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Everything posted by Spano

  1. Great find. Art.com has a few of her prints for the low low price of $650. I wonder if there are any cheaper avenues out there.
  2. I agree, nice post. Other people, particularly in free mostly rational societies, are an enormous value, even despite the fact that they may not be fully rational. It's a shame that some people approach the world as if everyone else is hopelessly depraved and irrational.
  3. Just to be clear, are you claiming that in *principle*, every individual is *entitled* to government protection? By this, I don't mean you should pay if you can, but shouldn't if you can't. This seems to be to be precisely what the left says about every other positive "right." How is government protection, i.e. the act of men on your behalf, not the same as other life needs like jobs and housing? Again, I could replace "government protection" in the above and replace it with "housing" or "medical care"...and I'm assuming none of us here would agree with the statement then. What makes government help different? In practice, I agree that the government should do all it can to punish criminals and protect individual rights. However, if for some reason the police ran out of money and couldn't stop some crimes, it would not be breaking some moral obligation. Every man must pay, by the nature of reality, for the material means to sustain his life. This includes money to keep the police in business if that's a value he wants to obtain. Not if that means force. I would say it is morally required, on the level of paying your mortgage, not of tipping the waitress.
  4. On what moral ground does one demand police protection free of charge? Let's focus on the principle first, not the details of potential systems. The basic fact is that a government is composed of men, and those men provide a crucial service on a voluntary basis. As such, they are morally due compensation. The basis and justification for a laissez-faire system in which the use of retaliatory force is given to the government is the need for the protection of individual rights, which must be done objectively. There is no conflict with accepting this and also acknowledging that individuals retain the responsibility of materially providing for their own lives in every respect -- including the protection of their rights. Saying that we need a government does not mean we should get it for free. That's not to say that the best implementation of capitalism involves having to whip out a credit card before a police officer saves you from a mugger. But it is to say that when he does, you morally owe him for the value he provided. It's a trade like any other.
  5. If by monopoly you mean coercive monopoly, then a government lottery would not be, since the people who use it do so voluntarily. The line for collecting money is the same line for all government action: no initiation of force. If a government acts without initiating force, it is legitimate. The minute anything is made *involuntary* by government is the moment it crosses the line. I'd say yes, in an important sense. Rights pertain to freedom of action, i.e. they are negative. While you have the right to be free of robbery, for example, you do not have a right to the time, energy, or resources of another man (police) to protect you from thieves. The government is the provider of a service, which is provided by men, which have a right to their life and must be paid for the voluntary work they do. This much is clear. How to deal with those rare instances in a laissez-faire capitalist society where the recipient cannot himself pay for the government services he receives is another question. I'd suggest it could be done in the same way people pay for non-government services they can't now afford...loans, charity, etc. Living near a police station, as such, constitutes no claim on anyone. On the other hand, when a police officer saves you from a mugger, I believe you owe him something.
  6. I don't understand your premise here. Why the 'must'?
  7. Google suggests: http://www.ozgrid.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19595
  8. I went the travelocity route and paid over $700 with taxes for RT from Florida. I don't think one could find a cheaper flight, because most of the cost comes from the leg into Telluride. For example, I could fly into Denver for under ~$200, but then the trick is making it to telluride and back. I tried looking into a one way rental car, but no dice. One person I knew saved a bit by flying into Montrose instead and taking a 2 hour shuttle to telluride. It will be a beautiful location, but certainly not cheap.
  9. True, but there needs to be more or you fall into the determinist idea that given an initial condition of particles in our brain, all consequent states are determined. The Objectivist theory of free will rests on the understanding of causality as a corollary of identity: the nature of an entity determines what it does, i.e. what causes it brings about. It does not mean that initial conditions + time = result, but rather initial conditions + time + identity = result. Because the identity of human beings involves having a volitional capacity, we are not reducable to giant, highly complex atomic pinball machines. A good place to go is OPAR, chapter 2: As to the idea of the infinite recurrance, there is simply no basis in the facts available to us to support it. What we know is that we can choose. We do not *know* anything (but can rationalize plenty) about infinite cosmic loops.
  10. Another way to put it is that only life-pursuing beings have any reason to ask questions. Even to ask a question is to seek knowledge, and to seek knowledge is an action taken by a purposeful being, i.e. a being whose purpose is life.
  11. Intriguing discussion. I'm not sure there are necessarily two factions here -- is anyone claiming that one should *knowingly* pursue romantic relationships that they suspect or determine beforehand *won't* work out? I would agree with Inspector that in trying to project that, it would just feel fake, to say to oneself at the very start that even though there's no chance of a long term result, you'll get involved romantically simply for the learning experience. On the other hand, I agree with Dan and others that failed relationships can be an enormous positive, given what you experience and learn during that time, and how you grow as a result. The argument here would be more retrospective: that one should be able to look positively on failed relationships that were genuinely attempted, not that one should pursue relationships that one knows will fail simply for the sake of "climbing the ladder."
  12. (bold mine) If I might jump in, I wonder whether you're suggesting that emotions are a proper means for assessing whether a given action is rational and moral. What's moral for me is determined by the facts, not what happens to "appeal" to me at the moment. Even such a decision as whether to live in hot or cold weather could be very much a moral choice, depending on the context. Perhaps I have some medical condition that is exacerbated by cold weather. All else being equal, to stay up north because that's my preference isn't very rational or moral, if my life is my standard of value. Likewise, I fail to see how anyone living under a dictatorship could rationally choose to stay, unless the only alternative were death. Freedom/slavery is not an optional preference like hot/cold or chocolate/vanilla -- it is the fundamental requirement of life. Given that, how could anyone rationally choose to accept life under a dictatorship given some chance, any chance, to change his situation through revolt or escape?
  13. To clarify, I meant that the way usual formal logic is approached in the academic setting is antithetical to Objectivism because it treats logic as a contextless game played with arbitrary premises. In fact, there is no distinction to be made between logic and epistemology, except that the former is the method of the latter. To say that there are both logical and epistemological fallacies implies, at least to me, that there is some seperation between the two. Is this what you're suggesting?
  14. This is a false alternative. Objectivism holds that logic (non-contradictory identification) is the method of reason, i.e the method of a proper epistemology. It makes no sense then to distinguish between epistemological and logical fallacies. One important contribution Ayn Rand made to philosophy was to add to the understanding of logic. The fallacies she identified are logical fallacies because the logic that flows from Objectivism is much richer than traditional academic formal logic. Specifically, she placed much greater importance on induction as opposed to deduction, because objectivity involves a constant process of looking out at reality and making sure one's consciousness conforms to it. That is why formal logic is antithetical to the Objectivist epistemology -- it dismisses the importance or even the need for induction and treats logic as a game played with arbitrary premises. I made the mistake when I first started learning Objectivism to think that it was a system deduced from the axioms, is if Ayn Rand sat down with existence, consciousness, identity, and wrote a few thousand pages of syllogisms. To the contrary, her method was thoroughly inductive, meaning that she was constantly identifying and integrating different facts of reality. So while an understanding of the traditional logical fallacies is useful, it doesn't give the whole story.
  15. Veritas, if you haven't already, you ought to read or re-read "The Objectivist Ethics", in The Virtue of Selfishness. I think you could find your answer there.
  16. I'd say that one hasn't really earned anything by simply getting hired...the true measure of that is performance at the job itself. If you think you're a good teacher and will be worth the higher salary, i.e. that your service and salary will be a fair trade, then there is absolutely no reason to feel like a cheat. If you think that you're not a good enough teacher and that nepotism is the only way you'd keep the job, then you would be a cheat and shouldn't take it. I agree that it's important to determine whether the principal would feel you are indebted to him beyond your job performance, since that would compromise your professional (and personal) relationship. If that isn't the case, and there are no other factors involved, I'd suggest that taking a job at half the salary would be pretty clearly irrational. Rational principles are designed to achieve happiness. If you are torn between following your principles and being happy, you are making an error somewhere.
  17. There is a problem with the discussion over breaking the law being force, because it ignores what *kind* of force we're talking about. Force as such is not evil -- it's the initiation of force that's evil. Obviously, retaliatory force in defense of one's life is supremely moral. Given that, the assertion that breaking the law = force is morally meaningless until you state what kind of force you're talking about. And to claim that breaking the law -- any law -- is tantamount to the initiation of force is obviously wrong, because there are too many examples of unjust laws. Is Microsoft guilty of "force" by breaking the antitrust laws? Is a political advocacy group guilty of "force" by breaking the McCain-Feingold laws restricting free speech? The examples abound. People exercising their legitimate freedom are not initiating force, regardless of what the government says. The issue of tax evasion, as I see it, is an issue of context and hierarchy of values. Without establishing these, it doesn't do much good to declare either that tax evasion is rational or irrational. Basically, it's a tactical decision that is analogous to getting mugged. Consider the situation in which a mugger has a gun to your head and demands your wallet. What should you do? We've heard two answers: 1) To give the mugger your wallet is to sanction his evil, therefore it is irrational and you should refuse and accept the consequences. 2) To accept the consequences is to put your life in danger, therefore it is irrational and you should immediately and unconditionally comply. Both of those answers are wrong, because both lack any context or consideration of hierarchy. Context involves all the facts: does the mugger have a gun, or is he wielding a stick, and am I unable to defend myself or do I have a black belt or a gun of my own, and do I have reasonable confidence in defending myself (or can I run away)? Hierarchy of values involves what I'm trying to achieve: is my wallet worth more than my well-being, is this an isolated threat or a recurring one -- what action is actually in my life-serving long term interest? Depending on the answers to these questions, the *rational* action is different. If you can kick the mugger's ass, you should. If you he's crazy and will kill you, you shouldn't. In every case, the facts involved determine what the right, i.e. life-serving, choice is. Given this, I see tax evasion as a tactical issue. If you think (based on very careful consideration of the facts) that evading taxation is life-serving in the long term, you should do it. If you don't, you shouldn't. It is certainly our right to keep our money -- the only issue is whether keeping the chunk the government is extorting is worth putting everything on the line, or whether it's a better strategy to "live to fight another day." I myself think the latter, but that's due to my context. For others, it may not be so.
  18. It wouldn't make ethics irrelevant; it would make you a pragmatist. Pragmatists still answer the basic question of ethics, "what should I do", by saying you should do what works. They deny the necessity of principles because "what works" according to them sometimes requires violating principles. Case in point: if individualism doesn't "work" to solve the plight of the poor, and redistribution does, then why not do it? Clearly it lacks a validated standard of value, but I don't think they'd claim that ethics is irrelevant. They would just say that ethics requires one to go with the flow rather tie oneself down with restrictive absolutes.
  19. Well, you could try knocking your opponent in the face and when he objects, explain that the pain is relatively minor and temporary, and it made you feel better. If that doesn't appeal to you, I'm not sure there is a concise way to respond, if by concise you mean a few sentences or whatever. Basically, principles are important because of what they are -- the means by which man grasps long term cause and effect. For instance, take any of the Objectivist virtues -- why should I be honest or productive or rational all the time, as opposed to most of the time? Or in this case, why should I adhere to the principle that force is evil and individual rights demand a person be left free, when it seems advantageous to take a little money from the people down the street to pay for my tuition or doctors bill -- especially when they ain't got any way to stop me, since I'm the government? The short answer is that human beings survive by using reason, and reason entails conforming to reality. One of the aspects of reality is cause and effect, which is captured by principles. By saying I should be honest on principle, I'm saying I should recognize that honesty is the cause that brings the effect of being in tune with reality and all the goodies that entails -- and that dishonesty is a cause that brings the effect of all the bad things that happen when you make pretend. If I decide to be dishonest and violated my principle "just this once", I am evading causality and reality. Since evasion is bad, as I hope we all agree, then violating principles is bad. And if we want to be good, then we shouldn't do that. Therefore, we should reject even a little bit of welfare state because it's bad for everyone involved. Does that get closer to answering your question? Oh, and I recommend you sign up at ARI's website and listen to Leonard Peikoff's lecture about why one should act on principle.
  20. Objectivism is concerned with the whole of reality, not some arbitrary slice of it. Likewise, the Objectivist ethics must be applied within the relevant context that includes all facts that impact a situation. In your example, there is no mention of how one comes to be starving -- it's just put out there, with no grounding to the rest of reality. In modern life, free people don't starve, and feed themselves quite handily without needing to resort to theft. No, to state that one should never steal is one instance of saying that one ought to act on principle. It is never rational to steal because theft violates the principle of individual rights, and it is always irrational to violate rational principles. In other words, being rational requires being principled. For validation of this, I recommend listening to Peikoff's free lecture on ARI's website. Based on the fact that man's existence qua man (achieving values long term) requires that he use reason, and that using reason involves forming principles (recognition of cause and effect), and that theft requires violating principles, which means violating morality, which means violating reason, which means evading the facts of reality. For more explanation, please see OPAR.
  21. Keep in mind that the the concept of rights is a political one, i.e. it applies in a social context when we're talking about people coming together to form a society. Essentially, individual rights is what you get when you apply the Objectivist ethics to interpersonal relationships. First, you need to establish what it is that an individual needs to survive, e.g. the ability to think, to put thought into action, to keep and dispose of the product of that action according to his judgement. Then you need to establish that force is evil because it destroys the individual's ability to use his fundamental tool of survival, reason (why is reason, not, say, opposable thumbs, man's tool of survival? That's another essay or two). Then you need to establish that if life is the goal, a group of people forming a voluntary system of government must recognize the metaphysical needs of the individual and figure out how to secure them in the context of living with others, the solution being basing one's system of government on the prinicple of individual rights (pause to catch breath). Oh, and somewhere along there you'd need to establish the epistemological importance of thinking and acting according to principles, if you want to have any way to defend against the pragmatist's objection that a little coercion never hurt anybody. I don't think this can be done in 2 paragraphs or 20, hence the reason Ayn Rand wrote novels and essays with inductive arguments rather than a couple technical papers of formal logic "proofs".
  22. I think it would help to make your opponent state his claim more directly: rather than asking why is it fair, make him admit he is claiming that nature is unfair. Next, ask him to give the validation of his claim, i.e. which facts give rise to the concept of "fairness" he is invoking. At this point, you will discover he has no such facts to point to. Hence the question "why is it fair that this guy is born smarter than that guy?" is as much meaningless gibberish as "why is it fair that apples are crunchier than oranges?" The only reason the first question sounds remotely sensible is that he is stealing the concept fairness and ignoring its roots in human volition. If he thinks facts are important, you can continue from there. If he doesn't, don't bother.
  23. Happiness to me means a constant emotional background, sort of like a mood but without the connotation of being temporary. Personally, I've found an interesting indicator of my happiness: often when I'm looking in the mirror, I start to grin at myself for no particular reason, just in response to the fact that I feel generally efficacious and in control of things. Also, I find myself more often thinking consciously about the good -- whether its a nice day outside, or I'm using some technology that works well, as opposed to getting wrapped up in problems. In recent months especially, I've experienced this just about constantly, every day and throughout the day. If you're anything like me, when you're happy, you'll know it (without seeing much reason to clap your hands).
  24. What kind of context are you using the word selfish? In my experience, philosophical issues like this don't come up until I have established some rapport with the person I'm talking to. In other words, I've never needed to say "Hi, my name is Noah, and I'm intransigently selfish", at which point the person draws back in moral revulsion. More likely, the person already knows me to some extent, has evaluated me as good-natured etc, and if I mentioned that I adhere to a morality of selfishness, they'd be more curious as to what exactly I mean than repulsed. It doesn't take much to say "I'm selfish on principle, by which I mean...." If somebody is such an altruist that even the mere mention of the word selfish has them ready to condemn, than they aren't worth my time anyway. Fortunately, most people allow you to offer at least another couple sentences to explain yourself before they write you off entirely.
  25. LOL, you've got to watch out for those chariots. Highly sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. Great stuff, keep 'em comin.
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