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Everything posted by AMirvish

  1. Generally absent from this discussion has been the issue of children. Historically, whatever the religious coloration given it, marriage was very much concerned with establishing the relationship between two people because of the need to address the legal status of property and children, both of which could be highly interrelated (with respect to inheritances, divorce etc) . Property can be addressed in other ways, through purely contractual issues. The issue of children, however, is important because in disputes involving minors, the parents cannot necessarily be considered impartial and the children themselves may be too young to represent themselves (or to even understand the issues). Hence, the issue of state involvement in the definition of marriage, which would not otherwise be required. Of course, not all straight couples have children and some straight marriages occur between people past child-bearing age, but the fact is that only heterosexual adults can produce children who are the biological product of both parents. Most straight people marry during the period in which they can have children and some do so specifically with the intention of formalizing a relationship for that purpose. All else being equal, that sort of relationship is quite distinct from one between two gay people, whatever other characteristics they may share, and this particular characteristic suggests that it constitutes a specific concept deserving of a unique definition and a unique status. Straight, but childless marriages, are in effect free-riders under this approach, but are appropriately covered by it because they are so otherwise similar. Polygamous relationships, apart from the contradiction inherent in love being one's highest response to a value being applied in a romantic context equally to multiple partners, has historically created an environment fraught with abuse and exploitation, especially of children. It seems appropriate for it to be prohibited or at least denied legal recognition. It's also worth noting that some societies (that of ancient Rome in particular) did have different classes of marriage, with different rules and legal obligations. These differences were not necessarily restricted to people of different classes etc, but rather reflected the degree of obligation (and severity of the legal consequences for breaching the marriage contract) the people involved wanted to assume.
  2. My point should not be taken to mean that there are no instances in which your claim is true i.e. value destruction can be obvious in some cases, as your example illustrates. The whole point of Kelley's position is that they are not always so. Agreed. True. The following are the two relevant paragraphs from "Fact and Value" taken from the ARI's website. Bolded items are by me. Whether Peikoff has dark hair would be a fact of reality that has no value significance to any aspect of my (or anyone else's) life, within the context he's referring to in his piece. I might evaluate it as being meaningless to me and thus evaluate it at some level, but it would not be either moral or immoral, good or bad within the context of the requirements of my life. Agreed. Again, I don't think Kelley and those of us accepting his position would disagree. The source of the disagreement is that we must pronounce moral judgement of all facts, including the character of someone else, in all contexts, and that the scope of honest error is so limited that character is self-evident through the evaluation of a person's ideas. In this connection, consider that Rand wrote in "How Does one Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society" the following: Italics Rand's. This does not suggest that the issue of judgement, especially moral judgement of another's character, is quite so straightforward as Peikoff states "Fact and Value".
  3. A sequential process in no less integrated for it being sequential. One can determine truth and then value without considering them to be separate. As a matter of epistemology, the process must take place in sequence. Once one is at the ethical stage, the truth of an item and its relationship to human life having been determined, they would have equal precedence, but only to the extent that the truth of a particular fact was actually of relevance to one's life. Kelley's point was that not all facts have value significance when measured against the requirements of human life, and especially when applied to the context of a particular individual's life. Moreover, a fact can be true, can be judged in relationship to the objective moral requirements of one's life and be found to be irrelevant, not moral or immoral. I don't actually understand the point you're making with this example. As an example of the fallacy of intrincisim, I would accept your example. With respect to your second paragraph, I would agree that a true idea has no value apart from its use in guiding the actions of a (particular) man. But, he doesn't just "know" the truth. He has to determine whether it is true or not. That implies evaluation in terms of its truthfulness. You seem to be using the term "evaluate to mean establishing something's "value" in a context synonymous with "moral value" i.e. value to one's life. That is not the sense in which I used evaluate. Perhaps I should have said "to determine" the truth of an idea.
  4. The value of an idea, if ideas are to guide man's action, depends first on whether it is true or false i.e. corresponds to reality or not. The value judgement that follows depends on this. How can one determine the value of an idea without knowing or establishing first whether it is true? I agree with this statement. Again, I agree. What I disagree with is that the moral evaluation of an idea (as good or bad for us) can precede the determination of its truth or falsehood. Only by establishing the relationship of an idea to the facts of reality is it possible to integrate it into the body of knowledge that we require for our survival i.e. with other values. Hence, the truth or falseness of idea is the critical element. Not sure what you're saying here. Again, I agree. I repeat, however, that proper moral principles are based on the correct understanding of the facts of reality, specifically the nature of man and the requirements of his survival. However, he must discover and establish the truth of all of those things first. Moreover, such evaluation of someone else's ideas in no way requires that I concern myself with their character as such or pass judgement upon it before proceeding. Kant's character is a fact of reality, as is yours, mine, Rand's and everyone else's. It is a fact of absolutely no value significance to me because it in no way affects my evaluation of his ideas (and hence one reason why I think Peikoff is wrong to say that every fact has value signifiance and also why I do not hold that moral judgement of other people is a duty in all contexts). To say otherwise is to say that the basis for evaluating an idea is an evaluation of the character of its advocate i.e. Mr. Jones is known to be a rational decent guy and Mr. Smith is not, therefore what Jones is saying must be considered true and good, while Mr. Smith must be lying. I don't dispute this. I don't think Kelley is either. What he's saying, as I understand it, is that a person functioning exactly as you say can still reach wrong conclusions and that to evaluate that person's character accurately (assuming that an evaluation of his character matters), one must understand the process by which he reached his conclusions. If, upon careful, rational thought and consideration of the respective arguments, and those of the people who have posted here, Sophia, I reach a different conclusion, I will hold that it represents a moral and rational position, and thus the basis of a reasonable disagreement. Your arguments may or may not persuade me, but only to the extent that I can establish rationally, to my own satisfaction, that they are true. It would be absolutely immoral for me to act on any other basis. Objectivism holds that it is not just Rand's ideas, but objectively true ideas representing a true and comprehensive philosophy. Reason and reality is the standard that must apply when evaulating any claim made in connection with it, including those advanced by Rand herself.
  5. That highly productive people can nevertheless consciously hold irrational ideas that they use and apply in significant parts of their life. John Templeton, who died recently, was the founder of the extremely successful Templeton investment fund was an extremely religious man. He was a Rhodes scholar and a generally accomplished individual. But, he made a conscious choice regarding the nature and source of morality, and spent lots of his own money to advance religious thinking (through a foundation that he helped establish). I agree with this in a general sense. As we've been discussing, claims, evaluations and judgement must be based on evidence, even if incomplete. I see no reason to conclude that a deist, like Ben Franklin (whom we spoke of earlier), suffered any harm from his irrational belief because there appears to be no evidence for concluding othewise. The effect of an irrational belief would depend on the nature and relevance of the irrational belief to your day-to-day life, the extent of its conflict with reality and one's nature. The intention is not by any means to advance a straw man as suggested. I would agree with your third sentence. I would disagree with the first part of the fourth one although not the second part. I am unconvinced that any actual person, Rand included, has actually met the standard for unbreached rationality, and hence moral heroism, that you've laid down. Since people must develop and apply their reason as they mature, they may well act irrationally in certain circumstances. In fact, and without intent to offend or insult, I would suggest that due to the potential for error, complex errors in reasoning, the standard that you're advocating places man much in the same situation relative to an ideals as does Christianity. This misses the point. Your claim was that it was impossible for anyone to draw real strength from any irrational belief. I'd agree with this, with one proviso. A person's sense-of-life is a significant part of his psychological make-up. It is inherently pre-rational. Relating one's emotional state to one's rationality requires that one apply the appropriate standards of rationality to one's context. That isn't always straightforward.
  6. My comments used Kant as an example of how one could infer a different motivation for his writings than the one commonly held in Objectivism. It was not intended as a defense of Kant or his ideas. It is unrelated to anything that Kelley has written on Kant, of which I don't think there is too much. Kelley does not agree with Kant's system. My comments, more generally, reflect my understanding of Kelley's position, based on my reading of TT and Peikoff's FV. I have attempted to represent them as honestly as possible, but if you'd prefer me to paste in lengthy excerpts from TT to support them, I will be happy to do so.
  7. No, I said that some of the positions that Peikoff and Schwartz hold are irrational, by which I mean their views do not logically integrate all of the evidence and related factors within their full context on those particular issues and that they therefore misapply or misuse Objectivist principles in that context. It is your equation of irrationality and immorality that forces you to the conclusion that you say I ought to reach. I am not persuaded that this is correct. I think the basic principles and the relationship of rationality and morality is more complicated than what you've outlined and that a series of alternative conditions are compatible with the Objectivist ethics, no matter what Peikoff might say. If you disagree, then what would actually constitute an honest or rational disagreement? Would not any person convinced of the rationality of their position have to view anyone with a different conclusion as fundamentally immoral? I think that Kant's ideas are irrational. I think that some of the positions that Peikoff and Schwartz have taken are also irrational or at least poorly reasoned. I do not think Peikoff and Schwartz are therefore immoral. That is the conclusion to which you are forced by the way you interpret Objectivism, and that is why debate on this subject quickly becomes difficult: one cannot treat others' ideas respectfully if one considers them to personally be evil, especially if one wants to play gotcha. A person can hold an irrational view (or what one considers as such) without being comprehensively irrational, which is the entire point of the debate. Rationality and irrationality are fundamentally intellectual states, methods by which we graps the nature of reality and deal with it. No. I have enough evidence to say that Peikoff and Schwartz's positions on certain issues are wrong. I have enough other evidence to say that they are generally rational and I do not think that the irrationality of their positions on a particular issue renders them immoral. I can disagree with them without the need to demonize them. One takes ideas seriously enough to debate them because one thinks they have value and that their correct definition and application matters. In this case, on this issue in particular, I think that the position Peikoff has taken and consequently the approach he has taken to promoting Objectivism is more likely to harm it rather than help it. My view is that Objectivism is a philosophy, not a secular religion, and consequently that membership within its ranks is not determined by the authority of an organizing body. One who holds the basic principles outlined by Rand can call themselves an Objectivist. Since, unfortunately, Rand did not comprehensively address all of the relevant issues in a rigorous, non-ficition form, there is disagreement on the application (and in some cases the formulation) of some of those principles, in this case regarding the nature of moral judgement. Had Rand written as extensively and rigorously as Aristotle on all aspects of Objectivism, in non-fiction form, I think that none of these issues would never have arisen. Since she didn't do that, they have. Speaking only for myself, I chose to support the Kelley position because, after consideration, I concluded that his was the more rational, logical and persuasive case. I value Objectivism and so I think the approach and understanding taken to it matters greatly. In this context, I think Kelley's approach will prove more persuasive and productive than that of Peikoff's. In this context, remember that Rand didn't present Objectivism just as her personal philosophy, but as a comprehensive, accurate, objective and complete philosophy that resolves definitively all of the major philosophical questions. As such, she established the standard by which every aspect of it must be judged, including her own conclusions. Otherwise, Randian not Objectivist would be the correct way to describe it and its adherents. There is no moral uncertainty. You simply don't like or agree with my conclusion that Peikoff or anyone else can hold an irrational idea through error without being comprehensively or genuinely irrational and thus immoral. Since you think no one can be irrational at all without being immoral (i.e. by consciously evading facts or reality), your conclusion follows from your premises. I disagree with both the premise and conclusion as formulated. I am not repulsed by anyone making a moral pronouncement. I am repulsed by people making false, inaccurate or gratuitous moral pronouncements on superficial grounds, solely for the sake of having to satisfy an out-of-context blanket assertion that one must make such pronouncements in every context. I view those sort of things as the intellectual equivalent of a drive-by shooting and condemn them specifically because they are both irrational and immoral.
  8. This is true. The position that I take, and that I think Kelley takes, to repeat it again, is that you cannot judge a man exclusively or comprehensively according to his ideas alone, in all contexts and in all situations. All relevant facts must be considered including the full context (i.e. the reasons why) within which the other person formed those views, to the extent that one can identify them. Kant, however irrational his ideas (and I acknowledge their irrationality) did not tell anyone to go and kill. So, I'd agree with you that there is a difference in kind, not degree, between Kant and a mafioso, Hitler or Stalin. The reason why they are not morally equivalent is because, whatever the degree of irrationality of Kant's views, he had no power to force anyone to accept them (i.e. to act against their judgement) or to even listen to them. His ideas had power and thus efficacy only to the extent that people chose to accept them. He could have spoken forever or written 10x what he did, but it would not have mattered if no one listened nor if anyone else acted. That is a very different condition than Hitler or Stalin. I'm curious as to how one defines degrees of morality or even if one can do so. At what point does a person become immoral? How much irrationality are they allowed? This is meant as a genuine question. If it's either-or, then essentially anyone who isn't an Objectivist is immoral and thus the moral equivalent of Kant, Hitler, Stalin et al.
  9. I would express the thought as, "Forming the judgement to the degree possible." After that, one has stopped further judgement of the person/issue in question i.e. one has suspended the process. You are not using the product of stopping, you're using the product formed to that point. It is still a judgement. It may or may not be complete or accurate. If one were designing a car, one would at some point stop (i.e. suspend) the design and begin production of the car based on the work done to that point, if the essential elements were correct. Or, one might suspend the design and discard it. I fail to see how that is unclear. I would agree with this. In fact, it is the point I have been trying to make. I think Franklin might well have been an atheist. His achievements might have been greater had he clearly been an atheist, or he might have been shunned by a society unwilling to embrace that, as Thomas Paine ultimately was. The historical evidence has been that highly productive, creative people can be found in the ranks of atheists, deists and theists. A conclusion follows from that fact. However, my question was whether anyone who is not flawlessly rational i.e. who consciously holds views that are irrational can be moral at all. If, as has been argued on this post, they cannot be, then anyone who is not an Objectivist is fundamentally immoral. And, if it is possible to lead a moral, productive life in spite of irrational beliefs, than hasn't one just argued Kelley's point about being unable to judge definitively based solely or primarily on a person's beliefs? I do not see how your second sentence can be squared with reality when there are clearly examples of people who do draw strength from irrational beliefs and who have said so. Your third sentence illustrates one of the basic areas in dispute i.e. the projection of another's intellectual and psychological state based on an assumption that doesn't match all elements of reality. In this case, the assumption is that everyone except the flawlessly rational are to some degree unhappy and the flawlessly rational are inherently happy. The evidence suggests that the issue is considerably more involved than that. Note that this isn't an argument against rationality (and certainly not intended as such).
  10. Spreading/advocating ideas is action. I do not dispute that point. I did not say that Peikoff or Schwartz were immoral nor did I say that Kant was moral. I said that I found their use of a particular analogy to be wrong. I also consider the analogies in question to be unreasonable and thus believe that when people not party to the debates of Objectivism hear an Objectivist make such analogies, they will tune out on that basis. It is by equating They are if you want to persuade them of what you are saying. To the extent that anyone interprets Kelley as calling for "suspending judgement", his essay makes clear that, at best, this a very context-specific conclusion. The context in question is identified as not having enough information to make a fully informed judgement or not concluding that the person in question is worth the effort. Suspending means stopping an action that is in progress. It does not mean rejecting the line of thought one has pursued to that point nor does it mean "not judging at all". No one is obliged to drop everything else that they are doing just to complete a comprehensive judgement of a particular individual. I also want to make clear that I am not defending Kantian ideas. David Kelley has never defended the merits of Kant's ideas. He simply does not consider him to be equivalent to Hitler or Stalin and he disputes other Objectivists over the nature of Kant's role as an enabler of those men. Kelley's discussion of the nature by which ideas do take effect explains what he considers to be the relationship between the two (ideas and consequences) and the relative responsibility of the various parties involved is fairly clearly described. No. He is responsible for developing irrational ideas that other men chose to accept and develop further. Once those ideas had been developed further, they reached a form and had enough influence that a political program such as communism (and subsequently fascism) became possible. Kant did not advocate mass murder or enslavement. Even acknowledging that his objectives were to preserve faith etc (and I'll note that I should have addressed that point since he did actually tell us that), that is not the same thing as advocating murder. Hitler and Stalin were responsible directly for their actions. The people who chose to follow them were responsible for doing so. I am not my brother's keeper and there are degrees of advocacy. Whipping up a crowd to riot or lynch someone is one thing, as is explicitly calling for violent revolution (e.g. Marx) or exterminating the Jews (e.g. Hitler). There is a very clear causal link in such cases, which is why the law considers incitement to riot to be a crime. If it were as self-evident as that, why was there not a backlash at the time? It was, after all, the height of the Englightenment. To say that this would have been clear to the Greeks, one must note that the Greeks were not uniformly rational either. Aristotle had perfectly rational reasons for defending slavery and for denying the humanity of non-Greeks. Plato might well have agreed with Kant, as he is the father of the entire non-Aristotlean line of philosophy. What I'm saying here is that you have to judge the person based on his context, not just yours. No. I merely give them the benefit of the doubt until I have reason to judge otherwise. I do not require it essential that I judge everyone to the same degree, which I think is the point that Kelley is making. I also do not think that an irrational idea is inherently immoral because I see examples all around of people who hold irrational ideas and yet seem to live happy, peaceful and productive lives. A person trapped on the proverbial desert island needs morality, a point Rand correctly recognized. There have been instances of such people who, while engaging in highly rational and common sense efforts to survive, also drew enormous strength from their (religious) faith, just as there are people who do this in their day-to-day lives. Yes, their belief is irrational, but clearly it contributes to them living. George Washington was pretty certainly a Deist (and Franklin was for sure), and yet he spoke of Providence as a factor in events. This is not offered as a defense of such beliefs, but rather as the basis for asking whether the Founders were immoral because they were not (completely) rational. Did immoral ideas lead to immoral actions? In answering, remember that atheism was known to them and the specific issues surrounding it were in fact being debated. Many of them simply chose to reject that conclusion, even if they also rejected much of Christianity (or organized religion more broadly). This was not an innocent error. Adam Smith, to take another famous example, was vitriolic in his opposition to atheism, even though he defended self-interest and formulated the basis for capitalism. Same question.
  11. The ideas that a person holds can provide some evidence for the workings of his mind. That point is not in dispute. Kelley noted specifically in his essay that within the contemporary academic world, there are many people who advocate ideas whose irrationality is so blatant that one has no reason to doubt their intentions. However, he also noted that the manner in which those people present their ideas is often as much of a factor in forming such a judgement as an evaluation of the ideas as being advanced. However, again, he noted that one cannot draw a definitive conclusion merely or only on the basis of a person's ideas. A highly rational person can hold what someone else considers irrational ideas because of the context within which they reached their own conclusions i.e. the scope of their knowledge. It is also possible for a rational person to consider an otherwise rational argument by someone else to be wrong because he disputes their premises or some step in their reasoning. The entire issue that we are discussing would, I think, fall into this category, even acknowledging that not everyone would accept such a conclusion. Perhaps a better example would be to consider the case of Newton's laws of motion. Those laws rested on the assumption that time was an absolute. Those laws were tested and re-tested within the context of every conceivable ordinary situation and found to be true. Against that was Einstein's initially highly abstract argument that, amongst other things, challenged the notion of an absoulte frame of reference. The experimental verification of most of Einstein's conclusions took some time. Imagine what would be the state of physics had Einstein's ideas been shot down, out of hand, on the grounds that they had to be irrational because they were clearly at odds with rigorously tested scientific laws that had stood the test of time, and because Einstein's ideas seemed to promise a highly non-absolute, non-objective physics (which is often how they have been interpreted philosophically). To consider the case of Kant, the conclusion that he was an evil evader rests on the assumption that he could not have reached his conclusions without having been one. For that to be true, it would not be enough to show that his ideas were irrational, but one would have to show evidence that he was consciously malevolent in advancing them (i.e. had reasonable expectations of their having particular and clearly forseeable consequences), that no rational man could have reached similar conclusions or accepted his conclusions, and that Kant's manner of developing and communicating them did not show any respect for rational, scholarly methods or discourse. There is no evidence to support any such conclusion. Wanting Kant to be Ellsworth Toohey and so characterizing him doesn't make it so. The plainer explanation of Kant is that his conclusions were accepted because they appeared to solve certain philosophical problems that classical Enlightenment thinkers had failed to resolve. Consequently, an at least equally reasonable evaluation of his character and motives, one that is consistent with all of his other behavior and well-known political liberalism, is that he put forward his ideas in that spirit i.e. as his best (but wrong) solution to legitimate philosophical problems. Since no one is omnisicient, one cannot judge his character retroactively based on an evaluation of his ideas made with the benefit of 200 years worth of hindsight. Rand had a long time to make the connections and identify the errors that resulted from Kantian ideas. There is no basis for believing that Kant or any of his contemporaries had that sort of knowledge or foresight. In fact, Kelley addressed this point in his essay, too, when he said that an observer at the time armed with the knowledge of Objectivist insight could have predicted that no good would come of Kant's ideas, if they became widespread. However, Kelley also correctly noted that no one at the time had that knowledge (including Kant) nor could anyone predict the specific consequences of those ideas, nor whether those ideas would become widespread. To conclude otherwise is to assume that Kant had enough knowledge to resolve the philosophical problems he faced rationally (in the sense an Objectivist would use the concept) and deliberately chose not to do so. That's conspiracy theory "reasoning" developed without any evidence beyond one's after the fact evaluation of Kant's ideas. It simply is not credible. Worse, it is irrational. If you think this evaluation of Kant is wrong, recall that Toohey, after all, expected to rule; what did Kant expect to get? Are we to assume that he was smart enough to understand his errors (and thus by definition to know the correct and moral answers), to forsee the full extent of their consequences if adopted, to deliberately introduce them into a set of ideas and then to sit back and proceed on his way without knowing whether they'd even be accepted just because he was an evil S.O.B and had time on his hands? All of this explains why "actions speak louder than words." In evaluating a person, one must consider the full context of their behavior. What a person actually does often reveals more about what they really think than what they actually say. I fail to see how one gets "moral agnosticism" from Kelley's position. I'd say, again, that he is calling for accurate judgement. The problem with judging primarily on the basis of ideas is that it's not a truly reliable method of making a definitive conclusion. It is a factor, but that's all. Otherwise, we're into the equivalent of what Orwell called "thoughtcrime" and what medieval Christianity did when it said that an evil thought (e.g. lusting in one's heart) was equivalent to an evil action. Ironically, by not actually hearing the other person, we end up not actually judging him, just our image of him, which may bear not resembalance to fact. Past a point, no self-respecting person will accept that sort of judgement from another. Moroever, when otherwise productive, normal people are equated with Hitler, Stalin and company (and that's how Kant is treated by Peikoff and libertarians by Schwartz), we simply lose all credibility with honest, thinking people. They will conclude that we are irrational and stop listening. One might want to consider that at least some of the difficulties Objectivism has had with the broader culture are a consequence of that approach.
  12. Thanks for the help!

  13. A person can be held responsible for the fact that he holds certain ideas and for spreading them or proselytizing. This is not the same as saying that he can be judged to be immoral simply (or even primarily) on the basis of the content of those ideas or conclusions without considering in full his reasons for holding them. Moreover, the ideas themselves have no power except to the extent that people act on them and for the reasons that they do choose to act on them. My understanding of Kelley's position is that one cannot simply ascribe a set of outcomes to the fact of someone holding a set of ideas based on your evaluation of those ideas or your evaluation of their implications. One has to evaluate what people actually do not just what they say or what you think they are saying. Otherwise, one gets into the position of telling people what they're thinking, whether they're thinking it or not i.e. telling them that they don't know their own views or their own reasons for holding them. It saves time, but it isn't rational. More generally, and with respect to judgement, all that Kelley is saying, as I understand it, is "judge as accurately and fully as possible" not "do not judge at all". He recognizes that it may not be possible to reach a final definitive conclusion in certain cases, due to either constraints on one's time (or to one's estimate of the value and importance of forming a full judgement in a particular context) or lack of information. This is equivalent to a hung jury as opposed to one that decides "guilty" or "not guilty". Tolerance in this context is equivalent to a policy of "innocent until proven guilty". My understanding of Peikoff's position is that he holds that one can evaluate the person, his motives and his psycho-epistemology solely or primarily through his ideas, and that one can do so by interpreting those ideas in terms of your own context or projection of those ideas, not those of the person holding them. Kelley's position is both the more logical and rational, in my judgement. The last sentence in your paragraph is essentially an ad hominem. Your posts seem to be saying that Objectivism is so incredibly complicated a philosophy that, in effect, no one can understand it without years of study, special tutelage from the experts, and that only after that process will the person be enlightened enough to accept absolutely the conclusions of those experts, in every context. And yet Rand held that philosphical truths were accessible to the ordinary mind. In fact, the whole point of philosophy, even highly original ones, but especially those that are rational, is that a person can and must work through them on their own, even if they could not discover the principles by themselves. Do you not see how close to a religious mindset the approach to Objectivism that you are defending actually is? It's virtually sacred texts, a priesthood, disciples, dogma, the very opposite of what Rand's philosophy actually says. Fact and Value states Dr. Peikoff's interpretation of the issues involved, not an official Objectivist position no matter what status Rand gave him (after all, she endorsed Branden and even after the split acknowledged that everything he'd said or written prior to that had her approval). Unless Objectivism holds that it has a Pope whose pronouncements, ex cathedra, are to be considered infallible and perfect, the only thing a rational person is obliged to consider is whether the arguments he lays out are logical. The same is true for evaluating David Kelley's statements. A moral person judges both positions rationally and draws the appropriate conclusion. If one side doesn't like the other's conclusions, that is not enough to make one side immoral.
  14. This is a bit of a tangent, but I was curious about the conclusions one would draw from the examples of sexual behavior offered in Rand's fiction. All of the heroines were virgins until they met men whom they loved. For that matter, Galt appears to have been a virgin until he met Dagny. D'Anconia was a virgin until Dagny and appears to have been celibate after breaking with her. None were promiscuous nor did any of them experiment on the basis of "it's pleasurable and you need to learn, so what if he/she isn't perfect?" Granted, the focus of the novels was not the sex lives of the characters, so there are things we don't know. But, were one to judge only on the basis of the examples offered, the conclusion would not be that fundamentally different from the principle of abstinence until marriage (or genuine love), albeit without the context imparted by a purely religious basis. So, I'm curious why that is seen as an inherently irrational or impractical principle (at least for those who aren't yet legally adults)? Is it because traditionally the source and context of that argument is religion and thus judged to be inherently suspect?
  15. The entry wasn't perfect, but I thought it generally accurate. It identified the main points of the philosophy correctly, with relatively minor editorial comments, and while noting that Branden had been Rand's closest associate for many years also identified his criticisms as criticisms, not as statements from someone claiming to be a spokesman for Objectivism. Certainly, far worse has been written about Rand by the conservative movement.
  16. Rand put a speech regarding the meaning of sex and its relationship to values in Francisco D'Anconia's mouth in "Atlas Shrugged", that provides some basis for her thinking on a critically relevant element of this subject. Ditto, the way the entire series of relationships involving Dagny Taggart were presented. Rand was absolutely single-minded on the subject of integrity and honesty, both of which are very relevant to this subject. Likewise, she wrote at length on the falseness of the body-mind dichotomy and rejected the Platonic concept of love. She stated publicly (on the Phil Donahue show) that Frank O'Connor was her true love and that, had she not been an atheist, she would have killed herself to be with him in the afterlife. I think there is some basis on which to draw conclusions regarding this subject. Did Rand write specifically and in detail about marriage? No. It would be an interesting point to ask what is the purpose or meaning of marriage if it is not a public declaration of one's exclusive romantic love for a particular individual and, having made such a declaration, of one's intention to behave with integrity towards that person. Fidelity is merely integrity in one's romantic choices. What value would Rand have derived from continuing to remain married to O'Connor? She was the primary breadwinner. She apparently saw Branden as her intellectual equal and believed that her sexual response would be greater with Branden. Branden was clearly unhappy in his own marriage. Divorce, although less common than today, was far from unknown and not inherently stigmatizing. In any event, the latter should have been of no concern to Rand since she was singularly indifferent to "society's" opinions. I see no consistent or logical answer to these questions within the framework that Rand herself established. An explanation is possible without it destroying the fundamental basis for Objectivism, but it would require some modification to the latter's conclusions on certain subjects. I agree that understanding the full context and thus the details is critical to this and any other issue. In this case, the details themselves are often in dispute and the motives of all involved seem to depend on whom you talk to. Peikoff has pursued of a policy of keeping all of Rand's papers closed except to those whom he approves. Many within the ranks of what I think of as orthodox Objectivism (ARI, Peikoff et al) dismiss the Brandens as inherently dishonest and immoral, consequently, despite having been Rand's close associates for years, their views are considered automatically unacceptable. This is not an environment in which the full context is likely to be discovered or understood, and yet very definitive conclusions and an official position exists - at least as regards the affair. If not, then why would anyone bother to have produced "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics?" The end result is not pretty and that is why this particular incident is so often used to attack Objectivism.
  17. Sophia, I'm not taking it personally. The solution that you offer is fine, to a point. There are instances in which a child can ask for food or drink, appear genuinely hungry, be offered the amount they usually eat (or less - if one is dubious about their sincerity) and then still decide - impulsively - that they don't want it and toss it around. Although, there may be some additional cause, not readily apparent e.g. coming down with a cold, teething, tired or overstimulated) that can lead to this misbehavior, the cause is sometimes nothing more complicated than the child acting impulsively or testing you. My son, for example, never threw food. When he was full, he just stopped eating. With my own children, general meltdowns or tantrums, throwing oneself on the floor etc are usually dealt with by ignoring the behavior. They receive no attention for this and thus learn the behavior is ineffective and stop misbehaving. Sometimes though, a child - even a good one - can become hysterical, throw objects or throw him/herself around, even at you as you try to calm him down. At such points, rare though they might be, we've found that all that works is a spank. To my mind, none of the foregoing is a failure of parenting. Proper parenting requires evaluating the situation and responding appropriately. Flexible and appropriate responses within a consistent and reasonable framework make more sense to me than categorical "never spank" or "always spank" rules.
  18. None of this episode reflects well on any of the parties involved, regardless of which account one thinks true. If romantic love, in the Objectivist sense means an intellectual, emotional and physical response to one's highest value and there should be no basis for any sort of conflict around love and sex, nor any reason to fake or maintain a secondary relationship. Consequently, when dealing with an established marriage, there should be either fidelity or divorce. Anything else is, at some level, an attempt to fake reality and that will (and did) have predictable results. If Rand believed Branden to be her highest value (and vice versa), they should have ended their respective marriages and married one another. There was no basis or need for asking the consent of their spouses to the affair because there was no value to be gained by anyone by remaining in unsatisfying marriages or by concealing the facts of the relationship. The contrast between the way all of this played out and the way Rand handled the Dagny-Galt-D'Anconia -Rearden relationship(s) in her fiction is striking. If the latter had elements of implausibiilty, it had least had the virtues of honesty and intellectual consistency. To my mind, much of the subsequent debate - all of it passionate - engendered by this episode stems from the unnecessary need to see Rand herself as flawless in order to defend Objectivism. The merits of her ideas are perfectly adequate to stand on their own and any areas where there are shortcomings or errors, either in theory or practice, can and should be confronted honestly.
  19. My oldest is 4 1/2, reads and does basic arithmetic, is inquisitive and is generally not much of a disciplinary problem. But, sometimes, he is and, as noted, in certain circumstances he has received a swat. The intention was not a desire to inflict pain for its own sake. My daughter, who is only 2 and now speaking very well, is also generally a very good child. But, she had a habit of throwing her uneaten food on the floor once she was full. Reasoning and speaking firmly proved wholly ineffective and simply removing the food wasn't always practical either. A few smacks on her hand taught her that the consequences of throwing food on the floor were unpleasant and so she no longer does this. She has learned to exercise self-control. As she grows up, the full context will become evident. I fail to see anything even remotely immoral in having disciplined in this way nor do I forseee her future consisting of psychological difficulties, lack of trust, hostility to learning etc based on any of this. Physical punishment and acting as a teacher to one's children are not mutually exclusive. Whenever my children receive any sort of punishment, they are told why they are being punished. Context matters. Removing toys or denying of privileges can certainly be effective, particularly as the child becomes older. However, all of these things involve an element of physical coercion since one's ability to remove toys or privileges or change the situation, and to maintain those conditions, rests entirely on one's superior physical strength compared to that of the child, who is unable to physically prevent you from doing so. Accordingly, I see nothing but a difference in degree here. Children are all different and so are circumstances. So, while I am suitably impressed with those posters who have never had to spank their children and respect their views, I do not regard their experiences as definitive or inherently more valid than those of other parents who have had or chosen to spank. Claims that spanking is inherently humiliating or demeaning (to both parents and children) represents a value judgement of an almost exclusively subjective nature. There are certainly examples of parents who have never spanked who have watched their children grow up to be very badly behaved.
  20. Van Creveld's book on logistics is not the last word on this subject. I would suggest Richard Overy's "Why the Allies Won", which looks fairly comprehensively at all of the factors involved in the Allied victory. Overy's point, echoed by many historians, is that the Allied victory was not the foregone conclusion it is presented to be. Yes, the Germans were not the super-efficient nation that they are often presented as being: quite the opposite in fact, especially in terms of the economic side of things. It is also true that their military skills were not as high as is sometimes made out: strategic level thinking in Germany was very poor compared to that in the US and UK, both during and before the war and they paid a heavy price for it. That said, every study of the military effectiveness of the German (ground) soldier compared to those of all the Allied nations has found that man-for-man, the Germans were more effective at the tactical level. It is also worth noting that full industrial mobilization in both the US and the UK took time. Until Churchill became Prime Minister, Britain waged a very half-hearted war and during that time the Germans won a strategic position that was extremely strong. Hard fighting by Britain and errors by the Germans meant that Germany was unable to exploit that position, but it was by no means some pre-determined outcome that they would do so. Germany had an extremely advanced industrial economy and very capable scientists and engineers, and by 1941, the resources of conquered Europe on which to feast. Once Speer started to rationalize German industrial activity during the war, its output increased dramatically. Germany had been the principal industrial power in Europe since the later half of the 19th century. The factors that made it so didn't vanish completely just because the Nazis took power. This is also true with respect to its military power. When the full context is considered, it is wrong to dismiss Germany as doomed to failure or to somehow not really a threat just because Objectivist theory holds that dictatorships are both immoral and impractical. Although generally true in the long run, it represents an enormous simplification of a much more complex phenomenon. Russia, for example, whether communist or czarist, had considerable continuity in its political and cultural traditions and those traditions uniquely handicapped it throughout its history. In fact, for most of its history, its military and great power status was vastly over-rated. That was not, however, equally true of Germany. Acknowledging all of this doesn't mean viewing statist governments as somehow efficient or practical or "super". They aren't. They may, however, be sufficiently less inefficient as to present a major challenge to freer states. Free, rational, and rapidly industrializing Britain took 22 years to defeat highly irrational revolutionary and then Napoleonic France. Athens was defeated by Sparta. The Mongols failed to conquer Europe only because the great Horde turned back on the death of the Khan. The highly commercial republic of Holland, after freeing itself from Spanish rule, was ultimately defeated by monarchical (and then religious fundamentalist Cromwellian) England. The course of history is not pre-ordained by the nominal philosophical principles of each side. The latter are not irrelevant, but their application and effect is not automatic either.
  21. Yes, I understand the sense man was meant in the original post. I was asking a different, more specific question based on the narrow, gender specific sense of the term, and I'd be curious to hear anyone's thoughts on that should they care to present them.
  22. I'm curious as to how many of the respondents have children? I have two, both young. On occasion, I have administered a swat on the hand as punishment and see nothing wrong with it. Children can understand certain things, but the poster who noted that they are largely impulsive and ruled by emotions is largely correct. It is also true that their rational faculties are not developed enough to the point where they can grasp complex, conceptual arguments. They can, however, understand cause and effect, action and consequence. The consequences of actions can be demonstrated in a variety of ways other than spanking. However, this is not true of all situations. And, in certain instances, a lengthy explanation or discussion simply isn't possible or practical or necessary. When those conditions are met, spaking is appropriate and effective. As the children get older, it should become less necessary.
  23. Wouldn't that really cover "to be a human", man being taken to mean the universal individual human being? I'm curious as to what Objectivism holds about wha it means to actually be a man i.e. a male human being? Or, a woman? Is there any meaningful difference beyond physiology? Is gender essentially constructed as the feminists say? Are there any "oughts" that follow from various biological "is's"?
  24. The threat of force is implied in the creation and operation of a government. Even a proper government in effect says to everyone, respect our authority to protect our citizens or we'll use force against you. It may be somewhat disingenuous to claim that only the actual first shot constitutes the initiation of force: there will be instances in which it is not. During the War of 1812, the New England states considered secession in response to what they considered "Mr. Madison's War." Had they done so, they would have formed a government based on individual rights. However, since not all people in those states would have agreed with such a decision, they would have been placed in just this situation and the Federal government would have had to suppress the secession (which itself would have disrupted any number of other things). During the Plains Wars against the Indians, a somewhat similar situation arose. As individuals, the Indians had rights. Even collectively, many tribes lived without the necessity of conflict with our settlers. However, since one of government's responsibilities is to establish private ownership over unclaimed or common land, and since private citizens moving West settled, worked and established the land, situations arose in which the Federal government imposed its authority (including that of establishing state governments in the territories) on people who chose not to recognize its authority and who were not, in all cases, initiating force against it.
  25. To the extent that it is possible to look at another's choices through their own eyes, I'd agree. My point is that doing so isn't a straightforward exercise and one simply can't infer things as easily as is implied in the original quotation. With respect to sense-of-life, I think it has more effect on many choices than is often acknowledged. Two people can be equally rational, choose identical careers, find their choices perfectly satisfying, and yet each have very different personalities and senses-of-life. Even if they understand, explicitly, their own consciously-identified philosophies, they will not be able to make choices radically at odds with their underlying sense-of-life and remain happy with it, except perhaps in very limited circumstances. That's why one can't choose a career based entirely on abstractions: there must be something of you in it. All of this applies to romantic life too.
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