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DavidOdden last won the day on September 18

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  1. We can even say that the associated existential proposition – that God (who has certain properties) exists – is an “anti-proposition”, the affirmation of a contradiction and the denial of logic. Although the idea of God was intended to account for things that actually exist, the ultimate product of that thinking is indeed the obliteration of reason.
  2. My main point is that “God”, in the Christian sense, is not a concept, it is a proper name, like Barak Obama. Proper names don’t have CCDs. However, “unicorn” is a concept, and it has a CCD, even though there are no actual unicorns which you can touch. Mathematical concepts are all completely abstract and untouchable, but they are concepts. If we talk of “god” in the anthropological sense, i.e. supernatural personified beings across cultures as we might discuss in an Anthro class, then there would be a CCD, even though the term refers to an idea and not a tangible entity. “God” and “god” are both labels for existents, but they are not entities.
  3. If you are a Hindu, there is a CCD for god (देव). If you are a Muslim or follower of the other monotheistic religions, you are in a difficult epistemological position because your faith is grounded in a polytheistic context, and one of your essential beliefs is that these other faiths are false (I don’t actually understand how Jews, Muslims and Christians understand their god compared to the other guys’ version of god). You may be aware that the Christian God’s actual name is Howard. Christians don’t form such a concept, not do they form a concept Barak Obama. Proper names are not concepts, they are the labels for individuals. Howard⛪ is similarly a proper name referring to a unique individual. If you want to understand the CCD for “god”, you shuld study a polytheistic religion, so learn about the concept देव and now Brahman, Indra, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Ganeśa etc are unified into one concept. (Warning: Hinduism was long ago infected by a low-grade case of monotheism, the result being that classical polytheistic Hinduism may be on its last legs). I think the problem is that you are not properly distinguishing “multiple instances” from “irreality”. Unicorns do not exist, yet there is clearly a concept “unicorn” (likewise “gremlin”). It’s not there is no CCD for “god”, it’s that there is no actual referent. For an under-educated Christian who believes in Howard⛪, "God" is indeed not a concept, it is a proper name.
  4. For this discussion and in order to connect the issue to Rand’s beliefs, I point to her slogan “Check your premises”. When you do that, and engage in a reduction of knowledge to the axiomatic (which therefore means that you have to know what the axioms are and why they are axioms), you will see that one cannot begin with a certainty. Axiomatic conclusions (such as “existence exists”) are advanced conclusions that derive from simple observation of existence. It is literally impossible to begin with certainties. Those certainties come from somewhere; perception is the soil in which certainty flourishes. “Skepticism” comes in two flavors. Irrational skepticism was practiced by various Hindu and Buddhist scholars, Pyrrho, Gorgias, Hume and Berkeley. The other variety is simple the practice of good scientists: to not accept a conclusion as being certain without compelling evidence which addresses alternatives. As reflected in OPAR, there is a continuum of evidentiary support for any proposition, graded according to the degree of affirmative evidence against counter-evidence, which includes conceptual evidence. Suppose I invent a new substance (which I call “flubber”) that has the remarkable property of negating gravity and allowing cars to float. There is substantial conceptual evidence against this claim (Physics 101 to 450), and one should doubt that it is true, which means that I must shoulder the substantial burden of proving that the conclusion is true. The Popperian refutationist ideology has gained some currency in scientific conduct over the past almost-century, which however in my opinion has resulted in a serious defect in science, the practice of redefinitionism where essential claims are modified in subtle ways so that the theory itself is not falsified, instead we have gained some knowledge of the “true” meaning of words. An example that I am painfully familiar with is the earlier claim that certain apes are capable of learning language (via signing, rather than speech). In the face of empirical debunking, the narrative changed by redefining language as “any means of communicating”. The difference between agnosticism and skepticism is a position on the evidentiary scale. When the evidence for and against a claim are roughly in balance, agnosticism is the proper stance. When the evidence against a claim more outweighs the evidence for a claim, skepticism is a proper response. At some other point, the evidence against a claim may rise to the level of making the claim “unlikely”, in which case you should reject the claim. Rejection is not a permanent banishment, therefore a claim rejected at one point can become certain.
  5. Jon, so you regard cows as comparable to people, and eating them should be illegal?
  6. This position is puzzling, but maybe there is a simple underlying difference in philosophical primaries. Are you a vegan or at least a vegetarian? As you know, meat is murder. It is universally legal in the US to murder a dog, cat, horse, cow or sheep that is suffering from a fatal injury or disease, and murdering rats and mice of commonplace and again perfectly legal. This state of legals affairs is identical to that in Virginia w.r.t. abortion. Can we assume that you are 1000 times more comfortable with the PETA extremists than with those who would murder – or enslave – animals?
  7. As I think you know, things tend to spin out of control here and everywhere else on the intenet. So to mostly return to the initial problem, you face a problem, so how do you make the problem go away? To avoid repeating what has been said, we can just say that the problem is trespassing, which is illegal. When someone violates your rights in that manner, you can’t (shouldn’t) take direct action by way of using retaliatory force against The Others (just an arbitrary label for the sake of convenience in talking about the problem). This is really the job of the police. Now perhaps there are things you can do, analogous to “bring your bike inside, don’t leave it on the porch”, maybe techno-sanitizing your phone if it has been infected with malware. But for the most part, this isn’t something that anyone here can help with, and is hardly a problem that you can solve yourself – unless you just disappear without a trace and start a new life somewhere else. You have identified a problem with your roommate, but I guess that is resolved? Then there is the problem with the others. So what you hav to do is file a formal, written complaint with the police, giving as much concrete evidence as you can which could lead to identifying and apprehending them. “Concrete evidence” isn’t the same as “conjectured explanations”, it refers to the axiomatic: things that you directly observe. You can’t directly observe that your phone is hacked, that is a conjecture based on something else, something that you observed at a specific time and place. What did you observe that led you to conclude that this is the work of a “huge group” rather than one person, or two persons? Don’t tell me, write it down. Have they ever communicated to you in a fashion that supports the conclusion that they are altruistic/collectivist/statists who are attacking you as an Objectivist? Why you attribute the behavior to a particular political agenda rather than simply assuming that they are punks, like in Death Wish 3? It isn’t important what the motivation is, so I would advise dropping from consideration all non-essentials. The essential question is, what have they done? It would be nice if you could connect specific actions to named individuals, but that’s not always possible. Specific descriptions of events, eliminate conjectures about cause. Put it in writing. Retain copies.
  8. In the US, we have a new “party” or movement, called No Labels (not yet an actually affiliable party, but I expect them to work towards actual party status in the next couple of years). You can read about their ideas here. More officially known as “Common Sense Majority”, it is, by self-assertion, what the majority believe (we’ll see once they start running actual candidates), and of course they use “common sense” since nobody would want to be senseless. They seem to have harvested the tops of all of the hot buttons that can be pushed in current politics – “solve today’s economic challenges before they become impossible to solve tomorrow” (we don’t care how, just do it). “Congress owes it to the American people to pass a budget every year, and to do it on time” (we don’t care what’s in the budget, just do it); “Our leaders must take action to get health-care costs under control to give all Americans access to quality health care and reduce our debt” (Obamacare and some tangent about debt). Also, “immediately regain control of our borders and stop releasing migrants who enter America illegally into the country” but also “create a path to citizenship for the Dreamers and a plan to attract more legal immigrants” (so you mean open borders? How do you resolve the contradiction?). Of course, the children are very important (“As a matter of decency, dignity, and morality, no child in America should go to bed or go to school hungry”, and of course “America should make a national commitment that our students will be number one in reading and math globally within a decade”). They are committed to government-supported environmentalism (“America needs to be able to build clean energy technologies”), and totally out of the blue in the national security section, “America should lead the world in the development of ethical artificial intelligence”. In other words, vote for us and we will give you what you want, no matter what you want. I hear that they originally were going to be called Demopublicans but someone mentioned that the Libertarian party has been using that as a slur to indicate that political compromise is not actually a virtue.
  9. All told, I expect things to procede as normal for the rest of my life, barring extraordinary events (the stuff of sci-fi). I do expect an uptick in electoral litigation, but at least the present Supreme Court will most likely not tolerate a surprise legal theory that turns a loser into a winner. There were a number of opportunities for SCOTUS to hand the election to Trump and they were all rejected, and they recently nipped in the bud a theory that might have worked to the advantage of Trump-types. There is absolutely no reason to think that the military would intervene in the transfer of power. Now, as for the behavior of the general population, there were numerous anti-Trump riots after he won the election, which didn’t get much attention. We can only hope that someone besides Trump is the Republican nominee in 2024. The only thing that would be worse than Trump winning would be Trump losing. It has been a long time since there has been a successful coup in the First World.
  10. One of the primary claims in the article, which I find to be sufficiently well-supported by observable facts over the past 60+ years, is that conservatives held the rule of law to be a fundamental virtue and a central premise of conservatism. The second implication is that the Democrats are working hard to somehow eliminate the threat of Donald Trump, and furthermore their methods are not intellectually honest, which again I cannot see any basis for disagreeing with. As part of the lack of intellectual honesty of which I speak, there is a thorough and selective hypocrisy in the actions of Democrats, purportedly in aid of upholding the law. There is a substantive question regarding Biden’s participation in his offspring’s power-peddling which I have no position on. It is rather well-documented that Biden’s administration, through David Weiss, slow-walked tax avoidance charges to the point that the statute of limitations expired on 2014 and 2015 charges, and was just appointed special counsel to investigate his conduct. None of this is particularly surprising to me, and illustrates a basic shift in political strategy that has been in progress over the past half century – the death of Reagan conservatism. My use of the past tense in referring to the relationship between conservatives and the rule of law is deliberate. Trump’s main “contribution” to conservatism is the elimination of the last lofty moral standard that made conservatives marginally palatable – he managed to sink the right into the same pit that the left has been wallowing in for decades, only deeper. There is one significant error in the article, where it says “Only their steadfast commitment to this traditional ideal explains why conservatives are allowing Democrats to flagrantly corrupt our judicial system to destroy their opponents and protect themselves”. What conservatives? They are all dead, retired, or usurped. What we have, instead, is a party distinction that doesn’t reflect an ideology.
  11. We have here a balanced struggle between law and politics. The bureaucracy exists because laws were passed, and they were passed for political reasons. The law is self-protective, not just at the level of agencies promulgating rules, but in the Constitution itself (the president does not get to name the Speaker of the House, or write the rules that govern Congress or the courts). In order to achieve politically-desirable goals (leaving aside who desires them), Trump operated both illegally and un-traditionally. If Congress doesn’t like his un-traditional actions, they can pass a law forbidding it (that’s why we have the Administrative Procedures Act). Proper criticism of POTUS as executive officer is directed at illegality, not unconventionality. Should we cheer the outcome, means be damned, or should we as-enthusiastically cheer an undesirable outcome that was properly implemented? That is, should be declare that a contradiction is possible? I insist that there are no contradictions, and we should condemn both evil means and evil outcomes, even when Mussolini gets the trains to run on time.
  12. I agree that there is such a difference between Trump versus (many of) those professionally in politics – Trump’s focus is on getting a certain result, methods be damned. Insofar as the job of the President of the United States is, as articulated in the Constitution, to implement the laws enacted by Congress, that makes him tempermentally quite unsuited to that job, at least in the classical version of the POTUS job description. He is more suited to the revised view of the position, as “running the country (with the advice and consent of Congress)”. It isn’t important to me whether we condemn him as “delusional”, rather than “evasional”, he still lacks a fundamental respect for reality and law. Still, evasion is I was giving him the benefit of the doubt by putting him in the delusional bin, which is better than the dishonest bin. Even if he uttered those sentences without a firm belief in their truth, I still don’t see what utterances rise to the level of fraud.
  13. I understand that belief, but it is legally not correct. The crime is specifically about making and implementing a choice. There are a few strict liability crimes (drug possession is a typical example) where all that matters is whether you are in possession of a forbidden substance, but for the most part and especially for fraud, what is prohibited is a cetain choice that is implemented in some way (it isn’t purely thought, it has to be thouht paired with action). With respect to criminal prosecution, it is up to the prosecution to prove, to the point of it being irrational to disbelieve, that the elements of fraud were present. No, that is an independent conclusion that I reached well before this indictment. Though if you are thinking that I mean delusional in some technical APA-sanction diagnostic way, I don’t mean that. Delusional is not the same as maniac. I think he has manufactured his own version of reality, one that is not supported by facts, instead it is determined by an emotional desire for a particular outcome. Pretty much the mode of reasoning that has been promulgated by the left for decades, and he has bought into it (remember, he was a Democrat). His philosophy of reality does not encompass accepting any fact that is contrary to what he emotionally wants. Whereas, I am also certain that Hillary very strongly wanted to win the election in 2016, but she accepted the reality that she didn’t. The usual response when one has to face a hard reality is to shut up and not concoct alternative realities that allow you to continue evasion. However: I am expressing a very old-school view of how people should react to unpleasant realities. There is a more modern view, implemented in GPT Chatbots, where words are moved around on the screen in whatever fashion is most likely to obscure one’s error, and to avoid admitting that you were wrong. The tragedy of this all (and this is not limited to the past 6 years, it is a decades-long or longer matter) is that rational discussion has slid down the toilet. There is a very simple model of how to discuss matters: set forth facts, and use logic to reach conclusions. We can read Aristotle, Socrates and Plato to see what I mean by such a discussion. But I weakly blame the Socratic method, since I think that a direct challenge and alternative claim is superior to a suggestive question intended to lead a person to reject their own claim. Every decent Socratic question (which cannot be true of false) can be re-stated as a proposition with a definite true/false answer. In other words, the world needs an intensive dose of Objectivist epistemology.
  14. Stephen, The essential question regarding para 93-97 is, what do they show? In 93, the cited evidence indicates that Trump said "Bottom line—won every state by 100,000s of votes", "We won every state," and "What about 205,000 votes more in PA than voters?". Funny thing is, the third one is not even a statement. The indictment claims that these are knowingly false claims. The fact that senior Justice Department officials disputed the implied statement about PA over-voting is not proof that the statement was knowingly false. For the sake of argument, I will stipulate that it was false. I also stipulate that Bush’s statement about Hussein’s arsenal of WMDs was not proven true, but was also not proven to be a lie, as the lying liars repeatedly insist. I do not have any evidence that Trump knows the statements (and presuppositions w.r.t. PA) to be false. I firmly believe that Trump is between somewhat and rather delusional, and was willing to not believe a statement made by DoJ officials. As for the proposal to return the question to the states, the question of authority is not even a question of fact, it is a conjecture based on untested legal theories (not a theory that I dispute, but let me remind you that Roe v. Wade was established law until it became unestablished, and it is not fraud to hold that when you take an untested theory to court, you might actually win). Para 94: again, making a proposal and being advised “that no court would support his proposal” does not make a proposal fraudulent, or even false. Para 96: it is not false or fraudulent to set an expectation that the Vice President has a particular authority. I don’t dispute that Trump is a delusional megalomaniac, what I dispute is the claim that he attempted to defraud the US government in an official US government proceeding. The smoking gun that would have to be produced is actual evidence that he knew the statements to be false while at the same time entering them into an official proceeding. Not every false statement is a crime. Perhaps there should be a law criminalizing being a delusional megalomaniac in an office of public trust, though that would require a Constitutional amendment since Congress can't add qualifications to those few set out in the Constitution. The trial could well have the consequence of concretizing the informal conclusion that Trump is a delusional megalomaniac, and I have no problem with people knowing that fact. The problem I have is with misusing law as a tool to achieve a political end. The other problem (one of many) I have is that abuse of law to achieve a political end is not extremely rare.
  15. The main legal reason is that “abuse of power” is not a federal crime. There actually is a criminal law against “abuse of office” in 25 CFR § 11.448, which applies to tribal police and courts, thus is not applicable to Trump, though given the vague metaphorical slop in the indictment it is a little surprising that they didn’t overlook the limit in the scope of the law. Trump did abuse his power while in office, and the courts did rule against him (see for example travel ban 1.0). But SCOTUS can only say “no, you can’t do that”, they cannot punish a president for exceeding authority. This is the essence of objective law: that a person know in advance what things are forbidden. If there is no law against it, you cannot charge a person. The matter of intent to deceive is a fundamental tenet of criminal fraud. I doubt that the defense will try to argue that the election fraud charges are true, since that would be an irrelevant side-show. The prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that the claims were actually false, which would require proof that he said something crazy like “What if we make up some story about there being massive voter fraud in those states?”. OTOH, Nixon did have a tape recorder running in his office when he confessed to his crimes, so stranger things have happened.
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