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Everything posted by MinorityOfOne

  1. According to the people in charge of the Empire State Building, by the way, nobody has ever thrown anything off of it.
  2. Go get the movie. You'll learn to pronounce them, though you might do it with an Italian accent. ;-)
  3. MinorityOfOne


    Huh? You're gonna have to back that one up, man. The specific date at which a baby ought to be considered a person is more a legal/scientific matter than a philosophical one. Diana draws the line at viability, which I don't necessarily agree with, but I don't think it's a ridiculous position to take -- nor, certainly, is it one which throws her outside the boundaries of Objectivism. (With regard to that last, by the way, you might find it useful to recall that Rand explicitly considered it open to debate whether abortion should be permissable in the third trimester..)
  4. Ok, so I just took a quick look at the old constitution. Yeah, it's really bad. But one thing that I thought was funny: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work." I guess the first phrasing didn't work out very well, huh? (Not that this one was a resounding success either...)
  5. I'm not familiar with the old Russian Constitution, but this one doesn't impress me at all. It looks like something that might come out of a fairly bad European welfare state. "Employable children who have reached 18 years old shall care for their non-employable parents." "Everyone shall have the right to a home." "Everyone shall have the right to receive, free of charge and on a competitive basis, higher education in a state or municipal educational institution or enterprise." "Everyone shall be obliged to preserve nature and the environment, and care for natural wealth." Heh... Article 29 was my favorite. Did no one notice a problem here? "Article 29 1.Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought and speech. 2. Propaganda or campaigning inciting social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife is impermissible. The propaganda of social, racial, national, religious or language superiority is forbidden. ... 5. The freedom of the mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited." (LANGUAGE superiority? Huh???) Has anyone noticed that constitutions become both more vague and more concrete-bound over time, and that you can count on the abstractions blatantly contradicting the concretes? I noticed this in the Iraq constitution too, though not quite to the same extent.
  6. Actually, it's interesting you should put it that way, Swig. In trying to argue against Stephen, you actually make his point for him. Think about the difference between life and, say, Volvos. There could be a Volvo with nobody to value it; it would then not be a value. But what do you have in mind for a case where there could be life without a valuer? Life is not value, that is correct -- but to live is to value. This is as true for a blade of grass as it is for a man, even though a man clearly values in a very different way than a plant. So, to reiterate the point that has been made repeatedly: life is not just the value that happens to be at the top of the hierarchy. It's different in kind from subordinate values. That said, I do prefer to call life "inherently valuable" over "intrinsically valuable". And a further point should be emphasized: a life is only inherently valuable to the organism which is living it.
  7. I was the same... finally got around to reading We The Living four or five years after the rest of her books.
  8. Me too. Since when are coroners in the business of discovering new ways to die?
  9. Well, not quite. Philosophy, like any sort of cognition, is a human perspective on reality. The facts on which Objectivism is based have been around for a very long time, available for anyone to see. But to discover fundamental principles is a monumental achievement. Principles aren't just out there floating around; to form a principle is to recognize a fundamental similarity between a number of things. So like I said, it's a uniquely human perspective on those facts, and as such, it doesn't exist until someone formulates it. You might put it this way: you wrote "whether someone perceived it," but the real issue is whether someone conceived it.
  10. Nah, I doubt it. Criticism of the Bible is hardly an Objectivist monopoly, and in fact, most atheists probably spend more time on it than Objectivists do. You might find Robert Ingersoll interesting. He was well-known in the 1800s for criticizing Christianty. infidels.org has a lot of his stuff, but the following is probably most like what you heard on the show: http://www.infidels.org/library/historical...n_of_bible.html
  11. No, I don't think that's true at all. Objectivism is a specific set of principles, but it's not an exhaustive set of principles. There are plenty of questions left to be answered... though I do think Rand hit all or nearly all of the fundamentals. It's funny, actually. When I first discovered Rand, I read through the novels, and then I flew through all the non-fiction I could get my hands on. I had been interested in philosophy for years, and there was actually a part of me that was a little pissed off (though most of me was ecstatic) -- I thought Rand had ruined philosophy for me by being right. The more I learn, though, the more I find that there's a lot left to be done. I think Ghate's comment just referred to the fact that the work Rand has done is sufficient to revolutionize the culture, if only people knew of it. I wouldn't take it to mean that he thinks nobody could discover new philosophical truths.
  12. Well, I haven't done a lot of research on the topic, but I recall hearing from some reliable source that cocaine -- again, if used in moderation -- has negligible long-term health effects. I'd agree that smoking crack is always bad, though. (I think that's pretty obvious.) What I meant was this: in general, assuming moderate consumption, a person who does coke will be more aware and more capable than a person who smokes weed. So at least in terms of mental effects, I'd say weed can be worse. Well, that's true... but I worry about making something illegal just because it can be abused. I mean, the same argument could be used against cold medicines.
  13. I can't speak for DPW's reasons, but based on my observations and experiences, there are some people for whom the occasional hit of weed is not much different than drinking an occasional beer. Like alcohol, it's very destructive in excess, and some people shouldn't do it at all. For instance, I used to smoke weed when I was a teenager, and just a couple of hits would make me pass out and drool on myself. But I knew people who could smoke occasionally and in moderation without being noticibly impaired... so I wouldn't dogmatically say "it's always bad," any more than I'd damn somebody for having an occasional drink. Incidentally, I've known more than a few people who occasionally used cocaine as a social recreation -- again, in relatively small doses, like having an occasional drink. I'd go so far as to say that all things considered, provided it's used in moderation, cocaine is a less destructive drug than weed. I'd be more likely to get in a car with somebody who had just done a bump of coke than with somebody who had just taken a hit of weed or had a beer, for instance. I can't think of any other drugs which I would consider possibly appropriate as occasional recreation, other than alcohol, weed, and coke. And, by the way, I'd have to spend a day qualifying what I mean here, so just consider my comments to apply only to the "best case scenario" -- that is, a person who is thoroughly responsible about his actions. As for the morality of drug dealers, there are SO many compounding factors that I can hardly answer the question. Drug sales are illegal, and most of the people at the top of the line are hardcore violent criminals. So by involving oneself in that market, one is supporting that sort of violence, which is of course not moral. Most drug dealers are also rather unprincipled about their sales. A bartender, for instance, will cut someone off when it becomes apparent that he's had too much to drink; a typical drug dealer will never turn down a customer, unless he thinks there's a security risk involved. To this end, though, it might be worth talking about the responsibilities of a bartender. If a bartender has a customer who comes in every night and gets totally smashed, does he have a responsibility to eventually tell the customer not to come back until he gets his life together? There's also the fact that marijuana has valid medical purposes, which means that whatever else you think about it, there's at least one clear case in which it is thoroughly moral to provide someone with access to weed. I don't think it's possible for someone to morally sell cocaine in the current legal system, though I'm open to argument. I can certainly see a case where it'd be moral to sell weed: for instance, if one grows one's own marijuana and sells it to moderate recreational or medical users. (I'm putting aside the possibility of being arrested, which seriously complicates the issue -- it probably means, I think, that one would have to have a serious personal value at stake, such as a loved one who needed the weed for medical reasons.) If drugs were legalized, though, I think the possibility of it being a moral market could be much greater. Any thoughts?
  14. I can't tell if that post was serious. I hope it wasn't... I seriously doubt anyone has ended up with bad views on economics or metaphysics because they played the wrong video games.
  15. Well, I share your preference for video games over aimless driving -- at least video games have goals. But I don't see anything inherently bad about enjoying to drive... a little weird, in my opinion, but certainly not an immoral thing to do. (Provided, of course -- like with any recreation -- it doesn't infringe in their more important values.)
  16. I think this sort of thing would fall under the category of accidental rights violation, and therefore would be a civil issue. Generally, lawsuits of this sort are deferred to the police department. If, on the other hand, it could be shown that the police officer intentionally violated a person's rights and then lied about it (e.g., fabricating some sort of "suspicious activity" in order to frisk an attractive woman), there should be criminal penalties. Cases of negligence, where no criminal intent could be established, but where the police officer could be shown to have failed to follow reasonable procedure, should be dealt with by a lawsuit directed at the officer himself. (I'm open to argument on this last one.) I believe that in current law it's very rare for a cop to be successfully sued in civil court for any negligence while on duty -- in fact, I'm not sure it's possible. And it's even more rare that one gets successfully prosecuted for crimes committed on duty. Hey, by the way, RationalCop, an off-topic question. The biggest violators of traffic regulations in my town are police. I see a cop run a red light, pull an illegal u-turn, or go WAY over the speed limit almost every day. If they've got their sirens on, no big deal, but doing so while not in pursuit of a specific crime just seems to express an attitude of being above the law. I don't think I need to point out how abhorrent that attitude is. Further, it's dangerous: I've almost been hit by a cop twice while driving, and once while walking. Do you know of any ways to make them responsible for this sort of behavior? I'd file a complaint, but it's so widespread that I doubt it would do any good... I live for the day I see a cop pull another cop over and give him a ticket. God, would that be satisfying. ;-)
  17. Oh, ok. Well, I've certainly taken enough epistemology classes to understand that -- I thought you were trying to get at something more complicated. Are you familiar with the Objectivist theory of concept-formation? If not, I can't take the time to explain it to you, so I'd suggest reading up on it -- and if you're interested at all in Objectivism, you should do so anyway, because it's really the most revolutionary part of Rand's thinking. Anyway, one important part of concept-formation is differentiation. In fact, it's really THE fundamental. I could not, for example, form the concept "table" without having observed things that are commensurable but different: chairs, etc. Those entities I am differentiating a sort of thing from in forming a concept of it have to be commensurable, which means that they must all belong to some larger category (which I need not have yet conceptualized.) The definition of a term arises from this process: the wider category gives rise to the genus, and the differentiating properties become the differentia. So with regard to knowledge, the question is what sorts of things one differentiates it from in the process of forming the concept. I was arguing (indirectly) that one doesn't form the concept "knowledge" by differentiating it from various sorts of beliefs; rather, one forms the concept by differentiating it from ignorance. If that's right, than "a mental grasp of a fact of reality" (or something like it) is entirely appropriate as a definition.
  18. Yeah, I think that's valid. I just prefer to say that I reject both materialism and dualism, since dualism is so closely tied to Descartes. (In other words, I think I'm in substantial agreement with Binswanger, but I prefer Searle's approach to the terminology.)
  19. Ember, I've read that a couple of times and I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I'd speculate, but I don't want to spend time writing a response and have it turn out that I missed the mark. Can you rephrase your objection, preferably giving examples of what you mean?
  20. GC: Well, I can only go by what's on the link you provided, and it's not too impressive. As you said, you clearly didn't really understand concepts at that point. Your AI would be comparing symbols without any grasp of what they actually are: to it, "Cats are mammals" is the equivalent of "Grodzunks are plingafs." It'd be the ultimate rationalist. ;-) Halley: I'm not claiming that AI is impossible on the basis of lack of evidence. Without evidence, one should not make any claim about possibility: one should not say it's possible, nor that it's impossible, but rather should refrain from taking a position. That said, I do lean toward thinking it's impossible, but for other reasons -- of the sort that I mentioned above, regarding the connection between biology and consciousness.
  21. I can't recall where I heard this point, but I think it's right. "Justified true belief" can't be a proper definition for knowledge, because it makes knowledge a species of belief. In other words, it implies that belief is the broader concept, and knowledge is a specification of it. But the primary contrast to knowledge is ignorance, not false belief, so that can't be at all the right genus.
  22. GC, you might want to poke around on Lee Sandstead's website. (http://www.sandstead.com) He has a ton of great photos on there, and I'd be surprised if he wouldn't let you use some of them.
  23. If you have evidence that a particular algorithm can achieve AI, I'd love to see it. And yes, if you have such evidence, you should consider it possible. I doubt you do; I've certainly heard of nothing of the sort. VTOL flying cars and 10Ghz chips are just extensions of current technology. True AI -- not something that behaves intelligently, but something that actually IS intelligent -- would be a radically new kind of technology. It's not a fair comparison.
  24. Yes, my mistake. I'd move the posts, but I can't see how to move them individually. In response: Taylor is primarily responding to Turing-type behaviorist claims. That said, I think it still has force against people who merely think AI is possible. Possible on what grounds? How would YOU build the machine? There's also a lot of background information I couldn't possibly type up: a whole book's worth, in fact. Taylor thinks that purpose is inexplicible in the model of the physical sciences, because the physical sciences deal with passive action (in essence, event-event causation), whereas purpose is only possible to an agent (i.e., one who can cause things without being caused to do so.) So, since mechanisms (like computers) are always fully explicible in terms of the physical sciences, agency and thus purpose is impossible for them. (This is a huge oversimplification. I highly recommend the book, if you're interested in causality; it's one of the best philosophy books I've read since I've been in college.) Perhaps you could make a computer which was an agent; but doing so would require making a computer which is fundamentally metaphysically different from the sorts of computers we have in mind -- in other words, you'd have to make a computer that was literally alive. And at that point, you're just saying that you could make an admittedly weird organism which was purposeful -- but that's not essentially different from having children, except that it's more technologically impressive.
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