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Everything posted by Pokarrin

  1. Don't forget that the second is a corollary of the first. Respect for the rights of others is necessary for the pursuit of your own happiness if you live in human society (and if you don't, it's irrelevant).
  2. Then they had to go and ruin it... As if property rights can be protected during a forced demolition.
  3. There is no real answer to this question. Government has already violated our rights by appropriating our property for the construction and maintenance of public roads, and a natural result of that action is that government must regulate the manner in which we use those roads. One act of tyranny, once accepted as justifiable, necessarily leads to others. Obviously, if all roads were private, the property owners would decide what is an acceptable use of their roads. In the case of public ownership, there is no standard of use that would best protect individual rights, as the very existence of the question depends on a violation of rights.
  4. Is it easy to become educated and informed, if one is not already, or does it require a more than negligible investment of time and effort?
  5. 1. Actually I don't think there is anything at all wrong with co-ed showers, though males and females would likely segregate themselves anyway due to overwhelming cultural norms. Those norms are the only reason that male/female segregation is practiced. I think fears of increased rape or sexual assault as a result of integration would prove groundless, as the punishments for those crimes would remain the same, and, despite some silliness to the contrary, sexual urges are never uncontrollable (unless the person has a mental condition, which would bar them from military duty anyway). The same argument applies to gays in the showers. 2. Anecdotal evidence is empirical, if it accurately represents an actual event or group of events. That doesn't mean it's conclusive, or representative of a larger context. 3. The Zogby poll would indeed normally be stronger evidence, due to the larger sample size, though that would also depend on how well the questions were formulated and presented. In general I would trust the results of a large polling organization over one conducted by a single, overtly biased individual. That is because the polling organization is less likely to ask "loaded questions", takes a larger sample, and typically reports the results more objectively. This is by no means universally true, however, and I would have to see the specific polls (his, and Zogby's) to judge whether it is true in this case. Be prepared to make that argument, and support it, or abandon your poll. I think you're focussing too much on trying to identify specific, named fallacies, and allowing yourself to get bogged down in battles over definitions of words. For the first, I find it helps to, at least to yourself, reduce your opponent's argument to a syllogism, and find either the unsupported premise or the faulty conclusion (one that doesn't follow from his premises, as presented), or both, and expose them. For the second, just concede the silly anecdotal/empirical debate, however he wishes to define the words, and focus on which evidence provides stronger support for the conclusions drawn from it. You don't need to draw a clear distinction between the two terms to defeat his argument in this case. Last thought: Why are you attempting to engage someone in rational debate who obviously bases his "reasoning" on a faith-based (and therefore, irrational) distaste for homosexuality? You know that you have practically zero probability of changing his mind, right?
  6. My arguments were epistemological, not economic; I didn't argue that corporate or state capitalism don't work, I argued that they are not valid concepts, and therefore can't even be reasonably argued about. You seem to be confused about the nature of concepts. There is no such thing as the concept of capitalism, or any other concept, without a mind to conceive of it. The referents of a concept may well exist on their own (though not in this case), but the concept can't, unless someone first thinks of it. You need words as symbols in order to communicate ideas regarding those concepts. Those words' definitions must be previously agreed upon (as with a dictionary) and so defined as to avoid contradiction and equivocation, otherwise neither party to a discussion will understand what the other is saying, either because as a contradictory concept it can't refer to reality, or because the definition is arbitrarily subject to change within the context of the argument. The defining attribute that distinguishes capitalism from other systems has been established (re: Jake_Ellison's post) as individual ownership of capital. Any system that is not capitalist, then, necessarily involves ownership on other than an individual basis, thus creating a contradiction if you attempt to combine them. If it does not, it might as well be subsumed under capitalism without any need for further differentiation. The only reason to create unnecessary differentiations is to breed confusion so as to get away with what would otherwise be an obvious equivocation. I believe that the reason Ayn Rand insisted on LFC as the only true capitalism was to avoid those very equivocations. LFC, while needlessly redundant, is a valid concept, unlike all other alleged "capitalisms". It gains that distinction by being neither self-contradictory nor equivocal. Perhaps you could come up with another "variant" that meets those criteria, but I would be very surprised if you could distinguish it from LFC, or simply capitalism, in any meaningful way. In fact, one of the possible definitions of "corporate capitalism" in my previous post does in fact meet the criteria, though that's not the way the term is normally used.
  7. Words matter, but they aren't primary. If someone objects to your definition of Capitalism in an argument, you can simply concede the (often arbitrary) point and see if they will accept your definition of "Laissez-Faire Capitalism", then continue arguing about the ideas that actually matter. Trying to argue about the true definition of a word is more often than not a completely pointless exercise. On the other hand, you should object to an attempted definition that either contradicts itself (state capitalism), or necessarily involves fatal equivocations (corporate capitalism). Arguing from faulty definitions is a good way to get lost in the details and lose sight of the actual concepts the defined words are supposed to represent. In your specific case, I think the point you would like to make is that Laissez-Faire is the only variant of Capitalism that actually remains coherent as a concept. Corporate capitalism involves equivocating on the definitions of corporation and capitalism. Corporation in the sense that it can mean either "a group of people cooperatively engaged in a productive enterprise", or "a group of rich people who use their wealth to gain unfair advantage over those less fortunate". Capitalism as either "a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned", or "a social system based on the aggregation of political power to the most wealthy". In any argument regarding corporate capitalism, the terms will be used in one sense by one party, and in the other sense by the other party, leading to confusion and frustration for both, as they are actually mutually exclusive. If both parties agree to the first set of definitions, there is no reason to have the word "corporate" in there at all, and if both agree to the second set, there is no reason for the word "capitalism", as you could simply call it "corporatism". I trust the inherent contradiction in the term "State Capitalism" is sufficiently obvious that I need not explain it. Based on the above, "Laissez-Faire Capitalism" is needlessly redundant (but not wrong), since there aren't any other Capitalisms. Hope this helps you.
  8. I'm sorry it took me so long to reply; we just had a big storm come through and were without power for about a day. Here's what I came up with as a critique: You appear to be advocating that people be free to do what they want to do without having to work under anyone else's supervision. The problem, as you well realize, is that that it is simply impossible for a productive enterprise to have no supervision, so you replace the business owner with the collective group of workers, and assume everyone will prosper equally and care about one another. All you can achieve by this is what is known as a tyranny of the majority; everyone, voting on those issues that most affect them personally, will vote to receive the most remuneration for the least effort. Those who vote otherwise will receive fewer resources, and have progressively less influence. The most dishonest will grow in number and influence, and end up as the de facto rulers. You can't erase self interest from humanity by wishing it away. However, I have been assuming I was arguing with an Anarchist, who would not want any oversight organization (like a government) to be given the power to decide what is "fair" distribution of wealth, income, and circumstances (i.e., what constitutes a unit of effort and hardship, and what amount of remuneration is appropriate per unit). If you do advocate such an organization, how is Parecon different from centrally planned socialism? If not, how do you propose these determinations will be made? Perhaps you envision equally powerful committees coming together and cooperating on distribution between one other. Who sits on those committees? If your answer is any number smaller than everyone, we now have the top-down hierarchal rule you despise, as the committee members will certainly have more power than others. How long before that becomes a full-time job, with benefits? If it is in fact everyone, how do you suppose any decisions will ever get made out the cacophony of needs that would inevitably present itself at any such meeting? Do you really believe those decisions will be wise ones, even by your own standards? Regardless, the most advantageous position for an individual to take, in such systems, would be to produce the smallest amount of resources relative to everyone else while doing his best to convince others of the greatest hardship and expenditure of effort on his part. To produce more of something with less effort would earn no benefits, so why improve skills or methods? For that matter, why pursue excellence when even a mistake requires an expenditure of effort, therefore earning more (per unit of effort) than expending the effort to do the job well? You may protest that human nature is better than that, that people naturally pursue excellence, and rightly so, but under a Pareconist system it is not those who are better who will prosper. If effort and hardship, not productive ability and intelligence, are the standard by which wealth is distributed, then mindless brutes will reign supreme.
  9. Would you mind asking him if he agrees with this description of Parecon before I bother to systematically expose it's inherent contradictions? I'd hate to waste the effort, otherwise. I posted the full quote as an FYI for anyone else on this forum who wants to know the face of this enemy of freedom.
  10. This only applies if the market is somehow static, which no market is, or can be. Even if a large business were to acheive monopoly status, all a prospective entrepreneur has to do is find a way to satisfy the same desires using less resources. There are a variety of approaches to this problem, including, but not limited to: producing the same product more efficiently (raise quality:costs ratio); producing a different but similar product more cheaply; providing for a small niche market not well served by the existing company, etc.. Anyone not willing to engage in this kind of thinking doesn't need to be a business owner in the first place. Countering his big-business advantage theory as well is the fact that, in the face of truly innovative competition, it is much more expensive for a large company with a great deal of already-bought-and-paid-for capital to retool production methods to adapt to changing demand than it is for a small company with relatively little productive capital. Remember also that the small company was the one that changed the market conditions to begin with, so all the retooling they are likely to need, at least for a while, is in the form of expansion and improved efficiencies of method. If his contention with regard to the difficulty of little renown held any water, all businesses would be little less old than their industries, which is clearly not the case. Wal-Mart, to name an obvious example, has been around for a great deal less time than retail. All this is largely irrelevant, however, in the face of his definition of the problem as a lack of competitive 'fairness'. If a free market does not promote fair competition, what does? Is the concept of productive competition even coherent in the absence of a free market? As soon as someone arrogates to themselves the right to distribute resources produced by others, competition moves from striving to create the most value at the smallest cost to being the best at convincing those in power to give you the most for producing the least. Only a government can possibly engage in such an egregious contradiction of reality without quickly falling apart (and that only because they have such a large pool of relatively rational producers to leech off of). Any reduction of freedom in the market is necessarily harmful to fairness (at least according to any coherent definition of the word).
  11. According to what I read, it's actually not illegal, nor should it be, though that doesn't mean someone won't manage to successfully sue him over the sign. I think his intent is to say he's willing to give them what they voted for: less available health care. Also, in the area where he works, it also appears to be good marketing.
  12. I can see two possible senses in which the word "equal" may be used: quantitative and qualitative. The qualitative sense is the one that would properly be used in the phrase "equal rights", since freedom is not a matter of degree, and cannot be usefully described quantitatively. The quantitative sense applies to two people who, for instance, receive the same salary for their work. Misuse of the word in the context you seem to be working in would arise from confusion between these two senses. When seeking a quantitative measure to determine how to enforce an imaginary right, it is quite easy to find that people from different social groups have very wide differences in affluence in the aggregate, and to therefore state implicitly that "these people have 42% more rights than those people, and we need to fix that". In reality, the only way that equality can be applied to rights and freedom is in the sense that the same laws, not the same economic conditions as a result of those laws, are applied universally. It should be a qualitative judgment, not a quantitative measure.
  13. You might want to rethink this statement; religion may well have helped perpetuate the existence of certain societies, but it has never been something that humans needed for survival. Has there ever been a religious society that could have survived without the guilty contributions of their more practical, productive, and sinful neighbors? In the beginning, religion may well have been a more or less legitimate attempt to understand the world, but they would have done themselves, and us, a favor by avoiding the mystical, authoritative aspects which took it out of the realm of science and reason.
  14. In order to prove this point, all you need do is find another tool that supports survival better than religion. That tool is reason. Surely you can demonstrate the superiority of reason as opposed to mysticism for survival on this earth without arguing from authority. The only arguments religion has that make it even remotely coherent are those referring to existence after or somehow 'outside' of life on earth. If he will accept nothing other than authoritative works, then you have already lost the challenge, as he can simply refuse to acknowledge the authority of the authors you present.
  15. Actually, I'm afraid a distressing proportion of them would say exactly that.
  16. My first thought: "Do they really think this is a good way to sell cars?" My second, and far more disquieting thought: "Is it?" I found the commercial sickening, but I wonder how many of my fellow Americans are actually caught up enough in this 'green guilt' silliness to find it entertaining. Audi commercial
  17. What a fascinating mixture of logical fallacy, sound reasoning, and occasionally bad spelling this guy is. He is obviously at least somewhat familiar with logical argument, though I doubt he's made a serious study of it. I believe I can refute him argument by argument, and I fully intend to do so for the sole purpose of sharpening my mind thereby. Would you like me to post my results when I finish, or would you rather work through it yourself? It may take me some time, as I will probably have to check some of his source material myself.
  18. It's not easy to improve your intelligence in general, but it's made somewhat easier when you have a particular subject to study. Quite simply, read books by other thinkers on the subject, beginning with those who write most simply, until you understand the basic principles that can be applied to the subject. When I wanted to understand economics, for instance, I tried to start with Adam Smith, but found it hard going because I didn't know a lot of the terms he used, and I had trouble deciphering the somewhat archaic language. Henry Hazlitt and Frederic Bastiat provided a much better basic grounding for me, and I was later able to go back to Smith, then Von Mises and Hayek for a more thorough exposition of the subject. After that, it was much easier for me to understand Keynes' arguments and why they were incoherent. Think of the way you learned algebra in high school; had you begun with a book on the subject without a prior grounding in basic arithmetic, you would likely have found your intelligence inadequate to the task, despite the fact that most algebraic functions are actually relatively simple to understand.
  19. If you must defer to authority for understanding in a matter in which you have a personal stake, at least make your best effort to intelligently choose which authority to defer to. Consider arguments made by potential candidates on related topics that you do understand well, and consider how rational they are in those arguments. Also, consider whether they might have an unreasonable bias in this particular case. The far better alternative, of course, is to improve your intelligence until you do understand their arguments, and judge for yourself. I admit I'm a bit curious as to the particular god-concept this individual advocates. Can you provide an example or a link to his work?
  20. That was precisely the point of my last sentence. As we're growing up, I think most of us really do believe in space, time, and causality, to the extent that we think of them at all, from a purely empirical standpoint, which is not sufficient as proof of anything beyond the fact that specific observations were made, and have not yet been contradicted. This could lead one to surmise that, as you said, the universe that exists is quite different from the one we perceive. I don't think Kant ever clarified in exactly what manner it would be different, but that's understandable, since he claimed it's unknowable anyway. Logically, however, to exist is to possess an identity, and to possess identity is to have attributes. The attributes of an existent are expressed by the manner in which that existent interacts with other things that exist, which possess their own identities. This leads to the Objectivist law of causality, that entities behave according to their identities. As conscious entities existing in reality, it is impossible and contradictory to state that we can perceive anything except reality, however unique may be our manner of perception with respect to some other conscious entity. Anything that affects our perceptions is necessarily, and by definition, part of reality. Therefore we are indeed perceiving reality as it really is. I hope I explained that clearly enough; it's been a minute since I last read Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology. If you're still uncertain, I recommend you read it for yourself, though I would be happy to continue this conversation as well; I need the practice.
  21. With regard to Kant's philosophy, I think intrinsic (belonging to a thing by its very nature) would be a better word than inherent (existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute). I don't think there's anything in Objectivist philosophy that refutes the idea of a mind having inherent qualities, but Ayn Rand did argue quite a bit against intrinsic knowledge, which is the same as causeless. For instance, my primary means of approaching problems is inherently analytical, but that is because of, not prior to, my experiences and education. Most peoples' minds do indeed share a great many inherent similarities in the manner in which knowledge about the universe is organized; communication would be very nearly impossible, or at least much less efficient, were that not so. It does not follow, however, that those patterns are present from birth. Rather, the similarities in our understanding reflect the fact that we are all attempting to understand the same reality based on inputs from the same five basic senses. I just cracked open Critique of Pure Reason again for the purpose of answering this question, and the most coherent example of Kant's that I can find after a quick perusal is mathematics. He claims that understanding of basic mathematical truths is necessarily a priori, since we cannot define which experiences led to those truths. I would respond that those truths are inherent in reality, not intrinsic to the mind. Any healthy human mind would of course readily accept the proposition that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, not because we are born with the knowledge, but because every experience we have of reality reinforces that proposition. Furthermore, once one gains a certain degree of philosophical clarity, it becomes evident that existence itself would not be possible were it not true.
  22. I don't see any negative implications for free will in this work at all . In fact, if the numbers hold up (which I leave to those more expert to quibble about), I see precisely the opposite. What the models of dynastic decline look like to me are models for the failure of oppressive governments. A newly established dynasty, or political party, or even a new ruler within an established regime, typically has a great deal of popular support, but little real power (relative to the end of the previous administration) because the structure of the new regime has not yet been firmly established. As the new regime becomes better established, the rights of the citizens are more efficiently arrogated, and therefore more citizens will be unhappy with those in power, lending more support to any opposition. It makes sense that this pattern would hold just as well for longer time-scales, as each successive ruler within a particular system would necessarily be able to learn from his predecessors, thereby gaining power, and losing popular support, that much more rapidly. This looks very optimistic to me, as it implies that humanity is moving inexorably toward a freer society. This pattern would not be possible, or even coherent, without the existence of free will.
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