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Everything posted by amosknows

  1. "The results were showing that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...7052701056.html If this is true than being self-interested would seem to make inherent biology a contradiction. Any one have an opinion of (if this were true) how it would affect Rand's arguments concerning the nature of humans?
  2. Seems to be a contradiciton in your answer. You seem to be saying that there is no moral component to this hypothetical. It's perfectly moral (right) to ignore the cries for help and it's perfectly moral (right although not an obligation) to risk your own life and run in and save the person. If this is your answer, than aside from the absolute elimination of obligation as a guide for one's behavior, objectivism seems to fail as a behavioral guide in situations like these. Decisions of what is right and wrong falling on either side of the equation - and without effect. In essence reducing decisions of what is right and wrong to whims - the only relevant consideration being this lack of an obligation to act. This bring us back to value - as Rand has sated: "An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means – and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism's life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil" If the woman can value the life of the man more than her life than she is (by definition) NOT an objectivist. By Rand's standard saving the burning man is "evil". Although (by your acknowledgment) her actions are not outside the realm of acceptable objectivist decision making. Hm.
  3. Matus - one of the most thoughtful and insightful posts yet. I see the difference between doing for yourself and doing something at the subjugation of the will of another. And in this I concur. I also understand the concept of one's personal values and living a life that's in accordance with those values. But what I still can't get is the connection to what is moral in the context of Objectivism. - For example, if the woman saves the stranger because her conscious is such that she feels compelled to save him, can she still be an Objectivist because at that moment her value is to save the burning stranger? Or put another way, is acting with altruism, empathy, compassion and caring simply an acceptable component of Objectivism provided it's not the result of subjugation? Finally, there seems to be some contradictions between being selfish (an acceptable Objectivist code) and some of the examples you gave above. In 300 Ephialtes values the people of his land more than sex and money and power. He chooses the non-selfish value. How does someone like Ephialtes form a value like that? I'm also not sure I would agree that V's motivations are selfish. She is willing to die to avoid pain. But then, what would be the source of that pain?
  4. Thanks for this. Questions: If it's not immoral for the woman to either NOT risk her life for the stranger or risk her life for the stranger, than what exactly is the moral thing to do under this hypothetical? Help? Run? Nothing? In other words, you've stated this as a negative (not to risk as an acceptable moral choice) and as a nullity (risk as an irrelevant moral component). Can you give me an answer in the positive? Or is this simply not an example where choice and morality are even factors?
  5. First, I don't know who the altruist is? Are you suggesting that I am an "altruist" - because if you are I'd suggest you'd have to know a hell of a lot more about me than what I post on line. Second, I believe that you should question your beliefs in all circumstances - including in the context of those impossibly horrific hypothetical examples. Just my opinion.
  6. Nice! Do one more where the Pharaoh says "go build the pyramid and I'll give you some bread' and the other guy says "If I don't build the pyramid I'm going to die".
  7. So consequences are not an inherent part of either greed or objectivism? I asked this elsewhere but it morally okay for someone to have a hyper-abundance (unnecessary) amount of food while a child (or anyone) in arms reach starves? What I am trying to say is: Is greed which results in unnecessary affluence something that objectivism would view as morally wrong? Or does actual need also not play a part in your analysis? I appreciate your responses so please, if you choose to answer this question, please provide a detailed explanation.
  8. Not hard if you believe that reason was not always an available methodology and that instincts were once the primary mode of operation for we humans.
  9. Greed needs to be regulated by the individual via morality and then (if not) by any mutual agreement between the parties toward subsistence and survival. Most of these agreements are made under the threat of force and/or punishment.
  10. I see your point. However, in either case (the gravedigger or the coconut picker) the subject is being subjected to things he does not want to do. So he's essentially not free to choose what he spends his time doing to earn his subsistence. The distinction between the two (I believe) is that in the case of the gravedigger, if his circumstances are the result of another man's position or are in fact the result of another man's actions, than his lack of a choice had been inflicted. The infliction of a lack of choice coupled with an unfair wage would (in my opinion) be slavery. If the outcomes are the same, I don't see the distinction between subjugation via physical force and subjugation via the intentional creation of conditions. Nice. I agree 100%. Repeating my self: If the outcomes are the same, I don't see the distinction between subjugation via physical force and subjugation via the intentional creation of conditions.
  11. First - I never said anyone was punished for their greed. The greedy people (like the CEO of Countrywide), the fraudulent appraisers. the high interest writing mortgage brokers, and the over-inflating real estate brokers, got off free and clear (in fact they made a lot of money). Again stop mixing apples and oranges and making outlandish assumptions based upon your own preconceived prejudices about me. Second - the secondary mortgage market is not limited to Freddie and Fannie (they hold 90%). CMOs are also purchased by commercial banks. If government did not set up the secondary market - what makes you think the private industry would not as a way of bundling (and therefore reducing) risk and increasing available capital? You think if Freddie and Fannie disappeared so would the secondary market? Also, Fannie was privatized - therefore in essence since that time it's operated as a free market vehicle. Freddie and Fannie compete in the market as do other Commercial Banks. Third - you totally discount (nor offer any solution to) the misuse of over-inflated appraisals, the fundamentally flawed products (no money down, no income verified loans), and the motivations to write bad loans at high interest rates inherent in a system with no regulation. Why? Because if you believe it's blue it has to remain blue. Like so many people your views and beliefs are unquestionable - even in the face of historical and factual shortcomings. We might agree that it's possible the an unregulated system would work and correct itself if in fact risk was tied to reward and there was accountability. Unfortunately, not only was the risk transferred, there was no accountability at the primary level, and the secondary level was bailed out. Nothing capitalist about any of that. Ultimately the taxpayers got stuck with the bill for all the misuse of an unregulated system without accountability at the primary level. And the debt of the country is a trillion dollars more than it was. It's essentially a transfer of wealth from from the country and it's taxpayers to the participants. Amos
  12. Jake - the originating lenders (like Countrywide) did not fail. The secondary market (which was relying on the information from the originating lenders and the appraisers and the industry at large) is where the failures (could have) occurred (had the bailouts not occurred). Do you not see this an an inherent flaw in the system? The regulations that are required involve lending standards (to prevent the originators from writing bad loans - for example a standard % for every loan to value ratio). Amos
  13. Thomas, I have no idea what my post has to do with altruism or my blog - can you please spare us all and beat that dead horse in private? In the example I gave above, risk was clearly not tied to reward because of the secondary mortgage market and the ability to write bad paper and then sell that paper which eliminated (and transferred) the initial risk. Can you explain how this system unregulated would correct that? Or are you saying that a failure to tie risk and reward in a capitalist system is acceptable? Additionally, you entirely fail to address the built in incentives to raise interest rates and prices on the part of the real estate and mortgage brokers. These both increased value artificially and decreased the likelihood people who took the loans could pay them back. The artificial demand is also created in my example by an ability to lend to people who should not otherwise qualify for a loan - i.e. writing bad loans intentionallty with the understanding that the originators did not have to maintain the risk. How does a lack of regulation fix this? Or does it not need to be fixed? Amos
  14. As person with some first hand knowledge of the mortgage meltdown, I am going to say that some regulation is a necessity. Here's why: The parties involved were the Originating Lenders, Mortgage Brokers, Appraisers, Real Estate Brokers and the Secondary Mortgage Market. Originating Lenders (like Countrywide) made money in points - that is a % of the loan they wrote. They only made money if they wrote and closed the loan. The bigger the loan the bigger the points. Mortgage brokers also made money if the deal closed. Also on a % of the loan (or a share of the points). So they too made more money at a higher sale price. Mortgage brokers also made more money based upon a higher interest rate - 1/4 % point increase in the rate could equate to a 1% fee from the originating lender. So there was incentive for the sale of loans with higher interest rates. Appraisers worked with mortgage brokers to make sure that appraisal values were in line with the amounts of the loan (it's implied by the loan amount and appraisers that wanted to get referrals from mortgage brokers necessarily had to appraise homes at or above the loan amount). The CEO's of the originating lenders (and the management) made money by bundling and selling their mortgages on the secondary mortgage market. As a result the quality of the loan was irrelevant to them - they needed volume to make money. The parties buying bundled mortgages were relying on the quality of the work of the people below (including the appraisers who were motivated to appraise at levels above actual value). When the Originating Lenders sold the loans they transferred any exposure they had and got to keep the points they obtained at the closing. So it really didn't matter what they wrote - as long as the loans closed. What's more the CEO's were getting huge bonuses based upon volume - and they knew when the bubble burst they could walk away (and they did). Real Estate Brokers intentionally set the prices high to get a bigger commission - driving demand when otherwise unqualified buyers got loans and driving up the home prices artificially. As a result of all of the above, the originating lenders were able to close more loans at a higher interest rates. They sold many loans that they knew people could not maintain to make a higher profit. Also, no income verified loans and no money down loans with closing costs built in were becoming common place For all the reasons above it didn't matter what the Originating Lenders were writing - all the parties simply required the loans close. In essence a lot of people made a lot of money and these are the same people who caused the real estate bubble and the collapse. The only way to stop what happened from happening again is to somehow change this system so that the risk is tied to the reward and the people who are borrowing are actually qualified - both of which require regulation. Unregulated the industry will do what it just did all over again. Comments?
  15. I accept your position that without force or violence that slavery is impossible. But then you have to define force and violence in order for me to understand at what level someone is a slave. Isn't the man who can't get any job other than grave digging "forced" to work as a grave digger?
  16. Jennifer You have shifted focus from the condition of the laborer to the functionality and productivity of the system and the business (and by default the employer). I am not advocating a fair wage (or "crying" for fairness). You seem to have predisposed opinions and you are over-looking the question. I am simply stating (as a point of contention) that at some point a wage below subsistence without a real choice is slavery. Do you disagree with this? If so why? Slavery makes a "business" more productive as well. I don't see how what sets a wage or how a wage is set is relevant TO MY QUESTION. What is relevant is the actual rate of the wage itself and the lack of a choice for a particular laborer. Can this ever happen in a capitalist system - you appear to say "no" because if it's working to perfection everyone should be able to get a job at a fair wage. However, the fact that everyone can find work does not equate to a real choice - I don't like digging graves, but if that was all that was available and they paid me less than basic subsistence (in my view) I would be a slave. Do you disagree? Finally, whether or not any laborer could find themselves faced with a lack of a real choice at a level of wage which is above subsistence in a capitalist system is unquestioned. Currently in the US we are facing double digit unemployment (although we don't have a true Laissez-faire capitalist system. And whatever we have is currently being hijacked and destroyed by the current band of private and government thieves and crooks). Amos Agreed. we would need some definition to really answer the question. Suppose the only available jobs were grave digging at a rate of wage which was actually below the poverty level (or a real level of subsistence). What say yee? Slave? Or Free Man?
  17. Why would rage have a rational component in humans but not in animals?: Man and the higher animals, especially the primates, have some few instincts in common … similar passions, affections, and emotions, even the more complex ones, such as jealousy, suspicion, emulation, gratitude and magnanimity; they practise deceit and are revengeful; they are sometimes susceptible to ridicule, and even have a sense of humour… ‘The Descent of Man’, published 1871 (2nd ed., 1874) by Charles Darwin; Ch. 3
  18. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Without getting in to the specifics of your post, first I don't disagree with much of what you say. Obviously survival changes when reason is entered in to the equation. Second, most Evolutionary psychologists agree that animals have a predisposition for numerous instincts (stealing, hoarding, killing, selfish behavior, reproductive, numerous emotions (fears)), and that as humans so do we. If your premise is wrong (humans do not have instincts) than your conclusions are wrong. I find it hard to believe that any rational person could think that animals come hard wired, that evolution is real, that we evolved, and yet that somehow we were un-wired as a result of an ability to become rational creatures.
  19. I would agree that capitalism is not a system of slavery provided that people have a real choice of employment and that they are paid a "fair" wage in relation to the amount and skill of their labor. However, even under a capitalist system, a total lack of choice and a failure to pay a fair wage would place labor under the umbrella of slave labor. From a historical standpoint - slaves have had no other choice in their work and have been paid less than a fair wage for their labor (i.e. minimal subsistence). Any opinions? Is a minimum wage worker unable to make their bills who can not find another more preferable job in a capitalist system a salve? Does slavery need one need to be forced in to a particular job or is the mere fact that a choice is lacking result in slavery provided less than a fair wage is paid?
  20. http://www.kawther.info/wpr/2009/01/04/wha...want-you-to-see On Israel and Gaza: If you would kindly review the video and then tell me under what circumstances it's morally okay to kill innocent children and women in a conflict and why, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, can anyone tell me the objectivst point of view? Under what circumstances is the killing of innocent parties as a result of a need to protect one's own existence ever justified? In either of the above questions we MUST assume some of (and not all of) the people killed in Gaza are in fact innocent (answers which include things like "they are all terrorists" will be ignored). I am not implying a specific opinion here (so please no personal attacks), I am simply asking a few questions concerning current events. Thanks. Amos
  21. Gotcha - Adding contect: She's an Objectivist who thinks her life is more valuable than any other and her secondary value is her unborn baby - at the second she hears his screams she fells compelled to run in and save him. Impossible? If not than (as an objectivist) why does she do this? what's the source of her motivation?
  22. Jaek One rational argument would be that stability and not instability is in the interests of the United States (but not necessarily in the interests of Israel). Of course no politician in America is going to say "he it's all about us, so cut that out". How is this bombing solving the problem again? Because i think you are correct, in the world view of kill or be killed, elimination (and not suppression) of your enemy is the only logical conclusion one can reach. Worked for the US via an few atomic bombs on Japan in WWII. What do you say Jake - it's only 1.5 million people? Amos
  23. If you have no choice but to haul the rocks up the pyramid and all they will pay you in return is a cup of water and piece of bread for every 1000 rocks you haul - this would be slavery. Slavery involves the elimination of choice and an unfair wage. Capitalism is only moral while choice and a fair wage are inherent in the system. When those leave then it becomes slavery.
  24. Slavery involves the subjugation of other individuals for one's personal benefit. It would not ordinarily be assigned to workers in any system of production in which the worker's had a viable choice of work and were able to obtain a "fair" wage based upon the labor they offered and the level of skill which they provided. Since the definition of "fair" is subjective, it's difficult, but not impossible, to identify slavery in every instance. If capitalism resulted, for any individual, in a lack of a choice and an unfair wage, then irregardless of whether someone was paid something, I would classify that as slavery.
  25. Jake - I am so confused by your post. So please excuse me if these questions sound dumb: How could death be the rational end of all values if value is only relevant in the context of being alive? Also, are you saying that a belief that one's child is actually a higher value is irrational or just contradictory given what the definition of "value" actually is? As I really don't understand, can you succinctly tell me what "value" means in Ayn Rand's view? Thanks. Amos
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