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Everything posted by Spearmint

  1. It has nothing to do with being 'tolerant' or 'open-minded', it's to do with the assessment of the evidence available. In this case, I do not find the evidence strong enough to support your thesis, because there are several glaring facts that do not seem to add up. If you think that Objectivism involves ignoring uncomfortable facts in order to render an incident consistent with how you want to assess it, then I would suggest that it is not me who doesnt have "a clue about Objectivism". I notice that you didn't bother giving any explanation of why there were significant number of air marshalls stationed in the passenger area of the plane (as well as "higher ups" onboard), unless this is a regular occurrence (I do not claim to know a lot about inflight airline security). edit: A plausible explanation might be that these men were deemed suspicious before the flight (possibly because of the recent warnings mentioned), so it was decided to station air marshalls on the plane just in case. If this is so, then the accusation that the authorities were scared to take action seems to be unfounded - what else could they do? Ban groups of over 5 asian men from getting on a plane together, regardless of whether there's evidence that they are planning on committing a crime? As for not taking action during the flight, this seems fairly sensible under the circumstances. Arresting 14 men while a plane is mid-flight would be a VERY major event, which could have serious consequences - not the least would be causing the passengers to panic which could possibly result in a catastrophe. It's a delicate situation - you're 10000 feet in the air, and you have a group of 14 men acting suspiciously. What do you do? Wait till they make their move before you act, or act first and risk panicing the whole plane and possibly arresting innocent men. Making the wrong decision may very well result in the deaths of everyone on the plane, not to mention the terrible, terrible publicity that it could incur. It comes down to a judgement call more than anything else. I wouldn't like to be the one who had to make it. Given that everyone managed to get to the ground safely, I'd be inclined to lean towards the authorities making the correct decision. Maybe their actions potentially endangered the lives of everyone on the plane. Maybe they saved them. I don't know. This is all speculative of course.
  2. I'm sure that if it were both profitable and legal for private companies to provide seperate planes for white people, one would probably do so. Perhaps water fountains too.
  3. I was more meaning things like this: http://www.jeffcomp.com/faq/peikoff/sweden.html http://www.jeffcomp.com/faq/sos/index.html it sounded like a fairly irrational attitude, but from the tone of the rest of the articles on page, I assume that Mr Wolf was leaving things out, or misrepresenting the facts.
  4. Peripheral? These are exactly the kind of situations which I assume people are talking about when they mention private ownership of tanks etc here - I doubt anyone is advocating anarcho-capitalism.
  5. wow, thats pretty rabid. In particular I noticed these: http://www.jeffcomp.com/faq/peikoff/green.html http://www.jeffcomp.com/faq/peikoff/moro.html two articles, where he completely savages Peikoff over something he said, before offhandedly mentioning at the end that on both occassions Peikoff had the integrity to admit he made a mistake, and publically apologised as soon as he was corrected. When you're talking in a live action format such a radio-show, it's fairly likely that you're eventually going to screw up and say something you later regret. The only real problem would be if a person didn't admit to his mistakes, and declined from both apologising and trying to learn from them. The attack on Greenspan did seem like a very stupid mistake by Peikoff, since he knew fine well that he didn't have the required context to comment, but he admitted this later and I can only assume that he hasnt repeated the mistake, since theres no other screeds by Mr Wolf regarding similar incidents. Out of interest, are the 'other sides' of the Reisman (and related) stories available anywhere?
  6. How do you feel about people who wish to help those living in oppressive countries? A lot of people are unhappy about the situation in (for instance) pre-war Iraq or Zimbabwe, and would like to help the people living there in a way which involves military force. Currently this kind of aid is provided through governement agencies, funded by taxation. I assume that you (and Peikoff) would be amongst the first to object if this were proposed as an acceptable solution in a lassiez faire society, so it can be ruled out without further argument. This leaves 2 options - either forbid people from privately helping out people in other countres, or allow them to be fund private ventures. Since you clearly do not have the moral authority for the former, we are left with the latter. The only question now is the form this military action should take - should governments 'rent out' the military to those able to pay for it, or should private indiviudals/corporations be allowed to mobilise armies for this purpose if they wish. There appears to be numerous problems with the first option. First, on a moral level, I can think of no reason why people should not be allowed to use private armies in this way anyway. Obviously letting them loose within the capitalist society would be tantamount to anarchy, but there is no obvious moral problem with them operating strictly overseas. If I want to spend my money buying fighter planes to liberate people in oppressed countries, I'm not sure what business this is of yours or the governments. On a more practical level, the number of problems seems enormous. Off the top of my head, we have 1) the government simply isnt going to have the resources to 'rent out' its army to numerous buyers, without drastically increasing the number of vehicles it owns which will be very expensive, and 2) there are time constraints - waging a military operation often takes many years, and asking someone to just 'wait in line' when the people they want to protect are dying in droves isnt going to go down very well. I do think there would have to be _some_ constraints on what private individuals can do overseas - obviously allowing a few people with fighter planes to go off and bomb some nuclear power would jeopardise the security of the whole nation, so there would probably have to be some system where the military 'approves' private wars before they commence. As a more local example of why private ownership of tanks etc may be justifiable, we can consider private security firms. Currently a lot of companies use their own private security force (composed of armed men) to guard their premises, and there is nothing wrong with this. Strictly speaking, a security firm is a "private army", and they manage to exist in today's society without anyone suggesting that they are a relic of anarchism. If a company feels that its security can be increased through protecting its premises with tanks and spyplanes in addition to simply using "lots of men with guns", I'm not sure how the government derives the legitimacy to prevent them from doing so As David said, a government needs to claim monopoly on the _use_ of force in a given geographical region, not a monopoly on the means in which this force is used.
  7. Well I dont think there should be many restrictions on privately run armies (they mght be needed for 'humanitarian aid' in other countries, toppling repressive dictatorships at the request of the populace, etc etc), but I think their actual usage should be limited. I'm fine with people privately owning tanks, but I'm not sure if they should be allowed to store them in their garage. Its a very grey area though - there's a point at which someone owning a significant enough arsenal of weapons becomes an implicit threat of force to those around them, and its hard to say where exactly the line lies. We can probably all agree that owning a sword or gun is okay while a nuclear weapon isnt, but items such as fighter planes etc could really be decided either way. If its decided that weapons can be privately owned, obviously selling them on the free market is ok (although you might want some kind of buyer screening).
  8. It's very difficult to say anything based on that article, and I think you may be drawing conclusions too fast. In particular, these quotes jumped out: Why were there federal air marshalls sitting 'all around them'? Doesnt this seem a bit odd? Who were the 'higher ups' who happened to be on this plane? It may well be the case that the authorities knew something about these men before they boarded the plane - perhaps they were waiting for them to make a move? But this explanation doesn't make sense, since they didnt make a move so apprehending them upon landing seems out of place. And in any case, why the coverup? Surely the state would love to publicize that it caught '14 potential terrorists', and in any case attempting a coverup when there were such a large number of witnesses seems bizarre. I've no idea what exactly to make of this (Ive never heard of WWS before, is it a credible source?), but there certainly seems to be something going on a bit more involved than 'potential terrorists got on a plane and noone stopped them because they were scared of discrimination laws!".
  9. Using "if I dont do it then someone else will, so I might as well" as a justification for seemingly immoral behavior may well lead to unfavourable outcomes if applied to other scenarios. In any case, this is true only in the most abstract sense and breaks down in some concrete situations - in some cases the police officer will have the choice whether to let an innocent person go, and it will be unlikely this specific person is caught by anyone else. Enforcement by police officers is a necessary condition for these laws to be upheld. There are other factors at work also, but they could not be upheld if the police did not cooperate. Let us take a concrete example. A college student goes out to a club one day and takes an illegal recreational drug. He is apprehended by a police officer, who is now faced with a choice - should I let this person go since he is morally innocent, or should I initiate force against him? Assume he chooses the latter and the student is forcibly taken to the police-station, after which he is tried and sentenced in court. This person's life is likely to be ruined. This would not have happened had it not been for the actions that the individual person playing the role of a police officer took when initiating force against him. Without the immoral actions of this individual police officer, our fictional college student's life would not have been prosecuted. This police officer has ruined a persons life. He may justify his actions by saying "I was just following orders" or "I caught a murderer yesterday so it balances out", but neither of these serve to either erase the effects of his actions, or provide comfort to the college student. I agree, but that is not the issue here.
  10. But this IS whats being said. Saying that an argument is valid simply means that IF the premises is true, THEN the conclusion is also true. No more and no less. If the premises are not true then absolutely nothing is said about the truth of the conclusion. Validity in this context is asserting a conditional statement. Any argument of the form: (prem) All A is B (prem) All B is C (conclusion) All A is C is valid in terms of its logical structure regardless of what A, B, or C are. If either of the premises are false, then the truth of the conclusion is not guaranteed. In David's example it was true. It could equally have been false. None of this is important to formal logic, because formal logic is concerned only with the structure of arguments. This is a valid argument. If all cats are dogs, then this cat certainly would be a dog. edit: It's perfectly possible to validly infer a true statement from false premises, even outside formal logic. If someone told me that my friend had got a black eye, then I would assume that he has been in fight. If in reality the person was lying and he hadnt got a black eye, but he had actually been involved in a fight at work, then I would have 'accidentally' arrived at the truth from using fairly decent reasoning operating on a false premises (that he had a black eye). My premises would be false and my reasoning from it would be rational but my conclusion would be correct.
  11. Well this is true, insider trading is a nonsense crime, and from what I know of them, the laws themselves are very ambiguously phrased. They should be overturned, and of course they should be criticized. However this is not the issue here. A lot of people are loudly condemning the imprisonment as unjust (which it is). However, in cases where people are jailed for the other nonsense crimes which I mentioned, the reaction is often not "this conviction is unjust", but rather "the laws are unjust but the person deserved to go to jail for breaking them". I think a lot of people would have wanted Martha to get off due to the injustice of the laws she supposedly transgressed, but I doubt they would be so supportive of a person who was being prosecuted for selling drugs, or owning child pornography.
  12. This is wrong; he chose the career hence there is no coercion. There is a difference between putting a gun to someone's head and demanding they kill someone, and that person choosing to join a body which will force them to kill somone. Rand talks about a similar scenario in an interview at http://www.jeffcomp.com/faq/murder.html The only reason immoral laws can be enforced is because individual police officers choose to enforce them. Without the sanctioning of individual police officers, they could not exist. If you are a police officer then you could certainly argue that from a utilitarian perspective that the good you do when catching genuine criminals outweighs the harm you are causing to innocent people, but this is a decision which only you alone can make. I think there is an argument here, and I would agree with it to _some_ extent. I obviously wouldnt claim that all police officers are immoral and/or should quit their jobs (except for officers working primarilly in injust fields such as Narcotics, about which I would make both claims). However we are now discussing whether immoral actions are 'balanced out' by postive ones, not about whether they are actually immoral.
  13. Why is it essential? Formal logic in this context is about studying the STRUCTURE of an argument, not the argument itself. Validity refers to the deductive inference process, not to the truth of the argument, premises, or conclusions. When an argument is said to be valid, no claim is made about the truth of the conclusion, simply about the structure of the argument. Validity is a conditional - it simply means that IF your premises are true THEN your conclusion is true. Your example has a valid structure - the truth of your premises would ensure the truth of your conclusion. However your premises arent true, so nothing can be said about the conclusion simply from analysing the structure of the argument. You seem to be objecting that a true conclusion can be deduced from false premises, but there is no reason why this should not be the case. Remember the truth table from the material conditional (FF|T, FT|T, TF|F, TT|T) - the premises being false can yield either true or false conclusions if the argument is valid. All that it means to say an argument is valid is that there cannot be a false conclusion as long as the premises is true. Nothing whatsoever is said about the truth of the conclusion if the premises are false - it could be either true or false. You obviously know all this, so I'm not entirely sure what your problem here is.
  14. In enforcing an unjust law, an egent of the government is personally initiating the use of force, and should be treated accordingly.
  15. Well ok, I admit to not having indepth knowledge of the case. However, it seems that all that should be significant to the 'rule of law' brigade is whether she actually broke a law (be it lying/insider trading/whatever). There doesn't seem to be grounds on which to condemn the prosecution because the injustice of the law itself. No, I dont think this is the reason at all. Other successful people have been proseucted for non-crimes such as drug use and possession of child pornography, and none have received the zealous defence from within the capitalist community which Martha has. These people's situations are similar in that I assume they would not have been pursued to such a degree had they not been fairly famous. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people each day are imprisoned for breaking unjust laws, and their cases are normally ignored, or dismissed with a blithe appeal to the "rule of law". It has been different with Martha.
  16. This isnt quite right. Classical logic would be one example of a formal reasoning system, and it certainly be possible to create different reasoning systems by starting with different axioms and inference rules. None of this requires any direct reference to reality in the sense you mean. However, given that we have many possible systems, how do we describe which one we are going to use? Why are the rules of classical logic better than any other arbitrary set of rules, assuming that the system is consistent? Simply because classical logic is better suited to describing reality during our day to day experiences. Although classical logic can be thought of as 'just' being a set of rules describing valid inferences, the reason we choose to use THIS set of rules is precisely because of the nature of both reality and ourselves. An analogy here would be geometry. There are several different systems of geometry, all internally consistent. If we take 'truth' to simply mean consistency, then all of these would be equally 'true', due to axiomatic independence. However in this context 'true' is being used to refer to a correspondence with reality. With this definition, it is perfectly possible to talk about one geometry being 'true' within a given context while another isnt, assuming that the first one is better suited to describing reality.
  17. I can honestly say that I have never actually encountered this happening on any Objectivist discussion group I've visited, including this one. Perhaps it is different at conferences, or in the NBI days.
  18. I've never been completely sure why. Obviously insider-training laws are unjust, but I was under the impression that many felt that the 'rule of law' should be respected even if the laws in question were objectively wrong. I completely disagree with this attitude myself, but it seems fairly common.
  19. There's also the influence of Western religion in Africa, which teaches that condom use is immoral.
  20. As far as I know, 'colonialism' is almost uniformly used in the context of military imperialism and the expropriation of a country's resources. In any case, it seems rather unbalanced to completely omit the military interference of Western countries in Africa when discussing possible causes of its current state, especially when you are choosing to blame 'Marxist influences' instead.
  21. I think colonialism is slightly more responsible for Africa's problems than Marxism.
  22. But this is precisely how it relates to the prisoner's dillema. It is in your short term interest to cooperate (attend the seminar/picnic), so you do. Everyone else does likewise. The long-term result is the current vapid irrational corporate world where 'diversity training' and 'company picnics' are the norm, even though almost noone really wants them. If everyone refused to attend such events, they would have to stop due to lack of participation. However since on an individual level it is in most people's best interest to attend, they normally will.
  23. I assume it would be a disaster if everything were 'just' handed over. Trying to privatise most of the things that are currently state-owned would probably be an incredibly difficult task, and would take many years to perform in a way that wouldnt result in the collapse of a country's economy. The details regarding how the plan would work lies completely outwith the field of phlosophy - I suspect it would take many knowledgable economists and social scientists to come up with something feasible.
  24. Sounds like a prisoner's dillema type scenario.
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