, some philosophers who argue for altruism (such as Kant) make this exact point.
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