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nanite1018

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Everything posted by nanite1018

  1. Miovas, one immoral act does not destroy someone who has otherwise been morally exemplary. It means he has made a bad decision, is not morally perfect, did something immoral. It doesn't mean he is evil or rotten to the core. Biddle is simply saying that given Peikoff's background this one act, while important and immoral in his estimation, does not destroy his evaluation of Peikoff as a fundamentally good person (though it certainly does mean he needs to attempt to make amends for the injustice). Your post makes it sound as if saying someone acted unjustly is equivalent to saying they are essentially evil, and it is not in my understanding of Objectivism (and I've read a LOT, just finished "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics" by Tara Smith, very good book btw, I highl recommend it). There are different magnitudes of injustice, and their are different levels of character (as estimated prior to the injustice). Would an injustice committed by a person negatively effect one's evaluation of someone? Yes, of course, and Biddle admits as much. But it does not mean that you can't look up to them or still think them to be a fundamentally good person who has done something out of character (can't act out of character too much, but one slip, even if its biggish, for an otherwise exemplary person, does not destroy them). I agree with Biddle that we all MUST make a moral judgment based on the information we have. By having that letter be his only public statement on this obviously very important issue, Peikoff is signaling that that letter is all the argument he should be judged on. Based on it and everything else I've read about this conflict, Peikoff acted unjustly. If he were to release a nice long essay explaining everything with new quotes from emails, etc. tomorrow which back him up, that assessment can change (all moral judgments, values, etc. must be open to be changed upon the arrival of new information, if that information warrants such a change). Until I see new evidence, I'm just going to have to conclude that Peikoff acted badly, and is hurting the Objectivist movement through his continued silence on the matter (which in my opinion reflects even worse, as he is the "intellectual heir of Ayn Rand" and should care about Objectivism as a philosophy and a movement enough to take a few hours and write a real statement on the issue so we might actually be able to get all this behind us).
  2. Okay Prometheus. "Time" is a measurement. It is, ultimately, a measurement of distance via the use of light (so the time it takes light to bounce between two mirrors may be deemed to be one picosecond (that'd be about .01 inches or so as the distance between mirrors). If I travel at a velocity that is non-zero in another frame of reference, the light travels at the same speed in my frame of reference and the frame of reference outside in which I am moving. This means that the light travels at the same speed between the mirrors, but is now having to take what is essentially a diagonal path instead of a perpendicular path between the two mirrors in my friends frame of reference. This means that my watch is going slower in his frame of reference than it was when I was stationary. Problem is, everything is about light. After all, photons are the bearer of the EM force, and the EM force holds together all atoms, and interacts with all the quarks in the nucleus of atoms, etc. And so ALL time (i.e. ticks of the clock between events) on the moving object is just a teensy bit slower than it is as the measured by the stationary observer. The reason is because time isn't a thing, it is measurement, and the objective facts of reality make that measurement depend on your velocity with respect to everyone else, and indeed on your acceleration. This is the same way "space" can bend; space is a generalized measurement between all pairs of points at a specific moment in time. But of course time already varies with velocity, and as it turns out for similar reasons (again, a result of light moving at the same speed no matter what), so does length. Really, a "straight" line in space is the shortest distance you can move between two points, but since you can't go faster than light, and light is effected by gravity, you ultimately have space be curved. It doesn't mean anything is actually curved. It means that your measurements of distances are going to make your "space" defined by all the distances between all the points, will have the shortest distance between two points be a curve when viewed from a higher-dimensional cartesian space.
  3. I take him on his word there, that he wanted to ensure that Brook wasn't placed in an awkward position, or make it seem like he was at all connected to or supportive of Biddle's statement. My biggest concern over all this though is the nature of ARI. They seem to do a lot of good (a LOT), but if they don't support vigorous debate on philosophical issues, and actively seek to repress it (either on there own or as a result of directions from Peikoff), they lose a huge amount of respectability in my eyes. Objectivism explicitly demands independence and integrity, which the actions of ARI seem to be actively working against. I really don't understand ARI's reasoning, or Peikoff's (his especially, in not issuing an actual statement on the issue). If he cared about the Objectivist movement and the future of ARI, I think he would issue a detailed response on this whole McCaskey issue. His silence is clearly damaging both ARI and the broader Objectivist movement (in large part due to the negative impact on ARI from the elimination of McCaskey and the apparent elimination of Biddle as well, and what that bodes for the future for Objectivist intellectuals interested in working with them).
  4. You have got to be kidding me. So Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard, the only Objectivist journal at all supported by ARI, and from what I have read of his work a good Objectivist (in the sense that he seems to understand it and apply it well) is now being essentially booted out because he dared to express his opinion that Peikoff is treating McCaskey unfairly based on all the information he has available to him? This is either because Peikoff wants it so or because ARI is concerned that association with Biddle will damage them (even though he's a great Objectivist). This is a travesty, at least based on the information available (I highly highly doubt that Biddle cancelled his own events, so its pretty definite that he's being hung out to dry). I hope there is a public explanation of this, but on the surface it seems like anyone who disagrees with or criticizes Peikoff is being banished from the realm (to be somewhat dramatic about it).
  5. Perhaps your right about "context." I think that all of it needs to be addressed in a scholarly manner however, along the lines of Tara Smith's "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics", which has been far more instructive and helpful in getting clear the virtues and what they entail and their justifications on a precise basis than the writings of Rand in many or her essays (because they aren't treated in any depth there, leaving a lot of semi-open questions). I haven't even finished that one yet, but it is fantastic. I had a similar feeling when reading Harriman, but I feel that there needs to be a few works like Tara Smith's in the field of Objectivist philosophy, particularly epistemology. I suppose, by your definition, TLL is the answer to the problem of induction. But it isn't as rigorous a presentation of induction as an academic work like Smith's "Normative Ethics" and the like. A work like that was what I was expecting, and I didn't get that; I got what felt like a popular book on philosophy (granted of very high quality), rather than an academic work on philosophy. Popular books are great for getting ideas out there, but I would have expected the first presentation of Peikoff/Harriman's theory of induction would be in the form of a work of rigorous academic-level philosophy, rather than a more "popular"-type work. Again, that isn't to say that TLL isn't good, it is very good. But I had expected/hoped for more from a book that billed itself as "the answer to the problem of induction" (which to me indicates that it is going to be engaging with the issue on an academic level). TLL presents the answer, but not as rigorously as I would have liked.
  6. Well I finally finished The Logical Leap (I had been quite busy the last couple of weeks so I wasn't about to get around to getting it done until yesterday). It is a very good book, in my opinion. The essentializations of the processes of Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and those surrounding the atomic theory of matter were enlightening and definitely fun to read. The basic outline of induction in the book (that first-level concepts and generalizations are absolute, that concepts serve to enable and indeed force certain inductive generalizations, that causal relations are understood by the methods of agreement and difference, and that inductive generalizations are possible and valid (and therefore true) iff the generalization covers the amount of information as is necessary to integrate the data, that all generalizations and concepts in it must be validly derived from the data, and that the theory/generalizations must form an integrated whole and not conflict with other knowledge) is correct, so far as I can tell. I applaud Harriman and Peikoff, because I think their theory has enormous promise. But that's just it. It shows promise. There are all sorts of questions. Most of which have been brought up by McCaskey and Norsen in various locations. There was a passage in TLL where it seemed that Harriman could be open to some "spiral" phenomenon in the process of induction, paraphrasing, he said "analysis of the data mandate the formation of a new concept, which can then be used in generalizations and further analysis." That seems to be, roughly, what McCaskey is saying, except that while you are forming/clarifying your new concept in your head (for example, in the pre-word stage) your investigations will lead you to make it more precise. That and a few other questions (what is the context, exactly? how do I find it? etc. etc.) mean that this is NOT a "solution to the problem of induction." It is a sketch of a solution, it is the theory which will drive the final solution (in my judgment). But it is not a finalized product, there are still open questions, and they are very important ones (particularly that one about context, for if it is too small the generalizations are useless, and if it is merely "the generalization is valid except when it isn't" that isn't helpful either, etc.). As a result, I cannot claim that Harriman and Peikoff have solved the problem of induction, for their theory isn't water-tight yet. Are they on the right track? Yes! Is TLL useful for guiding a scientist's thinking? Yes! Will I incorporate the ideas in it in my own work as a physicist? Yes! Have they fully solved the problem of induction? No. The Logical Leap is a very good book, enlightening, even. But it isn't the final answer to the problem of induction. Finally, after finishing the book, I feel better qualified to speak on the McCaskey affair, and I'll make this quick. McCaskey said, essentially, that the historical examples might be oversimplified, and that there are complexities, particularly in the stage of forming the concept, that should be taken into account. On my reading of the book, I see where McCaskey is coming from. I also see that his complaints could be incorporated without, in my opinion, damaging the theory. I believe McCaskey has said that, essentially, this disagreement may be about what we mean by "concept". He sees it as the final, word-designated mental product. If it also includes the pre-word idea of a concept, which is not finalized and is not yet defined explicitly in the mind of the scientist, than his complaints largely disappear (it was on a recent Noodlefood post I think) as then it is still open to development and greater clarification as research continues. Then, near the end of the research, the concept is put into a final form, taking its place as one of the theory major features in an explicit and consistent whole theory. From what I have seen of McCaskey's criticisms (and Travis Norsen's), they are reasonable and should be addressed by Harriman/Peikoff, rather than written off as absurd and wholely destructive of not only the theory but also Objectivist epistemology (which I just find ridiculous, after having read TLL, ITOE, and everything McCaskey has said on the affair).
  7. The answer to both your questions is yes. I hope to, and will work towards, surviving until the heat death of the universe (and maybe beyond that, if we can find a way to create our own bubble universes). With even a modest growth rate in technology, we can expect to reasonably colonize the entire Milky Way Galaxy in less than 100 million years, which is less than 10% of the time it would take for Earth to become uncomfortable or uninhabitable due to the expansion of the Sun. It will be trivial to move about the Galaxy at that point. It will be easy for us to simply make new stars, or planets, or huge rotating colonies with gravity, or simply large computers built out of asteroidal material, within enough processing capacity to model whole worlds. It is quite possible that humanity will be able to survive for trillions of years, and if we're lucky, so might some of us posting on this board. I would say that is as close to "living eternally" as one could possibly ask for.
  8. Wow, this started up an old thread. I have to say, that after another year of physics courses, how little we actually know and can predict is humbling. Stars and galaxies are big enough to be kind of easy (though if you want to get detailed the mathematics can get messy, and really impossible to solve analytically). Really tiny things, atomic scale, we have a handle on, but then again there are a lot of things that can't be solved analytically. And then the meso-scale, where things are small enough that quantum effects important, but are huge by comparison, are simply too complicated for us to do much with at the moment (working on it though). Regardless, physics is not capable of predicting things in detail except in idealized situations, small sets of particles or things so large that any small deviations are swamped out. And, also, in retrospect, the arguments from the first page of this thread, particularly those about the laws of physics being laws describing reality not laws laid down on reality is much more hard-hitting. Physics really is about explaining how things work in the universe. It isn't so much about predicting things, except that prediction is just sort of advance explanation of a kind. If we find some new phenomena tomorrow on some scale, well we'll have to go back to the drawing board, rather than deny its existence (and that really does show you that physics is about explanation at its core, not giving commands to the universe about how it must behave). As for volition, you can sense it directly, without it you cannot know if your thought process is correct (and have no way to determine if it is), and free will is compatible with "deterministic" physics because physics is explanatory, and does not command your brain to work the way it does, and the two concern different things (the workings of your mind and the workings of particles, for one thing).
  9. Well, I don't defend Whewell's religiosity, but then again nor do I necessarily condemn him, as he lived at a time without the theory of evolution, or the highly advanced state of physics, and so I can tolerate a belief in a diety (in the same way as Newton or Locke believed in a god, I don't write them off for it). As for his "making us have innate ideas in order to conform to His world": I don't know Whewell's entire list of Fundamental Ideas, but they seemed to be mostly very very basic things according to the SEP article, attributes or objects which are very nearly things we directly perceive (such as length/space, causation, resemblance). Without the proper understanding of concepts given by Rand, I can forgive the error of seeing them as fundamental a priori ideas, as they are things that are directly perceived and thereby provided to our cognitive faculty by the nature of our senses. Was he incorrect? Yes. But he was on the right track definitely. ...(Took a break to read McCaskey's paper which you referenced)... I have read McCaskey's paper on Bacon and Whewell now as well. I don't find anything objectionable about Whewell, at least not for a philospher pre-Rand. Indeed, his criteria for a proper induction don't seem to be bad at all. You seem to focus entirely on the fact that Whewell had this idea that there are "Fundamental Ideas". McCaskey explains that Whewell believed that they were what turned sensation into perception. Basically, these fundamental ideas are those processes by which our perceptual faculty construct percepts from sensations, and it is with these percepts that we deal. Objectivism holds perception (and therefore the apparatus which creates percepts from sensation) to be axiomatically valid; Whewell held that they were valid because God made them that way (not a good reason, but I won't just toss him out as a horrific philosopher for it either, given the time period). Regardless, the fact that sensation is turned into perception by an apparatus we human beings do not have volitional control over is unquestionable, and that that apparatus must be taken as valid is also unquestionable. The fact that we directly perceive various attributes of objects such as length and resemblance is the entire basis for the Objectivist epistemology based on measurement-omission. Whewell takes these attributes (and some modest extensions, such as "length" to "space") which we directly perceive as some sort of Fundamental Ideas which were given by God so we can understand the world, and employ them in creating our conceptions and in our inductions. I'm not seeing a massive clash between the two, given that Whewell lacked Rand's theory of concepts, and lived in a time without any sort of explanations for the origin of life or the universe whatsoever. His belief in Fundamental Ideas, while on the surface very bad epistemology from the view of Objectivism, isn't nearly so bad once you look at what he actually thought about them. Again, it seems like Whewell was on the right track, but lacked certain philosophic ideas in order to get his theory of induction correct. Reading his article on SEP and the McCaskey article, I haven't heard of a better pre-Rand philosopher in the philosophy of science (I took a class on it, and he blows all the 20th century guys out of the water, which is mostly what we discussed, though we didn't cover any Objectivist thought on the subject of course). So, is Whewell 100% right? No. Definitely not. Was he on the right track for someone back in the 1800s? Yeah, actually. Might "The Logical Leap" provide a better theory of induction than Whewell? Maybe (haven't finished it), and even probably, given that it has the advantage of the proper theory of concepts and the rest of the philosophy of Objectivism as its background. Though, what do you expect of McCaskey exactly Miovas? To ignore factual inaccuracies in a book? To repudiate Whewell as a terrible philosopher just because he didn't get induction right and Harriman did (for the sake of argument)? He is a scholar specializing in the history of induction and its relation to concepts, and Whewell played a huge role in the history in the 19th Century (and also happened to be on the right track, if wrong on some things). I don't think that expecting that of McCaskey makes sense. And so, concluding that McCaskey's belief that Whewell had some (emphasis on "some") good ideas on induction and there may be value in studying his ideas to help build a uniquely Objectivist theory of induction a "smoking gun" for his rejection of fundamental tenets of Objectivism is not valid. Maybe there is a real reason to say McCaskey is not an Objectivist. But from the articles that you have linked and discussed, I have absolutely nothing more to go on that Peikoff's word, which I refuse to take as gospel. I need evidence other than Peikoff's opinion to actually believe McCaskey is a wolf in sheep's clothing. And I haven't seen it yet. Now off to read "The Logical Leap."
  10. Seriously. According to McCaskey, Whewell did some good work on the idea of induction, but didn't quite have the notion of a concept down correctly. He attributes much of the progress of the very science Harriman praises so highly in the 19th Century as a result largely of the influence of Whewell's views on induction, and that when they fell out of favor, problems began to arise in science (in a very similar manner as Harriman claims the rise of bad epistemology has led to the corruption of physics, from the various articles I have read of his in the Objective Standard). Indeed, looking over the induction section of Whewell's article on the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I find it to be pretty good. His conception of "fundamental ideas" is stuff like "space","time", "cause", "resemblance" and the like. Those are, broadly speaking, directly observable things about reality. Indeed, we directly perceive color, shape, texture, length, differences between objects and attributes, simple causation etc., all through the nature of our perceptual apparatus. So in a way, the idea of "length" (generalized to "space") is provided for us in our make-up as people with a particular sort of perceptual apparatus, and we just have to work it out explicitly, as with the others listed above. Maybe he didn't get it entirely right, since we derive them and explicate them based on our observations of reality (but he does say that we need empirical evidence to clarify our conceptions in order to make them more precise and correct, so that's something). He seems on the right track at least. His idea that the identification of a concept is applied to data about the world in an attempt to find an integrating theme seems to be along the lines of what Harriman was talking about (again, from what I have read of "The Logical Leap", reviews of it, and from articles I have read of Harriman's online), even if it isn't exactly it, and he lacked Rand's idea of concepts. Reading the section on induction, I see Whewell as someone who was on the right track, but didn't get some things quite right (like the nature and origin of his Fundamental Ideas, and what exactly a concept was and how one goes about forming one). But given those errors, he doesn't seem to be bad. He defends reason and induction, and the existence of an objective external universe knowable through the means of logic, experiment, and observation. Really, I don't ask much more of an epistemologist pre-Rand, and I certainly don't see him as some horrible philosopher that should be rejected absolutely as a bad pre-Rand epistemologist by every Objectivist. Heck, he seems to be pretty good, far far far far far far far better than say Popper or Hume or Kant. I'll leave it up to everyone else to read the article and decide what they think, but I think my description of Whewell (based on that article as all the information I have about him) is a more accurate analysis than Miovas's (no offense Miovas, I just think yours isn't the correct conclusion to draw based on that article).
  11. Okay, I get what you're saying now. But if the book is meant to be a guide to how you should actually perform an induction, then it probably isn't meeting its task if all it presents is the final logical form, and not the intermediate steps (as you can't get to the final form without those intermediate steps). Provide a guide to what a complete/finished induction would look like? Sure. But act as a guide to how you actually arrive at that point? Not so much. And I think McCaskey in his review was probably saying simply that if you want to provide a theory of induction that can be used to perform induction, then you need to address the more messy details of how one actually goes about it, rather than simply go over what the final form of a completed process of induction should look like (in much the same way as a course on deduction would be helpful if it gave you the meaning and final form of a deductive argument, but if it didn't cover the methods by which one would actually go about constructing a valid deductive argument, it wouldn't be nearly as helpful as it could have been). I'm going to finish the book this week, and post again when I'm finished with my review. As of the end of Ch.1 it seems quite good. I'm not sure about "best science book I've ever read" ("Hyperspace" by Michio Kaku was amazingly well written in my opinion, I've read it a half dozen times since I was ten), but we'll see.
  12. My reading of McCaskey's review on Amazon was that his point wasn't that Harriman's theory was bad or something. Remember, "inchoate" means "incomplete", which is possible (I haven't yet finished the book, plan to this week). McCaskey was saying that scientist's don't do things as cleanly as Harriman suggests, and that often they come up with an ill-formed preliminary concept to get them by and develop their theory a bit more, and as they are working they then refine the concept, and then the theory, and on and on (sometimes this happens over decades and centuries), and that finally the concept and theory will be finalized. McCaskey argues that one should take this spiraling feature of the process by which scientists perform induction into account. Indeed, earlier in the thread, one saw examples of previous philosophers ideas about how concept-formation and induction were related. They got close, but their concept of "concept" wasn't quite right yet, and finally when Rand formed the correct one, then a proper theory of induction based on concept-formation became possible. This is an example of exactly what McCaskey's review and criticism is about: induction usually progresses by a rudimentary ill-formed sort of concept which enables a theory, and then proceeds as a process of refinement (at least in the more advanced areas of science, as opposed to, perhaps, typing words on a computer). McCaskey thinks that Harriman's book (and/or his theory of induction) is incomplete because according to him it does not address this. Now, if that interpretation of McCaskey is right, and if his portrayal of "The Logical Leap" is correct, then I see nothing wrong with calling the book inchoate/incomplete if its aim is to really and truly present a full-fledged theory of induction based upon how scientists (and particularly physicists) perform it. Nor do I see anything that contradicts Objectivist epistemology. Nothing that Rand wrote suggested that a rudimentary/crude provisional concept might not be useful when someone is trying to figure something out, particularly when one is doing something truly new in the sum of human knowledge, like doing theoretical physics, as opposed to trying to learn a subject which someone has already worked out, like Newtonian mechanics. Indeed, no one forms a concept out of the blue, it always is a process of development and refinement until one has solidified it in one's head; it just so happens that in physics one has to apply the concept to a theory in order to refine it in most cases. So, overall, if McCaskey's characterization of Harriman's treatment of induction (that it is enabled by proper concepts, and that without them progress cannot be made) is correct, then he is absolutely in the right (providing he didn't say anything dramatically different, which we have no evidence for). And given that, Peikoff is clearly in the wrong here.
  13. Well, perhaps some things like psychology or neuroscience or something like that are overly determinist. But the whole point of physics is prediction of the future from a given set of circumstances (it's how we know how to manipulate the physical world after all), so you can't blame it for having determinist theories (actually, they are roughly speaking stochastic, i.e. random, on the quantum level; they just limit to deterministic ones for very large systems). As for Anthemgate proper, I'm not surprised. I've listened to a number of Peikoff's podcasts, read "Fact and Value" (which while pretty good philosophically I think, was not written in a professional manner and had the air of authoritarianism to it, especially what I see as an overzealous application of its point to almost anyone who disagrees on even small things). And now with this, it simply solidifies in my mind that Piekoff, while having made a big contributions to Objectivism, has definitely become intolerant of any criticism whatsoever. OPAR was great, and I would love to really be able to dig into his work on rationalism, so I respect Peikoff. This behavior seen in his letter is almost laughably bad though.
  14. Well, dark matter and dark energy are names we assigned to things that our theory predicts should exist when we analyze our observations (of galaxy rotations in the first case, of the expansion of the universe in the second case). So we know what they do, but have no idea what they are composed of (of course, they could just as easily not exist, and our theory be wrong, but we just don't know quite yet which is going to come out in the end). As for space being curved, it depends on your definition. From my understanding, physicists use a very particular meaning, essentially it is the vector space which describes all points in relation to all other points, and a straight line in space is the shortest distance between two points. Turns out that if light is effected by gravity, and from special relativity the speed of light is as fast as anything can go, than of course the shortest distance between two points is the path that light would follow, and so a straight line is actually a curve, if you look at it from a Euclidean geometry. And so, space is "curved", in the sense that the shortest distance between two points is a curve. At least that's from what I understand, I haven't taken a formal course on general relativity yet (hope to next year), but that's the idea anyway. From that technical definition, it is perfectly all right that space is curved.
  15. Well, perhaps you should be less flowy and pay more attention to spelling and the like. Just doing whatever feels right does not at all help you accomplish any goal in the long-run. Perhaps the reason that getting in a "flow state" is easy is because it involves defocussing your mind (and of course for many people that would be easier than focusing it). Also, having a strong sense of self, who you are, what you believe, what you value, etc. is not a bad thing at all, and it is very different than trying to "complete" oneself through possessions or relationships. The latter in fact denotes a fairly weak sense of self. There is something to be said for focusing on the other person when you are talking to them, and "getting out of your head" in the sense that you aren't having a continuous internal monologue to the detriment of your listening abilities, but this is just another example of the importance of focus: if you are focused on your conversation, and listening and understanding what the other person is saying, then you will do pretty well in the conversation. If you aren't focused on it (like you are constantly thinking inside your head about what you are going to say, neglecting to listen to them and what they are saying) then you'll do badly at it. Objectivism doesn't say that you need to constantly be what people think of as "rational"- Spock-like calculating machine, without sense of humor or emotion. That would be profoundly irrational in a social situation, particularly a romantic one. Objectivism just says that mental focus is good, and that you should focus on what it is you are doing (as well as why you are doing it).
  16. They don't get contradicting results, that is the whole point. Take the double-slit experiment. If you set up some type of detector which interacts with the particles prior to them reaching the screen, you get two lines on your photographic plate. If you have no such detector, then you get an interference pattern exactly as if it was a wave moving through both slits at once. You don't get both two lines and an interference pattern or something like that, ever. Scientists have worked on explaining quantum mechanics for decades, and the commonly accepted explanation is something called decoherence, which can in broad strokes be described like this: the probabilistic nature of particles (in terms of their behavior) is leaked into the environment when measured (for example, we now know the position of the particle, but now the detector could be in a number of very slightly different states). This is why we see dramatic quantum effects when we manipulate subatomic particles but nothing on the macro-scale (the particles are tiny compared to the enormous systems measuring them, so their localization has no important effect on the macro-scale system). If you calculate the de Broglie wavelength of a baseball, it's something like 10^-24 meters (size of a proton, say). That doesn't seem like a contradictory position. And then of course there is the many-worlds interpretation and the Bohm interpretation, which have no such uncertainty within them at all, and every particle is always localized to a point and a particular momentum. Really, if we are talking about wave-particle duality, all that we are saying is that things at the subatomic level behave in a manner that is like a wave in some cases and like a particle in others. It all depends on context. It isn't wrong to say that something can behave in different ways in different situations, it is an expression of the nature of causality and thus the law of identity. Now, perhaps you have a problem with things behaving in a fundamentally undeterministic manner (that is, one can never know with certainty where a particle will end up, that sort of thing), but I still don't see that as a conflict with the law of identity.
  17. I'm a physics major. While I haven't had time to review the website in detail, I can say that 1) there are some things on there I don't know enough about to judge without further study 2) his explanation of the double-slit experiment seems like it might not be obviously flawed 3) if he were able to create (somehow) a hydrogen atom with a higher binding energy than usual, that would in fact create energy. How much energy? Well honestly I have no idea, as I don't know how close to the proton his theory allows the electron to go, but it could be quite substantial. Though I tend to think its a crackpot idea with lots of physics terms thrown in.
  18. Eh, I don't know if you can get exactly the concepts of Objectivism in other philosophies. Your list gives a general idea, but it takes a lot more talking than saying "Objectivist, except I don't think government is necessary". Okay, well maybe not. But the latter is a more precise way of stating your position, to those in the know about Objectivism at least. You could condense transhumanist and capitalist together with "extropian", though that term has gotten less popular (google it, it's probably right up your alley), just fyi. DO NOT call yourself an Objectivist without some "except"s buddy, that is improper both epistemologically and morally. Another way is to say "I am a Bondist" if you like, though that would give no one any information about your philosophy, and would probably make people think you roleplay as 007 all the time, haha.
  19. A large proportion of my post was addressed to the topic you raise here (you quoted me, btw, I don't know if you realized that or not, thought you might have thought it was from James Bond). I gave a number of possible ways of saying the same thing. Saying "I am an Objectivist EXCEPT X" means that I am an Objectivist in every way excluding my opinion on X which is different from that of Objectivism. Indeed, the distinction is made absolutely clear. Saying "I am an Objectivist and an anarchist" would be totally wrong. Saying "I am an Objectivist except I don't believe a government is necessary" says two things: 1) In every issue except whether or not government is necessary, I agree, 2) Since the only place where I differ with Objectivism is that I do not believe a government is necessary, then obviously Objectivism holds that a government is necessary. The position of Objectivism is made clear, as well as where I disagree. It is the most concise and accurate way of representing someone like James Bond's (or possibly, as I am undecided on that issue, my own) philosophical position. I would not, if I used such a construction, be stealing any identifier. "I am an Objectivist" means "I agree with all the tenets of the philosophy of Objectivism." "Except I do not believe government is necessary" then modifies that to say this: "I agree with all the tenets of the philosophy of Objectivism but one (and those later conclusions which depend upon it)- Objectivism says that government is necessary, but I do not believe that to be the case." It muddies the waters no more than saying "I am heavily influenced by Objectivism." Indeed, it makes it very very clear the separation between my views and those of Objectivism. If one were to have a conversation with someone who had said that they are "influenced by Objectivism", they would then, in order to make clear where they differ, have to later say (for example, when the subject of government came up) "and here is where I disagree with Objectivism" which is exactly the same as saying "I am an Objectivist except I don't think government is necessary." Using concepts in this way is perfectly valid. It is indeed the whole reason for the concept "except": It enables you to shorten your manner of speaking without loss of information or clarity. Also, I never mentioned "leaving Objectivism", as that is absurd (for the reasons you stated).
  20. James Bond, I am in a similar position as you, and have decided to say "I'm heavily influenced by Objectivism" instead of "I'm an Objectivist". I mean, if, like me, you think the argument for the necessity of government is flawed, but believe the whole of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and the derivation of the principle barring force and homesteading as the origin of property, then you are in agreement with vast majority of Objectivism. In fact, the only areas where you could possibly disagree are a) who exactly would be enforcing the law (what the law should be would be in common if you accept the Objectivist derivation of rights and property) and foreign policy (maybe, though you might also agree with the Objectivist position, given that we do in fact have a government in place along the present lines). These are two subcategories of the regions of a complete philosophy of life, and if you agree with the whole rest of Objectivist thought, I would say "heavily influenced by Objectivism" or "Objectivist-esque" or possibly, though not necessarily permissible would be "anarcho-Objectivist" if you really wanted to shorten it up (though I'm not sure if the latter would be good, to an Objectivist it would make clear exactly where you break with Objectivism, and that you agree with the rest; to the rest of the world it probably wouldn't be helpful, and possibly bad for the spread of the philosophy of Objectivism, as it might attach it with anarchists, which Objectivists are not). Perhaps you could simply say this: "I'm an Objectivist, except I don't think there needs to be a government with a monopoly over a geographic region in order to enforce rights." That makes it very clear where you part ways. I do expect anyone who is an anarcho-capitalist should refrain from calling themselves an Objectivist, without making it clear where they differ or at least making it clear there are some differences. As for that "academic approach", do you mean saying something like "I am a conceptualist empiricist, a rational egoist, and laissez-faire capitalist minarchist" instead of "Objectivist? Kind of a mouth-full, though it does give people an idea of where you're coming from for those who are unfamiliar with Objectivism.
  21. Interesting. I always believed that he had purposely taken it apart, at least just enough so it wouldn't work and wouldn't be able to be reconstructed, and then left. Its quite possible I missed the part where he discusses the motor he left behind. I think I might have gotten the idea from the passage you quoted dream_weaver, and another one I think where it says that there was just enough information to know what it did, but not enough to build it. I always thought it had been intentional, but I suppose it is also possible that the total collapse of the Twentieth Century Motor Company almost immediately after its transformation into a commune-esque thing would have been enough to destroy the machine. It is actually better that way than the way I had it in my head, as it means that Galt really didn't care if he left it behind or not, as he knew that his motor would never be put into use, because of the moral depravity of the owners of the company. Haha, you just made AS even better than it already was. Thanks!
  22. I think that, whatever the message of the game is, it will be beautifully executed. I'll love the game if only because of the setting: a flying city. If anything could embody the power of the mind of man, that's it (even more, I dare say, than a city at the bottom of the ocean). I've even become fascinated by the idea for the last few days, researching lighter-than-air craft, helicopters, etc. Apparently a floating city is actually possible with an enclosed geodesic dome with a diameter of approximately 1 km (worked out by Buckminster Fuller several decades ago). Boy, would that be something to see. Totally impractical as an actual money-making enterprise, but perhaps worth the cost nonetheless if only as a sort of living piece of art- a testament to human potential greater than any skyscraper. Of course, this is exactly why the city was built in the game, at least in part (it seems, from what I've read). The game's message seems like it will be a critique of jingoism, which is less appealing to me as a topic than an examination of a semi-Objectivist society but there are some interesting ways to go about it. For example, there may be some, those that they call the "anarchists", who really simply want Columbia to be a symbol about the triumph of the human spirit, and find the jingoist attitude and slavish worship of even the worst excesses of the American government (including the eugenics programs) as disgusting and collectivist. Their attempts to overthrow the government of Columbia and end such programs could be critiqued as "anarchist" even if not actually "bad". That would be what I would like it to be about of course. I'm not sure what it will end up being about, but I think the setting alone will make it a tremendously enjoyable game to play. Bioshock was similar- the setting itself was enough to make it a wonderfully enjoyable game. As for the philosophical message behind that game- I think it was, at worst, a critique of extremism in any philosophy, though I think that it was really a matter of a man who gave up on reason rather than let go of his dream of what Rapture was. I love the Bioshock series, and am eager to play Bioshock Infinite.
  23. Yes, what I was meaning, and what I think I made explicit in my last post, is that the set of all legal actions is larger than the set of moral ones for any given person. So when I was saying that "morality is a subset of legality", I really meant to say "the set of moral actions is subsumed within the set of legal ones," which is a true statement. You are correct that if I decide an action is moral, it is necessarily legal (as any action which involves the initiation of force is necessarily not in my rational self-interest, by my nature as a human being). So of course, no one would ask "is it legal?" and then see if it is moral. But in determining what is in my self-interest, I can and do consider, at least implicitly, if I am going to be initiating force (such ideas essentially never cross my mind, so it might be subconscious, but its there). I hope I made it clearer. I understand full well the derivation of law/rights from morality. Law can be said to delimit the maximum range of possibly moral choices (no matter who you are, violating rights is necessarily not in your self-interest, as opposed to studying physics or reading SF, which are only in the self-interest of specific people). I hope I made the point I was making more clear. I was speaking loosely before, which was inappropriate, I hope I have corrected it.
  24. The nature of man is that he is a rational animal, needs self-esteem, etc. The nature of Josh (that's my regular name) is that he is male, likes physics and has a thing for science fiction (there are other things in my nature too, but lets go with that). So, for me, reading science fiction or watching a really good science fiction movie for recreation is a value, whereas for some people I know, that would be a very unpleasurable experience and a disvalue. So, for recreation, it is good and moral that I read science fiction, but bad and immoral for them to (in the sense that it wouldn't serve their lives and so isn't in their rational self-interest). It violates no one's rights for either of us to read science fiction, but the morality of the question is left unanswered without information about the specific person in question (for example me or my acquaintance). Legality is (properly) determined by rights. So when I say that morality is a subset of legality, I mean that the range of moral choices is necessarily smaller for any given person than the range of legal/non-rights violating ones. Perhaps I didn't make that clear before- I am addressing actions, and all actions either do or do not violate rights, and so either are or are not legal. By my example above, where both my acquaintance and I can read science fiction without violating anyone's rights, but for them it would be an immoral, there is at least one action out of all possible actions which is legal but immoral, and therefore the range of moral actions is subsumed under the broader category of legal/non-rights violating ones. Perhaps a desert island where I am by myself could be considered a different category, as there isn't really "law" there. But whatever I am doing, I am not initiating force, and so my actions are "legal"/"don't violate rights"/"don't initiate force." Think of it this way: There are a huge number of actions that do not involve the initiation of force. I am faced, in my day to day life, with selecting the good actions within that category, good being defined as it is in Objectivism - in my rational self-interest. Clearly, out of the enormous number of actions which do not involve initiation of force, there are only going to be a relative few that are in my self-interest, and so only a few that are good/moral. Simply saying "It's legal" does not mean that an action is good, in any case at all. That is simply the first hurdle, the first elimination barrier in the determination. The next is to see if it is in someone's rational self-interest to do the thing. The first question cannot answer the second in the affirmative. Your argument is based on the notion that it can. Therefore your argument is unsound.
  25. I am saying that the law provides an outline for the possible moral means of achieving some end. So how you pick up your friend is influenced by the law. The quality of the piece of music is not affected by the legality of you listening to it, granted, but that is not analogous as it is an attribute of an object, not an action taken by a human being. My only purpose, was to say any action of a human being is, by its nature within the context of the law and morality (in that its execution cannot violate laws, and also must be in your rational self-interest). Here is where you are making your mistake. Legality is NOT a subset of morality, but the other way around. An action that is legal is not necessarily moral, but any moral action is necessarily legal (recall that legality is derived from the nature of man in the abstract, whereas morality is derived from the nature of a specific person such as you or I). The legal aspects of a situation never exhaust the moral issues. This can be evidenced by this: No law can determine whether or not an action should be taken, because that depends on the hierarchy of values of those involved. The return policy tells me when I may return the book (that is what the law says), but no law tells me when I should return the book. As a result, even in the case involved here, it cannot determine the moral question. I'm not sure if I'm getting it across, but I hope I am.
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