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DavidOdden

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  1. I’ve heard people say such things, but it is a thoroughly confused way of talking. Reality is “what exists”, nobody seriously claims that reality does not exist. There is another notion of “same reality”, the “multiverse” view that has become more popular recently where there are copies of the universe “out there” that we can’t see except if we are superheroes. Supposing that this is sorta true, that discovery would just tell us of a new aspect of existence that we did not know of before, some “phase” property where we ordinarily only interact with existents that are “in phase” with us. “We” live in this phase-universe, “they” live in another phase universe, all that Objectivism has to say about that is what all scientists have to say about that, namely “Where is your evidence?”. Instead, what they mean when they talk of “same reality” is that it is impossible to directly know anything, instead every consciousness creates its own internal state specific to that consciousness, and there is no causal relationship between reality and that internal (subjective) mental state. Now, it is true that mental states are individual, that there is no such thing as a collective consciousness where you and I literally share the contents of a single mind. What the subjectivists seem to believe, which we reject, is that knowledge is uncaused. Nobody has come up with a coherent description of this “subjective reality” idea, so the best way to understand it is to understand what Objectivism says about existence and knowledge, then investigate what it would even mean to deny that position. Objectivism says that we have anatomical devices which sense certain things about reality, such as sound, heat, color, and so on. We use these devices to perceive the universe. We cannot directly perceive x-rays or sounds above 60 KHz, and we even know these facts (and why they are true). We also have cognitive devices that allow us to retain and organize this sensory input. These devices operate in a physically-regular fashion, just as electromagnetic radiation operates in a physically-regular fashion. Humans are special no Earth in that we have some unique cognitive devices for retaining sensory information. In particular, we organize sensory information into general “concepts” based on common properties. We can reduce (primary) colors to frequencies, the wavelength of the light emitted, where “red” is about 430 THz and “blue” is about 750 THz. You simply have to learn the conventional boundaries for your culture, something that you do as a child (where there may not be a difference between “green” and “yellow”, just as English doesn’t have the Russian distinction sinij vs goluboj). The decision to organize sensory inputs one way vs. another is voluntary, in the sense that it is not immutably predetermined by the universe. Because we choose how to organize our knowledge, some people get the confused impression that this means that knowledge is random, chaotic and uncaused. The concept of “proof” presupposes the Objectivist viewpoint. If you insist that knowledge is subjective and random, then the notion of “proof” or “true” is meaningless.
  2. I don't think the oath is a useful indicator of education, instead I would look at the citizenship test that immigrants have to pass before taking the oath. I agree that most US-born citizens don't know the answer to all of these questions (I actually did not remember the answer to question 7). It is important to learn the official answer to question 11, the true answer is "government-regulated economy". However, 60% is a passing score. If you read those questions, and their official answers, you begin to see what some of the problems of education are. A huge number of these questions don't have clear objective answers as in "what is the capitol of Maryland?".
  3. My understand of what was taught in high school history is over a half century old, so I really have little idea what they teach these days. But not no idea. Given what I have learned about the contemporary situation, I would take seriously a proposal to drop history and all social sciences from the curriculum, but also probably all literature, so now please spell out what the basic curriculum of high school would be, bearing in mind the staggering incompetence that most students have in math and science. Instead, I suggest that there should be a re-consideration of the purpose of education. There seem to be three main viewpoints on that topic. One is that there are certain data points that are so important that it is impossible to exist as a human without knowing them. I guess “Declaration of Independence was July 4, 1776” would be an example, at least if you are an American. I lived for many decades without knowing when Norwegian Grundlovsdagen is, unlike every Norwegian. So obviously, importance depends on context. As it stands, the best justification offered is the intuition that “that datum is intrinsically important for our culture”. The second is that education serves as indoctrination for a social agenda, so if the agenda is “pride in American accomplishments” that leads to one curriculum, but if the agenda is “shame in American accomplishments” that leads to a different curriculum. The same holds for scientific subjects, that the agenda should be something like “eco-responsible farming”, “justice-based medicine”. This is the current dominant approach to curriculum development. The final approach is based on developing skills of reasoning. I have no issue with that approach, the question is how can it possibly be implemented? The main problem with a focus on reason-based education is that ideological indoctrination has hijacked the concept, by replacing actual reason with progressive pseudo-axioms under the umbrella of “critical thinking”. That brand has already been corrupted, I suggest referring to it as “Critical Theory” and put it in opposition to something else like “Reason-Based Education”. There are three agents for setting curriculum. The first and best-known are the governments, which get to dictate what “counts” in a curriculum (bear in mind that even though the government does not run all education, it does dictate content to some degree for any education that is “accredited”). You can run an after hours counter-culture school that will supplement the government curriculum, that is what Sunday school is about, but it doesn’t “count”. Legislatures are notoriously bad (evil, not inefficient) at figuring out what should be in the curriculum. The second agent is the school bureaucracy, such as the school board or the curriculum committee. This is the weakest link in the chain, since they must follow orders from above but have variable control over the actual agents of education (teachers). Their greatest power is course-material selection, the H-bomb of education. The final agent is the college of education, which teaches future teachers, therefore teaches what and how to teach. This is the most direct and effective way to change the actual curriculum, because it is the teacher that directly imparts something to the student, so to the extent that teachers have some freedom to choose how and what, that is where actual curriculum change is best implemented. The obvious follow-up question is, what can be done (by whoever) to bring about a change in what teachers do? Somebody has to devise and implement a curriculum for university education classes focusing on that which is most important, that means that somebody has to become a professor of education. Furthermore: there can’t just be a single such somebody, those professors of education have to be widespread in meta-education. The decay of education has been a slow process, largely encouraged by and not distinct from general cultural decay. It has not all been decay, there have been improvements especially a decrease in involuntary tribalism (discrimination based on the un-chosen). Some parents may remove their children from a particularly offensive school system to protect their child, but the wisest parent leaves their child in school, exposing them to the harsh reality of what life will be like for them, and then supplements the child’s education at home.
  4. I would start by defining what a “neutral, fair, balanced, impartial, scientific, objective point of view” is. As far as I can tell, “point of view” presupposes a judgment, and “neutral, fair, balanced, impartial” precludes judgment. It is certainly possible to record events without judgment, just put a camera or microphone in a place and let it run. I will tell you that the result is massive amounts of meaningless recordings, waiting for someone to distill down to an condensed interpretation. Judgment is absolutely essential in distilling the mass of raw observations into something humanly usable. So your question should be, what principles should guide a person’s judgment in interpreting events? The fundamental question in historical reporting should be “what happened?”, which is the basis for a higher-level question “why did it happen?”. This is not just about history, in science the fundamental question is “what exists”, the higher level question – which depends on accurate knowledge of what exists – is “why does it exist?”. In all science, faithfulness to “what exists” is limited by a simple transactional consideration: you are aiming to sell your account to an audience. Perhaps your intended audience does not have the patience to plow through a 200 page technical treatise on the topic. Now you must decide what is of greater value to you: royalties, or a detailed account of what exists (and why). You have the option of selecting a particular audience, smaller but more dedicated to objective truth. You even have the option of discarding all limiting considerations of audience, in favor of strict faithfulness to truth. Whether or not you will just depends on what your value system is.
  5. For those who are not familiar with Trump’s VP pick, he signals the end of free market economics in the Republican Party (here and here). He rejects the traditional Republican opposition to antitrust laws and the view that Lina Khan, Biden’s Commissioner of the FTC and chief government aggressor against business success is indeed engaged in some sort of fundamental evil thing and has aggressively pursued an anti-innovation, anti-tech, anti-big business anti-consumer agenda. Vance loves this: “I guess I look at Lina Khan as one of the few people in the Biden administration that I think is doing a pretty good job”. He holds that we need to “build a competitive marketplace…that allows consumers to have the right choices and isn't just so obsessed on pricing power within the market”. Not, “we need to get government out of the way of business”, but to actively build a “competitive marketplace”. It will be interesting to see if Vance repudiates this position from a few months ago, or does he more clearly embrace government-run economy. It will be more interesting to see if Trump responds to the mounting criticism of this choice with anything more than a standard Trump “He is a beautiful choice” nonsense.
  6. A lie is not the same as an error. A lie is knowing that a statement is false, yet making it. Your claim that Biden lied is false, therefore by your criteria, you lied. Moreover you even assume the “assertion while knowing it to be false” meaning of “lie”. Bush did not provably lie, not did Biden. I have no problem with asserting that Bush and Biden should not have made statements that they were not certain were true, but that is not the definition of a lie. You can validly say that “the media” lied, although there is no such thing as “the media”. Some a-hole (or multiple holes) deliberately manipulated the presentation of Trump’s interview. A different a-hole accepted that manipulation as fact, believed it to be true, and responded accordingly. Moreover, a third-order a-hole restated Biden’s text to remove false statements (it is true that there were riots in Charlottesville and that there were white supremacists involved, as repeatedly re-tweeted on social media – that part is not a lie). Your lie, or error, lies in imputing to Biden certain knowledge, without a shred of evidence that Biden knew the statement was false. Had you checked your sources, you probably would have realized that your accusation of Biden lying was not warranted, just as Biden could and have checked his sources before making his accusation. A question which I don’t think is checkable at this point is the details of creation of any of those hoaxes. Some jackass (i.e. a-hole) posts an unresearched emotional reaction on a public forum and it gets reposted by others. WTF with waiting 4 years for this Snopes report? The explanation is rather simply that emotional ideology overrides reasoning. You cannot immunize yourself from the accusation of lying by playing the “while knowing it to be false” card without granting Bush and Biden access to the same card. Perhaps you can get away with a moral argument that as a lowly peon as opposed to being President of the United States, you have no moral duty to determine what is true before making an accusation. You can blame the media for Biden’s failure and your own. You might also demand original sources, given that media including the million of morons who contribute to social media have a tendency to lie, in the sense of not bothering to do their research. So I am actually not surprised that you couldn’t connect the argument to the axiomatic, because it is pretty hard to do.
  7. Here is a challenging exercise in argumentation. You assert that Biden lied, just as the left asserted that Bush lied about WMD in Iraq. Following your logic, you just lied. Now, can you show that you did not just lie? Or did you do what Bush did?
  8. The current protests are caused by one specific thing: the death-worship cult that has infected societies across the world. There are various attempts to rationalize death-worship, for example the “at capacity” slogan, but that is just a side-show. Extreme tribalism is a by-product of the mentality of fear necessary to maintain the death-worship cult. Objectivism focuses on the conditions necessary for man’s existence qua man in a social context, which presupposes that existence qua man in a social context is a good thing, whereas the death cult denies man’s nature, and denies the virtue of existence in a social context. There are some inconsistencies in the rhetoric of the death cult, they typically support freedom of movement for those who are oppressed (presumptively by the rich), but they do not support freedom of movement for the rich (or at least the not-totally-destitute). This inconsistency comes from their fundamental principle, which denies man’s nature – of course, there are many specific ways to deny man’s nature, these Barcelona animals have selected a specific variant, whereas our domestic animals tend in a different direction, in favor of ethnic tribalism. Demanding logical consistency is a hallmark of us reactionaries who oppose the death cult. The part that you correctly find scary is the expansion of personal assault as a tool of political expression. We have experienced things like this, Kristallnacht being a well-known example likewise the BLM riots and the January 6 riots. Those have been attacks on government and businesses, the current situation in Spain is much scarier because it is a direct attack on the customers. It approaches the personalized atrocities carried out under the Cultural Revolution, only it is worse since it is being carried out by young punks with no semblance of connection to law, government and civilization – it is the embodiment of the hell of anarchy. The threat of which can lead to emergency fascist control of everyone. However, I think this is just another passing tantrum, like BLM, climate change, and various anti-economic terrorist attacks (whatever happened to the Greek debt riots? Whatever will happen to the Kenya debt riots?). Funny thing about the Yippie and SDS punks of the 60’s is that they grew up, seized the reins of power, and no longer are staunch supporters of “free speech” (i.e. their right to express their political viewpoint). It is likely that local Euro-governments will impose some kinds of restrictions on tourism, aimed at the relevant local businesses rather than the customers.
  9. When you sue the government, the defendant is always the current enforcing cabinet member, the regulation was created by the Trump administration effective 2020. POTUS always bears responsibility for the actions of his secretaries. As Truman said, the buck stops there.
  10. I am talking of the successful challenge to Trump's decision to impose a cost of enforcing restrictions on free enterprise, without Congressional authorization, on herring fishermen.
  11. On the contrary, SCOTUS did not care whether the Trump restrictions on trade were unfair or anti-capitalist, they only cared that Trump invented a trade restriction that was not authorized by Congress, and they said “You cannot do that”, moreover of greater significnce thy affirmed a principle, that POTUS is not entitled to write his own laws. Sometimes SCOTUS makes a correct ruling, sometimes it is wrong. I can’t say the same about Trump’s regulations. As I said, Trump is the bigger menace, I didn’t say that there are no other menaces.
  12. The role of the government is to protect rights, not to increase domestic protection of products by economic intervention. Taking government hands off the economy is a virtue, increasing domestic production is not. I assume you understand the difference. Laissez-faire means removing the regulations, I’m looking for the evidence that Trump supports laissez faire capitalism and not “anti-foreign interventionism”. Name the specific regulation, show me how it is not a direct implementation of what Congress mandated. Show me the evidence that Trump will only address restriction on capitalism, rather than direct support of US businesses. There is a separate question that spins off from your support of Trump’s executive behavior. Fortunately, SCOTUS already handed him his ass over his interventionism in the economy, regarding his order to force herring fishermen to pay for their own economic deaths. The demise of Chevron does potentially restore individual rights which he would otherwise infringe. The other more subtle yet important question for Objectivists is how great a virtue objective law is. Although many Objectivists support the rule of law over arbitrary individual dictates, we generally support only laws that protect individual rights, and as far as I can see, Congress has passed no laws that protect individual rights for over a half century. So is it okay to ignore the law if it is for a just cause? Should POTUS be given the power to write laws, ignoring what Congress does (NB that is the definition of a dictatorship)? What we need is not a president who plans to ignore the law, we need a Congress that is willing to correct errors of law. Trumps policies are indeed “just typical conservative ideology”, but not even traditional Reagan conservatism, it is patently un-American neocon policy. And yes, we are rapidly approaching that ultimate inversion, where the government can do anything it wants, under the orders of the Glorious Leader, who rules by brute force. The last vestiges of rule-by-law are being constantly eroded, and Trump is most eager to accelerate this obliteration of rule-by-law in favor of his brilliant executive insights.
  13. I’m glad to see that you agree that the best interpretation of Trump is “just as bad as the alternative(s)”, and that there is nothing good about another Trump term. It is true that “Muslim ban” is political rhetoric which Trump first created and which was essential to his first election “success”. Remember 2015: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on”. Everyone then adopted his term. It’s political rhetoric just as “Stop the Steal”, “MAGA”, “Buy American, Hire American”, “Drain the Swamp”, “Build the Wall and Crime Will Fall”, “I will make Mexico pay for that wall” and his various “hoax” memes are all political rhetoric. I am also glad that you acknowledge that the SCOTUS immunity ruling is an existential threat to individual rights (you didn’t mention that it was enabled by the tragedy that Trump appointed three ‘justices’ who bear responsibility for that expansion of presidential power. It is good that you recognize that Trump is a buffoon, but that is not the problematic fact. The problem is that he is a totally unprincipled and unthinking buffoon.
  14. There isn’t any serious doubt that Trump is a threat to the American way of life, the best counter-argument in his favor would be that he is no more of a threat than Biden or Harris. By comparison to previous Republican nominees for president, Trump is so bad that he is at least as bad as the previously-presumptive Democrat nominee and current occupant of the office, and then the argument can proceed to the effect that he is actually worse. This is where it matters what you think the job of POTUS is. Would Trump be better at running the country? Is that what the president is actually supposed to do? Will he increase oil and gas production in the US, and is that what POTUS is supposed to do? Is it good for the US to impose trade restrictions on China and in general to return to a tariff-driven anti-import economy? A few things stand out as significant w.r.t. a Trump re-presidency. He has a certifiably xenophobic anti-immigration agenda, and will clearly pursue a policy of blocking foreigners from entering the US. This is a flagrantly un-American stance, moreover, his earlier failed Muslim ban was plainly unconstitutional, which goes to the question of whether he is tempermentally suited to be the chief custodian of US law. In balancing the interests of the US in terms of foreign policy, he has demonstrated an unthinkable level of support for the fascist dictators of Russia and North Korea and a shocking animosity towards our allies in NATO, who would be vital to defending the interests of the US against aggressor nations. Although I do not believe that his weak efforts to engineer a coup d’etat on January 6 rise to the level of crime, his actions unambiguously show his contempt for the law. Paired with the recent court ruling that POTUS is above the law in a special way, we can not assume that he will act in accordance with the law, if his whims tell him to act differently. Which brings us to another potential threat of a Trump presidency. POTUS appoints new Supreme Court justices, and there is some possibility that Thomas will need replacing under the next president (especially from a voluntary retirement based on Thomas’ assessment that the subsequent POTUS will be a hard-left extremist, so better to fall on a sword held by a softer-left president like Trump than… Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or AOC. For some reason, Democrat presidents have been better at figuring out which jurists are more in-line with their own legal and political theories (e.g. O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter). The only thing worse than a 4-year POTUS with Trump’s view of the law would be a lifetime appointment of a Trump-like justice. The most we could hope for would be (1) he doesn’t get the opportunity or (2) he is as wrong in is assessment of judicial candidates as Bush I was about Souter. It is a crap shoot especially since the pig in the other poke might turn out to be a goat, or a rabid dog. Whereas previous presidents (at least in my lifetime) have had the moral character that precludes them overthrowing the government, I see no positive moral character inside Trump, no restraint that keeps the American government on track as an American government. If, in addition, he takes the House and Senate, no forces of government can constrain his desire to rule America the way he sees fit.
  15. Your question about irreducible primaries is contexually irrelevant, since the point under discussion is the legal distinction between fact and opinion, and not what Objectivism says about the concept of a fact. Similarly, as definitively determined in Nix v. Hedden, a tomato is vegetable, opinions of scientists notwithstanding. If you want to defend yourself against a charge of defamation, you would have to argue that the statement which you made cannot reasonably be interpreted as asserting a proposition which can be proven or disproven. The burden rests on you to prove that the statement has no truth value, otherwise the matter reduces to the simpler issue of whether the statement makes a negative evaluation of the plaintiff. You are not required to argue that your statement has no objective truth value, you can instead argue that the accusation is true. However, all defamatory statements are statements about specific individuals, and no philosophical primaries are statements about specific individuals. Arguing that “Existence exists” is a philosophical primary is useless because it is not a defamatory statement, and “Smith raped me” is not a philosophical primary. The ability to identify a statement as a “fact” exists even without training in philosophy. Everyone has the right to express facts and falsehoods, everyone has the ability to evaluate propositions for truthiness, and there are no facts that cannot be identified by non-philosophical methods. All facts are identified using eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, documentary sources, scientific research and testing, etc. To prove that Smith is a socialist, you must first establish an unambiguous definition of “socialist”. The legal question is not about an elite cabal of philosophers who may have a peculiar definition of “socialist”. The word is not intrinsically accusational, so without first proving that there was an accusation in the first place, the lawsuit would be summarily dismissed. You would therefore have to engage the services of some kind of social scientist to establish that in the relevant human context, “socialist” is a damaging accusation. Things change over time. These days, you cannot sue someone for calling you “gay”, without establishing that the audience whom the accusation was addressed to does indeed construe the statement to be an accusation (e.g. “to a convocation of Southern Babdist preachers”). You might then call as a witness such a preacher who could expertly testify as to SB doctrine on homosexuality, provided that it was first established that the opinions (yes, opinions) of Southern Biblethumpers matter. 60 years ago, being called “gay” was defamatory per se, it was an accusation of moral terpitude.
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